Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3 - Part 4 - Part 5
Time to finish this! In Part 4, Mario, Mallow, Geno,
Peach and Bowser defeated Exor the sword, only to get sucked into its mouth and
end up in the original world the Smithy Gang came from: A factory. Geno
confirms that this is the Smithy Gang’s world of origin, a cold, dead place
where only machines and monsters could exist. We see outside the factory, and yeah, it’s
nothing but darkness and fog. Of course, now that Bowser got his castle back, he
wants to leave the group, but Geno is quick to remind him that more
weapon-based monsters will come out of Exor as long as the Smithy Gang isn’t
truly defeated. Bowser reluctantly agrees to help the team until the end.
|Talking down Bowser with simple logic. That, my friends,|
is why Geno is awesome.
Even though the factory itself is a world of machines, the outside is inhabited by ghosts. Weird combination, but I suppose it just helps to show how alien and bizarre this world is. Don't you just hate it when ghosts show up out of nowhere, without any real reason, just to fill up space?
|Ah yes, the bells can attack too.|
They'll... ring you out!
…Sometimes my interpretations get weird. And yet, there’s some sense in there.
After Count Down, we meet greyscale versions of past Smithy Gang enemies and bosses. It appears that Smithy has started mass-producing his creatures. There’s only one problem; in most cases, the Machine Made copies are weaker than the originals. Of course! Make minions en masse and their might may not match the major models! Er… That alliteration fell apart at the end. There are still colorful enemies around here though, like hammer monsters and, for some reason, more ghosts. The major Smithy Gang members are now fought in Machine Made versions, like the Axem Rangers (pitiful when they’re brought down to the ranks of enemies), Bowyer (who can still disable your buttons), Yaridovich can still split himself…
|Just wait till you see their snakes.|
But we’re coming close to the end now. We’re getting into the final hallway, in which we battle a factory clerk… who looks like a chibi version of Shovel Knight for some reason. Maybe the developers of Shovel Knight took inspiration there? …Probably not. We find a Toad who has managed to run all the way through the factory to get to us and sell items before the final battles. Let me remind you that we’re in a factory infested with enemies that respawn at will, located in an alternate dimension, accessible only through the mouth of a giant sword planted into the fortress of the Mario franchise’s most recurring villain. If that Toad managed to reach this place by himself, then that is one badass Toad.
|Three bosses that are basically the same, and some that add finally some|
new stuff to the table. Eh...?
|Come on Geno. You followed us all the way to here.|
You know how it goes. This is not gonna happen unless
we battle Smithy. And this will be epic.
|Bis boss versus final boss. Sadly Bowser alone is not able|
to match Smithy. Good thing he's in a strong team!
So Smithy is beaten. Well, that wasn’t so bad, was it? Kinda simple, even. Angered by his defeat, Smithy thrashes about, despite the warnings of his minions… and falls through the ground, dragging the heroes down with him. And so we see Smithy’s true form…
…Can he go back to wearing that beard? He looked cooler that way. And where are we? In a furnace? Is this the decapitated head of another Smithy in the background? Holy shit!
|Tank head? Yeah, that still goes under the cannons rule.|
Cannons are fine, but guns are a no-no.
The first time I played through Super Mario RPG, it was on an emulator. I know, I’m not proud. A lack of preparations and planning led to the fight lasting 40 minutes. Most epic final battle I had ever been through. Someone who knows what they’re doing will probably go through it in 20 minutes, maybe 10 even if the team is at a high level. Which is on par with most final RPG boss fights, really. Especially as far as Square-Enix is concerned. A time comes where I can’t say much else than “Tough fight!”, I mean, what else is there to add? Yeah, it’s the final boss, but it’s not like I can keep rambling about that.
|It's time for goodbyes, I think.|
If we can see each other again, if that ever happens.
|Runaway groom! Quick, catch him before he flees|
on his toy train!
The end? Well… there’s also the credits, showing a parade around the Mushroom Kingdom. Led by Luigi – le gasp! He IS in the game after all! – and a few music-playing Toads, the parade presents the many actors of this story on a final hurrah, a reminder of good memories of the various adventures the heroes had. Including… Oh crap, it’s the Smithy Gang! They’re still alive! The Kingdom is doomed again!
|Pictured: Enemies that should be dead.|
Also pictured: The supervisor responsible for the
various translation goofs... who has still done a great
job in spite of the errors.
…Nah, the game is over. We’re fine. I hope. It ends with Mario and Peach on a shining star-shaped parade car as we get a final “The End” in the skies.
Good! I mean, yes, the game is good, but we’re not on my final words just yet. What else is there to say? Well, the game may have been beaten, but obviously you cannot save after Smithy’s defeat, so it will always be possible to go back to the Factory to beat him up. This also means that you can visit the Mushroom Kingdom at your leisure to find every little secret. And BOY are there many secrets in this game! I already covered the most famous ones – the Three Musty Fears, Jinx, Culex… but there’s more! There’s a ton of content that will pass by right under the eyes of anyone who plays this game only to see the end. Here, have a longer list of everything you can look for.
-Try to find all the hidden treasure chests around the Mushroom Kingdom;
-In Seaside Town, Frogfucius’ apprentice, gone to explore the world, will sell to you five one-of-a-kind items. They all require Frog Coins, a currency different from regular coins that can be found in treasure chests and during mini-games. Finding all of the world’s Frog Coins is a side-quest all to itself.
-Beating the race mini-game on Yo’ster Isle. This nets you an item allowing you to call Yoshi in battle, to eat enemies.
-Finding every best piece of equipment can be a pain, as many of them are either very well-hidden, or tucked at the end of a series of complicated actions and side-quests.
-In Tadpole Pond, we have Toadofsky, who will ask you to create music by jumping on tadpoles on the water area just before him. Hm… sounds familiar? I think Matthew Taranto took inspiration from that for his own game, Tadpole Treble.
|And you do that here?|
In your robot suit?
It’s time for my final words, but first… a breakaway to explain this game’s legacy. Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars has two distinct honors: The first Mario game made by Nintendo in partnership with Square-Enix (which is why none of the characters created for this game have appeared anywhere else, save for a cameo by Geno and an outfit in Smash 4). It’s also the first Mario RPG, which is a bigger deal than you’d think, since Nintendo’s next home console would see Mario adding role-playing games as a permanent addition to his spin-offs, with Paper Mario, and later on, the Mario & Luigi series debuting on Nintendo’s Game Boy Advance. Super Mario RPG is a precursor to both, as well as the only RPG that isn’t part of either of these two sub-series. While they cannot be used in Mario games due to copyright belonging to Square-Enix, various characters from this very game have seen substitutes created later down the line, in a way to circumvent the copyright limitation. As an example, the Chancellor of the Mushroom Kingdom can be seen as a prototype of what would become Toadsworth. It also introduced timed hits, which would become a staple of the systems in later Mario RPGs, especially in the Mario & Luigi series.
|"We didn't own the left one, so we made the right one.|
Take that, copyright!"
To be honest, I do prefer Toadsworth.
|Nonono, you joined the good guys. Welcome to the right|
side, Bowser. Don't worry, you're gonna see life from that
side a couple more times in the future.
Sometimes without even noticing.
More than that, though, Super Mario RPG brought something unique to the franchise and the RPGs that would follow: The tone. Legend of the Seven Stars is heavy on jokes about the Mario franchise, making a mockery of its sillier elements, and pointing out the trends and common tropes of the setting. When Peach is kidnapped by Bowser, the Toads just go “Oh? Again? Alright then”, and go on with their lives. Everybody relies on Mario to get anything done, sometimes to ridiculous lengths. The interactions between the main characters are full of comedy. There is some deconstruction of the general elements of the franchise, and a lot of “lampshade hanging” as well (sorry, I can only explain this in TVTropes terms, go check the page I linked, you’ll see what I mean). This is omnipresent in later Mario RPGs, and even in some of the other genres the series has delved into… and it all pretty much started in Super Mario RPG; Legend of the Seven Stars.
So, is this a great game? Yes! It’s really, really great! I mean, it’s got flaws here and there, but it’s definitely great. It’s a grand story featuring tons of side-quests, and compelling, appealing characters and storylines. Oh, and also, it’s funny as Hell. The graphics “look” like 3D, and the game plays like 3D what with Mario being able to go in all four directions on any given map, but the sprites are actually 2D, drawn with inspiration from actual 3D models that the system would not have been able to use. The illusion is breathtaking, isn’t it? You can barely tell that this is “2.5D”! And the music. God, the music. To this day, it’s still hailed as some of the best tracks brought to the series! The “Forest Maze” track is still beloved today. Hell, there are TWO rap remixes of it with accompanying Flash videos, made by the same guy!
On top of all the NPCs, the game also brought to us many memorable bosses, and most of them are memorable specifically because they made use of gimmicks that are seldom-seen in other RPG franchises. Locking commands? Cloning the party by eating them? Those are rare things. And of course, let’s not forget that the game’s bestiary comprises over 200 different opponents, ranging from normal Mario enemies to odd bosses and mini-bosses, and the weirdest ideas for enemies you can think of (A carrot? And is that an elephant skeleton… with a bone trunk? Living puppets? Scepters? These weird shell-shaped things?). The Smithy Gang itself is memorable, as a team of robots based on weapons is a concept I had never seen before – although as the main villains of the story, some of them severely lack characterization and backstory, Smithy being the worst example.
Speaking of the story, while I do enjoy it I will admit that the padding of it is rather… blatant. A lot of portions seem to be there only to pad out the length of the story, with little connection to the plot. It’s especially true of a lot of bosses in the game, in the Factory in particular. And the game just drags on between the fifth Star Piece and the seventh, with some padding more obvious in places (being forced to complete 4 of 6 courses in Bowser’s Keep, as an example).
The other main problem with the game is how, when it comes to items, equipment and accessories, very little is explained. Each object has room only for a small description, and the actual effects of many items are not described. It becomes a problem with some of the more special equipment, like the Lazy Shell that lowers attack but increases defense; the Quartz Charm, which boosts the attack and defense by 50%.... There are many other examples of items with odd effects, but the game doesn't tell you enough info. That’s an issue. It’s especially bad when it involves the equipment gained after completing complex tasks, and you have no idea of the effects of the reward you just obtained for your troubles.
|Click the image to enlarge and see my two problems, summed|
up here: The "Description is all we ever see of the item in the
game, very few explanation. Then, bad translation: "Noknok
Oh, and of course, I can also talk about the translation again. It’s clear that Ted Woolsey and his team tried their best to bring the game to the English language, but they definitely had some issues, especially when it came to naming enemies and attacks. Some regular enemies of the Mario franchise are given names that don’t make sense (Paratroopas aren’t named Paratroopas, as an example), while other enemies keep a name close to the original Japanese one – when some other names could have worked better. Similarly the names of some of the attacks don’t make much sense. Thankfully, that’s a minor issue compared to everything else. Also, epic fail: They named regular Boos “The Big Boo”. Whoopsie.
|Once again: Translation error.|
Despite all this, yeah: Good game! A few flaws here and there, but great stuff overall. Go play it. That’s not an order, but it’s a very, very strong recommendation.
And so this closes the fourth anniversary review on Planned All Along! Sorry I had to take a hiatus at first, this stuff is really long to write after all. But yeah, I’m happy that it’s done, and I’m glad I could discuss this game. It’s been on my to-do list for a while.
So… I think it’s time for some Steam games now. Join me next week as I publish my next Steam Pack.