Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars - Review

Forgotten Realms of the Mushroom Kingdom

By: Veronica Henry

Review Breakdown
   Battle System 6
   Interface 8
   Music/Sound 6
   Originality 9
   Plot 4
   Localization 8
   Replay Value 6
   Visuals 7
   Difficulty Very Easy
   Time to Complete

12-15 hours



   Whether a hybrid creation from the once strong alliance that was Nintendo and Square, an attempt to push the power of the Super Nintendo to its limit, or a shameless ploy to sell a company mascot, Super Mario RPG was certainly a work to behold back in 1996. Not only did the game dare to accelerate the console graphically, but it blended platform/adventure elements into an RPG engine remarkably well. Though sometimes overshadowed by its other works such as Chrono Trigger and the Final Fantasy series, Square successfully hit the mark again with this title...

   Needless to say, it does not take a genius to play the game, nor should any kind of previous RPG player have trouble with it. Battles circulate in turn-based rounds with the only 'menus' to speak of being the controller buttons. Each main button (A,B,X, and Y) is designated with its own function. Simply push the button of choice to bring up your options, select, and pummel away at those Goombas! A very simple, but nice touch to the game are 'Timed Hits'; attacks that do extra damage when the attack button is pressed right before a character hits an enemy. Though this doesn't cut down on the monotony of leveling up characters dramatically, it helps a little. Each character also has his or her own set of "Specials" or special attacks they can use at the cost of Flower Points (FP). FP obviously substitutes MP in this world, but unlike traditional MP, Flower Points are not kept track of for each individual. Instead, they are put in a large bank that increases in size through the course of the game as items like 'Flower Tabs' are collected.

   Super Mario RPG also gives gamers the luxury of showing enemies in the various areas and allowing them to avoid battles at their leisure. However, there will be times when gamers will search for enemies. A lot of them. Also, towns and other settings within Mario RPG have the feel of platform Mario game complete with secret treasure boxes, secret areas hidden by very difficult jumps (Nimbus Land.. ahem...), and secret islands. In terms of game flow, Super Mario RPG moves along seamlessly as most SNES games do.

I shot the one more damaged... and that has made all the difference
Two Piranha Plants diverged in a wood...  

   The game's music borderlines somewhere between charming and slightly annoying. Though many of the musical pieces and sound effects tie in well with Mario's world, their overusage may drive a gamer to beat up Remo Cons while listening to a [Insert album title here] CD instead. Many of the sound effects also border between funny and irritating.

   Mario RPG overflows with originality. Though towns are small, they're a joy to search through, especially with Shingeru Miyamoto plugs abound. Not since Chrono Trigger have there been character expression of this level. Party facefaults, nose bubbles, innocent tilts of the head and other very anime-ish expressions are abundant throughout. There are many miscellaneous goodies, inside jokes, and melodramatic scenes throughout Mario RPG to keep gamers smiling, laughing... and maybe even facefaulting. In addition, the character designs are outrageous and unique, from Axem Ranger to Zeostar. Don't worry about all of the classic Mario foes such as Spikey, Goomba, and Dry Bones; they have their respective places in the game as well.

What about my FastPass?!
Mario revisits Splash Mountain  

   Sadly, the one thing that Super Mario RPG does not have is a superb plot. Notably, the game was born from a console game where Mario and his entourage had little to no more background other than "good guy", "bad guy", "helpless princess", "genderless mushroom", etc. Even though the plot in itself is simple, it doesn't transit from one point to another especially well. It dares to teeter along the edge of 'fanfic style', which is truly dissapointing.

   The translation of the game is nothing that you would find in say Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete, but it is still very good and humor filled. Accents are tolerable, dialogue is witty, and the characters are clearly defined through their speech. The script dialogue in general contains a lot of flavor despite the plot that it backs up.

   There's nothing to be gained by replaying other than all of the special equipment you get for accomplishing various tasks. The game still retains some replay value with its characters, setting and other miscellaneous quirks.

It isn't exactly fair to compare a title like this to the recent Chrono Cross, but for SNES graphical standards, Super Mario RPG is fairly well done. The nearly three dimensional world offers an extra element of freedom not commonly found in games for this particular console. The pre-rendering is also fairly well done, though the backgrounds used for battle screens in certain areas tend to be recycled as much as possible, adding onto the tenacity of battles a little bit.

More than a piece of fluff, or no?

"Put Mallow in your party. I dare you!"
In terms of difficulty, Super Mario RPG is extremely easy. In fact, it's a great introductory RPG for younger players who are just starting to take up videogames. A bright five-year-old could probably play through most of the game, encountering light to medium difficulty towards its end.

   Though the game may take the novice closer to 20 hours to fringe through the first time, veterans should easily be able to complete this game within twelve to fifteen hours, sans major sidequests and searches for rare items. The time length of the game is unusually short, but don't let that sway you. Super Mario RPG is definitely worth getting out the ol' SNES, dusting it off and taking a weekend to play through. Even though it seems as if this particular game was slapped together to make a quick buck from two particular gaming sub-genres, it is indeed worth at least a rental. Its unique qualities put it right up there with other Square games, and its nostalgic, Mario brand world appeals to Nintendo/Miyamoto fans. Quite simply, Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars... is fun. Break out the cartridge cleaner and feather duster. It's time to go snooping through Princess Toadstool's room.

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