Fungah! Foiled again!
Experience Points is a series in which I highlight some of the most memorable things about a particular game. These can include anything from a specific scene or moment, a character, a weapon or item, a level or location, a part of the soundtrack, a gameplay mechanic, a line of dialogue, or anything else about the game that is particularly noteworthy and/or awesome.
This series will no doubt contain spoilers for the games being discussed, so keep that in mind if you plan on playing the game for the first time.
This entry is all about Super Mario RPG. Feel free to share some of your own favorite things about the game in the comments!
I’ve always been a big Bowser fan, so I was very excited when I played Super Mario RPG for the first time and discovered that Bowser actually joins Mario’s team. This was the first time the two rivals teamed up together, and it was awesome.
Super Mario RPG actually begins with a boss fight against Bowser to save Princess Toadstool, leading the player to believe it’s going to follow a similar storyline to the previous Super Mario games. But that all changes immediately when a giant monster sword descends from the heavens and lodges itself in Bowser’s Keep, laying claim to the castle and kicking Bowser and his minions out.
Mario spots Bowser and his army several times as they’re attempting to regroup and take back the keep. Finally, they meet face-to-face in front of Booster’s Tower where a lone Bowser reluctantly decides to lend his strength to Mario’s team (because he knows they’re headed for his castle anyway). He declares Mario and friends to be honorary members of the Koopa Troop for the duration of their travels together.
Bowser is probably my favorite party member (sorry Geno!). He’s a powerful asset during a fight, able to summon a Big Boo to terrorize enemies, wield a Chain Chomp as a weapon, and even toss Mario around like a projectile. He also brings a lot of humor to the group. This is the first game where he’s characterized as sort of a goofball. He tries really hard to keep up the reputation of being a tough, mean bully, but it’s pretty clear that he’s really just a big ol’ softie. You just keep being you, Bowser!
It’s axin’ time!
Super Mario RPG has arguably one of the greatest boss battles of all time: the Axem Rangers! After a particularly grueling fight against the Czar Dragon in Barrel Volcano, as well as its undead form, Zombone, Mario finally gets to take a break and revel in the light of the newly recovered Star Piece. Unfortunately, it’s a short-lived victory, as the Star Piece is suddenly swiped right out of his hands by stealthy assailants.
The thieves reveal themselves to be none other than the “amazing,” “unbeatable,” and “gorgeous” group, the Axem Rangers! They’re clearly inspired by another group of similarly colored Rangers, only they’re much more dastardly. Mario chases them up to the rim of the volcano where they attempt to make their getaway on the airship, Blade.
The fight commences aboard the airship, where the Rangers declare their motto and attack. It can be a difficult battle, since there are five targets to focus on, each with their own attacks and specialties. Eventually they start to drop out one by one, each complaining about something trivial like being hungry, having a headache, having runny make-up, and accidentally breaking their sunglasses, to which Axem Red always has a snarky retort. Finally, Red changes strategies and takes control of Blade for their ultimate attack, the Breaker Beam.
But despite their showmanship and underhanded tactics, the Axem Rangers are still no match for Mario and company. Of course, that doesn’t stop them from being awesome and having the coolest motto!
“We fight for evil! We live for disorder! We like what we do! We struggle for chaos! We are… the AXEM RANGERS!”
Booster is one the most memorable characters in Super Mario RPG, but a big part of why I like him so much is because of his Snifit buddies. Booster himself is kind of insane; he never seems to have a good grasp on reality, so he relies on his Snifits to help him out and explain things to him. They help solve a lot of simple mysteries for him, like what to do at parties, how to eat cake, and what it means when someone is crying. Without his Snifits to keep him under control, who knows where Booster would end up.
While Booster’s main posse consists of three Snifits (simply named Snifit 1, Snifit 2, and Snifit 3), there’s actually a secret side quest to expand his army. In Booster Pass, Mario might come across an enemy called an Apprentice, a blue Snifit who hopes to impress Booster by beating Mario in a fight. They are very weak enemies, so most players will probably just kill them and be on their way without a second thought.
But I always liked the Snifits and wanted to help the little guys out, so I tried losing to an Apprentice on purpose once just to see what would happen. After a really long battle where I just defended and let the little dude pummel me with weak attacks, he finally “beat” me. Instead of getting the usual Game Over, though, it returns to Booster Pass where the Apprentice proudly exclaims that he’ll become Snifit 4 and runs off excitedly. Congrats, buddy!
Mario can actually keep battling Apprentices in this way until there are eight Snifits. They can all be found at the top of Booster Tower, where they’re still super thrilled with their new titles. Well, all of them except for the eighth Apprentice, who woefully explains that Booster only wants seven Snifits and that all of his training was in vain. Poor guy… at least you tried your hardest!
I am matter… I am antimatter…
Monstro Town is my favorite area in Super Mario RPG for several reasons. For one, it has a great theme song and a bunch of cool, friendly monsters to talk to. All the enemy types Mario has been fighting have all gathered in this secluded villager in order to live peacefully with no wish to fight.
There’s also a few side quests to do here, such as fighting Jagger and his sensei Jinx at the dojo and playing a nice little game of “Find the Flag” with the Three Musty Fears. But my favorite side quest involves a sealed door and a mysterious neighbor. The friendly piranha plant hints about hearing their strange neighbor next door mumbling about crystals and evil.
If Mario brings a Shiny Stone from Moleville, the crystal will react to the door and the seal will be broken. Upon entering, Mario finds himself floating in a strange dimensional rift and is greeted by a creepy purple being who calls himself “Culex, Dark Knight of Vanda.” If Mario agrees to fight him, he will be up against the most powerful foe in the game, even more daunting than the final boss, Smithy.
Culex is particularly awesome because of his ties to the Final Fantasy series, since the game was created by Squaresoft and Nintendo. While he’s not based on a specific character, he’s designed to look like a typical final boss from the series. The encounter with Culex also uses several songs from Final Fantasy, including the battle theme from Final Fantasy IV, the victory theme, and the main theme of the series which plays while they are speaking after the fight.
I always thought Culex was a really cool idea for a crossover boss fight. Plus, the fact that he’s so well hidden made it that much more surprising and exciting when I finally entered his door to find myself in another dimension speaking to a character who probably shouldn’t exist in the Mushroom Kingdom. Well done, Square!
Super Mario Shmup
Super Mario RPG has a lot of fun mini-games to play whenever Mario wants to take a break from his grand adventure, but the one I spent the most time with was probably Beetle Mania. Beetle Mania is a handheld game that Mario can buy from a Toad in the Mushroom Kingdom Inn, which can then be accessed from the main menu during any area of the game.
It’s basically a really simple shoot-’em-up where the player controls a tiny beetle that shoots stars at incoming Koopa shells. The shells bounce around and remain on-screen until they are hit. Each shell grants two points when shot, and explodes into a burst of other stars that can hit more shells to trigger a chain reaction which can quickly multiply the score up to thousands of points per shell. Even though it only rewards two points for an individual shell, the score can easily skyrocket in seconds due to combos if there are a bunch of shells on-screen at once.
I believe the high score is something like 99,999,999 points, which I never came close to personally, but I definitely made it into the millions a few times, and I wasn’t even playing for that long! It’s an addicting mini-game due to how satisfying it is to watch the score jump higher and higher so quickly, and I found myself taking breaks from the main story to play Beetle Mania for a while just because it was so much fun. Do you remember what your high score was?
Super Mario RPG‘s story is full of goofy plotlines and even goofier characters, but the silliest part of the game by far happens in the town of Marrymore, where Booster attempts to marry Princess Toadstool. Crazy old Booster, who was holding Toadstool captive after she fell from the sky and landed in his tower, decides that their strange meeting must be destiny and that they should get married (obviously).
When Mario climbs the tower to rescue Toadstool, Booster flees to Marrymore with the princess in tow and it’s up to Mario and friends to crash the wedding. After barging into the chapel with Bowser’s help busting down the doors, they accidentally bump into Toadstool, causing her to drop all of her wedding accessories. A quick mini-game ensues, where Mario has to collect all of her dropped items in a time limit.
Afterwards, she says she’ll reward Mario with a kiss. But this causes Booster and Bowser to feel left out, since Bowser thinks he deserves a kiss for breaking down the door and Booster wants a kiss too since everyone else is getting one. A confusing rush occurs as everyone goes in to try and get a kiss from Toadstool. Depending on the player’s skill during the previous mini-game, Mario could get a kiss from Toadstool, Bowser, Booster, or even Bowser and Booster at the same time! The lucky bastard!
Since the wedding is pretty much off at this point, Mario, Toadstool, and Bowser start to leave the chapel, but the way is blocked by the chefs who have just brought the wedding cake in and are distressed to see that the bride is leaving after they spent all day baking the (rather hideous) cake. In a fit of anger, the chefs attack, initiating one of the strangest boss fights in video game history.
After a bit of fighting, the massive dessert the chefs were so proud of actually starts to move on its own, and the chefs flee the scene. Then the main battle against the living wedding cake begins, and it’s a pretty difficult fight. After putting out the candles and eliminating the top two tiers, Booster and the Snifits arrive just in time to eat the remainder of the cake. They deliberate for a bit on the best method for consuming such a huge treat before the Snifits finally just toss the entire thing into Booster’s open mouth (but not before Booster notices that it’s moving!), destroying the evil dessert once and for all. It may have tried to kill most of the wedding party, but at least it was delicious!
Super Mario RPG is so good at humor that even some of its more serious moments are rather hilarious. Take one of my favorite moments, for example, where Mallow’s grandpa reveals his true origins.
Mallow was raised by his grandfather, Frogfucius, in Tadpole Pond, an area populated by frogs and tadpoles. Naturally, Mallow grew up believing that he, too, was a tadpole, even though he really looks nothing like one. That is, until the fateful day that he met Mario.
After retrieving his grandfather’s coin from a thief with Mario’s help, they return to Tadpole Pond to speak with Frogfucius about what to do next. He advises Mallow to accompany Mario on his adventure, but Mallow seems surprised, saying, “I’m only a simple tadpole! This adventure isn’t for me!”
Frogfucius turns around, the happy music fades out, and suddenly the tone becomes deadly serious. “Mallow, my boy, I’ve kept this from you until now, but you’re… not a tadpole!!!”
DUN DUNNN!!! (*Actual sound effect used in the game.)
Needless to say, Mallow is shocked! His whole world is turned completely upside down. Everything he thought he knew about himself was a lie. It even starts playing a really sad piano tune and Mallow starts to cry. And yet… I couldn’t stop laughing! Poor Mallow… but I mean, come on man, look in a mirror or something!
Past Experience Points
Level 1: .01 – .20