In anticipation of the upcoming Nintendo 3DS release, Paper Mario: Sticker Star, more and more footage has begun popping up online. The most recent batch of videos contains footage of the first thirty minutes of gameplay in which the player experiences the opening scene and the first few stages of the newest title to be added to the Paper Mario series.
With its humble beginnings dating back to the days of the Nintendo 64, Paper Mario became somewhat of a cult classic, as the game was largely overshadowed by more popular N64 releases, however the franchise achieved more widespread popularity on the Nintendo GameCube with the 2004 release of Paper Mario & The Thousand Year Door. Both featured a semi-active form of turn based combat, a mechanic not overturned until the Wii’s Super Paper Mario incorporated a platforming-based combat system in 2007. While once known for its unpredictable experiences, the Mario Bros. have admittedly stagnated a bit in the waters of the infamous New Super Mario Bros. series, however Nintendo seems to be making an effort now to deliver the unique experiences it once did in older games (up until 2010, at least, in which Super Mario Galaxy 2 became known as the harbinger of the Mario Singularity).
The videos (broken into 11-ish minute segments and included at the bottom of the page) do an excellent job of letting players know what they are in for ahead of time. Returning veterans of the series will notice some rather distinct changes in style, such as a more bouncy, Broadway/jazz musical style, a greater emphasis on the world and its inhabitants being made out of paper, and rather interesting, new form of combat, most importantly.
From all the interviews, press releases, videos, etc., we know a great deal about the combat mechanics from the start: stickers are pulled from the environment, largely, and kept in an inventory box on the bottom screen during combat. Each sticker is an attack that can be used once per turn, unless the player wins a slot-machine spin (known as the Battle Wheel) that allows them to chain together two or even three attacks in one turn. However, no experience is awarded for defeating enemies in battle, oddly enough. The entire leveling system, a staple of the series insofar, has been done away with entirely, with Mario’s stats being steadily raised as the game progresses by the completion of tasks. Instead, enemies drop great sums of coins, used not only to purchase stickers, but coins are what allow the player to use the Battle Wheel during a fight.
In all honesty, I enjoy the Battle Wheel–combos will at least keep the combat interesting, as in Sticker Star, the partners from the previous games are done away with entirely, as well. Rather than playing as both Mario and one of his travelling companions in battles, the Battle Wheel is used to keep the pace fast, but it has been said that you will still have NPC’s follow you around in the actual game, so all the clever puzzles from earlier games that relied on using your partners may still have a place here (though it does worry me that escort missions are surely around the bend…).
As far as plot goes, it is safe to assume that talking crowns are going to be the toast of the town. In the opening scene, Bowser obtains a crown granting him untold power, and after he wreaks considerable havoc on the Mushroom Kingdom, Mario is woken up by a talking crown, who serves as your standard tutorial-giver for a while. Considering the game before this one had you running around with essentially fairies as pals, and the game before that pitted you against a race of ancient demons as well as sci-fi aliens from the moon, and the game before that had you rescuing a council of talking stars, I think it is only reasonable to make the assumption.
Notably, the sound quality is wonderful–very crisp and clear. But the characters all still do that thing where they only walk in quick, little steps wearing hollow shoes that make an endless cacophony of clonking sounds, like a crew of fat pirates with two peg legs all doing the Truffle Shuffle out at sea. But really that only happens when Mario is in doors; most of the game seems to take place outside in the field, under the game’s ‘Goal System’, a concept used previously in Super Paper Mario, which is that instead of the game being built like a more traditional RPG (walk about the open world and occasionally dip into a dungeon to further the plot), design adheres more closely to a platformer with each level being a stage on a world map, modeled after Super Mario Bros 3.
After all is said and done, it is safe to say returning players will be able to look forward to a world that remains aesthetically true the previous games, though houses a rather different experience. New players shouldn’t need to worry about the Mythos set up by the previous games in the series, because really where would the challenge be if you were still strong enough to defeat a Demon Queen from the get-go (I suppose we can assume Mario spent the previous decade of his immortality eating more of Peach’s cakes rather than restructuring the benevolent dictatorship of the Mushroom Kingdom or something to that tune)? Colors pop, music soothes, and dialogue is as witty as ever; Paper Mario: Sticker Star looks like just the sort of solid title the 3DS needs right now, with other anticipated games like the second Luigi’s Mansion not quite near release, presently.
Paper Mario: Sticker Star hits shelves in North America on November 11th, followed by Japan on December 6th, Europe on the 7th, and Australia on the 8th.
Article from Gamersyndrome.com