Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars
Nintendo’s iconic Mario franchise + Squaresoft’s RPG influence = One of the best JRPG games of the 16 bit era! Nintendo and Squaresoft combine their powers to give us Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars.
The game begins with Mario entering Bowser's Castle to rescue Princess Peach. Mario and Bowser eventually face one another. During their battle, a giant sword named Exor, crashes into Bowser’s Castle. Mario, Princess Peach, and Bowser are shown flying in different directions along with the scattering of the seven star fragments. This leads to a journey to defeat the evil Smithy Gang and recover the seven star fragments.
Super Mario RPG features elements from both the Final Fantasy series and Mario games. Squaresoft’s influence is apparent in the battle system. It’s really simple, yet surprisingly intuitive. When you enter a battle, all of your actions will be mapped to the A, B, Y, and X buttons. A=Normal Attack menu, Y=Special Attack menu, X=Item menu, and B=Run/Defensive commands. Every action has some sort of “Timed Hit” that you can use to your advantage, for example, if you choose “A” to attack. When Mario goes to punch an enemy, if you press “A” again at the right time, you can throw second punch. This results in extra damage to the enemy. The same principal is used for defensive actions as well.
The other aspects of the battle system are like most JRPG’s. You have your HP (Health), FP (Magic), Items, Weapons, Armor, and Accessories available to you. All of them have a “Nintendo Flare” to them such as Mushroom/Fire Flower Items and Hammer/Chomp Weapons. Squaresoft did a great job combining the JRPG experience seamlessly into the Mario universe.
Now for the adventure part! You move to different areas in the game through a World Map. It looks similar to the one in Super Mario World. The areas are designed using a 3/4th overhead perspective. You can walk in every direction and jump. Along the way, there are blocks to jump on, platforms to maneuver on, hidden treasures to discover, and different things to interact with. There are enemies walking across these areas as well. If you touch one, a battle will commence. This is much better than having the random battle system featured in most Final Fantasy games. It’s aggravating having to fight every three seconds. That is one quality I really appreciate from modern RPG’s.
Super Mario RPG uses some nice 3D models and features impressive graphics for the SNES. The game features an isometric view during gameplay and battles. All of the characters and enemies look nice and are designed well. The backgrounds are very colorful with a lot of green environments and clouds with smiley faces common in the Mario series. You traverse through a world map that is linear and nicely detailed. You can travel back and forth through different areas that you’ve visited.
The music is a mixture of original tunes and some classic remixed tunes composed by one of the great VGM composers, Yoko Shimomura, known for her work in the Kingdom Heart series. The upbeat, jolly kind of sounds is what you’d expect for a Mario game. I'll never get tired of listening to the Super Mario Bros. theme song. Overall, it’s a good soundtrack that offers something for everyone. The audio is also one of the best parts of the game. All of the classic Mario sounds like the “1-up”, picking up coins or jumping sounds are true to the original. You’ll always hear something familiar from past Mario games.
Super Mario RPG is an excellent game that all JRPG and Nintendo/Squaresoft fans should try out. It’s very rare when two legendary companies come together to produce something this great. Super Mario RPG successfully brings classic platforming action with role playing elements. It has great graphics, good sound, nice story, and most importantly, it’s fun!
If you can’t find a copy of the game, it’s available on Nintendo’s Wii Virtual Council for $8.
Pros: Graphics, Nintendo Characters and Square’s RPG Gameplay, Music, Replay Value
VGM: "Super Pipe House"