Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars - Staff Retroview  

Mario Gets HP
by Derek 'Roku' Cavin

15-30 Hours


Rating definitions 

   As an interesting twist, Mario stars in his own RPG: Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars. Although it begins like the average Mario game with Mario saving the princess from Bowser yet again, the world is soon thrown into chaos as an enemy even stronger than Bowser appears. Mario must go on a quest to collect the seven stars and fight the new enemy along the way. You gain several allies along the way (though poor Luigi gets left out) to help you on your quest. There are some Nintendo cameos and a few minigames to keep you occupied on your journey as well.

   While Mario RPG's battle system in simple, there is still enough strategy involved to keep things interesting. You have the standard battle options: attack, defend, item, and special. Attacking a defending use something new to Mario RPG: timed hits. As you attack or defend against an attack you can press the button again to gain an attack or defense bonus. This really helps keep battles interesting. Each character has only a few special abilities, but each of them has a special execution from rotating the controller to holding a button for a few seconds. Unlike other RPGs, allies in Mario RPG share FP(similar to MP) so it's important to conserve it as much as possible. When you level up you can also place a few bonus points into either HP, physical att/def, or magic att/def to customize your party.

Hard to believe these are SNES graphics Hard to believe these are SNES graphics

   Being a carefree Mario game, the focus is on gameplay rather than difficulty. Only a few optional bosses pose a threat to your adventure. If you're wounded it's easy to rush to safety since you encounter enemies by running into them on the dungeon map rather than being forced into random battles. Most of the enemies are easy to avoid and I recall a few times where I ran through the entire last level without a single battle. Most of the bosses aren't too bad either as long as you have someone who can use healing magic or you have a few good healing items. Later in the game you can even purchase items that restore all HP and SP to everyone. An easy game.

   As you'd except from a platform series turned into an RPG, Mario RPG has some excellent interaction. You can run, jump, and use all kinds of strange things such as springs and cannons to get around with ease. It's fun and easy to 'play tag' with enemies as well since you have such tight control over Mario. Only some of the minigames have less than perfect play control. There's a massive amount of dialog to be found in the game and it's all excellently done. No spelling or grammar mistakes that I can remember.

   Most of the battle system, items, spells, etc. aren't very original, but there's still quite a bit of originality in Mario RPG. First of all, the addition of timed hits is original and a very nice addition to battles. The ability to get stars and defeat enemies (while still gaining exp) without actually fighting them is new too. The combination of a platform game and an RPG is also quite original and they did a great job of it too.

That wasn't in the game... That wasn't in the game...

   Well, Mario RPG's story is far from great, but it's still decent. You move around from area to area beating up all the bad guys as you go. Each area has its own story which is usually only slightly related to the main plot. It's still rather enjoyable and it brings out a lot of life in various Mario characters which haven't spoken very much up to this point such as Princess Toadstool and Bowser. Alas, Mario remains silent.

   While the game's title may be really long, the game itself isn't. Since you can easily avoid most battles it's quite simple to skip almost all random encounters as long as you spend a few minutes in a good level-up spot now and then. It's easy to finish the game in 15 hours if you play the game that way. There are a lot of minigames and sidequests in the game as well which can double the playtime. There are invisible treasure chests to collect, heroes such as Link to meet, and even something special involving a shiny stone, a locked door, and a gateway to another dimension.

   While many of the battle themes are untraditional, they are still very well done. The rest of the game's music is good as well and covers a wide variety of moods. There's a sunken ship, a forest, caves, and even a void in space, each with its own special background music. There are plenty of remixes from previous Mario games as well, complete with nostalgia. The game's sound effects are pretty good and seem to come mostly from previous Mario games as well, though there are several new ones too. Overall, music and sound are great.

   Wow is what I said when I saw the graphics of Mario RPG. It's simply amazing that the SNES is capable of this. A massive number of other games on the SNES and even several games on the Playstation don't even come close to looking this good. Every character and enemy is drawn in a heavily detailed 3D style that is very well animated. You simply have to see it to believe it. All of the backgrounds are beautiful as well and perfectly bring the Mushroom Kingdom and surrounding areas into 3D. Haha, I can still remember when I was first playing this game and several people came up to me and asked if it was Mario 64. Visuals just don't get any better than this on the SNES.

   The lack of a unified storyline hurts the overall score of Mario RPG, but the game is still great. Lots of great gameplay and plenty of Mario nostalgia. I recommend this game to any RPG or Mario series lovers. Its simplicity makes it a good game to bring newcomers to the RPG genre as well. You can't go wrong with Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars.

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