First Thoughts – Paper Mario: Sticker Star Review
Paper Mario: Sticker Star is a fantastic game with many loveable characters and beautiful environments, to sum it up. Everything about this title feels right to me, well mostly. Everything from the beautiful environments bursting with colour complimented by the fantastic level design, to the clever update to the familiar turn-based Paper Mario battle system. Keep in mind that I have only completed the first world, so this won’t be a fully fleshed out review, one will most likely come later from me once I finish the game. In this ‘First Thoughts’ article I’ll be talking about several aspects of the game.
To me, story is very important in a game, and the story to 95% of Mario Bros. games tend to be extremely similar, but the different takes on them can be a nice change up. Paper Mario: Sticker Star does a nod to that, well sort of. In the hit Nintendo 64 game ‘Paper Mario’, the main character (you guess it) Mario helps a star search for the Seven lost Star Spirits whom are all scattered throughout the world, with the power of all Seven Mario can go on to defeat Bowser. This time around the story is essentially the same, but with a different coat of paint, much like other Mario titles. This time Mario helps a crown named Kersti search for 5 Royal Crowns that too contain power, I don’t believe they give you the power they hold, but that may change later in the game. The Narrative in this game is superb, I actually walked up to every friendly NPC character in sight to hear what they had to say, their dialogue is just that good.
The gameplay is much the same this time as it was in Paper Mario on the Nintendo 64, especially your mode of transport, walking… well mostly. There is now a World Map where you can select to go to the main hub town or whichever world/level you want to go to. The World Map is set out very similarly to the typical Mario World Maps, if you have no clue what I am talking about, it is similar to the New Super Mario Bros. 2 world map, similarly New Super Mario Bros U. At the end of each level is a ‘goal’, which breaks up the levels, this makes the game feel slightly more linear, in comparison to less linear open world of Paper Mario on the N64. The battle system has been altered what I would call dramatically, you now battle using stickers, and only stickers (from what I’ve played at least). Throughout your journey you collect stickers, as a matter of fact, every third or fourth wall you see has a sticker you can peel off on it, and if that isn’t the case, then enemies will drop them after you beat them or you will receive them from ‘?’ blocks, they are even buyable from item shops. These stickers go into a sticker album, which is viewable on the bottom screen at all times. During battles you select whatever sticker you want to use, keep in mind that there are strategies as to which sticker you should use on which enemy, for example it’s a better option to use the ‘Jump’ sticker on Koopas, as if they are in their shell when you jump on them, then they will be flung backwards and do a fair chunk of damage to the foes behind them. Stickers are a one-time only use item, and so managing your limited space in the sticker album gets somewhat fun, well the experimentation side of it at least, I was afraid early on that I would run out of stickers mid-battle but never once was that the case.
The music is just awesome, I understand that is an overused word but it is true. This is easily some of the best music I have heard of recent Mario games, alongside the soundtracks to both the fantastic Super Mario Galaxy games, it’s probably one of two games that I would say have remixed previous main themes in such a way that it not only sounds incredible but it’s an improvement to an extent, the other game being the amazing soundtrack to Sonic Generations. Hearing an updated, slightly French, slightly jazz sounding version of a very certain familiar Mario Bros. theme was just so right. It does sound better in-game when you are playing, but it’s still a great track nonetheless. I mean just have a listen of the track below:
Paper Mario: Sticker Star OST: Warm Fuzzy Plains (World 1 Overworld)
This is Paper Mario returning to its roots, this is Mario being as charming as ever, this is a game that is just fantastic. Although I haven’t finished the game yet, I will give it a score, which is most likely going to change once I get done the final and full review, but as it stands I’m giving this game an 8 out of 10, I would love to give it an 8.5 or even a 9 (maybe….) but the game feels ever so slightly too easy, I don’t think I have layed eyes upon a single Game Over screen yet, despite that, Paper Mario: Sticker Star did what the Nintendo 64 Paper Mario game did great, and then it improves on it and shakes things up a little to keep it interesting, in terms of whether or not Nintendo should continue making Paper Mario games? I sure hope they stick to it.
By Matthew Crethar