REVIEW: Paper Mario Sticker Star.

After some negative posts lately it’s time for a bit of positivity because I am happy to say that Paper Mario Sticker Star is a delightful game. It’s not worth 40 quid and it’s rather short, but when you see this game on offer for 20 quid or less you will doing yourself an injustice if you don’t buy it!

Paper Mario is now the 4th game in this series, a RPG-lite/Adventure game that with each incarnation manages to shake things up enough to offer 4 rather varied games to say they all ultimately remain RPGS. Sticker stars new direction is to replace all attacks that normally sit on a menu to pick from with stickers (that you can only use once) that are scattered everywhere. So in order to do any attacks you must constantly collect or buy stickers. It’s a fun touch to actually have to collect your attacks before you fight, and with the tougher bosses have to think carefully about which stickers you collect before you go back to fight them, as you are limited to how many you can carry. You will also find yourself tactically selecting the stickers you use, not wanting to waste powerful attacks on weaker enemies, or using up your weaker stickers and risking damage to save the better ones for later on.

The games story is pretty null and void. Like normal you must save Peach and collect some things along the way, but to be fair this game does take the time to make you laugh with some fairly clever humour. I particuarly enjoyed the moment were you kinda get told off for not paying attention. As your guide explains the plight of a Wiggler you have met and rambles on for a while, and you’re just constantly tapping A to speed it up, he comments something to the effect of “You really don’t care do you?” Talk about Spot on! I had a really good laugh at that.

The game is broken up into 5 and 1/2 worlds and about 30 levels, which I have to say is tragically short. I’ve racked up 34 hours, but I’ve took my time. Advanced gamers will probably clear this game in 15-20 hours and possibly less. With that said, the game is guilty of being a bit too easy, and where it is hard you can’t help but think it’s only hard because Nintendo have failed to explain things properly. You can be left wondering what the hell you are supposed to do. One such example includes having to use a ‘Goat’ sticker to clear up a load of waste paper…even though you have any number of stickers which would make more sense, such as a hoover. No tips are given whatsoever. While I don’t turn down a good puzzle, sections of the game like this were just plain unfair.

The levels are a mix of good and meh. The second to last level in World one is arguably the height of the game with a certain musical touch you hope is a sign of things to come, but the really fun touches pretty much end there. None of the levels are bad and Nintendo certainly aim for variety, but there are some such as the 2 raft-riding levels in the Jungle Zone that are pitiful wastes of time. They arrive when you get the feeling the game is coming to an end, and the last thing you wanted was 2 levels that were over in 5 minutes. The bosses were a bit unbalanced too. The 2nd world boss is the hardest of the lot, the rest are just a bit too easy requiring very little thought and tactics.

In terms of sound, I must say I am rather let down. There’s nothing wrong with the game’s music except it’s more or less the same one song remixed over and over again. It’s a cheap habit Nintendo have picked up with many of their games lately and I don’t like it.

Visually speaking it would be cruel to complain. Paper Mario games are always impressive in their simplistic art direction, but unlike the games that preceded Sticker Star, there is a distinct lack of fun touches/animations that had been all over the previous 2 games like a bad rash. It’s no big detriment to the game and I’m sure most gamers won’t care or notice, but clearly Paper Mario was a rushed game.

Rushed is probably the best word to describe this game. Ideally this game should have had at least 2 more worlds and 20 more levels which still would have probably only added about 6 hours to the experience, but you wouldn’t have walked away feeling a touch ripped-off if like me you paid full price. I don’t want to complain too much because as I said I racked up over 30 hours of gameplay, which is reasonably decent, but you are having so much fun and face so little decent challenge you can’t help but feel it all ended way too soon.

But to end on a good note, as I said at the start at half price this game is an essential addition to your 3DS collection. You can’t help but enjoy it, even if like myself you’re not a major fan of RPGs. The game is typical of Nintendo’s attention to detail and quality with bearly a glitch or bit of slow-down in sight. There’s any number of touches in this game Nintendo didn’t need to add and most wouldn’t bother to. Rushed as it might have been, and Nintendo have admitted to that, but it still has the professional feel that so few other games companies are able to pull off.

Mario Sticker Star is another brilliant entry in Nintendos library, and while plagued by Nintendos growing habit of being too sweet, childish and short, is still a lesson to so many others into how to make a solid game.

89% – The length, simplicity and lack of effort on the games soundtrack stop this game from passing the 90 mark.

 

 

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