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Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars – SNES

Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars – SNES

UnknownPlatform: SNES

Developer: Square

Publisher: Nintendo

Release Date: May 13, 1996

Genre: RPG

Nerd Rating: 9.5/10

Reviewed by Paladin

Hands down the greatest birthday present I ever received. When I opened this gift my brother dove out of the room because he knew how loud I would scream. After weeks of renting this game from the video store, my longing for it had only increased. How could it not? This blending of two different types of games (Super Mario Bros. and RPGs) initially had people laughing; “Those melodramatic sword and dragon games? How do you work jumping plumbers and the Mushroom Kingdom into that?” The result blew everyone away. What could have been an abysmal embarrassment turned out to be one of the greatest masterpieces in either genre.

What better way to begin a Mario game than with Toadstool getting kidnapped? Yeah, I said Toadstool. This was pre-Mario 64 and before America began using her original name, remember? So, Princess Toadstool is playing with flowers and gets kidnapped by Bowser. Mario enters the scene and appears at Bowser’s doorstep within seconds.Unknown-1

Hang on…..seconds? Isn’t Bowser supposed to be the final villain? Not this time. Mario RPG has you navigate the turtle king’s castle, learn the basic controls and face your adversary within the first few minutes, all with incredible graphics, great sound effects and awesome music. Less than half an hour of playing and my video game reality has already been turned upside down!

Upon defeating Bowser stuff hits the fan. A giant sword crashes down from the sky and sends everyone flying all over the world along with seven familiar looking golden stars. After the title screen Mario wakes up in his house to find Toad, who summons him to the castle. It’s here that we get to know the world map, learn more controls, and are introduced to one of the best parts of the game: timed hits. By pressing the A button at the right moment in battle, you can deal an extra hit or deflect damage. A simple idea with simple execution that never gets old. This is one of the few RPGs that throws a lot at you in the very beginning, yet never feels overwhelming. Navigating between attacking, spells and items in battle is a seamless experience and magic is cleverly specific to each character’s traits, such as Mario’s spells being jump attacks and fireballs or Mallow’s (who we learn comes from the clouds) having to do with weather.images

All the action doesn’t happen during battle though. True to its roots, Mario RPG lets players jump our hero around anywhere they wish, which is handy for finding hidden treasure and, at times, necessary for advancing the game. This kind of creativity and innovation is evident in every pixel, from the colorful backgrounds to the enemies, both old and new. We see familiar sights such as the Mushroom Kingdom, an underground network of piranha-plant filled pipes, and even Yoshi’s Isle along with all your favorite baddies like Goombas, Lakitu, and Magikoopa. However, much of the game’s appeal comes from its original content; places like Booster’s Tower, Moleville, and Monstro Town make for some new and entertaining experiences, as do new villains like Punchinello, members of the Smithy Gang, and even a killer wedding cake! Every moment is filled with a fun challenge, an exciting plot turn or an intriguing locale.

The story is nothing surprising. A new villain named Smithy has cut the Star Road (Super Mario World anyone?) to pieces, thereby rendering wishes ungrantable and paving the way for him to take over. Mario and friends must traverse the world, defeating Smithy’s underlings and putting the Star Road back together piece by piece. It may seem like a basic plot for such an involved game, but that’s why it works. Many RPGs contain plot twists, in-depth character development, and melodrama. Mario RPG has none of that. The simple story and characters are perfectly suited to the innocent, over-the-top nature of a Mario game. Think about it; could you picture Bowser driving a nine-foot long katana through Peach’s abdomen, followed by a somber Mario slowly lowering her dead body into a pool of water with the most heart wrenching music you’ve ever heard playing in the background? Hell no! That’s not Mario. Mario games are fun and light-hearted. A more complex plot would have hurt this game.images-1

Not that Mario RPG is all laughs. Discovering Mallow’s true family, bidding Geno farewell, and seeing the world’s fallen, unfulfilled wishes littering Star Hill all tug at the heartstrings more than one might expect. The serious moments are just enough to get us invested, but not so bleak that they clash with the rest of the game. We even feel sorry for Bowser at one point!

I suppose Legend of the Seven Stars does have its flaws, but only when nitpicking. (And I’m talking discerning individual grains of sand on a beach nitpicking.) The jumping can be difficult to judge at times. Adding that third dimension to a platformer can throw off a person’s depth perception and this is no exception. It’s never bad enough to stop you from advancing, but there are times you could swear a ledge moved right when you were about to land on it. I also could have done with a few more characters in your party, with only 4 people joining Mario on his quest. Granted, one  of them is Bowser, which is pretty cool, but everyone is so much fun to play as that it left me wanting more.images-2

Perhaps that is the greatest problem with this game; it’s too short. Every time I beat it I’m left with a sense of fulfillment, but also of incomplete desire. To a ten year old kid it may have been the perfect length, but anymore I find myself getting to the end and maxing out my characters far too quickly for my nostalgic tastes. This is one of my absolute favorite video games of all time and, as evidenced by Nerd Bacon’s other review of Super Mario RPGI’m not alone. The creativity and effort of the programmers shines through in every scene. What more can be said? If you’ve never played it, you’re missing out big time.

Written by Paladin

 
 

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