Paper Mario Sticker Star is a fundamentally flawed video game for two reasons:
1. Its central RPG sticker battling mechanic is completely useless, providing no necessary benefits besides wasting resources
2. It attempts to transfer over very similar mechanics/designs of the previous RPG focused games like TTYD and turn them into a heavy adventure-puzzling platforming; But this clash of genre and mechanics simply does not work
These two reasons are the backbone of everything wrong with this abomination of a game and what makes it so unenjoyable. Here are just a few reasons why:
- The level design in general is some of the worst I've ever experienced in a video game. As explained before, the "PM RPG format" just doesn't work in areas designed and expanded on platforming and movement. Everything feels so clunky and difficult to control and perform, which leads to so many useless encounters and hindrances that at time feel unavoidable and provide you with no benefits. These simply elevate the already mundane tasks and paths the game has you go along. Some of the levels in World 2 for instance, such as the ones that require you to chose paths while continually traversing underground (and require trial and error to reach the end) and traveling around and inside a Sphinx, are some of the worst levels I've ever played in a video game, and gave me some of the worst stress of my life.
- Progression at multiple times is blocked by required "Thing" items you must collect, and are scattered in levels at random. While adventure elements such as this mechanic work in tons of other games, Sticker Star makes it as tedious as it could be. That specific item you need could be in literally any level up until that point, and just by missing one despite collecting the abundant other optional Things, you could be monumentally screwed over. That is NES levels of frustration - and when exploration is already an insane drag to begin with, it's just the icing on the cake of a horrible session.
- "Fortunately" these bizarre barriers are at their worst in boss fights. Each boss fight can be beaten with just items, but unless you want to use everything in your already limited inventory, you're gonna need a specific Thing to properly beat it. Beating these without a guide feels almost impossible, as most of the time the Thing you need is quite ambiguous and requires countless of trial and error because of the way Things are designed to be used (you must go to a specific place to rebuy an already used Thing and then use a specific shop to then turn that Thing into a sticker; if you use it by accident or that Thing turns out to be the incorrect one needed, then you must repeat the process all over again.)
Sticker Star breaks so many basic necessities that a game must follow, and first and foremost is wasting the player's time; And that's all this game really is. Whether it means requiring you to repeat mundane tasks or creating strange and ambiguous barriers for progression or just being a slog to get through, Sticker Star does everything in its power to make you hate the game as much as possible. My 15 hour play through felt like an eternity of hell, but I don't think I've ever been happier to beat a game. It's an embarrassment to the fantastic titles Nintendo continually puts out, and it's an embarrassment to the joy and quality video games are suppose to bring you. This is by far the worst game I've ever played, and I hope I never have to experience something of this level of disgust ever again.
Reviewed on Apr 02, 2021