And every time I suffered through an awful battle or an annoying level, something else got me smiling again. The little things, really. Whether it's a clever sign—"Be careful not to become that guy who got baffled 23 times," says one guidepost after you've lost your way in the forest 22 times—or just some goofy bit of animation that plays around with the paper motif in some adorable way, the minor details that fill Sticker Star are worth experiencing. (You haven't lived until you've seen a group of paper Toads jump into a stack, lie down, and contort their bodies into mangled forms in order to make you a staircase.)


It's those little details that made Sticker Star stand out, even as the bigger picture felt frustrating. Even when battling enemies felt useless and unrewarding, even when it felt like the game was trying very hard to prevent me from progressing, I wanted to keep playing just to read the dialogue, to hop through the beautiful scenery, to smile at all the unexpected little twists and turns that keep the Paper Mario series so constantly fresh.

Paper Mario: Sticker Star is an experimental game, and I suspect that it will be a polarizing one. It's frustrating. It's also charming, full of heart, clever, delightful, and hard to play without smiling. Even when it makes you really mad. Sort of like a dog.



I like that. Paper Mario: Sticker Star is the puppy of video games.