A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Paper Mario: Sticker Star is a cartoonish action game starring papery versions of the Mario crew. It employs a turn-based combat system that's a little more complex than you might expect, but its mild cartoon violence is about on par with most other Mario games (think: squished goombas, kicked koopa troopas). Mario is the same brave, helpful hero he's always been, and he encounters plenty of clever puzzles that force kids to stop, take stock of their situation, and think for a while to figure out how to proceed. Parents need to remember that Nintendo is warning parents not to allow kids age six and under to view the graphics in 3D because that viewing "may cause vision damage." The Nintendo 3DS offers parents the ability to lock out the use of 3D graphics in the system's Parental Controls.
What's it about?
Mario stars as a piece of paper in PAPER MARIO: STICKER STAR, an unusual hybrid of platforming action, RPG-style battles, and contextual puzzle solving. The game begins with Bowser crashing a sticker festival held in a town made of paper. He kidnaps Princess Peach and leaves the village and its two-dimensional townsfolk in shambles. Mario helps to restore the village, then heads out on an adventure through flattened forests and deserts in search of royal stickers that will help him save the princess. Stickers play an important roll throughout the game. Mario collects them to use in turn-based combat, choosing between stickers including boots, hammers, and bombs to attack his enemies. He also uses them to restore parts of the environment, placing bridge and gate stickers to open access to new areas. Players will end up using thousands of stickers in combat and to accomplish various objectives over the course of this lengthy, 15 to 20-hour adventure.
Is it any good?
Like its Paper Mario precursors, Paper Mario: Sticker Star stands well apart from other games headlined by Nintendo's iconic plumber. The game's clever and attractive two-dimensional aesthetic is striking. When paper Mario turns, for example, he virtually disappears for a split second as we see only his edge. Plus, evolving the series' paper theme to focus on stickers -- those collectible adhesives beloved by children of all ages -- is genius. Players get to peel them off walls and floors in satisfying fashion to reveal goodies and hidden rooms, then stick them back down to solve puzzles within the environment, smoothing out their edges with the circle pad. It feels great.
Paper Mario: Sticker Star isn't perfect -- you can expect to do a lot of backtracking and losing battles simply because you haven't collected the proper stickers to effectively defeat a specific type of enemy. But it's still one of the most original and entertaining games yet made for Nintendo's stereoscopic handheld. Don't miss it.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about solving problems with ideas rather than anger. When you get in arguments with friends, do you try to see the issue from their side? Do you think maybe there's a way that both of you can be happy, even if you don't agree or get exactly what you want?
What do you like about Mario games?
- Platforms: Nintendo 3DS
- Subjects: Language & Reading: reading
- Skills: Thinking & Reasoning: applying information, solving puzzles, strategy
Emotional Development: moving beyond obstacles, persevering
- Price: $39.99
- Available online? Not available online
- Developer: Nintendo
- Release date: November 11, 2012
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Princesses and fairies, Adventures
- ESRB rating: E for Mild Cartoon Violence
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.