Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars review
A delightful combination
Super Mario: What a man. Since his first appearance all those years ago, he has done it all; Soccer, golf, plumbing, racing and believe it or not, even jumping! In 1996 Mario thought it was time to take a break from his usual pursuits, and with the help of the legendary RPG Juggernauts, SquareSoft, decided to save the world RPG style, in Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars. A Nintendo and Square mash up! That’s gotta be good, right? Mario RPG manages to combine everything we love about both Mario and RPGs into one very solid, enjoyable game that is regarded by many as one of the greatest RPGs of the era, and for good reason. I had a ball playing this game and you can too at a small price via the Wii virtual console. If you’ve ever found enjoyment in our lovable, little Italian man or classic RPGs then this is one of those games that should be on the top of your to-do list.
What is this game about? I’ll give you one guess. Correct! Big, bad, busted-up, bully Bowser kidnaps Princess Toadstool (now Peach) and our heroic plumber risks his life to save her. At least that’s what happens at the start. It soon becomes apparently that there is an even bigger threat to the world; the Smithy Gang, who are dead set on world domination. It’s up to Mario and his party to collect the Seven Stars and save the world once again! Doesn’t he get tired of doing this all the time?..... The plot is simple and pretty much what you would expect from a Mario game: Fun, fun, fun, all the way through! Below is a screenshot of our man Mario kicking ass and taking names, as usual.
The characters that accompany Mario were a bit unexpected. Princess Toadstool makes sense and fighting alongside Bowser for once is really cool! However, not having Luigi appear anywhere in the game was very odd. The two go hand in hand and whenever Mario appears, fans have learned to naturally expect his green sidekick to be happily following behind. Instead, two original characters join Mario’s side and they both add a nice dynamic to the team. One character is a giant marshmallow, called… Mallow, and the other is an alien from Star Road named Geno. The player can choose two other characters to fight in battle next to Mario and all of them work quite differently so it’s good to experiment with them all.
Exploring the world and battling through dungeons contains a mix of both platform and typical RPG elements. There are plenty of towns with shops, inns and plenty of NPCs to interact with, and as would be expected, Mario can jump around at all times, which is a requirement most of the time. This is a good way to avoid enemies in the more dangerous places. The emphasis on jumping really makes it feel like a Mario game and the way that the dungeons incorporate this has been pulled off very well.
Things are a bit more RPG like when Mario touches an enemy. One in the battle mode, most gamers will recognise it as a simple turn based battle system, and they wouldn’t be wrong. Mario and his allies can attack, use a special ability (costing Flower Points), defend or use an item. Pretty simple, but what Mario RPG does differently is the addition of interactivity during attack and defence animations. If the player presses a button at the right time, they will dish out more damage. The timing for this critical attack depends on the current weapon, so chances are the timing will be constantly changing as new weapons are found. Players can also reduce damage by timing a button press when an attack hits one of their characters. This is also a constant challenge due to most enemy attacks being different, so naturally; learning the enemy’s attacks makes it easier to defend. I really enjoyed this interactive inclusion but I must say that it is the battle systems saving grace, as everything else is very simplified. Below is an image of a typical battle.
Mario RPG doesn’t go far in the way of customising your characters. At each level up, you can choose to increase one of three main stat areas. These are Atk+Def, Mag+MDef and HP. The problem is that one of the three choices usually offers a lot more that the other two which makes it an easy choice. Why increase your Magic by 1 when you could increase your Attack by 3? This is a no brainer considering all characters need a mix of stats to be effective in battle. Apart from this, equipment is the only other method of customisation. I really hate it when a character is overly dependent on which weapon they have equipped, and this is certainly the case here. For example, Mallow could be doing next to no damage one minute, and then find a powerful weapon in a chest, which instantly makes him your biggest hitter. I feel that Mario RPG could have done a little better in this area.
So when Mario isn’t jumping on Goombas and stylishly sliding down pipes, what is there to do? Exploration! The world of Mario RPG is stunning and quite possible the best looking game of the generation. And best of all, it’s very Mario-like! There’s loads of familiar enemies and NPCs to interact with, even our favourite little dinosaur; Yoshi! Scattered around this world is several mini games to play, and while not spectacular by any means, will still keep you entertained for a small while. There are also plenty of side-quests to dive into, including a Final Fantasy style super-boss that will require quite a lot of thought and preparation to defeat.
Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars is a classic and easily one of the best RPGs of the generation. The way that Nintendo and Squaresoft combined a mix of Mario elements and RPG elements was done to great success and overall, create a thoroughly enjoyable adventure. It’s safe to say that Mario can put a giant tick next to RPG on his never ending to-do list. I just hope he returns for another some time soon!
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