If you were to say Paper Mario: Sticker Star was your favorite game in the franchise in a room full of Paper Mario fans, you would be shot instantly. The game has garnered such an infamously toxic reputation over the years that mentioning it has practically become taboo. The general consensus is that the game is flat-out trash, but ask the less close-minded of us and the general consensus will be that Paper Mario: Sticker Star is a so-so game on its own but a bad Paper Mario game. I’ve stuck with that point for years and continue to agree with it whole-heartedly after this recent playthrough.
As the title implies, Paper Mario: Sticker Star has Mario collect stickers across familiar territory so he can utilize them in battle. The narrative is a recycled Paper Mario as he must collect the six Royal Stickers (equal to the seven Star Spirits) because without them, people’s wishes won’t be granted. After Bowser crashes the Sticker Fest, Mario is awoken by the irritating and passive aggressive sass-box, Kersti, who acts as Mario’s only partner and aids him on his adventure by giving him tin-eared tips and consistently complaining (my apologies — if you couldn’t tell, I REALLY dislike Kersti).
The new sticker-based combat is actually one of the better qualities about the game. It may strip the player of having a reliable fallback plan but it still has fun timing techniques. Gathering an arsenal of stickers and choosing which ones to use and which ones to save forces the player to think and strategize. Of course, there are times where the combat system feels inherently flawed — like when you run out of a certain sticker needed to defeat a specific enemy — but for the most part the game keeps you sufficiently supplied.
My only real issue with the combat system doesn’t have to with the stickers. It’s the fact that you’re unable to pick which enemy you want to attack, for the game only ever allows you to attack whichever enemy is in front, which was really bothersome and limiting as it strips away agency.
Where the game garners most of its hate, however, is its complete desertion of idiosyncrasy and RPG qualities. First off, the five…