Game: | Platform: SNES | Developer: Nintendo / Square | Release Date: 1996
We’ve come across an odd mix of genres over the past couple of gaming decades. Some are major hits, while others leave us pondering the purpose of putting two different titles together. Super Mario RPG is one of those mash-ups that combines the ingenious platforming and characters of the Mario series with the equally ingenious RPG formula from Square (now known as Square-Enix). To this day, Super Mario RPG remains one of the greatest RPGs to date, and to some one of the best titles of all time.
Now that’s some SNES nostalgia, right in the childhood.
Why it’s great
It’s a quirky story
Super Mario RPG is an interesting story in place of the traditional “Peach is captured by Bowser – Mario saves Peach” formula. At first, Mario sets out on a quest to rescue his damsel in distress, but is interrupted by Smithy, a giant sword bent on world domination. Smithy and his henchman subdue even the infamous villain Boswer, who is left stranded from his Koopa Army due to Smithy’s invasion. Mario RPG’s story is nontraditional to the series and is full of quirky humor and oddball characters that are hard not to love. Mario’s companions include Mallow, a cloud who is convinced he is a tadpole; Geno, a puppet who is possessed by a spirit from Star Road; Bowser, who is now stranded; and Peach, who got lost in the mix after Smithy took over. Unfortunately Luigi and Toad are non-playable characters, but their small yet solid roster of characters stand strong on their own.
The characters, while somewhat odd, become memorable to any JRPG fan.
Role playing and platforming are two main components in Super Mario RPG. When not battling, players are thrown into a 3D platformer that has you jumping and punching everything in sight in order to uncover all of the secrets that the world has to offer. I found myself searching every nook and cranny in each location just to find hidden chests and items that are strewn throughout the towns. Solving puzzles is another huge aspect in platforming, and there are no shortage of unknown paths and riddles to solve.
Platforming remains a key focus of Mario RPG (as it should for a Mario title).
The combat remains true to that of related Final Fantasy titles of that era, but with an added twist. Players take turns selecting a range of attacks and abilities with enemies, and each character has their own unique set of skills. Players then time their actions with button presses to increase their effectiveness. It’s simple and repetitive, but it always has the player on their toes. Mind you this was way before input commands became a thing (to the point of extreme annoyance), so back then it was a new and innovative medium of gameplay.
Use attack, skill, item, and defend commands to turn the tides in battle.
Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars is easily one of the best games that I’ve ever played. The combination of Mario and JRPG elements might seem awkward at first, but give it a fair chance and you may be pleasantly surprised. Rare gems like this are uncommon in the days of first person shooters and mundane quest-based role playing games, so fans shouldn’t pass up the opportunity for some solid, old school gaming!