Paper Mario: Sticker Star – Nintendo’s LucasArts Adventure Meets RPG Experiment

By Spencer . November 8, 2012 . 10:48pm

The short story is Paper Mario: Sticker Star is a blend of Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door and one of LucasArts adventure games. The long story begins at the Sticker Fest.


3DS_PaperSticker_Screens_15  3DS_PaperSticker_Screens_06


Paper Mario: Sticker Star takes place when the Sticker Comet sails over the Mushroom Kingdom. Princess Peach waves to an an audience of awestruck Toadstools when Bowser suddenly crashes the party. Bowser touches the Sticker Comet and turns into a shiny sticker that crumples poor Mario. Guided by Kersti, a crown-shaped sticker, Mario sets out to collect the royal stickers before the world goes, well in the words of Paper Mario, KERBLAMMO!


Stickers are weapons – Mario’s only weapons – in Paper Mario: Sticker Star. When you run into a Goomba or a Spiny the game switches into battle mode. You can pick a sticker like hammer to whack an enemy or jump on them by using a sticker with a giant shoe on it. While you don’t select commands from a menu in this Paper Mario game, Sticker Star still has action commands. If you press A at the right time you can keep bouncing on Dry Bones or recover more health when eating a mushroom. Paper Mario: Sticker Star follows the rules of the Mario universe so if you jump on a Koopa on the field it will turn into a shell when the battle starts. Jump on it again and you’ll send the shell flying towards all of the other enemies. There are little strategies like this that make battles a breeze. Nintendo also added familiar power ups like Fire Flowers and much to my surprise the Frog Suit. Equip the Frog Suit and you can hop over enemy attacks.



After you use a sticker it’s gone, but I never ran into a situation where Mario had an empty album. Stickers are everywhere. Mario can peel them off the ground, find them in ? mark blocks use coins to buy them. Coins are almost as plentiful and you can amass a small fortune by earning bonus coins for finishing a fight without taking a scratch. Paper Mario: Sticker Star drops conventional RPG mechanics like experience points, so you might be wondering how Mario grows. Mario can gain more life by picking up heart containers hidden in levels. You also get more sticker pages as the game progresses. If you miss grinding you can revisit levels and peel all of the rare shiny stickers as many times as you want. I guess the Goombas fill up the ? mark blocks and replace all of the stickers when Mario isn’t around.


The most powerful stickers are… amusingly everyday junk. Somehow 3D objects like cans and faucets dropped into the world of Paper Mario: Sticker Star. The Toadstools call these "things" and one shop in town lets Mario fling things at a wall to turn them into stickers. 3D objects are essentially summons with elaborate cutscenes like flying scissors cutting the screen or a giant fan that blows enemies away. The downside about "things" is out of place objects take up more room in Mario’s album and cost a pretty penny to buy again.



Mario also uses stickers to solve puzzles. Remember that fan sticker? Maybe you can use it to spin a windmill and those jump stickers might be able to plug a pipe. Kersti’s special ability lets Mario "paperize" the world, which flattens the screen and allows Mario to stick stickers in certain spots. While modern games spell out puzzle solutions, Paper Mario: Sticker Star doesn’t give players obvious clues. I think most players will have to resort to trial and error at some point in the game. Alone, that’s not an issue, but you may not have the right sticker with you in the first place. So, you’ll have to search stages you already beat for something you don’t know you need. Or you might waste precious and pricey "thing" stickers hoping that a fortune cat will move the game forward. Boss battles are another roadblock in Paper Mario: Sticker Star and not because they’re overly difficult. The problem with boss battles is they’re essentially puzzles too. Bring the right sticker and you can defeat a boss easily, but if you don’t have the right combination of things Mario might hit a wall.



Since enemy fights didn’t reward Mario with much, I actively avoided battles by running away from enemies. Goombas and Koopa Paratroopas became a nuisance for exploring and that’s what Paper Mario: Sticker Star is about. Like Super Mario World, levels have multiple exits and you can open routes to hidden stages. You can even play levels out of order since Paper Mario: Sticker Star gives Mario access to three different worlds when the game begins. I hopped from World 2’s desert to World 3’s dark forest while playing Paper Mario.


3DS_PaperSticker_Screens_02 3DS_PaperSticker_Screens_03


Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door and Super Paper Mario were wordy games. Even the Mario & Luigi RPG titles had a fair amount of dialogue. In comparison, Paper Mario: Sticker Star doesn’t have as much story to it. Bowser Jr. and Kamek sneak in a few jokes, but most of the gags in Paper Mario: Sticker Star are visual. You’ll watch as Toadstools turn themselves into a staircase and see a Yoshi sphinx. I kept playing Paper Mario: Sticker Star because I wanted to see what wacky thing was around the corner.


Super Paper Mario was in a genre of its own as an experimental side-scrolling action RPG. Paper Mario: Sticker Star isn’t quite a role playing game either. It’s a puzzle game with a RPG battle system. It’s interesting and witty, but also frustrating at times with unnecessary battles and vague puzzles. Paper Mario: Sticker Star is worth a look because it’s different, but don’t expect an epic quest like the first two Paper Mario titles.

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  • I am still sold myself

    Any rpg features and I am a sucker for it. Ive read alot of reviews so far, and theyve been positive. 

  • Elvick

    I’m still bummed that the stickers are attacks. I don’t like that. I’ll still buy it, and still probably have fun with it (Had fun with Super Paper Mario too) but it still bums me out.

  • Crevox

    I thought Paper Mario would draw me to buy a 3DS, but I guess I was wrong. I’m not interested in this game, sadly. It seems like they’re just getting worse over time.

    • Arrei

      How’d you come to that conclusion, when TTYD was an improvement, Super was a spin-off, and you’re not going to play Sticker Star?

      •  TTYD is an amazing example of how to improve upon a sequel. Super Paper Mario is an amazing example of how to miss the point entirely, and being a spin-off isn’t any real excuse for that.

        I get the odd feeling that the dev team has sort of given up on the classic Paper Mario system, most likely because they either: A. Think they cannot top TTYD, or B. They are lazy; and really want to make this series a cash-grab.

        Either way, I get Final Fantasy Mystic Quest Vibes every time I play this new game, and it really just feels like a dumbed down game experience all around. Should being a spin-off excuse that? I really don’t think it should, but I’m sure for some it will be ample enough reason to defend it.

        • “I get the odd feeling that the dev team has sort of given up on the classic Paper Mario system, most likely because they either: A. Think they cannot top TTYD, or B. They are lazy; and really want to make this series a cash-grab.”

          Or they wanted to try something new? If they’re lazy, why would they even bother building an entirely new game (Super Paper Mario) with different mechanics and puzzle types?

          When a series retains its old concepts, people accuse developers of milking the series. When developers try something different, people complain about not being the same anymore. Between those situations, I’d rather let developers experiment and create as they like without holding any grudge – considering this is a creative work industry.

        • Parker Stover

          TTYD was worse than the original, the level design was boring, the bosses were less memorable, and though the side characters were overflowing with quirks they were less likable than the original cast.  It had it’s great moments (Rawk hawk, vivian), but who can say anything in TTYD was better than Tubba Blubba’s castle, or Shy Guy’s Toybox?  

          Super Paper mario didn’t restrict itself to being a carbon copy of the first two games, and what resulted was one of the best stories in a mario rpg, a decent mix of two game elements, and charming aesthetic.  

          Don’t be blinded by nostalgia and complain when everything isn’t exactly the same as the old, that’s when real cash grabs are made and games lose inspiration.  Being tied to the Paper Mario franchise is starting to look like Sticker Star’s weakness, not its strength.  If anything, blame that, and not the game for being a spinoff.  

        • Arrei

          And here’s a conundrum.

          Super Paper Mario was the third PM game, and came out six years after the original.
          New Super Mario Bros. 2 was the third New Super Mario game, and came out six years after the original.

          One gets flak for being different. The other gets flak for being the same.

          It can’t go both ways. People are intolerant of change on one end, and demanding change on the other. The gaming public is sending developers this kind of mixed message and I can’t help but wonder if we’re maybe just missing the point, fixating on how much has or hasn’t changed in a game instead of just… enjoying the game.

  • Mrgrgr and Unacceptable World

    I am still going to get this game though even with its difference.^_^ My 3DS are surely in need for more rpg here. And if this game does well, i am sure that more rpg goodness is going to come here.^_^

  • Dyne

    what no cake?

  • so. . . less story, battles are more a nuisance than fun, and you really are just looking for ways to get out of levels?


    Super really has set a bad precedence for the series as a whole. It’s like it’s lost it’s charm. From the iconic battle system being all but gone, to the fun characters you teamed up with, hell even the throwbacks to older games.

    Stickers feels like more of the same from Super; and if you liked that, you’ll love this. For me, it felt like I was playing FF Mystic Quest again. An alright game, but obviously only there to fill in for the real Paper Mario games that we will hopefully see. . . one day. . . maybe.

  • Ben Sylvia

    But does going around and peeling stickers off walls to restock your stickers ever become a chore?

  • Seems way better than Super Paper Mario and that’s a plus for me.  Seems like they are focusing more on interactions and I like the more puzzle oriented feel for bosses.

  • Anthony Black

    Darn, this game just keeps disappointing me. I really hope they eventually release a true Paper Mario 3, in the like of Paper Mario N64 and Paper Mario TTYD. I was already bothered by the requirement of stickers for every type of attack instead of just item attacks, because it restricts tactic considerably, but I could tolerate that, as well as the removal of experience points (the latter would actually be a cool idea in a normal Paper Mario game, because it would prevent you from brute-forcing your way through battles and would make you put even more tactical thought into it).

    I was actually planning on buying this, but now that I know its almost nothing like the classic Paper Mario games, I think I’ll pass. Maybe I’ll rent it, if I can find a place that rents out 3DS games, but otherwise…

  • XiaomuArisu

    Change is good,but too much is not good.
    Well if I want good rpgs I will get Bravely Default and Fire Emblem.

  • Tarlol

    If they’re going to shift the focus that far, why even keep traditional rpg battles? Ugh, I’ll pass – the dialog always carried Paper Mario for me, so hearing this game is more about exploration is too bad. Puzzles sound fun, though.

    • Arrei

      If the dialogue is what carried Paper Mario, that’s still there, according to most reviews of the game. Visual gags may be more prevalent when exploring, but the other games mostly had the funny dialogue coming in towns and encounters with the bad guys anyway.

      What most reviews have been meaning by lighter emphasis on story is that even amidst all the jokes and chatter TTYD and Super had something fairly deep behind the plot.

      If the game’s story is lighter than those, then that means it’s more akin to the original’s story, which was basically “Bowser done screwed the kingdom, go fix it and have zany adventures on the way”.

      • Tarlol

        That’s not what I’m picking up from this review. It pretty specifically says the dialog has been cut back. I might pick it up in the first big sale I see, but for me TTYD wasn’t really a “deep” story, it was just a fun adventure with cool characters and I’m not really getting that vibe at all here. Could be wrong, I guess, but it doesn’t feel like it’s worth risking 40.

        • Arrei

          Apparently Fry’s is having a sale on it right now. Or this weekend. I’m not sure about in-store yet, but the site has a special $29.99 price listed at the moment. 

          And yes, I know what the review says. I read more than one review to get a better handle on what to expect, though, and the ones that mentioned story talked of it being less deep, not of having less dialogue.

          The main thing reviews have told me that I’m iffy about is not having much incentive to battle enemies because you have to ration stickers, but at the same time they told me you have more than enough coins and stickers, so I guess I’ll take that to heart and not worry too much about using too many normal attack stickers.

  • malek86

    To be honest, saying that this game is remindful of Lucasarts adventure games, and then saying it’s light on story and dialogue… the Lucasarts adventures of the golden era pretty much lived and died by their zany dialogue and plots :P

    Then again, I’m kinda nitpicking here.

  • Starting off with a comparison with LucasArts adventure games is a surefire way to stop me from reading and running out to buy it.

  • Zenthos

    And once again we have this bland boring fairy as a partner instead of great detailed characters with backstorys like the first two in the series. *Sigh why did they have to take the pixie gimmick from super paper mario and put it in this game. A few circles,triangles and squares DO NOT MAKE A LOVABLE PARTNER. 

    So let me get this straight. You get no experience points for fighting enemy’s? Thats rich, as if super paper mario was bad enough it at least had a exp system and now this game has none? Theirs no point for turned based if its just a headache. Whats the point of fighting enemy’s if you don’t get stronger by fighting them? So instead of fighting awesome fights and getting rewards like getting stronger I will instead avoid fighting enemy’s just to get past the level. That basically destroys the point of HAVING enemy’s,whats the point of fighting them if you DON’T GET EXP? WHY!?

    Story is not as good as the other Paper Mario’s.
    No Partners.
    No exp.
    Stickers replace action commands
    Stickers are limited and you have to buy them or gain them form enemy’s.
     Im starting to look forward to a new Mario and Luigi rpg game, as they always get the rpg concept right.Instead of trying to make a watered down version of the previous games, why not improve on the main rpg system. The only good thing I have to say about this game is that the graphics are good, and that alone is not worth 40$’s. I would rather play TTYD again like I always do, hell I would even play the horrifying Super Paper Mario than this piece of garbage. Their are other games that deserve peoples attention, like that DQ remake.

    • Göran Isacson

      Funny enough, what I’ve been reading says that the battle system is this games true strength, and that each fight becomes much more involving since it’s more about strategy in the moment rather than building up strength and bruteforcing your way through. I guess it all depends on how you approach the game- if you don’t really care about the story more than the fights and gameplay, this is probably a good game. If you’re more about story than gameplay, this is probably not going to be very fun for you.

      • Zenthos

        “Funny enough, what I’ve been reading says that the battle system is this games true strength, and that each fight becomes much more involving since it’s more about strategy in the moment rather than building up strength and bruteforcing your way through.”
        I just rented this game from gamefly, so now I have a better perspective of how this game lays out. 

        The thing powering up by choosing health attack or badge points of the previous games was a main strategy. You also had to mange your fp for the different moves you used not to mention the partners and TONS (even more than sticker star’s stickers) of badges you used. So no, this “sticker” system doesn’t make this game more strategic. Power housing your way through? Blasphemy. Dont make me laugh.

        With sticker stars “thing stickers” or any ordinary type, can practically blast through any enemy that comes your way so don’t tell me the past games were “power housing”. 

        “I guess it all depends on how you approach the game- if you don’t really care about the story more than the fights and gameplay, this is probably a good game. If you’re more about story than gameplay, this is probably not going to be very fun for you.”

        Isn’t story one of the BASIC BUILDING BLOCKS of an rpg? It waters down its own game mechanics to the point of extinction, so I thought the story would at least do well and it certainly does not. I cant stress how this game stumbles before its predecessors.

        • Göran Isacson

          See, I’ve never been the one to consider action RPG’s story the one sacred cow they must never kill. There are after all tons of people who are just into dungeon crawling games that are all about stats and character customization, and those are still counted as RPG’s. But different folks, different strokes I guess.

  • Masengan

    I was looking forward to this one but one thing I LOVE about RPGs is leveling up and killing things to get stronger if I get stucl, so another one I’ll pass.

    • Krisi92

      I guess you don’t like Zelda games either.

      • Masengan

        Not really a fan of Zelda games, I consider them Action Adventure RPGs and they work great, I just don’t think a turned based RPG with no exp from monsters will be fun for me.

  • Aimie

    Super Mario is a brand that is commonly known by people in every nation globally. Once your kid numbers out who he or she wants to encourage, they may provide them fun during school time. Because kids really like these vinyl stickers and decals so much, it would be a no-brainer to have them play that.

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