“Paper Mario” has made the leap to its first handheld console with “Paper Mario: Sticker Star” on the Nintendo 3DS.
Nintendo’s “Paper Mario” series has been on three different consoles throughout the years. It has been on the Nintendo 64 with the game “Paper Mario,” the Nintendo GameCube with “Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door” and on the Nintendo Wii with “Super Paper Mario.”
The beginning of “Sticker Star” takes place at a celebration for the famed Sticker Comet called Sticker Fest. This comet is said to make some wishes come true, which of course is what has drawn the villainous Bowser to the festival.
After a bit of a struggle, Bowser manages to accidentally break the Sticker Comet into six different pieces, all in the form of crowns that have spread across the world. One of the crown stickers lands on Bowser’s head, causing him to become more powerful.
Now, with the help of a sticker fairy named Kersti, Mario has to explore six different regions in order to find the six crown stickers.
The “Paper Mario” franchise has always been single-player and has always stuck to a specific formula: Bowser kidnaps Princess Peach; Mario and his new partners must explore a new world fighting enemies through turn-based fighting; and Mario collects something to use against Bowser for the final battle while gaining levels and powering himself up along the way. “Sticker Star” takes some of this formula and changes it to deliver new, innovative ideas to progress through the game.
The first major change to the aforementioned formula is who Mario advances on his adventure with. Usually Mario travels with eight different partners who he meets through his travels. But in “Sticker Star,” Mario travels with one partner, Kersti, who he meets in the very beginning of the game.
In his previous adventures, Mario battled enemies alongside whichever partner the player chose, but in this game Kersti has a different way of helping Mario. By pressing the Y button on the Nintendo 3DS, Kersti will pull Mario out of the map and allow him to place stickers on certain areas to help him progress in the game. For example, early on in the game Mario will find a crumpled-up bridge and will have to use Kersti’s power to put the sticker back on the map in order to cross a river.
That’s not the only way stickers are used though. The entire battle system has changed from Mario always being able to jump and use his hammer to being required to have a sticker to do so.
Stickers like the jump sticker, the hammer sticker and many other different stickers can be found stuck to trees, bushes, buildings and pretty much anywhere else. Through battle, Mario uses these stickers to take down his foes.
Though his supply of stickers is unlimited, the space for them is not. Mario collects these stickers and keeps them in a sticker album. When you first start your journey, your album only has two pages in it. As you progress through the game and beat the bosses, you gain additional pages to add to your album.
Your album also contains things you find throughout the worlds. For example, in one of the levels there is a fan blowing, causing the path to become impassable. You must go around a different way to get to the fan and collect it for your album. Then, you can transform the fan into a sticker to be used during your adventures or even during battle.
Every map you visit on the world map ultimately has a boss that you will fight. These bosses have 10 times or more the amount of health regular enemies have and are difficult to defeat using just the stickers you find. But if you turn things like the fan into a sticker, the bosses become just as easy as regular enemies.
In other games in the franchise, Mario would level up after getting enough experience from beating enemies. But in “Sticker Star,” Mario doesn’t gain levels. Instead, the player must search through the different areas to find hearts that add to the 20 hit points that Mario starts the game with. Each heart increases Mario’s max health capacity by five hit points.
Seeing that “Paper Mario: Sticker Star” is for the Nintendo 3DS, the 3-D graphics really make the game pop. You can use the console’s 3-D slider to turn the effects up, making it more three-dimensional, or turn it off completely if you don’t want to play in 3-D. Even with the 3-D off, the graphics still appear clear and crisp.
As for music, some of the songs are jazzed-up remixes of common tracks played in other games in the Mario franchise. But there are many cool, new tracks that you can jam your heart out to as you play the game.
Overall, I give “Paper Mario: Sticker Star” three and a half out of five stars. “Sticker Star” is a lengthy, easy-to-play game with many various obstacles to prolong your adventure. It’s also easy in that every time you leave an area and go back to the world map, your game automatically saves your progress.
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