Turning the Real into the Unreal: Paper Mario Sticker Star

Jon Irwin’s review of Paper Mario: Sticker Star for Kill Screen:

As games’ fidelity continues its march toward photorealism, it’s gratifying to see developers resist the temptation to simply mimic, or mock, when they could invent.

One of the key mechanics in Sticker Star could be seen as poking fun of this attempt at “realistic” graphics. Amongst the pop-up book villages and origami dungeons you may stumble upon something that looks out of place—an everyday object, rendered not as a paper facsimile but a three-dimensional version of itself. So you find such compelling items as a roll of tape, or a space heater, or a faucet handle. Really dig and you may discover even more elusive treasures: a dented aluminum can, say, or a pile of shaved ice. These objects are necessary to moving through the game—many puzzles can’t be solved, or bosses can’t be defeated, without a specific item. But they are usable only if turned into a sticker. As real-world objects, they are labeled mere “things” and take up space. Once transmogrified into this abstract, flattened version of itself, the object can become something more than it once was: the Faucet Handle turns and fills a dried-up oasis; the Tape covers a vent of poison gas.

This sounds glorious, and the best reason yet for me to pick up a 3DS. I love it when Nintendo and its development teams do things that are even the tiniest bit subversive.