Paper Mario Sticker Star: peel here for fun

Friday, 7th December 2012 08:51 GMT By Dave Cook

Paper Mario is back in the relentlessly charming Sticker Star on 3DS. VG247′s Dave Cook dives into Nintendo’s papercraft world and reminisces about his old sticker collection.

Stickers are something that many of us grew up with. Swapping sticky images of football’s biggest stars in the playground, spending pocket money on a pack at our local grocers, and punching the air in excitement when that one elusive, shiny sticker came along.

It’s amazing how addictive hoarding could be when you were an ’90s kid, as anyone who used to have a collection of Pogs, Boglins, Monsters in my Pocket or Beanie Babies will surely agree. But stickers were head and shoulders above the pack. It was a simple and inexpensive way to spend your pocket money, and yet you still felt like you were investing that 10p wisely.

It was like, ‘Sod buying a poke of cola bottles, I’ve got a rare Eric Cantona sticker to hunt down’, but then you’d usually end up with two normal edition Paul Scholes instead. Disappointing indeed, but at the height of the sticker craze, few feelings could match tearing open that pack in the hope that something special lay inside.

This is a feeling Nintendo and developer Intelligent Systems has tried to re-create in Paper Mario: Sticker Star, as it has tons of normal stickers to collect, a large album to fill and yes indeed, several rare ‘shinies’. It’s a fun hybrid of mechanics from previous Paper Mario titles, so it caters to all fans of the series, but with a new sticker combat system threaded throughout.

In this new take on the Paper Mario world, Princess Peach is hosting Sticker Fest, an annual event in the town of Decalburg, in which citizens come from far and wide to see the Sticker Comet fly over the sky. Rumour has it if you see the comet and make a wish, it’ll come true, so it’s no surprise that Bowser pops up and tries to steal the comet for himself.

It’s a pedestrian story – as predictable as the coming of night – but the Paper Mario series continues to be so damn charming that you hardly care, and to be honest, the writing on offer here is absolutely hilarious and is peppered with an oddly British sense of humour.

Ah Mario’s jump. Timeless.

Now, I don’t know if the UK localisation team got their paws on the dialogue, but I’m petty sure Japanese gamers don’t constantly call each other ‘mate’ or indulge in regular ‘cups o’ tea’, suggesting that yes, they did have some input. Either way the humour is cracking and really drives you forward.

So then, to the stickers. As Mario explores each stage he can peel stickers off the scenery and paste them into his album, or gather them up from defeated enemies. His scrapbook only consists of a few pages at first, but it doesn’t take long until you’re carefully re-arranging a large collection of stickers using the 3DS touch screen, desperately trying to cram more in.

Anyone who’s spent a good two or three minutes dicking about with Leon’s attaché case in Resident Evil 4 so those extra grenades will fit in will know that this – like sticker hoarding – is oddly satisfying. You’ll find yourself doing this a lot to wedge more rare ‘shinies’ into your collection as you’ll need as many as you can get.

Stickers are important as they’re your only weapon against Bowser’s army of Goombas and Koopa Troopers. You start a battle by hitting enemies with Mario’s hammer, or coming into contact with them, and this takes you to a turn-based arena where you can call out your stickers to activate attacks.

There are stickers for Mario’s trademark jump attack, ranged Fire Flower bursts, POW blocks that act like smart bombs and even Bob-Ombs that can be hurled at groups of enemies. Everything has a purpose here, and rare shiny versions of standard stickers signify that they deal extra damage. As such, these rare stickers are best kept for boss battles.

That’s not all however, as your floating companion – and guardian of the Sticker Comet -Kersti gives Mario the power to turn 3D objects into large, even rarer ‘shinies’ that have powerful properties. They’re comparable to summons in the Final Fantasy in that they can wipe out a whole screen of enemies in one swoop – often with drawn out and frankly insane results.

This mechanic also factors in to the game’s puzzles, but they are threadbare at best. Basically if you get stuck, try to turn things into a sticker and chances are it’ll work. It’s the same as Super Paper Mario’s flip mechanic that gave doled out mild brain-teasers along the way. However, that’s not to say that your ‘stickerfied’ 3D objects are insanely fun.

Some stand-out object attacks include the Lucky Cat, a totem that paints the background in a glorious Japanese art style before tripling in size and stomping on top of enemies repeatedly. You can also call on a squadron of flying scissors to shred enemies to pieces, or use a tap to flood your paper foes until they turn into squishy damp wads.

Got it. Got it. Need it. Got it.

While these attacks are absolutely crazy, they play into the madcap style of the game’s humour. You can also use healing items and defensive stickers – such as a spiked helmet to repel jumping enemies – to even the odds, but as intriguing as the sticker mechanic is, it is also one of the game’s greatest flaws.

If you run out of stickers mid level – and you absolutely will if you try to defeat every enemy in stage – you can’t do a thing in battles except run away. That becomes a problem when you realise that all stages are book-ended by a boss. All you can do is get yourself killed and try again.

There are some attack boosters and defensive moves you can trigger without stickers handy, such as tapping the action button just before an enemy strikes to block, and you can also increase your own attack damage by tapping just before your hit lands, but base attacks require stickers, and as such, resource management is vital.

This becomes more manageable as new album pages are doled out along the way – rather than a traditional XP levelling system – but it can prove irritating at the outset, especially as you have to throw stickers away to make room for others. It’s almost like swapping and hunting down elusive stickers in real life, but with less satisfaction.

Like the recently-released New Super Mario Bros. U, Intelligent Systems has focused predominately on the enemies and backdrops of Super Mario World – although cameos from other games pop up as well – and while it doesn’t offer the deepest combat mechanic by a long stretch, Paper Mario: Sticker Star still manages to entertain and engage.

Most of the fun comes from the game’s paper world, which crumples and folds – one early scene featuring a rolled up city is particularly hilarious – and where enemies can roll themselves into cones to give themselves spiked defence, fold themselves into spinning origami ninja stars, or stick together to grow larger and more powerful. It’s playful, just like sticker-collecting can be for young minds.

I don’t know if kids still collect stickers any more, but I absolutely loved the feeling that came with finishing a sticker album, considering how much of my pocket money and time went into chasing those last pieces of my collection.

I’d spend so long looking for that last sticker, trading with mates, offering some of my lunch money as a little added incentive, and shortly after I’d complete an album, it became old news. What’s fun about having a completed sticker album? There’s no more chase, no more searching for those rare collectibles, nothing. But the journey was always worth it.

That’s a parallel to be drawn with this game. Mechanically, you see everything the game has to offer rather quickly, but Mario’s quest through bright papercraft worlds and nostalgic encounters with a wide range of classic characters drives you on.

If you enjoy the Paper Mario series, or just Mario’s adventures in general, then this is an essential addition to you collection, even if it just falls short of ‘shiny’ status.


  • To assist in writing this piece, Dave was sent a download code for Paper Mario: Sticker Star. No official event was attended, and no other merchandise was offered.



  1. mistermogul

    I’m gutted they’ve dropped the leveling up in this game. I’m expecting to be disappointed…

    #1 2 years ago
  2. Dave Cook

    @1 It’a alright to be honest. You get traditional ‘level up’ rewards on a level-by-level basis instead. it’s fun, but not perfect. The combat mechanic holds few secrets. But still, it’s quirky and fun. Depends how much depth you want really.

    #2 2 years ago
  3. mistermogul

    @Dave – cool man.

    I think after reading the reviews/feedback I was just a bit disappointed to hear that it didn’t follow in Thousand Year Door’s footsteps which is one of my fav RPG’s of all…

    No doubt I’ll still enjoy it though :)

    #3 2 years ago
  4. monkeygourmet


    Did you play on the 3DSXL?

    Is it a better experience on the bigger screen, still on the fence about upgrading?

    #4 2 years ago
  5. Dave Cook

    @4 I didn’t actually, just the standard. I’m not on the fence about the hardware as such. I tried one at launch and loved it, but I need there to be more software out there to convince me.

    That said, I’m loving my Virtual Console releases at the moment. Just give me a a desert island with a power socket and Kirby’s Pinball Land and I’d be happy forever.

    #5 2 years ago
  6. polygem

    @Dave, thx for a full blown feature of a 3ds game. will definitley get this, but not yet…too much stuff i yet have to play on the other consoles.

    @monkey: i upgraded and i don´t regret it BUT, just like with your wiiu now, my first 3dsxl was broken and needed a replacement. now everything´s fine though. in your position i would just keep my 3ds. you can always upgrade, the thing will only get cheaper and/or better.
    imho the 3dsxl is great but the standard 3ds is just fine too. i really cannot say which one i prefer. the screen is definiteley more crisp on the old one, the xl screen is -guess what – B I G G E R…overall i don´t think an upgrade is a must. the original 3ds is sexy too.

    #6 2 years ago
  7. polygem

    oh you got one already…you asked dave. okeydokey. now i got it…well my thoughts about that stay the same ;)

    #7 2 years ago
  8. Dave Cook

    @7 no worries, glad you liked it :)

    #8 2 years ago
  9. ManuOtaku

    This and Persona 4 golden edition on vita are my top pics for handhelds this year, i cannot wait for neither of them, thanks for your view of the game dave, keep the good work, and dont let yourself down for some commenters, you are doing a nice job here.

    #9 2 years ago
  10. polygem

    Manu…now that you´re here….hurry man. your ninty id isn´t taken yet, checked yesterday.

    #10 2 years ago
  11. monkeygourmet


    Lol, no not yet Poly. Still thinking about upgrading to the Yellow Pikachu one that’s just come out in the UK! :)

    #11 2 years ago
  12. tom_nash

    Haha there were always too many Paul Scholes stickers. Have you seen this video game tournament…just watching it and they are competing by playing most of the super Mario games.

    #12 2 years ago
  13. ManuOtaku

    #10 Poly thanks i might do it later today, is that iam scare, here power outage are pretty common, in the last few days we didnt have any, so iam afraid of doing it, and then bang, my Wii U bricked, iam waiting for one to happen, a power outage i mean, when one happens it takes a few days to happen another one, like lighting it never strikes twice, therefore it will be the safetest bet to do it, iam holding it :)

    #13 2 years ago
  14. polygem

    @monkey: the pikachu 3dsxl looks fantastic indeed. was tempted too, but cooled myself down. i like my red one. matches my wii u and red wiimotes perfectly ;)
    @Manu: ok, i hear you. for me the patch didn´t take that long, maybe 35-40 minutes, even that could be too long if in that time there will be an outage – i know. you´ll have to update some games too though. i can understand that you hesitate after all those experiences people shared online…by the way: the cod community on the wii u is indeed “different” i am king there atm ;) i hope this will never change.
    it´s unbelieveable cool to play some cod in bed on the tablet. wont play mp like that though, played mp with the pro controller. a great controller, really almost as good as the 360 one, maybe even just as good or better. depends on your preferences (dpad is great on that thing, triggers feel a bit better on the 360 pad, but much better than on the dualshock – in my opinion)feels great in the hands, just right. i got to get used to the stick/buttons layout, esp. in cod but i already do love that thing. controller IS important on a console. both wiiu controllers are great.

    #14 2 years ago
  15. absolutezero

    I’m totally on the fence about this, I was one of the few that actually really enjoyed Super Paper Mario I thought it was great. Of course Thousand Year Door is the star of the series so far, wonderful game.

    I dunno I just have no been grabbed by the 3DS version at all. In fact I have not bought anything on the 3DS since Kid Icarus and Theatrhythm

    #15 2 years ago
  16. mistermogul

    @monkey – I upgraded to a 3DS XL in October and I must say I would never go back to normal 3DS now. The screens are obviously bigger (the same resolution doesn’t make a difference on the bigger screens imo) but the biggest bonus is the fact it’s much more comfortable to hold over longer gaming sessions.

    My hands used to feel pain after a while on the smaller 3DS but are fine on the bigger one. Extra battery life is good too.

    If you were to ask me I’d say jump off the fence on the XL side ;)

    #16 2 years ago
  17. monkeygourmet


    The hand cramp was the biggest problem! Will def upgrade when I can get around to it! :)

    #17 2 years ago

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