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Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars – SNES

Awesome box art for an awesome game.

Awesome box art for an awesome game.

Platform: Super Nintendo Entertainment System

Developer: Square (Before it was Square-Enix!)

Publisher: Nintendo

Release Date (NA): May 13, 1996

Genre: RPG, Action-Adventure

Rating: 8.75 out of 10

Reviewed by Flagostomos

Warning: There will be minor spoilers in this review! You have been warned…

Ask anyone who Nintendo’s mascot is. They will say Mario. Even if you don’t play video games, chances are you know who the plumber is. He got his start as “Jumpman” in the DK arcade game, and eventually revitalized the video game industry with Super Mario Bros. He has appeared in over 200 video games.  However on March 9, 1996, Mario would appear in what is in the humble opinion of this reviewer, his best game of all time.

Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars was the last Mario game for the Super Nintendo. Working under Shigeru Miyamoto, Square worked to create a game that blended the RPG element they had made famous in their Final Fantasy series and Chrono Trigger, as well as using the Mario universe and adventure game concept. It was also one of three games to utilize the SA-1 chip, that allowed quite a few upgrades as compared to a standard cartridge at the time. While I could bore you with a narration of the development of the game, let’s get right into the review.

Gameplay:
I remember when I first picked up this game. The nice thing about it was how quickly it got started. There is a beautiful opening scene with the one of the best audio scores of the game right upon firing up this masterpiece. After you input your name, there is a brief scene depicting Bowser capturing Peach and bringing her back to his castle. Mario is hot on his heels. Immediately you are pitted against enemies to fight, as a kind of tutorial. The enemies didn’t drop items or give experience, but it still was perfect way of easing us into the fighting mechanics of the game. As the game progresses, battles would become more complex as you must learn and master several dozen “timed hits”. At a certain point in either attacking an enemy or being attacked, you could hit one of the face buttons, and depending on your timing (and character’s stats) you could deal extra damage or defend against an attack. (Offense and defense respectively). I’m sure most fans of the game are aware of one special move in particular, allowing you to do 9999 with a properly timed hit.

If you’re not a fan of the traditional turn based RPG battles, then you probably will have a hard time getting into this game. However, with the timed hits system, it changes the way a traditional RPG does battle. You can completely change the tide of the battle, just with a well timed extra hit or defense move. There’s different timings for every character, every character’s new weapons, and every enemy, so you’ll have to figure them out through to the final boss. The timed-hits mechanic does wonders for taking the grind out of the battle system.

Mario can still jump outside of combat, so you won’t have to figure out which path will get you where as you do in a lot of other RPGs. Jumping should be a standard in RPGs in my opinion, but they don’t always have it… You can only control Mario outside of combat throughout the entire game, and you can’t use any weapons outside of battle which would have been a nice touch. You can use most items and certain abilities that heal however.

How can you not love a game where a boss is a cake?

How can you not love a game where a boss is a cake?

As soon as Bowser joins the party, my brother, Dad and I would only use Mario Geno and Bowser, so you’d have a strong offensive party but no support or magic. I have found that the final boss is ten times easier with Toadstool, and the hidden boss impossible without her. Sticking with Final Fantasy classes (Square made Final Fantasy, and developed Mario RPG…) Mario and Geno are your Red mages. Mario can use magic but a lot of enemies are immune, Geno actually has really decent Magic but most of the time sticking to his physical attacks are best. Bowser would be Fighter, Mallow is a black mage (offensive magic), and Toadstool is a white mage (support/healing.) You can switch between the four (other than Mario) outside of battle at any time. For the most part you can stick to all physical attackers (Mario, Geno, Bowser) but I suggest mixing it up.

Mario RPG is also a master of secrets. Go to Youtube, look up a Let’s Play or Walkthrough, and you will be amazed at the sheer amount of items you normally would never find in a regular play through. How were we supposed to know that Peach’s ??? was in the corner of her fireplace? Jump on the Toad’s head as you first enter the Castle for a frog coin? Or how much easier would the Culex battle have been had I known the Lazy Shell Armor combined with the safety ring would make you invincible? Let’s not even begin to think about Grate Guy’s casino, that remained a mystery until long after ROM hacks were available.

When you level up, you get boosts in all stats, but you can also raise an additional stat. I’ll leave it up to you to decide how to use them.

Story:
The story was rather bland in my humble opinion. Without going into too much detail, every plot “twist” is predictable, and everything you need to know is revealed long after you have figured it out for yourself. For example, Mallow: Is he a tadpole? Even the commentary when he joins your party alludes to the fact he is not. However, let us not forget that this is a Mario game, and their lackluster plots usually contribute to the overall satisfaction.

It starts as the typical “Toadstool is captured, Mario must rescue her from Bowser” plot, but quickly turns into more. Without revealing too much, A new bad-guy enters the scene, and starts wreaking havoc throughout the world. Mario teams up with Mallow, who has a side story, Geno who was sent from above to recover the star pieces, Bowser to get his castle back, and Toadstool ‘cuz she can’t stay home. Actually it was really nice of her to tag along because she makes the game a hundred times easier… It gets pretty involved, but it’s rather cliche and I wish they had put more effort into it.

Controls:
Almost perfect, other than the fact you may get frustrated trying to perfectly time all timed hits. You can look up guides that tell you how every hit works though. Timed hits can sometimes be annoying in the sense you don’t know when to hit the button rather than it being hard to actually be able to execute the timing. Battle controls flawlessly with one objection: the item menu could have been more intuitive.

There are a few mini-games, such as the Yoshi race, that are hard until you finally figure out how to do it. Then it’s a breeze. My dad can do the entire race without using a Yoshi cookie, and to this day how he does it just blows my mind.

There is another simple flaw in the game: the jumping. While not proving to be a major problem throughout most of the game, there are a few select times that it poses a challenge. For example, en route to Nimbus land, there are some pretty nasty jumps that you will probably curse until the day you die. I can go 100 times without being able to jump on that darn beanstalk leading up to a secret area. Then there’s something simple as missing the Masher in Booster’s tower simply because you cannot line it up. However, this is mostly due to hardware limitations, and the faux-3D rendering from the SA-1 Chip is actually very impressive for the most part.

Replayablity/Lastability:
Most people probably wouldn’t rate this high, but I can play this game whenever I want. You’ll probably wanna play through at least twice trying out different battle styles/mechanics, but every once in awhile you get that “Mario RPG” hankering. Add in my own nostalgia for this game and you have created an experience that will stay with me my entire video gaming life.

Graphics/Audio:
The graphics are pretty good for the time. Almost fully 3D, the character sprites are executed flawlessly. The regular sprites and battle sprites actually are the same and they look amazing. The edges of maps are usually pretty dull, but there are a few scenic routes. I have noticed frame skips before, but they’re usually minor.

The music in this game is awesome. I have the soundtrack in my music library. It is just that good. From the music in Mario’s pad, the Mushroom Kingdom, Bean Valley, and the Forest Maze, (Super Mario-o RPG, it is the only one just for me..) whoever composed the music for this game deserves a medal. They really used everything they had, even though all that was available was the MIDI format.

In reality, a review for this game could go on. There are a lot of haters out there that can’t stand this game, and then you have the fanboys. I am not afraid to admit that I’m a fanboy of this game. It’s awesome. It’s beyond awesome. It’s great, and if you don’t believe me, 800 wii points on virtual console, or if you’re brave, go out and buy a SNES and cartridge.

This game really shines as an example of how you can take a game from one genre and transfer it to a completely different genre. It’s a shame that square stopped working with Nintendo though. However, Nintendo has successfully produced another two series of Mario RPG games, this game serving as their “Spiritual Predecessor”. Super Mario RPG is a must own for any Mario and RPG fan, and it’s availability on the Wii’s Virtual Console make it almost impossible to not pick up.

Nerd Rating 8.75 out of 10

Reviewed by Flagostamos

Written by Nerd Bacon

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  5. Oh man, I was just playing this so I could review it but you beat me to it! I’ll get around to it later, so I can put in my view. But, yeah, this is by far the best Mario game I have ever played. It doesn’t get old. Have you been able to successfully do 100 Super Jumps to unlock the Super Suit? I can’t get past 57. Other than that, I have done absolutely everything this game has to offer. I play it through at least once a year. It’s that great. Before I babble on and on, I’ll save the rest of my input for when I review it.

     
    • Once I was able to do 100 super jumps, I have never been able to repeat it. But I was able to unlock everything that playthrough for the first time! It’s amazing all those secrets I didn’t know the first play through. Even getting the Lazy Shell (which takes no extra effort at all) isn’t spelled out for you.

       
  6. I’ve had this game lying around forever but still haven’t gotten around to it. Glad to see that it’s really worth playing and not some weird attempt at throwing Mario in a new genre. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the Paper Mario series of RPGs, but I still can’t quite get into the Mario and Luigi series. Legend of the Seven Stars is definitely on my “to play” list, right after I finish running through a few new titles. And then the Castlevania stuff I haven’t gotten to. Oh and then my attempt to go through all the Jaguar CD games.

    It could be awhile…

    Great job!

     
    • Flagostomos says:

      Oh I highly recommend playing this game as soon as you can. I think we all have the issue of “lots of games to play, little time to play them”. I also recommend giving Mario and Luigi a second try. I admit it starts slow but once you get past the first two hours it becomes really immersive.

       
      • I’ve got a nice stack of SNES games specifically that I want to get around to in the near future, including Super Castlevania IV. I’m pretty sure I’ve gathered up all of the Mario & Luigi series and I’ve probably spent less than 2 hours with all of them combined. I even rushed out for Dream Team on launch date AND bought the guide book with it…I have yet to even pop it in my 3DS haha.

        I think what really turned me off was one of the Mario and Luigi’s on the GBA. I got completely stuck and couldn’t figure out how to kill some big bad guy. I guess there’s what, 6 of these games now? 3 for GBA, 2 for DS, 1 for 3DS?

         
        • Just one for the GBA. They do start slow, I admit, not as fast paced as many other RPGs. Too many games to play, so little time!

           

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