Paper Mario: Sticker Star
Paper Mario: Sticker Star is an action-adventure, role-playing game for the Nintendo 3DS developed by Intelligent Systems. As the fourth installment in the Paper Mario series, it is the first Paper Mario title to be released for a handheld console. It is preceded by Super Paper Mario from 2007, and was succeeded by Paper Mario: Color Splash in 2016.
The story begins on the night of the Sticker Fest, where the citizens of Decalburg have gathered to witness the Sticker Comet, which is said to make everyone's wishes come true. While Princess Peach, Mario and the Toads celebrate the event, Bowser and his minions show up suddenly, planning to steal the Sticker Comet. He touches the comet, causing it to break into six Royal Stickers, which are scattered throughout Decalburg and other worlds. One of them falls on Bowser’s head, making him much more powerful. Mario tries to stop him, but is overpowered, and later wakes up to discover that the Sticker Fest is in ruins, and the princess is missing as well as several Toads. Shortly after, Mario meets Kersti, who accuses Mario of touching the Sticker Comet. Mario explains that it was Bowser who touched the comet and agrees to help her find the Royal Stickers. Kersti introduces herself as caretaker of the Royal Stickers, and becomes Mario's companion for his adventure.
Mario starts by finding or freeing the Toads hidden or taped down by Bowser, getting both a hammer and album in the process. After rescuing the Toads, Mario heads toward the plaza and discovers the area rolled up. The Toads push hard enough to unroll the town and return it to normal. As Mario leaves the town, he gets ambushed by a trio of Goombas. Kersti uses the opportunity to explain how to use stickers in battle, and Mario defeats the Goombas, allowing him to exit the plaza and explore nearby worlds.
Mario starts his travels in World 1, a land filled with grasslands and mountains. In W 1-1, Warm Fuzzy Plains, Mario and Kersti meet a group of Toads hunting for stickers, one of whom who runs into them and drops a special Scissors sticker. Bowser Jr. appears and demands they give him the sticker, but is defeated. Infuriated, he crumples up the bridge and throws the scrap up onto a high ledge Mario cannot reach. Mario and Kersti get help from the group of Toads, who form stairs for them, allowing them to reach the ledge. Kersti then teaches Mario how to paperize, allowing them to fix the bridge and progress. Before they can reach their first Comet Piece, however, they must battle the trio of Goombas previously fought in Decalburg. After they are defeated a second time, the Comet Piece can be collected.
In W 1-3, Water's Edge Way, the Toad from before runs into Mario a second time, having been chased again. He gives Mario an album page and flees, letting him deal with Kamek. After Kamek is defeated, he attempts to slow them down by using paperization to pull the Comet Piece out of place, then tossing it away. Mario and Kersti must then search for the Comet Piece, then use their paperization skills to put the comet piece back in place, allowing them to collect it and complete the level.
Later on, in W 1-4, Hither Thither Hill, Mario must lead a Green Toad back to Decalburg, who in return gives him a hint for the combination of 4 number blocks inside the windmill. This leads him underground, where he must battle a Big Buzzy Beetle to get one of his first HP-Up Hearts. In W 1-5, Whammino Mountain, Mario can scale a mountain infested with Spinys where a Blue Toad must be rescued.
Finally, Mario and Kersti arrive at W 1-6, Goomba Fortress, where the first Royal Sticker is held. Mario travels through the fortress, dealing with puzzles and Bob-omb attacks along the way. Finally, he and Kersti reach the top of the fortress, where they confront a Goomba corrupted by the Royal Sticker and his minions, who battle them as Megasparkle Goomba. Near the end of the battle, the Megasparkle Goomba splits up and the other Goombas abandon their leader, claiming that the Royal Sticker is destroying who they are. The angered Goomba attempts to battle on his own, but Mario is able to defeat him and collect the first Royal Sticker.
Mario and Kersti then use stickers to unlock a doorway leading to World 2, which has a desert theme. They first travel through W 2-1, Drybake Desert, where they must scale a large pyramid and find a hidden treasure chest containing a mysterious tablet piece. Next, they explore the outside and inside of the Yoshi Sphinx, where they battle Kamek a second time, this time with all of Mario's stickers being turned into flip flops. After he is defeated, he flees, allowing Mario to collect the second tablet piece.
Afterward, Mario and Kersti traverse through W 2-3, Sandshifter Ruins, an underground labyrinth with two Comet Pieces. A secret ending takes them to W 2-4, Damp Oasis, which is being destroyed due to a sandstorm. After stopping the sandstorm and filling up a pool with water, they find their third and final tablet piece.
They use the recovered table pieces at W 2-5 to uncover Drybake Stadium, which Kamek had used his magic to fold up. After solving many puzzles and traveling to the top floor, Mario faces Tower Power Pokey, the guardian of the second Royal Sticker. By defeating him, Mario and Kersti recover the second Royal Sticker.
The next world is World 3, which is forest-themed. At the entrance of Leaflitter Path is a sleeping Wiggler, who must be awakened. He tells Mario that he was looking for food, due to the entire forest being polluted by poison. Mario and Kersti decide to help Wiggler and agree to follow him to his house. However, after venturing deeper in the forest, Wiggler is snatched by Poison Bloopers.
After going through a maze known as The Bafflewood in W 3-2, Mario and Kersti arrive at W 3-3, Wiggler's Tree House, where they discover that Wiggler has been broken into five segments by Kamek's magic, four of which have run away to different parts of the forest. Mario and Kersti agree to find the segments and bring them back to Wiggler.
Mario and Kersti travel throughout the entire forest, where each Wiggler Segment must be found, battled, and brought back to Wiggler. Various events happen along the way, such as Mario losing his entire inventory (including his Hammer and Kersti) in W 3-9, Rustle Burrow, and retrieving a Wiggler segment from a game show known as Snifit or Whiffit in W 3-10, Stump Glade.
In W 3-12, Whitecap Beach, the poison is discovered to be coming from a nearby island. Here, the last Wiggler Segment, after freeing it from Poison Bloopers, is enraged by this and runs to Surfshine Harbor to get a boat and reach the island. The Toad that owns the boat refuses, because a fishing boat was recently lost at the island. After this, the Wiggler Segment decides to finally return home.
After Mario and Kersti reattach Wiggler by using their paperization skills, he decides that he has had enough and helps them by taking them to the island where the poison comes from. There, it is shown that Gooper Blooper, corrupted by the third Royal Sticker, is the cause of the poison in the forest. After defeating the Blooper, the poison disappears from the ocean and the forest, and Mario is able to obtain a third Royal Sticker. Afterward, the forest returns to its regular state, and Wiggler is able to eat leaves from the forest as a result.
To reach the other worlds, Mario and Kersti require the boat from Surfshine Harbor. However, they must first help the sailor Toad by cutting a rope attaching the boat to the dock, finding the ship's wheel in a dark storage room, and battling a Big Cheep Cheep. After it is defeated, the Toad retires from sailing, enabling Mario to use the boat as he wishes.
World 4 has a snow theme. As Mario and Kersti travel through it, they come across The Enigmansion, where its steward is sitting outside due to the mansion being haunted by Boos which have been freed from the Book of Sealing. He gives Mario the task of finding all 100 of them, sealing them back in the book, and placing it on the pedestal in the basement. After the task is completed, Kamek reveals himself, claiming that he released the Boos by accident when he was looking for a novel about stickers. He tears out the pages of the book, and crumples them together to form a Big Boo, and leaves, leaving Mario to fight him. After the Big Boo is defeated and sealed again in the book, the steward thanks Mario by inviting him to enjoy tea, as well as letting Mario have the Forebear's Portrait, which is a portrait of the Enigmansion's previous steward.
Mario and Kersti then head to W 4-5, Whiteout Valley, where they use the portrait to fill a hole. The forebear thanks Mario by starting up the ski lift, which Mario rides to reach W 4-5, Bowser's Snow Fort, a minecart roller coaster which Mario must ride to reach the Bowser Snow Statue, which he must battle to collect the fourth Royal Sticker. After breaking it down, it is revealed to be Mizzter Blizzard, a snowman who reveals that he only wanted a body that wouldn't melt, and although the Royal Sticker gave him that, it also corrupted his mind. When Mizzter Blizzard is defeated and the fourth Royal Sticker can be obtained, his final request is for Mario to rebuild him next winter, so they can meet on more peaceful terms.
If the player returns to the Enigmansion, the forebear has returned, and the former steward is now a servant. Leaving the world also causes Bowser Jr. to intercept and fight Mario. By defeating him again, Bowser Jr. retreats once more, this time to his father's castle.
At the next world, which has a tropical/jungle theme, Mario and Kersti travel through a forested area where Spear Guys steal pieces of a bridge that requires crossing, ride a raft while avoiding dangerous obstacles, and get chased by a massive Cheep Chomp. This is followed by Chomp Ruins, where Mario must battle a massive Chain Chomp (after waking him up). Afterward, Mario and Kersti start their trek to the volcano itself, starting with W 5-5, Rugged Road.
At W 5-6, Rumble Volcano, Mario and Kersti fall into a pit, trapping them inside the volcano. Petey Piranha who is in possession of the fifth Royal Sticker, eats Kersti, rendering Mario unable to get advice or paperize. Mario uses Chain Chomps to balance out a platform, taking him to the level with Petey Piranha, where he must be battled. During the battle, Kersti is spat up, and helps Mario for the rest of the battle by enabling him to use the Battle Spinner again. After his defeat, Petey Piranha disappears, leaving behind yet another Royal Sticker.
As they arrive at Gate Cliff, the five Royal Stickers begin to react. As Mario places them on the wall, he can paperize and flip it, revealing Bowser's castle, which flies to the sky, out of Mario's reach. Upon hearing mention of a creature flying over the forest and by heading to Wiggler's house, they find out Wiggler has matured into Flutter. Wanting to repay Mario and Kersti for restoring the forest to its current condition, Wiggler flies the pair up to W 6-2, Bowser Jr.'s Flotilla, where he remains for the remainder of the game. Here, Mario defeats Bowser Jr. for the final time, and is able to reach Bowser's Sky Castle.
At the castle, Mario faces and defeats Kamek for the last time. With him out of the way, Mario is able to continue on to Bowser at the final area of the castle, where Princess Peach is taped to a chain. During the final showdown, which is separated into five stages, Bowser performs events intending to slow Mario down, including summoning allies to fight alongside him, summoning a Whomp, and summoning a small Chain Chomp, retreating each time.
After the Chain Chomp is deflected back at Bowser, he falls down into a pit with the last Royal Sticker, and emerges seconds later as a much larger, stronger version of himself. With any attack dealing little damage to him, Kersti comes to the realization that something must be done. She sacrifices herself by turning into a sticker, which Mario uses to significantly boost his attacks. Before she disappears, however, Kersti apologizes for all the hassle she caused to him and says goodbye. With his increased power, Mario defeats Bowser, releasing him from the Royal Sticker's control. Mario then frees Peach and uses the Royal Stickers to wish for everything to return to normal. After Peach congratulates Mario and the rest of the kingdom for their success, Bowser attempts to steal the Sticker Comet once again, only for the revived Kersti to intervene. She jokes that she wants to change her career, and Mario, Peach, and Bowser laugh, ending the game.
After forgoing the classic battle system in favor of a sidescrolling platformer-style system in Super Paper Mario, Paper Mario: Sticker Star returns to the turn-based system from the first two installments. However, players have to gather stickers, which are necessary both for solving puzzles and gaining battle commands. Stickers are a major part of the gameplay and storyline. Some real-world objects (called Things) appear in the form of stickers, and they also have the ability to be used to attack and overcome obstacles. Instead of leveling up from experience points as in the previous installments, Mario must find HP-Up Hearts, which each increase his current HP by 5 and increase attack power from First Strikes. Stickers replace Badges from the first two installments of the series. A new feature is the "Battle Spinner" slot machine which allows Mario to attack with multiple stickers in one turn, gain coins, or cause a different event to occur, depending on the combination received..
In addition, the gameplay places a lot more emphasis on the "paper" aspect than the previous games, containing status elements directly related to paper materials such as "soggy," "clipped," or "tacked;" additionally, the enemies sometimes transform themselves to better reflect the papery nature of their designs (e.g., a Goomba occasionally becoming a cone Goomba), transform as part of an attack (e.g., the Koopa Troopas), or simply resemble paper to begin with (e.g., the Big Boo fought in World 4-3). Many characters actively refer to themselves as existing within a paper world, most notably Kersti. The world's environments also resemble craft materials like cardboard. A few enemies that debuted in Super Mario Bros. 2 appear, such as Shy Guys, Snifits and Ninjis, the latter making their Paper Mario series debut here.
When Mario battles an enemy, the screen will flash a certain color with the word saying "Fight" when the battle starts. It is a blue screen when Mario touches an enemy outside battle. If Mario hammers or jumps on an enemy, the words will say "Nice" with the blue screen along with a small fanfare jingle. However if Mario jumps on a spiky enemy such as a Spiny or a Piranha Plant or if Mario gets hit by the First Strike outside battle in this game, the screen will be red and orange as soon as Mario enters it. If Mario defeats all of the enemies on the first turn of the battle, then "Perfect Bonus" will appear on the screen, which earns Mario bonus coins.
Enemies that assist other enemies before entering the battle do a unique animation:
Stickers are the only items to appear in Paper Mario: Sticker Star. They serve as the only method of attack, items to solve puzzles, and the like. Stickers can be found anywhere in levels, being stuck across the environment and inside blocks, and can also be purchased in shops. Any stickers collected are stored in the album.
Types of stickers
There are many types of stickers, but the two main types are Jump stickers and Hammer stickers. Jump stickers include Jump, Hopslipper, Line Jump, and Iron Jump. Most Jump stickers can attack all enemies that are not spiked or have some other hazard on top of them. Hammer stickers include Hammer, Eekhammer, Slaphammer, and Hurlhammer. Most of them can hit all enemies except ones that wield wings, Spear Guys when holding their spear horizontally, or some other type of flying device, such as Kamek's broom.
There are also stickers that support Mario in battle, such as Spike Helmets that give Mario a helmet that damages all enemies that attack him from above. Also in this category are Mushrooms that heal Mario and Leaf stickers that execute all action commands perfectly for one turn.
Other types of attack stickers include Fire Flower and Ice Flower stickers that burn and freeze enemies, respectively. Certain enemies also occasionally drop stickers that represent their weapons - for example, Sombrero Guys occasionally drop Sombrero stickers, and Bob-ombs drop Bomb stickers.
There are 2 special stickers that only appear in battle and then disappear when the battle is finished. Kamek turns all of Mario's stickers into Flip-flop stickers during the Kamek battles in World 2-2 and 6-3. Flip-flop stickers are similar to Eekhammers because they strike multiple times in a hammer-like fashion. Flip-flop stickers also retain their power status, i.e. a Shiny Jump sticker is a Shiny Flip-flop, a Megaflash Slaphammer is a Megaflash Flip-flop, etc. Flip-flops of the same size will appear the same, even if it is Shiny or Flashy. Once Flip-flops are used, they are gone from the sticker book, meaning that the player cannot get that sticker back once the battle is completed and their inventory is returned to normal.
The second sticker of this kind is none other than Kersti, who will enter Mario's sticker book during the final stage of the Bowser battle. She will activate the Battle Spinner and will automatically give Mario a whopping five slots for stickers per turn. Even though Kersti will disappear from the sticker book once used, Mario wishes her to be alive again, so he can still Paperize and talk to Kersti after the battle.
Although neither sticker can be tossed or sold in shops, selling Kersti is mentioned twice in the game: entering Decalburg's shop for the first time, and right before Kersti enters Mario's sticker book when battling Bowser. Also, if Mario is able to overpower Bowser without using the Kersti sticker, he is able to toss Kersti away. However, this action does not alter the storyline.
Finally, there are Secret Door stickers that Mario is able to paste onto the environment via the Paperize ability. These doors reveal secret underground rooms containing rare stickers and/or Things that are usually not used for storyline purposes, such as a Thumbtack and a Squirt Gun.
Every single sticker except Thing stickers sometimes have special traits applied to them, such as "Shiny", "Flashy", and "Big". These stickers usually sparkle in Mario's album and do more damage than usual to enemies. Stickers that have traits like "Big" and "Megaflash" take up more space in the album, not unlike Secret Door and certain Thing stickers. Typically, stickers wielding special traits are rarer than normal stickers. Battle Stickers and Thing Stickers come in three sizes: Small (4 Spaces), Medium (9 Spaces), and Large (16 Spaces).
These allies temporarily join Mario's party and follow him around until they are taken to a certain location, where they perform an action or advance the storyline. In the Wiggler Segment's case, they must tire out before they join Mario and go back to Wiggler's Tree House.
Bosses (in order)
Highlights signify world bosses.
Unlike previous installments, the game has a level progression system. Each level course is unlocked after collecting a Comet Piece in the preceding area. The map is reminiscent of the one used in Super Mario RPG, though it is more open-ended and not linear. Many levels contain alternate exits that lead to other levels, and the goal of entering a level is not always to "finish" it by touching the Comet Stickers.
(*) = Level with an alternate exit.
There are a total of eight achievements that the player can earn in this game, all of which can be achieved at any time by completing the corresponding task. After completing Goomba Fortress and getting the first Royal Sticker, there are eight Super Flags in the Sticker Fest area of Decalburg. These can be examined to view the player's progress in unlocking the achievements. A completed achievement will display its corresponding flag, and any Super Flags will appear in the game's credits.
Nintendo eShop description
When an accident scatters stickers across the land, Mario sets off on an adventure to repair a torn world. Searching Forests, Deserts and Mountains, Mario collects stickers to solve puzzles and battle monsters. In a first for the series, there are no experience points, so finding power-ups to improve Mario's abilities is more important than ever. Mixing sticker-based gameplay elements with the traditional action-battle system of the Paper Mario series delivers a new twist on a classic franchise. Flatten-out characters, roll out towns, and walk through living, breathing dioramas in a brand-new Paper Mario adventure on the Nintendo 3DS system!
Similarities to other Paper Mario games
Differences from other Paper Mario games
In a 2007 interview with Nintendo Power magazine, when asked about the future of the Paper Mario series, Super Paper Mario director Ryota Kawade stated that he was uncertain whether the next game would follow Super Paper Mario's gameplay style, return to the style of the previous games, or be based around a new concept. However, he also stated that the team "always feel that we want a challenge and to take on new things." Producer Kensuke Tanabe also stated, "I don't think we'll ever go back to the exact same game style as before," and that, "I also would like to look for another new and different style."
Paper Mario: Sticker Star started development at the end of 2009. The development team thought Paper Mario was a good fit for the Nintendo 3DS and initially developed it as a RPG making use of the system's stereoscopic 3D display capabilities. After showcasing a build of the game at E3 2010, a demo of this build was previewed by Shigeru Miyamoto, who was reportedly unimpressed, dismissing it as "just a port of the GC version", and requested that the team "make a big change". Said development team was mostly composed of developers new to Paper Mario (planning and design staff being "about 90%" new, according to Kenji Nakajima"), with a few veterans brought in to help with the usage of old assets. Naohiko Aoyama, who conceived the original Paper Mario's visual direction but had little involvement with its sequels, was brought in as the director.
Following Miyamoto's impression, the development team brainstormed ideas to make the game stand out. It was eventually decided to expand the Sticker mechanic, which had initially been designed for use in puzzles, and expand it to the rest of the game. As the sticker system expanded, the development team decided to abandon the partner system and traditional RPG elements such as an experience point system, with progression instead being outlined by the player getting progressively stronger stickers.
Early in development, Miyamoto also encouraged the developers to keep the story to a minimum and only use pre-established Mario characters. The decision to not focus on the storyline was also influenced by results gathered from Super Paper Mario's Club Nintendo survey, which had less than 1% of the respondents citing its plotline as a strong point. Producer Kensuke Tanabe also asked the team to focus on the "paper" aspect of the visuals.
Paper Mario: Sticker Star received mixed to positive reviews from critics, gaining an average of 75.97% based on forty-nine reviews on GameRankings and 75 based on sixty-nine reviews on Metacritic. Compared to previous iterations of the Paper Mario series, its aggregate score is weaker, due to critics mainly complaining about what has been seen as frustrating game design and toned down story, gameplay, and characters.
Cam Shea of IGN gave the game an 8.3, praising what he opined as a fresh take on the Paper Mario series with charming design and a sense of humor, but he criticized the sticker system, as well as some design elements he found frustrating. He wrote, "In spite of all my criticisms, [Paper Mario:] Sticker Star is still compelling to play and a great deal of fun. The game’s infectious spirit and sense of humour is irresistible, and it’s big, too – you’re not beating this one in a weekend. It’s just a shame that putting stickers at the heart of the game didn't turn out to be the master-stroke it so readily could have been. Paper Mario fans will enjoy [Paper Mario:] Sticker Star, but ultimately it’s just as notable for its failures as its successes." Edge Magazine UK gave the game an 8, praising Intelligent Systems's effort to shape its RPG for portable play. Destructoid gave the game an 8/10 and praised the game for what was opined as an impressive effort, but warned that the game may disappoint previous Paper Mario fans. Mike Wehner of The Escapist gave the game 4.5 stars out of 5, praising the game for its artistic style and its gameplay, while criticizing puzzles seen as frustrating. He wrote as the bottom line, "There's just no getting around it: Paper Mario: Sticker Star is yet another high-quality entry into Nintendo's cherished library of first party titles. The experience is high on satisfaction and low on frustration, making it an undeniably perfect fit for the company's mobile console. It's not entirely flawless, but as Mario games go, it's one of the best."
JC Fletcher of Joystick gave the game 3.5 out of 5 stars. He praised an opined easygoing and funny nature of the game, but criticized the game design (seen as frustrating), saying that the existence of FAQs will improve the game, due to sacrificing turn-based battles with what has been opined as awkward platforming. Carolyn Petit of GameSpot gave the game a 7.5 out of 10. She believed the game to have smart and witty writing, good puzzles, and overall charm, but criticized the frustration of getting stuck and the combat system. She ended with, "[Paper Mario:] Sticker Star falls into a rut at times and may even drive you crazy, but in the end, Paper Mario's unwaveringly cheerful attitude, and fond memories of the game's many great moments, will be what stays with you."
However, Andre Segers of GameXplain was more critical of the game, giving it a score of two stars out of five. He criticized the story as "one of the biggest and most unfortunate changes" and the puzzles, by saying that "the things you need [to solve them] could be found anywhere" and "the game provides no clues on where to find them". He also said that the battle system is "fresh and fun at first" but then started criticizing it, saying that there is "no sense of accomplishment after winning a battle", and ultimately referring to the combat as a "chore". However, Segers did praise the game for "trying some new things" and for its "flashes of typical Paper Mario brilliance".
David Jenkins of Metro UK held a similar view on the game, giving it a score of 4 out of 10. He criticized the game's selection of characters, labeling Kersti as an "unlikeable nag", and contrasted the game's progression unfavorably with the immersion and character selection of previous Paper Mario games. Other points of criticism included an opined lack of meaningful rewards from battles and the amount of backtracking. While Jenkins praised the game's visuals and fine-tuning for a portable system, he ultimately labeled the game as "a horrible disappointment that not only fails to capture the magic of its predecessors but seems oblivious to what made them popular in the first place", recommending Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story in its place.
Ray Carsillo of EGM gave a mixed review of the game, giving it a score of 6.5 out of 10. He asserted that the game "maintains all the charm and personality of those that came before it" and praised the aesthetics, 3D effects, and alternate routes. However, he criticized the battle system due to a perceived over-reliance on sticker collection, along with the amount of backtracking involved.
The four Famitsu critics gave a very positive reception, giving it 36/40 points, calling it a "well-made RPG" and praised the sticker system as "unique".
As of March 31, 2014, Paper Mario: Sticker Star has sold about 2.21 million copies worldwide.
References to other games
References in later games
In Yoshi Sphinx, if the player hits a Koopa Paratroopa and a wall at the same time after the fight with the Koopa Paratroopa with wall will push Mario through the floor and give the player a game over.
Pre-release and unused content
Originally, Bowser's Sky Castle was meant to have minigames, but due to development time restraints they were cut. Pre-release screenshots also showed a Chain Chomp partner as well as a Monty Mole boss, though both were removed from the final game.
The game was directed by Naohiko Aoyama and produced by Kensuke Tanabe and Toshiyuki Nakamura, with Satoru Iwata serving as the executive producer.
Names in other languages