How Sticker Star and Paper Jam Should Have Been

Given how much we liked the original characters and ideas in the Mario & Luigi and Paper Mario series, it should not come as a surprise that we weren’t the best fans of Paper Mario Sticker Star or Mario & Luigi Paper Jam. Sure, Sticker Star had a few neat ideas, like the Enigmansion. And sure, Mario & Luigi Paper Jam was a decent enough game (albeit with really generic themes and almost non existent collision detection). But they both felt like a missed opportunity. Like games that could have been up to the standard of Bowser’s Inside Story or Thousand Year Door, but never got the chance to shine.

So step forward Mario RPG Universe member TyrorexDMZ! He’s come up with two interesting topics, both of which take an otherwise average game (Paper Jam, Sticker Star) and utterly remake it into the kind of Mario RPG that the fans actually wanted! For example, take a look at Paper Mario Sticker Star Recut, which tries its best to turn Paper Mario Sticker Star into something a bit more like the first two games:

Paper Mario Sticker Star Recut

It’s a pretty interesting overview of the changes, and starts by making the RPG mechanics somewhat more meaningful. For example, you’ve now got partners with their own abilities outside of battle, you only get coins for defeating enemies in battle (stickers are only found outside of battles) and both Stickers and Things can be reused over and over by spending special points. So the whole ‘disposable actions’ problem with the original game is fixed, and players actually have a reason to fight the normal enemies rather than simply avoiding everything in sight.

There are also some neat story and character changes too. Bowser speaks, NPCs other than Toads appear, classic Paper Mario enemies make an appearance and Kammy Koopa replaces Kamek as Bowser’s sidekick. In other words, it’s a cross between Thousand Year Door and Sticker Star, which works much better than whatever the hell we actually got.

Add in some actual story behind the world and characters, and well, you’ve got something a bit more interesting than ‘yet another Bowser kidnaps Peach story’. Heck, the topic creator even tosses in a few (sometimes decent) edited screenshots as well:

There’s also a revised version of what Mario & Luigi Paper Jam should have been like too:

Mario & Luigi Paper Jam Recut

Again, it adds in more traditional RPG characters and turns the game into a real crossover between the Paper Mario and Mario & Luigi series. Like my favourite team up idea ever, Big Massif and Rawk Hawk:

Okay, the screenshot isn’t too well done, but come on. The two most brash, somewhat hammy characters in their respective franchises fighting as a tag team? That’s more the kind of thing I was expecting from this type of game. Characters people actually like meeting counterparts that people also actually like.

Or the presence of Waluigi in the King Boo section of Gloomy Woods, where he apparently teams up with the party for the fight (ala Nabbit):

And come on, Paper Luigi too. He’s not a full blown character (just an assist), avoiding the issues the devs had with him. But he’s playable in some form regardless, and makes all the difference:

Either way, it’s a fun read, and just shows much better Mario & Luigi Paper Jam would have been if the game had drawn inspiration from the first three Paper Mario titles instead. Or if, surprise surprise, Bowser wasn’t the final boss.

But what do you think? Would you prefer these recut versions of Paper Jam and Sticker Star? Or do you like the versions with few new characters and ideas for some reason?

Looks Like Even Japanese Gamers hate Paper Mario Sticker Star!

Yeah, we know it’s become a bit of a cliche to bash this game.  But do you want to know how unpopular Miyamoto’s changes were?

Japanese gamers are calling it kusoge because of them.

No, I’m not kidding.  A popular wiki there listing such games (kusoge means infamously bad games deemed utterly broken in every way) actually lists Paper Mario Sticker Star as an example, complete with what must about 10 pages of complaints about the design, story, characters, concepts and just about everything else.  What’s more, they’re the same complaints as those brought up by Western fans of the Paper Mario series, indicating that just about everyone agrees that the changes made were for the worse.

Want to see what else they had to say about this game?  Here’s a link…

Paper Mario Super Seal – Japanese Kusoge Wiki

But what do you think?  Kind of fitting that even Japanese fans of terrible games count Sticker Star as a potential example of one?

Is Paper Mario Sticker Star Not All Miyamoto’s Fault?

When it comes to criticism of Paper Mario Sticker Star and what it did wrong, there’s a lot of talk about how Shigeru Miyamoto supposedly screw it over with his ‘no non Mario World characters’ demand.  This then usually extends to commnts about how the guy is out of touch, should retire for demanding less story in a Mario RPG and a ton of other similar stuff.  But am I the only one who thinks that many of the game’s problems aren’t purely his fault?

Continue Reading…

Mario Facts Edition Four; Yet More Mario related facts you might not know

Well, with all the good comments my last few Mario facts and trivia articles got, I thought it was only sane to write another one!  So here are five more semi obscure Mario related facts you might not know!

1. Mario Party Recalled

When a game usually gets recalled, it’s usually due to either ‘adult’ content or some form of major technical issue. Or perhaps in some cases blatant copyright infringement.

But a Mario game getting recalled? Who ever heard of that? Well in fact it actually happened, Mario Party 8 got recalled in the UK due to wording used by a Magikoopa in one of the effect orbs. You see, in the game he says:

Turn the train spastic, make this ticket tragic!

Mario Party Offensive

Above: All this for a pointless line?  Why not just say chaotic instead of spastic?  Why such a stupid word?

Now in the US and Japan, this kind of wording is seen as fairly mild and acceptable. Unfortunately, Nintendo didn’t consider that in the UK the word ‘spastic’ is a highly offensive word used for people with psychological issues, and the game ended up being temporarily banned in the country as a result.

So that’s how a Mario Party game (of all things) managed to get banned and recalled in the UK.

2. Artoon’s Rotoscoping

If you’ve ever seen any Yoshi’s Island screenshots or videos in your life (or just played it for any amount of time), you may have realised what a visual mess much of the game is and how many sprites seem to be in different styles.

The simple reason here is that the sprites are in different styles, because Artoon got lazy and rotoscoped some of the stuff they drew for Yoshi’s Topsy Turvy/Universal Gravitation. For example, Bowser is just the Bowser model from Topsy Turvy with the colour sucked out and a bit of shading applied. That’s why his Yoshi’s Island DS sprite looks so damn ugly, because it’s just a badly recoloured reshading of a low quality 3D model.

Bowser reshaded

Above: From an ugly model to an ugly sprite, Artoon’s lazyness knows no bounds!

I wouldn’t be surprised if many other sprites were just stuff from other Mario games that’d gone through the same process. After all, wouldn’t it be so easy to just reshade the original Yoshi’s Island graphics? Because I suspect in some cases Artoon had done just that…

3. Yoshi’s Island’s Secret Message

No, it’s not the ‘you are the xth Yoshi on Yoshi’s Island’ one that comes up when you beat the game and acts as a death counter of sorts, it’s a random message in another level which manages to perfectly sum up the game in one sentence.

Here it is:

We, the Mario team poured our hearts and souls into creating this game for your entertainment. It is full of secrets. Enjoy!

It may not be much, and it may not even be particularly well hidden, but I’d say it’s the perfect illustration of why Yoshi’s Island and other classic Nintendo games are so fantastic. The developers tried their hardest, put in every possible good idea they had at the time and added all those small touches that make the game feel more like a labour of love rather than just a commercial for hire project.

There’s also two other fairly obscure secret messages as well, like this one from the world 1 castle:

Top Secret – Tell no one. Aim directly at the top right corner!

It’s another little touch that’s completely unrelated to the level, but just a nice bonus for anyone who finds it, with the small hidden room this message is found in having a secret 1-Up cloud in the top right corner.

Finally, the one message everyone knows now:

This is Top Secret, so LISTEN UP! On the Level Selection Screen, hold select and press X, X, Y, B and A!!

As you probably know, it’s the way to unlock those Yoshi vs Bandit battle games to play any time you want, another tiny obscure secret the game never really hints at and that was likely added just to give the game even more entertainment value.

All these messages just make clear how much care and attention was put into just this one SNES game, and how much recent games have lost by making it all about the business side and cookie cut design.

4. Paper Mario Sticker Star’s Plot Hole

Yes, the most recent Paper Mario game in the series somehow already has a major plothole in it, and one that can’t really be explained away in any simple fashion. You see, part way into the game, Mario talks of Kamek as someone he’s never met before. You know, that guy who tried to kidnap him as a baby in Yoshi’s Island? Well apparently in Sticker Star Mario completely forgets about that and acts like he’s never seen Kamek before.

kamek only just met

Above: Because someone who repeatedly tried to kill you as a child is easy to forget about.

It gets a bit worse for die hard Mario fans when you realise that there is absolutely no way in hell what Mario says could be accurate. Was Mario too young to remember Yoshi’s Island? Well how about Mario and Luigi Partners in Time, where Kamek is a boss fought in an early level and Baby Mario is somehow intelligent enough to fight back alien invaders?

And even if you consider Paper Mario and the RPGs ‘canonically distinct’ from the main series, it doesn’t add up much there either. Kamek was clearly a boss in Super Mario RPG despite not being labelled as such (there’s a Magikoopa boss who’s psychopath thought talks about the ‘baby’ and who is fought in Bowser’s Castle), and he’s likely to also have been a minor background character in some of the earlier Paper Mario games (it’s said one of the Magikoopas standing beside Bowser in the intro is Kamek).

So it seems Paper Mario Sticker Star has at least one plothole or notable mistake in it. Was it added by the localisation team? An oversight by Intelligent Systems themselves? Who knows.

5. Wario Land Rearranged

Ever wondered why Wario Land The Shake Dimension has a poorly designed difficulty curve? Or had trouble with the plant boss Scumflower? Well it turns out there’s actually an interesting reason for much of this.

Apparently, some time in development the whole game was laid out in a very different way and levels were moved around towards the end of the development cycle. And one of these moved levels was Scumflower Skirmish, which in the beta version was actually meant to be used as the fifth boss. Meanwhile, Large Fry was meant to be the third boss and I assume Chortlebot the fourth boss, hence why it seems in game the boss difficulty is so all over the place.

It also explains why Launchpad Labyrinth looked so much like and shared the same music with Stonecarving City. Why? Because in the original version of the game, it was meant to be a world 1 secret level rather than a world 4 one, and was presumably moved because it was seen as too difficult for this part of the game. So it wasn’t really meant to be a jungle level, but was likely just moved there because it was seen as more world 4 difficulty. Here’s how world 1 is laid out in the game files:

  • area_01
  • stage_01
  • level_01 – Stonecarving City
  • level_02 – Run-Down Pyramid
  • level_05 – Launchpad Labyrinth
  • level_06 – Disturbing Tomb
  • level_07 – Gurgle Gulch
  • stage_02
  • level_01 – Wavy Waters
  • stage_04
  • level_01 – Wreck Train
  • stage_05
  • level_01 – Rollanratl Battle

As you can clearly see, the layout of world 1 was very, very different in the beta version. Launchpad Labyrinth was one of two secret levels in world 1, a subwarine level (Wavy Waters) was found right at the start of the game this time around and Wreck Train was somehow supposed to be a part of world 1 as well. But Nintendo (or Good Feel) rearranged much of this part way through development and hence left us with the version of Wario Land Shake It we have today.

And for good luck, here’s a final fact that could have led to another Mario Party 8 style recall…

6. Dimentio’s Quick Rewording

Yes, one of Dimentio’s quotes from Super Paper Mario was changed wholesale to try and avoid causing controversy in the UK. You can probably guess which one, since the replacement text has absolutely no humour in it whatsoever and sounds ridiculously corny to boot, but here it is for good measure:

Dimentio: I think I’ll start with the
green one, he looks like a

Luigi: Pushover?! I’ll show you who’s a pushover!

Now here’s the US version of the same line. Should be pretty obvious why it was changed when the game was released in the UK:

Dimentio: I think I’ll start with the
green one. The shag upon his lip
will make a fine trophy.

Luigi: SHAG?! This mustache is all LUIGI!

Yeah, any British visitors should probably have figured out exactly what word was deemed potentially offensive here. And I don’t think the second line would helped the situation much.

Either way, they changed it to avoid potentially offending parents and the rating board and to avoid the game being recalled like Mario Party 8 later was.

And that concludes another set of interesting Mario facts!  Did you know all these?  Probably not, even some complete Mario experts didn’t know the whole rotoscoping thing that Artoon did, and not all the others are particularly well known either. Still, hope everyone found these Mario facts interesting!

Was Super Paper Mario responsible for Sticker Star’s Direction and Content?

If you’ve been reading reviews of Paper Mario Sticker Star, you’ll probably be well aware of the faults people are criticising it for and the debatable change to only using existing Mario characters. With the battle system replaced by stickers, no new characters at all bar Kersti and a complete lack of partners, some long time fans are already considering the game a bit of a step down compared to the earlier titles.

Paper Mario Frog Suit

But is it possible that Super Paper Mario and people’s reactions to it were responsible for all this? That people thought Super Paper Mario was a completely different game to what it was in reality and ended up blaming Nintendo for it, causing the much more conservative change in direction that was responsible for Sticker Star? I think it might be.

And the main cause for this might have been thus; Super Paper Mario looks like a 2D platformer at first glance. It’s got the standard side view known from the classic Mario games and somewhat less classic New Super Mario Bros series, it’s got Mario jumping on Goombas and Koopas and going through what might appear to some people to be traditional settings and classic gameplay. Heck, even the unfamiliar figures of Count Bleck and his minions on the front wouldn’t seem too out of place, the Mario series has used non Bowser villains before. Here’s the box art in question:

Super Paper Mario cover


Above: Well it’s got Mario, so it’s got to be a platformer, right?

The back does at least talk about dimension flipping and the 2D to 3D mechanic, but that’s not exactly something that might set off warning bells back in an age when only one 2D Mario platformer had been released since 1990. Who’s to really say the 2D Mario games weren’t going to be all experimental and gimmicky just a few years after the original New Super Mario Bros?

Give one guess what happened. A whole bunch of more casual Mario fans who’d never played a Mario spinoff in their life (especially not an RPG) bought Super Paper Mario thinking it was New Super Mario Bros Wii.

mario compare

Above: Top is what casual players probably expected, below is what they got.

As a result, calamity unfolded. People used to blindly running to the right and jumping over pits took one look at the whole puzzle thing and went ‘screw this crap’. Complaints abounded of too much text, since presumably people expected the usual excuse plot found in most 2D Mario games where Bowser kidnaps Peach in about three seconds. The casual audience who thought ‘arcade game’ when Mario was mentioned ended up pretty annoyed at the whole thing.

Think I’m making this up? Nope:

I bought Super Paper Mario when it was released based purely on the hope of 2d Mario gameplay. I was sorely disappointed.

Not to mention some of the Amazon reviews:

To compare what an effect this mistaken genre thing may have had, note the differences between the sales of this Paper Mario title and the last ones. Thousand Year Door sold about 2 million copies, Super Paper Mario sold about 3.5 million copies. I’d guess a significant amount of the increase came from people who were mistaken about the whole point of the game.

And so when Nintendo did their usual Club Nintendo surveys and feedback related stuff and asked about Super Paper Mario and what customers thought of it, a significant amount probably complained about the amount of text and dialogue and how non Mario like much of it felt (and the rest that it wasn’t an RPG like Thousand Year Door or the Nintendo 64). Hence why Paper Mario Sticker Star is a sort of odd hybrid of the older titles and a New Super Mario Bros game, because Intelligent Systems were told to rein in all the story and new content.

Note: Did you know that only 1% of the responses on Club Nintendo’s survey said story and dialogue was important?  I wonder how many of these responders didn’t know what an RPG was…

Do you agree? Do you think that this confusion might be why Paper Mario Sticker Star was designed in the way it was? And that if Super Paper Mario was a more traditional RPG, that Sticker Star might have had more original content and characters?