"Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars was the first RPG I ever played and I couldnít of asked for a better one. "
Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars was the first RPG I ever played and I couldnít of asked for a better one.
But Iím not saying that itís a great game by any means. It mightíve been technically brilliant for its time and simple enough for anyone to enjoy, but itís nowhere in the same league as some of some its other contemporaries, and almost as disappointing as it is enjoyable.
Super Mario RPG begins as your typical Bowser kidnaps the Princess tale. But since itís a role-playing game made by Square there has to be some sort of lame twist. So as soon as Mario finishes kicking Bowserís ass a giant sword crashes into Bowserís castle, scattering Mario, Bowser, and the Princess in the process (donít worry, this happens in the first ten minutes and itís in the instruction manual so Iím not spoiling anything). Now the fate of the Princess and the world lies in Marioís hands!
This isnít the most impressive storyline by any means, but itís simple, to the point, and probably more effective than 95% of RPG plots. I usually donít care less about plots because they focus too much on twists and cheesy dialogue to the point where I lose interest, but this one is perfect. Besides the one that I mentioned there are maybe two more minor twists throughout the whole game and the few cutscenes are actually humorous and quite enjoyable. How can someone not enjoy watching Bowser cry when he canít break down a door and watching Mario, a silent protagonist try to explain something to someone without talking? I actually sat through all of the gameís cutscenes and enjoyed them, and I canít think of another RPG that I can say this about.
Super Mario RPG keeps the rest of the game simple as well. One of the gameís best aspects is how it manages to be fun despite not having all of the fluff that most RPGs contain. Mario will have only four party members join him on his quest, but luckily they are all very useful and develop well throughout the game. Besides Mario you will have the ability to control Mallow, a wanna-be Frog, Geno, a doll that came to life for a special reason, and even Bowser and the Princess! There arenít too many items, equipment slots, complicated statistics, or anything else that will drive you crazy. Everything you need is included.
Battling with these characters is actually a lot of fun. Instead of adding all sorts of crap that makes learning how to attack an hour long process, Super Mario RPG keeps it very simple. Your commands are limited to attack, special (AKA magic), defense, and run. But Square included ďtimed hitsĒ to prevent the game from being a newer version of some shit that its current partner Enix cranked out in the mid-80s. Basically if you press a button at the right time your attack power/defensive capabilities will increase. So if you choose an attack that would normally deal around 50 damage points but time it correctly that number could go up to 90 or even over 100! The best part about this is itís never confusing and extremely accessible to everyone. Even if you canít get the hang of timing attacks there are plenty of ways to learn, such as from the informative instruction manual and tutorials in the beginning of the game.
There are several other awesome parts of the game that captures the best of Mario and RPGs. This game is LOADED with awesome puzzles and interesting areas. Youíll have to swim down a waterfall, chase after a monster in the ghost-inhabited sewers, save a village from falling arrows, make your way through the seven doors in Bowserís Castle, and much more. Super Mario RPG isnít the biggest game, but there are plenty of hidden secrets, such as hidden chests, and plenty of puzzles, yoshi races, and even some optional battles that reward you with some sweet items. The gameís so simple, yet so deep and enjoyable.
But all of this simplicity creates a few problems. Super Mario RPG is a very easy game, and it only gets easier as you progress. The timed hits might somewhat add strategy and depth to the battle system, but they only make an easy games easier. Some of them donít require any skill at all to master, such as press ďYĒ repeatedly or rotate the control pad, and the ones that require you to press the button at the right time will take no time to perfect. After an hour or so timing attacks becomes so natural to the point where it is rare that an attack is not timed properly. The actual game never provides a challenge, either. The bosses never pose a threat and are usually extremely weak to a few attacks. Later on in the game you will have access to so many AWESOME weapons, armors, and spells so that no tactics are needed to win any battles. Even timed attacks become pointless, since the game is already easy enough without them. I SUCK at RPGs, and you know somethingís wrong when I have to create handicaps, such as playing without armor and never timing attacks so I canít beat the game with my eyes closed.
The game is also very short for an RPG. The average gamer can probably breeze through it around twelve hours, and although there are quite a few hidden extras, there is no reason to play through it again since Super Mario RPG is linear to the point of absurdity. This makes it nearly impossible to get lost but simultaneously limits any type of exploration. You know thereís a problem when your world map is nothing more than an area select screen similar to that found in Super Mario Bros 3. One of the selling points of RPGs is exploration, and Super Mario RPG offers barely any of that.
At times I immensely enjoyed Super Mario RPG but I just cannot recommend it. It has a lot of qualities that all RPGs should have, such as a simple, yet effective story, a fun battle system, and plenty of brilliant moments. At other times, though, it seems overly simple and linear to the point of absurdity, which will piss off everyone except for those who have never played an RPG before. For the latter group, however, this is probably the best place to start.
Community review by Halon (November 28, 2007)
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