Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3 - Part 4 - Part 5
What happens when you combine the Mario universe with the talent of Square Enix, the makers of the Final Fantasy series?
One of the best RPGs of all time, that’s what! Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars is kind of an odd duck in the Mario franchise, especially in its RPG division. All other RPGs in the franchise can be classified under the Paper Mario or the Mario & Luigi series. And both of these sub-franchises have gained massive popularity in their own right – and yet, Super Mario RPG precedes them both and quite possibly surpasses them still in popularity. Released on the final years of the Super Nintendo (in 1996) and at first overshadowed by the release of Super Mario 64 merely four months later, the game has since gained a huge cult following.
|The title screen... before the opening sequence.|
This game also features one of the longest stories in any Mario RPG, probably even longer than Super Paper Mario (although there is no way I am spending 8 parts discussing this game, Hell no). There is a LOT to unpack here today, so I suggest we jump into it right away. How about that?
|For Koopas wearing armor, they're even lamer|
than regular Koopas.
The fighting system here is done well. Mario has 4 options: Attack (A button on the SNES controller), Defend (B button), Item (X button) and Special (Y button). Instead of picking from a menu, just tap the button for the option you want! Pretty clever system. For now, we only need to attack.
|Iiiiiiiii'm.... gonna fiiiiiiight.... on the chan-delieeeeeeerrr...|
ON THE CHANDELIEEEEEERRRR...
However, before Mario actually manages to save Princess Toadstool, a giant sword falls through a cloud with a star symbol, splitting that star, and then lands directly into Bowser’s Keep. In the ensuing kaboom, Mario is tossed back in his little house. He immediately tries to make his way back to Bowser’s Keep, but the giant sword says that the turtle-dragon’s fortress now belongs to his gang… the, uh, Smithy Gang. The sword then proceeds to destroy the quick-way bridge between Mario’s piece of land and the castle. Oh great, now we have to run around the entire Kingdom to find another way in!
Mario runs through the Mushroom Way separating him from Toad Town and the Mushroom Kingdom. On the way, the good old Goombas, along with Lakitus and Spinies and the Paratroopas – here called Sky Troopas, for some reason. Like I said, some names changed when the game was translated, and the changes are noticeable – although someone who knows the franchise will know which regular Mario enemies have been misnamed. Kinda makes one wish for an updated version with the actual names…
After beating up some Hammer Bros. blocking the way (and learning about timed hits from a helpful Toad), Mario reaches Toad Town. He visits the castle’s Chancellor, who urges him to save the Princess as soon as possible – there are so many papers she has to sign right now, like that contract for the construction of an artificial island out there that will be used for all of the Princess and her friends’ baseball needs! That’s totally not a pointless project, there is a future for that thing!
|"Yeah, you cried your rain all over me."|
Gee, that almost sounds like it could have come out of
a very bad romance song.
Mario and Mallow chase after the croc… named Croco, what a surprise… and battle him, retrieving Mallow’s wallet. Fighting Croco, we see that Mallow is more of a mage kind of character, weak at physical attacks but relatively decent at using spells. Be careful though, as the whole party shares their Flower Points (as Magic Points are called in this game, the mana necessary to use special moves and spells), and so you must use your selection of special attacks wisely. On that aspect, Mallow feels a bit like a Black Mage. Even if, in personality, he’s anything but.
|Mallow's Thunderbolt is a magic attack targeting all|
enemies, Very good spell for the early game.
But does he have to drop his pants every time he casts it?
|The sewers... Where the Boo go to be forgotten?|
With Belome defeated, Mario and Mallow move forward and exit the sewers, only to encounter a waterfall. Oh, it’s okay, it’s just a…
…HOLY SHIT IT’S A WATERFALL! SWIM THE OPPOSITE WAY! Nope, too late. Let’s just pray it doesn’t have spiky rocks at the bottom.
but it’s Mario, he survives. In fact, he the lands on a barrel and goes rolling
down the river, jumping to collect coins at the same time. Just goes to show,
no matter how gloomy things get in the Mushroom Kingdom, there’s always a way
to have fun (and make some money too!). We wind up in Tadpole Pond, a calmer
area without monsters. That’s where we meet Frogfucius, Mallow’s
father. We can finally deliver what Mallow was tasked with bringing back: A…
cricket pie? Yuck. But hey, that’s a delicacy for a frog, I guess. Being an
old, wise amphibian, Mallow’s father then explains more about the Smithy Gang,
and says that it’s currently more important for Mario to defeat them than it is
to retrieve Peach and Bowser, who have also conveniently been flung out of the
latter’s keep. We don’t get much info on the star, though. Frogfucius also
makes the big reveal to Mallow.
|Yes, I know, I used that one already in this older review of mine.|
|Yes, try swimming back up the waterfall, Mario.|
That's totally gonna work.
|Whoa whoa whoa! That's some big news right there!|
…Because he was found in a basket in the river. Oh good, I’ve seen the Dreamworks film Prince of Egypt too! I heard it’s an adaptation? …Yeah, I still need to read that damn book. Apparently it’s got quite the fan following. Now knowing that he isn’t a frog, Mallow decides to join Mario on this adventure around the Mushroom Kingdom, in hopes of finding his true parents. Oh sure, he gets put in danger all the time, I mean, Mario IS on a mission right now, preventing a takeover by weird weapon-themed villains… but risk of death at every corner is a small price to pay to find Mallow’s real parents, right?
|Well, could be worse. At least it's not self-insert fanfic.|
Meanwhile, that night, weird things happen. A little star appears in the living room and places itself into the kid’s bullet-shooting doll, granting it life! And conveniently makes it as big as the rest of the cast, too! Huh, didn’t know making things grow was a power stars possessed. I thought only mushrooms could do that. The doll looks around, slowly learns to walk, and leaves. Mario wakes up soon afterwards, and soon sees that the kid is overjoyed. Apparently, he’s seen his Geno doll! It was moving! And it went into the forest! Mario decides to investigate, and goes in the Forest Maze.
Ah yes, the memories!
|Oh no! We can no more use special attacks!|
Except... ya know... we can still attack...
The fight starts, and Bowyer is one of the trickiest bosses so far – he can literally disable some of your commands! The A button (for regular attacks), the X (to use items) and the Y (for special moves) can all be disabled, one at a time, by Bowyer’s arrows. It can be a very tough battle, but he can still be defeated. After what, Mario and Mallow retrieve the Star Piece.
Geno explains that he is a Star Spirit living in the Star Road-
-a magical place above the clouds that grants people’s wishes. Unfortunately, the Star Road has been shattered by the giant sword falling from the sky, meaning that wishes can no longer be granted in the Mushroom Kingdom. It is thus their duty to retrieve the Star Pieces, which when put together will bring the Star Road back to normal. Unfortunately, a little living arrow heard everything and is now reporting the info to Smithy…
|An infamous moment in the Mario universe, to be sure.|
Keep restraining him, Mallow!
Don't allow Mario to actually hurt a kid!
Alright, this is all for today. Make sure you don’t miss Part 2 of this anniversary review!