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LONG BLOG

SNES REVIEWS: Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars

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For those reading one of my SNES review blogs for the first time, here is the basic concept:

"While the SNES was a constant presence in my childhood, I never had a large collection of games for it. In fact, many of the games I played I still don't know the names of. It wasn't until I say the uproar over Breath of Fire 6 that I knew I played Breath of Fire 1 in the SNES.

After reading the excellent top 100 SNES games list by IGN:

http://www.ign.com/top/snes-games

I decided to go back and play those 100 games and review them. Well, as I looked closer at the list, I realized that there are many genres that did not age well from the SNES (racing, sports) and many other genres that I am simply not good at (shmups, arcade shooters) and others that I need other players to play against for an accurate representation (fighters). Also, I played many of the more well known games such as Final Fantasy and Super Metroid."

We finished with the legacy reviews, so we are beginning with the reviews after my hiatus. Please feel free to give me advise on my reviews, as I always look for improvement.


Also, here are a number of extra rules for Destructoid:
-If you have any suggestion of a game that is not in the IGN list that I should review, please suggest it.
-Make a bet on each game to check whether Chris Charter played it or not.

Without further ado, here is:

10- Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars:
Year: 1996.
Genre: RPG.
Publisher: Nintendo.
Developer: Square Soft.

First things first, I am changing my rating system to better rate different genres according to their own rules. It will still be from 50 quality points, but every title will start from 25 and earn/lose points according to criteria important to the titles and genres themselves.

Arguably, Nintendo and Square were the two greatest developers in the SNES. The first managed to make great games that span many genres in its own consoles, while the second dominated the RPG market. Notably for Nintendo, they didn't make any RPG game yet, so an alliance between the two developers seemed natural.

However, in a twist, the result was an RPG featuring Mario, a character that went against the genre's core ideas. Fittingly, the resulting game was revloutinary, not only because of its visual style and gameplay, but because it showcased the RPG genre to many who might not have tried it before.

While Nintendo and Square broke up harshly after the SNES, and there was never a true sequel to SMRPG, it remains as proof of their past partnership. Through its legacy, the game inspired two Mario RPG series that are clearly a continuation of what Nintendo and Square started.

"You're telling us that Bowser has abducted the princess AGAIN?"

Alas, the turtle king strikes again, and kidnaps princess Toadstool (yet to be redefined as Peach) and hauls her into his keep. For some reason, Mario doesn't need to journey through 8 worlds to save her, but to simply stroll into the castle immediately and begin the rescue operation.

With Bowser quickly defeated, and the princess freed, those familiar with Mario games will feel rightly puzzled at the quick resolution of the eternal story. They will feel puzzled no more when a gigantic sword impales Bowser's castle, and sends Mario and the Princess into different directions.

Thus begins a search of the princess, as well as an investigation of the Sword's role in the chaos that is engulfing the Mushroom kingdom. Of course, as is the case with Mario games, this is merely an excuse to traverse the world and collect something to then fight other things.

Knowing the basic nature of their story, and the importance of the plot to the RPG genre, the folks at Nintendo and Square instead relied on fun, funny, and comedic delivery.

Is that a Golden Mario Amiibo that I spy

Enter the inhabitants of the Mushroom kingdom. From Cloud characters that think they are frogs, to rebellious monsters that decided to create their own town. We are introduced to a variety of characters that offer no depth whatsoever, but are so over the top and funny they become instantaneously memorable.

For instance, it is difficult to forget Boomer (a Wario-like character) and his band of sniffits, who simply does not know what is cake and is prone to attempt and marry any girl he sees (naturally making Toadstool an object of his affections). Or, can we forget the Axem rangers, a group of 5 obvious Power Rangers rip-offs that are actually evil, and steal the show despite being featured only once.

It's the champions of corruption and despair... the AXEM RANGERS

Starring in this ridiculous narrative is Mario himself, whose silence did not stop him from being a great story teller. Frequently, Mario is asked to explain what happened to other NPC, and yet we know Nintendo wouldn't allow for him to speak. Instead, he explains events in Silent Movie skits fit for the great Carlie Chaplin himself. These skits are often funny, and always charming.

True, the main plot plays it safe, and with the removal of Bowser, it doesn't even include an enemy we care about. However, the side plots, and side characters, are almost all unique and charming in the way. In fact, we can credit the excellent characterization of Bowser today to his performance in SMRPG, which finally gave the Turtle King a soul.

Funny Story:+3
Excellent Writing:+3
Silent Movie Skits: +2

"I miss the good old days... Toadstool screaming in terror..."

Naturally, a Mario RPG wouldn't follow the usual style of other RPGS, even if it employs turn-based battle. As such, the battles in SMRPG demand some action from the player. True to the usual RPG fare, you can command a number of characters (3) and attack in turn. Yet, in this game, in both attack and defense, you are able to land a critical hit or defense through your actions.

Most often, when clicking the right button at the right time, you score a stronger attack or reduce a lot of damage. When using special attacks, you are usually asked to do something extra, like pushing the Y button repeatedly, or rotating the directional pad like an analog stick.

This adds another dimension to the tried and true turn-based formula that actually becomes essential to doing well. Since you can actually see enemies and decide whether to fight or not, the game can be challenging sometimes assuming you don't mercilessly slaughter everything that moves like you would do in an actual Mario game.

The classic RPG showdown

Unfortunately, the visual ques for landing a perfect hit are not always clear, especially regarding magical attacks. After finishing the game, I am yet to land a critical hit of some of Geno's magic, and only rarely managed to guard against Physical spells (magical ones cannot be guarded).

Outside of battle, classical Mario platforming morphs into something different. In retrospect, this is actually the first time Mario jumps in 3D space. With the ability to jump and move in 8 directions in a isometric view, the game frequently includes some minor platforming sequences.

Thankfully, these are very forgiving, and are basically a rest from the regular gameplay, since it can be very inaccurate. Because of the isometric view, it is often difficult to accurately judged a jump, and players will often miscalculate. Fortunately, for most of the game, its not a big issue and is rarely super vexing, although it becomes annoying in at least two separate stages.

With relatively action packed gameplay, SMRPG is an easy RPG to recommend, and one that is rarely boring both inside and outside of battle.

Combat: +4
Some Challenge (if you are not over-leveled): +1
Platforming Issues: -1

"Fangah! Foiled again"

Besides battle and platforming, it appears that Nintendo and Square wanted to cram in as much extra content as they could in the game. Both in the story and outside, there are a number of mini-games that you can play. It is actually very surprising how many varied mini games there are.

Some are really fun, like trying to avoid a bird who tries to clean out statues. Or hiding from Booster's sniffets. While most are only a moderate time waster. Still, thankfully only a few are truly terrible (the Yoshi Race).

Not like DKC, but the Minecart section is still cool

What the mini-games actually offer is a variation of the gameplay. You can expect something cool and new in every location, and goes a long way in keeping the game fresh until the end, and the game is filled with such surprises that add greatly to the story.

For example, one time I found a hidden box that had a star in it. Immediately, the familiar starman theme started playing and I realized I needed to catch as many enemies as possible for a large EXP gain without much effort.

Variety and Surprises: +5

"And the legs... Well defined... STRONG. The legs of the masses!"

Immediately, the graphical style of the game stands out from its SNES contemporaries. Like Donkey Kong Country before it, SMRPG opts for 3D style renderings but in an isometric plane instead of a 2D side-scroller.

For the day, it was a revolutionary step that grabbed reviewers attentions. In fact, the 3D graphics in the game outclassed many early PS1 games, including FF7 in my opinion. Some reviewers even called it the "best looking SNES game".

Is that Lakitu waiting for a car to drive into the water

Despite the importance of the graphics for its time, I actually think it didn't gracefully age unlike its 2D companions. In fact, if not for the vibrant and colorful style of the Mushroom Kingdom, it could have been much worse. Look at how the first Mario and Luigi game developed in a much weaker system, and how it aged much better.

Perhaps because of its focus on 3D design, the enemies left much to be desired. Especially the bosses which looked weird and uninteresting. One boss lady who apparently was supposed to be super attractive looked hideous when blown up for the fight (as is usual in Final Fantasy games). The jiggling of her breasts when hit still gives me nightmares.

Credit where its due for the risk and innovation, which actually aged surprisingly well. Yet, I cannot say the game still looks graphically amazing, and is outclassed by other RPGs such as Chrono Cross and FF6.

PREPARE FOR THE ATTACK

However, the musical score is simply excellent. Often quoted as Yoko Shimomura's career turning point, the soundtrack is extremely varied and vibrant. With many memorable themes such as Booster's Tower and The Factory, it immediately adds to the game.

You see, a battle theme for Super Mario is actually difficult to make right. It needs to be fun and get you pumping, but not something epic like in Final Fantasy. Additionally, this a series known for its catchy tunes and unforgettable melodies. However, they are suited for platforming action, and not RPG exploration.

Thankfully, Shimomura hits it out of the park with her musical score.

Graphical Age: -3
Excellent Music: +5

In Conclusion:

It wasn't a sure bet that SMRPG would turn out great. At that point of time, Mario did turn most of what he touched to gold, but we still had the movie and the PC games. Still, it couldn't have been anything but great, with the two best SNES developers working on it.

SMRPG is a game that managed to give characterization to the Mushroom Kingdom that still influences games from Nintendo today. It also influences our own fan parodies, and thought on the crazy place.

While it doesn't have true sequel, the two Mario RPG franchises that are inspired by it are going strong today, as a testament of the legacy of this game.


Final: 44/50

*****************************************************************


"Tips"

1- Practice your timing when you hit, you will need it.
2- Don't attack everything that moves, so that you won't over level.
3- Spend your coins, you can only have 999 coins at a time.
4- Look around and hit boxes to get items and MP points.
5- Flower jars not only add MP points, but also completely refill it as well.
6- Talk to everyone, some have hilarious lines.

"Next Game"

It's only fair that one of the best games made in the SNES is made by the two best developers. This showcases the versatility of the two companies, and their ability to experiment with intelligence.

I was going to play Starfox next, but after seeing how the graphics aged (terribly), I decided against it. Instead, I am going to play Yoshi's Island, a game that a lot of people swear by. I actually never played it before, but found all of its sequels to be a little boring. Hopefully the original stands the test of time.

Stay Tuned

For Previous SNES game Reviews:

The List

For More Screenshots:

http://www.mobygames.com/game/snes/super-mario-rpg-legend-of-the-seven-stars/screenshots

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About Lord Spencerone of us since 5:57 PM on 01.12.2014

Hello all, I am Lord Spencer, your friendly neighborhood royalty. Yes, the ancient bloodlines are letting absolutely anyone in these days.

Being the lurker that I am, I have been following Destructoid for more than four years. Well, its 3 AM where I live now, and I just plunged in getting HUGE in the way.

Here is hoping for a fun time.

Oh yes, here is a little more info about me that is probably not as interesting as I think it is:

-I owned and played about 1000+ games.
-I owned and read about 2000+ books (I counted comic books I read as a kid so this is not as impressive as it sounds).
-I absolutely love Legos.

Out of all the games I played, I only regret playing a few. I am a big fan of gaming, and thus I really like most of what I play.

Thanks to the excellent work of community member Dango, now I have a cool infographic of my top 20 games. This list is not my final one, but what I thought off at the moment. If you notice, they are presented in chronological order:





Oh, and here is a link to my blogs:
My Blogs