Few video game series are as consistently delightful as Paper Mario, Nintendo's charming set of plumber-themed RPGs. Paper Mario: Sticker Star, out this fall for 3DS, looks to be no exception. It's funny, weird, and quite charming.
Now take my thoughts with a grain of salt, because the demo I played last weekend at PAX was short. Very short. Like, ten minutes short. It all took place in two small areas.
(There were some others I could see, but Nintendo rep Kit Ellis told me I wasn't allowed to go to them. Thinking back, if I'd snatched the demo unit and ran away, I probably would've been able to find a place to hide before he caught up. Next time, Kit. Next time.)
Here are some of the notes I jotted down as I played (expanded and turned into full sentences for your reading convenience):
So the first thing I see is combat. Mario's facing off against a couple of goombas. It's turn-based (unlike the last Paper Mario, which was far more platformy). To attack, I select one of a number of stickers on my bottom screen—fire flowers, hammers, jumps. The usual.
I can earn blocking and attacking bonuses based on timed button pushes, just like most of the other Mario RPG games. Press a button at the right time during an attack and I'll jump for more power; press a button at the right time when I'm attacked and I'll defend for less damage.
There's a world map! Holy shit there's a world map!
Although I only get to see a town (Decalburg, where I can go to buy stickers and turn objects into stickers) and a small field area, I can tell from the map (and the trailer above this post) that there are a hell of a lot cool things to see.
No partners this time around. Mario goes solo. That's kind of a bummer: party members like Goombella and Bombette were lovely additions to the older games.
Still, everything here feels just like Paper Mario. I reach a windmill-cottage thing whose blades are blocking its door. I need to find some way of moving the blades so I can get inside.
Thoughts from our companion sticker Kersti:
Talk about awful cottage design. "Gee guys, did we forget anything?" OH WAIT, THE FRONT DOOR ACCESS.
The dialogue is weird and hilarious, as expected from a Paper Mario game. Those Nintendo of America translators do some tremendous work.
To get into that door, by the way, I have to take the big fan in my inventory (obtained before this demo started) and take it to Decalburg, where a snarky young toad will turn it into a sticker. Then I have to peel that sticker and place it on the world, where it will turn into a big fan and blow the windmill blades out of my way.
"Stay perky," one toad tells me. Thanks, toad. I will.
Sticker Star hits the U.S. on November 11.