Paper Mario has been an interesting spin-off series for the plumber since it first got its start on the Nintendo 64 back in 2001. Featuring a unique 3D art style surrounding paper thin characters (not in personality, rather in appearance), the series has since continued on with a couple of sequels, including The Thousand Year Door on the GameCube and the more action-based Super Paper Mario on the Wii.
This November, the next chapter in the franchise comes to the Nintendo 3DS with Paper Mario: Sticker Star, a game that takes the usual battle action that the series has become known for, and combines it with a neat twist involving sticker tactics. No, it's not LittleBigPlanet all over again, something much different than that.
Bowser, up to no good as usual, has caused six of the Royal Stickers in Mario's universe to become scattered during the Sticker Fest, where Princess Peach and others are in attendance. In an effort to save the land, Mario vows to find the stickers before Bowser does, to restore peace to his paper-bound world.
During his journey, Mario finds himself with an unusual yet helpful cohort, a fairly by the name of Kersti. She is able to summon the power of stickers at any time, providing a new gameplay twist to implement items within the environment.
Here's an example. Let's say you make your way to one of the upper platforms within the game. You can't just jump across, as the gap is too wide. However, you're able to locate a Wood Bridge sticker. You can't just slap it down, as it's required to go in a specific spot. So, Kersti activates the "sticker power", as it were, and soon you find yourself floating above a 2D photograph of the world you were just standing in. With the Wood Bridge sticker in hand, you need to place it in just the right spot, then smooth over the edges so it appears that the bridge fits directly into the world. Once you've got it secured, you hit a button, and voila! The bridge appears, and you can get across.
Like previous Paper Mario games, Sticker Star features a unique visual style, combining paper-thin 2D characters running across a 3D universe, consisting of platforms, waterfalls and other elements within Mario's world. You'll encounter enemies who are just as skinny as you, as well as bigger enemies who require better tactics to bring down. It all comes together into a beautiful visual package, made even more so with the 3D effects that the handheld provides. (This is one of those games that justifies the 3DS XL's larger screens, by the way.)
Along with stickers that you locate in the open, Mario is also able to collect stickers that are found and peeled off on walls and other objects within each environment. In addition to finding these stickers, you can buy your own through an in-game shop using coins you collect through each battle, as well as interacting with certain characters and performing tasks for them.
Now, stickers aren't just there for décor. As we explained above, they're useful for reaching new areas, but they serve even better purpose in the heat of battle. You only have so much space to work with for your stickers, so the smaller the better, though the bigger ones can make a huge impact on enemies. It's up to you how you want to utilize them.
The Wood Bridge, for instance, only takes so much space, but the demo we checked out also included a rather large fan, which, when called upon, acts like a sunrise in the stage, blowing away undesirables and giving you access to continue along your way. So, as you can see, everything big and small has an effect in the game, it just depends on how you use it. Even a hammer or a turtle shell that takes up a minority of space can be helpful, whether you're hitting a question block to gain coins or defeating two enemies in a row with a well-placed throw.
Furthermore, you can use some single stickers multiple times over the course of combat and your journey, instead of just a one-time use. We weren't able to see which items these were, though something like the hammer seems most likely, as you can use it to bash not one, but several blocks. We're bound to find out more as Nintendo reveals more snippets from the gameplay in the weeks ahead.
Paper Mario: Sticker Star already has an exquisite art style going for it, but the use of a new sticker tactic, combined with the excellent, easy-to-access role-playing battle style, are sure to make it a big hit for all ages over the holidays. We'll find out when the game hits stores November 11th.