Shivering and Shrinking
The nights have turned chill in Los Angeles, and even though the days are still almost 80 degrees, my apartment remains a refrigerator. I have to open the windows during the day to let the warm air in. I am sitting here with two hoodies and a blanket wrapped around me, which really does make me wonder what will happen when I visit my much colder homeland. The Northeast will undoubtedly try to kill me.
While I visit my childhood home, I will continue exploring Paper Mario: Sticker Star, to the extent that I care to. The game has an interesting puzzle mechanism, in which you collect things, change them into stickers, and figure out in what way they are used. Usually it’s pretty simple, and if you can’t figure something out easily, you probably are missing the necessary item.
That leads to the exploration portion of the game. Most levels have a few different paths, and sometimes multiple endings. There are a few secrets, but not as many nor as fun to find as in the standard platforming Mario games. Placing a door sticker in every level opens a secret area, but it’s just not all that clever. That’s not to say the level design is boring. The paper theme is used to good effect. It’s just not as intricate as it was in Super Paper Mario on the Wii.
Sticker Star sees the return of the turn based RPG style combat. It’s fun at first, and the addition of timed button pressing makes it more active and engaging. After a while though, it boils down to min/maxing with a slight rock, paper, scissors feel. When I say min/maxing, I mean that you are constantly trying to use the fewest stickers to finish a battle. It is even better to avoid battle altogether, since you can only hold so many stickers, there is no experience, coins are abundant, and stickers are mostly found scattered throughout the level.
When I refer to rock, paper, scissors, I mean the three basic enemy types. There are flying enemies, ground enemies, and spiked enemies. Most items only work against one or two of those types. Flying enemies can’t be hit by most hammers, shells, or fire flowers. Spiked enemies mostly can’t be jumped on. Ground enemies are basically sitting ducks. This means that the weapons you use are mostly determined by the type of enemy you are facing. After a while, it becomes easily predictable and less fun.
Paper Mario: Sticker Star is enjoyable enough, and it has a unique sort of charm that sets it apart from other Mario games. On a whole though, I think preferred Super Paper Mario, which combined more of the standard Mario platforming with RPG elements, and more complicated point of view based puzzles.
If I had to choose between the 3DS Mario games, I think the simple platforming of New Super Mario Bros. 2 would still come out on top.