In light of the fourth quarter release lineup, the 3DS is rapidly becoming my favorite gaming system. All of the demos at PAX were extremely promising, and the games are finally rolling out to anxious hands all over the globe.
I've had the great pleasure of playing Paper Mario: Sticker Star, and now that I'm on the final (and incredibly difficult) Bowser battle I'm ready to talk about the game in all of its papery glory.
Paper Mario: Sticker Star bursts onto the 3DS with crisp, bright graphics, witty dialogue, new twists on old enemies, lots of tricky puzzles, and a brand new sticker mechanic. At first the stickers seemed like a simple gimmick, but after familiarizing myself with the gameplay I was able to see their full and fun potential. Battles require more tactics and preparation, and the game creators obviously had a great time coming up with the "thing" stickers that Mario finds around the world.
"Thing" stickers range from teapots, to goats, to scissors, to shaved ice, and pretty much everything else in between. These stickers can be used in battle for greater damage or effects such as doubling attack power. The stickers also interact with the environment via the "stickerize" screen. Mario can, for instance, use a refrigerator to freeze flowing lava, or a fire flower to melt some snow.
Fans of the series will really appreciate this first-time portable offering. It brings back the turn-based RPG battle style of the first two Paper Mario titles, but sadly does away with in-game partners. I prefer the turn-based style, and I sorely missed it from Super Paper Mario for the Wii.
While the lack of partners is pretty noticeable and makes the game a little lonely, Kersti (your sticker helper) is an amiable and entertaining companion. She cushions the blow of having only one attack per turn by giving Mario the opportunity to use up to three stickers per turn via the coin roller. Timed taps to the A button might yield two or three of a kind (much like a slot machine), thus providing more chances to deal greater damage to the enemies at hand. The player could also use the opportunity to apply a healing mushroom to Mario.
The game is covered with battle stickers, so players won't have to worry about scrounging up coins to buy them at the shops (shopping is an option too, of course). There are six worlds in all, and each one introduces even more stickers to use. When you start the game your Sticker Album will only have a few pages which serve as inventory space, but as you gather Sticker Comet stickers your album will increase its pages, allowing you to carry more with you at a time.
At any moment the game has given Mario everything he will need to progress, but the puzzle solutions won't always be simple. I've gotten stuck more times than I can recall at this point, and often times the answers found online resulted in me thinking, "Who would have thought to do that?!"
Sticker Star has been an absolute treat to play, and it is fair in length. Including all of the times I've achieved a Game Over screen, I'm sitting at about thirty hours of gameplay. I wish the game were longer, but that's really because I can't get enough of Paper Mario. I highly recommend picking up this title! It's a great addition to anyone's gaming library. I hope that the people over at Intelligent Systems will be teaming up with Nintendo again in the future to bring the fans even more amazing Paper Mario gameplay!
Did you pick up Paper Mario: Sticker Star? Do you plan on it? If you have a copy then what do you think so far?
p.s. If you don't have a copy yet, then be sure to enter my giveaway contest to try and win a free copy!