Paper Mario: Sticker Star takes a bit of a step away from previous iterations of the game in that many RPG elements are missing. This is something that has divided opinion throughout the Paper Mario fanbase and it’s been revealed Shigeru Miyamoto is to blame.
During the latest Iwata Asks, President of Nintendo Satoru Iwata grilled the developers of the game about why certain features seen in previous games were dropped.
Kensuke Tanabe, the game's producer, revealed that at the very beginning of the whole project Miyamoto said he wanted to change the atmosphere of the game and threw down two challenges: “‘It’s fine without a story, so do we really need one?’ And, ‘As much as possible, complete it with only characters from the Super Mario world'".
Taro Kudo, the man in charge of the script, agreed with Miyamoto’s point of view saying he didn’t believe the game needed a lengthy RPG-like story, all that was really required was a simple objective to overcome with a final boss.
Instead, we looked at the characteristics of a portable game that can be played little by little in small pieces and packed in lots of little episodes and ideas. I always did like putting in little ideas, so I actually enjoyed it.
On the face of it, these limitations given by Miyamoto would appear a little restrictive, especially where new characters are involved. Paper Mario has always had new and vibrant characters thrown into the mix – like Vivian from Thousand Year Door and Dimentio from Super Paper Mario – but now the team could only really choose from a selection of Toads that look completely alike apart from colour.
The objective then was to give each of them a different personality that would distinguish them from each other, a little bit like the Seven Dwarves really only without the beards. Kudo expressed his love for the Toads saying the player can instantly recognise them when they bump into them again simply because of their distinct personalities.
Tanabe revealed that the team had in fact made a lot of individual allies, as would be normal in an RPG, but when the focus centred on the stickers everything was thrown out of the window:
We decided to make it so that players would face stronger opponents by throwing out the whole concept of experience points and levels in favor of gradually gathering stronger stickers.
I had actually been thinking for a long time that I wanted to get rid of the RPG experience points. In the Freshly-Picked Tingle's Rosy Rupeeland game, which Kudo-san and I worked on together, the player-character didn't develop at all. We adopted a system whereby they solved everything with money.
This time, we decided to do everything with stickers. We decided on a system whereby in battle, instead of attack commands, you fight by using the stickers you have gathered in the field or bought in town.
In our interview with the developers, Tanabe dubbed this new genre "Sticker Battle Adventure".
It appears that the team behind the game put a real emphasis on bringing new elements to the game rather than focussing on the storyline or additional allied characters to help Mario out. This has naturally led to the stickers, which is great, but it’s also left us without a massive range of new and exciting characters to have fun with.
There’s certainly a lot to love about the game, as we pointed out in our Paper Mario: Sticker Star review, but do you still yearn for the RPG elements to return? Let us know what you all think in the comments section below.