Paper Mario: Sticker Star preview: gold star

Did you know that in less than a month, a new Paper Mario game will be available? In fact, it will be the first Paper Mario game in over five years.

We're not entirely sure why Nintendo's marketing machine has done so little to promote the upcoming release of Paper Mario: Sticker Star for 3DS. It's a shame, really, because Sticker Star has the quality writing we've come to expect from the franchise, beautiful graphics that make terrific use of the 3D screen, and a world so charming it invites total exploration.

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Nintendo of America's localization team doesn't often get much credit, considering the simplicity of many of their games. However, the Mario RPG games prove that a very talented team works in the Treehouse. The Paper Mario series serves as a parody-of-sorts of the main Mario series, with tons of tongue-in-cheek references to many of the franchise's oddities. From my short time with the adventure's opening hour, it's clear that Sticker Star continues upholding the series' impressive pedigree.

Perhaps one thing that really stood out to me with this iteration is how fully realized the notion of a papercraft world is in the game. The characters are fully aware that they are made of paper, and there are many clever implementations of that concept. Whereas previous Paper Mario games could be considered "Mario games that happen to have paper characters," Sticker Star takes the concept and runs with it.

Exploring the environment is quite fun, if only because the game constantly comes up with surprising ways to use the paper concept. In the beginning of the game, you must find Toads hidden in the environment. One might be crumpled up, thrown out in the garbage. Another is stuck behind a wooden prop, while another is slipped under a doormat. Every discovery was amusing, made even better by the game's winning writing.

Paper Mario is one of the few games that really "pops" when the 3D effect is turned on. Thanks to the flat 2D characters, it's easy to see depth in the world. However, unlike Super Mario 3D Land, the 3D effect doesn't really add much to the experience--it's just nifty to have.

Paper Mario: Sticker Star will be available on 3DS on November 11. Presumably, Nintendo will actually do some marketing for the game before its release.