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It has been five years since the last Paper Mario game with Super Paper Mario, a good game but the weakest in the series. In E3 2011, Nintendo announced a new Paper Mario game, simply known as Paper Mario 3DS. But at E3 2012 Nintendo reintroduced Paper Mario 3DS at their press conference giving Paper Mario its official name, Sticker Star. Due to the time constraint of their conference, the audience only got a taste of what was to come from this new Paper Mario game. Yet for those of us willing to sit through another hour of game showcases after Nintendo’s lackluster performance, we got a true sample of what is to come with Paper Mario Sticker Star.
Discussing and giving a play through of the game was Nate Bihldorff, senior localization manager and producer for Nintendo Treehouse (Paper Mario Series, Mario and Luigi series, and Animal Crossing). Nate talks about all the features of the game as he plays through it, showing the audience how the new fighting and RPG system work. The one key point Nate made about the Paper Mario series, is that Paper Mario always tries for something new. But what does Nintendo offer with the next Paper Mario installment?
Stickers! The title says it all, this Paper Mario game is all about collecting stickers, and these stickers are used for everything, from completing tasks to fighting. The combat system for Sticker Star is nothing like the previous three Paper Mario games, in that the player’s only means of attack are through the use of stickers. From basic jumping, to hammer attacks, to item and special attacks, the player must collect different types of in order to attack, or even defend. As for the real time action commands for attacking and defending, they are still there like in the first two Paper Mario games.
Another new feature added is the Battle Spinner. The Battle Spinner functions similarly to the bonus spinner from Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door, except the payoff is different. In Sticker Star, the player only has one battle slot to attack with, but when the player is up against multiple enemies at once, the player has the option to invest coins into the Battle Spinner. When the Battle Spinner is activated, a slot machine event pops up, and if the player gets matching images, they can increase their battle slots to gain the ability to use multiple stickers in one turn.
A new mode has also been added simply known as Paperization. In Paperization mode, Mario pops off the screen as it shifts into a isometric plane which Mario can then place stickers he’s earned to complete tasks such as placing flower stickers in a Toad’s garden, or placing a giant fan in the background to move a windmill. Paperization mode is used to complete various tasks and unlocking secrets which gains the players more stickers as well as special stats boost items.
These stat boost items replace the leveling up system as used in the previous Paper Mario games. The RPG element is still in the game but with a different twist. Instead of defeating enemies to earn XP to level up, players must explore different parts of the world to help the townsfolk or to find hidden passages to earn special items such as Health Boosts, Attack Boosts, and Increased Sticker Slots. This leveling up system is a bit of a stretch for many RPG fans, but is a concept that can only be critiqued through experience.
Paper Mario Sticker Star shows much promise and looks to be the true third installment of the Paper Mario series. With a completely new battle system, a new leveling up system, and beautiful design that can really pull off the true potential of the 3DS, Paper Mario Sticker Star looks to be a must have for the system. With the release date bumped back to the Holiday Season, fans anticipating the game must wait longer before they can go sticker crazy with Mario and friends.