Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Top 52: Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars (#31)

Super Mario RPG was the first Mario RPG and it certainly was not the last. The success of this game influenced the development of other great Mario RPG games from Mario & Luigi Superstar Saga, to the Paper Mario series. This isn't just some shovelware Nintendo put out with Mario's name on it to make a quick buck. It's a fantastic game.


Title: Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars
Console: Super Nintendo
Release Date: 05/13/96
Genre: Role-Playing Game
My Ranking: #31
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Squaresoft and Nintendo? What an odd combination. One company focuses on JRPG's and fancy stories while the other features a plumber with a red hat who never actually does any plumbing. This game was destined to fail miserably but I decided to give in a shot anyway. What I ended up playing was one of best RPG's ever made.



Super Mario RPG starts off like any other Mario game. Princess Toadstool got kidnapped by Bowser again and you got to rescue her sexy ass. However, upon reaching the princess, a gigantic sword appears on top the castle and blocks off the entrance, while sending the princess, Bowser and Mario to separate sides of the world.

Since Mario doesn't speak in the game, he has to explain things with his actions. To describe a bridge being destroyed, he stands on top of table, walks off it, notices there is no ground and jumps back to the table and shakes his head. Or, when being questioned as to whether he is the real Mario, he just jumps really high, which tends to impress a lot of people. The cute and humor factor here is priceless.


The battle system was also top notch. Featuring a turn-based system, Mario and his team can attack, use items, and do Mario-style special attacks, like any standard RPG. What sets this game apart though, is the "timed hits" mechanic. For every attack, including every special move, the player must press the attack button at the right time or hold it for the right amount of time in order to deal more damage. The RPG system in Super Mario RPG was more dynamic in this regard and involved more input than just selecting commands.

The music in Super Mario RPG was also superb. Some of the songs referenced older Mario games, but most of them were original tracks that seemed to fit the Mario universe. The game felt like a Mario game from every angle, except for the fact that it was a RPG.



Mario didn't just jump on people too. He used shells and hammers as weapons and one special attack had fireballs. His teammates did feature Mario characters like the Princess and even Bowser, but the new Squaresoft additions of Geno and Mallow were also interesting. Mallow is a cloud who thinks he's a tadpole and Geno is a warrior from the Star World sent to help recover the lost stars in Mario's world.

There's nothing particularly wrong with Super Mario RPG. It really was a solid RPG in its own right, even without being set in a Mario universe. Having the Mario characters was a big plus and it helped push the story and make cute references to the series. The game was fairly long, difficult enough to be entertaining but not frustrating (@#$% that optional Culex battle though), and I never remember there being a dull moment in the action or story. Seriously, if you like RPGs, or even Mario games, you'll find something in Super Mario RPG that will make you love it and keep on playing.

-------------------------------------
My Top 52:
#52 --- Star Fox 64 (N64)
#51 --- Kirby's Adventure (NES)
#50 --- Roller Coaster Tycoon (PC)
#49 --- Grand Theft Auto III (PS2)
#48 --- Metroid Prime (GC)
#47 --- Halo 3 (Xbox 360)
#46 --- Bomberman 64 (N64)
#45 --- Guitar Hero II (PS2)
#44 --- Super Street Fighter II (GEN)
#43 --- Pokemon Puzzle League (N64)
#42 --- Soul Calibur II (GC)
#41 --- Gears of War (Xbox 360)*
#40 --- Elite Beat Agents (DS)
#39 --- Call of Duty 4 (PS3)
#38 --- Super Metroid (SNES)
#37 --- The Orange Box (PS3)*
#36 --- Metal Gear Solid (PS)
#35 --- Doom (PC)
#34 --- Super Mario Kart (SNES)
#33 --- Mischief Makers (N64)
#32 --- Super Smash Bros. Brawl (Wii)
#31 --- Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars (SNES)

18 comments:

Will said...

This is definitely the best on your list so far. Singing Piranha plants? Excellent.

Rob said...

I grew up on the Genesis, so I never got to play this game. Maybe I'll grab it off the Virtual Console for the holidays.

Shawn R. said...

LOVED this game. Consistently excellent story, gameplay, and surprisingly funny throughout. The dialogue is very clever, and the comic characters are adorable without being annoying. Slighlty easy, but long enough to keep you engaged. Solid from beginning to end.

TheNightgaunt said...

That god damned, fucking yoshi race!!!! Arghhhh!

ultima301 said...

*rant mode*

Okay Rich, I'm calling you out on this one. The fact that this game gets so high on many top games lists really bothers me.

Don't get me wrong - the game has charm. Cute graphics, sweet story, and hilarious moments, especially with Mario's mute charades. Some of the mini-games were fun like the beetle race and the mine cart part.

But seriously, this game is NOT that great. Let's start with the battle system - "top notch" and "more dynamic" than most systems? Hardly. 99% of the battles in the game are resolved by the following strategy:
1 - attack
2 - low on health? use mushroom or heal spell
3 - go to 1

The timed hits mechanic was novel but it really wasn't THAT amazing. Pretty much every one (except the super / ultra jump) can be mastered in a few tries and I never messed it up. Defending is almost as easy, with a few exceptions to spells, and that's only because it's extremely vague when you actually need to defend. Spells were useless as they were barely stronger than attacking and drained FP, which was shared between all party members (horrible idea). I just used it for healing / reviving people.

As far as customization goes, there is virtually none. Each character has a weapon, armor, and accessory, which each increase attack, defense, and nulls 1 status effect, respectively. Special properties or equipment variety do not exist - you simply buy a stronger version of them at each town. This was acceptable say...back in Final Fantasy 1, but not in the late SNES era, when there were great games like Chrono Trigger and FF6. There was no other way to specialize characters - there were no limit breaks, skill trees, or ANY kind of gimmick other than the aforementioned timed hits.

Levels / dungeons were always linear and rarely interesting, with notable exception to belome's temple. Bosses required no real strategy that differed from a normal battle - they just lasted longer (the only memorable to me were the axem rangers battle, which was pretty good). Grinding took forever since there are only 30 levels and each level up thus takes a long time. Items were either "heal x amount" or "hurt x amount" and nothing else. Leveling up was linear and only allowed slight variations in the amount of hp / attack / magic gained.

Honestly, I argue that anyone that thinks this game deserves anything more than an honorable mention for the unique concept / great presentation is just riding on nostalgia. Maybe that's just me though *shrug*

*/rant mode*

Richard R. said...

@ultima301:

Alright, a brief retort in defense of this game.

Simplicity is not always a bad thing. Part of the reason why FF1 was so great was because the battle system was so simple. Time shouldn't stop developers from using concepts that worked in the past; they worked for a reason. Part of the reason why FFXII sucked so hard was because the battle system was needlessly complicated with too many commands and too many spells that really weren't useful. What separates Super Mario RPG from other RPGs is it's simplicity.

The nice thing about Super Mario RPG was that you could just run through the entire game. You didn't need to build up ability trees are work especially hard to get crazy equipment. Traditional Mario games also share that quality; you never need to stop in a platformer.

Mario wouldn't be same if you had to grind out some parts (which was never necessary unless you were planning on facing Culex); you should be able to fly through it if you really want to. The simplicity of the battle system therefore kept in mind the traditional Mario gameplay pacing. Simple, yet fun, fast and efficient.

Obviously the simple nature of Super Mario RPG didn't stick with you. Regardless, it's hard to argue that this game was not unique for its time. Instead of creating an epic and flowery JRPG, Squaresoft created a Mario environment that mimicked not only the Mario world but Mario gameplay style, in a RPG. To me, that's genius.

Richard R. said...

Oh, and did you guys totally not dig the forest song remix video shown in the post? I thought it was awesome.

ultima301 said...

It's definitely a nice break from all the swords-and-magic rpgs out there, but I remain unconvinced that the gameplay is even remotely compelling. Now...Paper Mario...now THERE's a game that combines a charming and unique RPG story with interesting and tactical gameplay.

Also, the video kicks ass, seriously, good find.

cialis online said...

Cool stuff you got!!!!!I think that this is one of the best video game in the history, Super Mario is really wonderful, I love to play it with some of my friends, I want to get more tips and info about Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars!!!22dd

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