Review: Paper Mario: Sticker Star falls flat

I had high hopes for Paper Mario: Sticker Star, as a fan of the series ever since Paper Mario came out on the N64. However, with the exception of the graphics--which are beautifully, cleverly, intricately intertwined with the game's paper and cardboard world--Intelligent Systems has gutted everything that made Paper Mario worthwhile.

20130703-112737.jpgThe sticker-based battle system--where the player must spend a one-time use item (a sticker), each type having a unique ability, to attack--is frustrating and unsatisfying. It requires no strategy--in fact, it allows no strategy--and most of the stickers are accessible within minutes of gameplay. More irritating, however, is the inability to target any enemy other than the first.

However, the game's worst offense is the removal of any incentive to battle. No longer do enemies offer XP, only coins, which not only are easy to find outside of combat, only serve to purchase the already freely-available stickers. In Paper Mario, I sought out every enemy in my quest for improved stats; in Sticker Star, I avoid them as much as possible, because they simply waste time.

With the loss of XP comes the loss of any customization. Gone are Badge and Flower Points that allowed the gamer to personalize Mario according to their favorite battling techniques; players were challenged with how to best spend their limited points. In Sticker Star, Mario is one-size-fits-all, and this is boring in a game with roots as an RPG.

At this point, with nothing left to salvage from Sticker Star, I had hoped that the plot might draw me on through the game's flaws, urging me to finish it just to watch the story unfold. Yet, at Miyamoto's request, developers have trimmed away the story, leaving behind a bare-bones plot and shallow characters. By now, there was no appeal left in the game for me, so I traded it in without beating it.

This dumb-downed Sticker Star tries to act as both a Super Mario and a Paper Mario title, but it merely fails as either a platformer or RPG.

Rating: 2/5

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