Mario has had a long tradition of starring in role-playing games. From Super Mario RPG to Bowser’s Inside Story, Mario RPGs are always a treat – something to look forward to. That is why when Paper Mario: Sticker Star was announced I pretty much lost my mind – for the first time the Paper Mario franchise will be on a handheld. I was excited to see how the series has evolved since the strangeness that was Super Paper Mario on the Wii. Recently, at the Nintendo Holiday preview event, I had a chance to go hands-on with Sticker Star and I got to experience its unique combat system.
Sticker Star is almost exclusively about collecting stickers, which makes sense in the paper universe that the game is set in. As Mario, you walk around the world, peeling stickers off of surfaces to either solve puzzles or to gain attacks to use in battle. The act of peeling off stickers is satisfying enough and gives you a strong reason to explore every nook and cranny of the world (for strong attack stickers). There is plenty of potential for interesting puzzle mechanics involving stickers and I’m excited to see what kind of puzzles will arise from the system.
The biggest thing I was interested in was how the battle system had changed in Sticker Star. As mentioned above, the only attacks you have in battle come from stickers found in the over-world. When you have a ton of stickers, battles are fairly straight forward: you queue up a sticker to use as an attack, and then you watch it happen. You can also press a button at a specific time to add more damage to the attack (like in every other Mario RPG game). However, when you are running out of stickers, battles become way more intense and require more strategy; you really have to think about which enemy you will attack – and with what sticker. Even if you survive the battle, you’ll have to find more stickers before you attack another enemy, or else you’ll surely fall pretty quickly during your next battle.
The best way to the top is on the backs of other people.
At first I thought that the combat system was unfair and unnecessarily hard; but after playing for a bit it becomes clear that attack stickers are abundant around the world. Sure, there may be time in which you run out of stickers; but you’ll always quickly refill your sticker book shortly after. I’m anxious to see how later levels in Sticker Star play out and I hope a ton of attack stickers are in the game. Variety of attacks always kept me interested in RPG games.
Overall, Paper Mario: Sticker Star looks like it’s going to be a solid entry in the Paper Mario franchise. The humour is still intact and the world is still rich with interesting characters. The combat system is completely new -albeit a little odd- but it is balanced and well-planned. I have a feeling that playing through this game will make people become obsessed with collecting the strongest and best stickers around the worlds. Sticker Star is out November 11th for the 3DS and will be available in retail stores or in the Nintendo eShop.