#321 Super Mario RPG

Posted: 25th November 2010 by Jeroen in Games
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2nd game played so far

Genre: Role-Playing Game
Platform: Super Nintendo
Year of Release: 1996
Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo

Bowser has caught the princess again. Mario goes out to save her. Having wisened up, he lives right next door to Bowser’s castle, so runs straight there to rescue. Just as he does, though, a giant sword falls from the sky into the castle, and sends Mario, Bowser and the Princess away. The Smithy gang is invading the world and Mario has to stop them.

It’s Mario in his first RPG adventure. It’s colourful, it’s funny, it’s memorable, and it features a marshmallowy character who thinks he’s a tadpole (even though he is clearly a Japanese anime chicken). How could that make sense?

(We’d normally start the series from the start, but Mario has enough games that we can break it up by the game types.  It saves some time and means we can start with a very pleasant and fun game)

Our playthrough

I’ll be honest – I’ve played this game before and really liked it. It’s a colourful, fun game, not so difficult it can’t be beaten, but quite tough as you get into it. However, I’ve let Peter take the lead so he can experience it, while I offer advice and play some parts just for fun. The first night went up to the point where your next party member joins you, and it seems to have gotten Peter hooked already.

Our Thoughts

I’d best start this off, as this was my first pick.

Super Mario RPG. Colourful, fun, using familiar characters, but with a distinct gameplay that really set up a lot of future games and some pretty decent battle music that becomes endearing rather than annoying over prolonged exposure. Yeah, absolutely.

It certainly got stuck in my head. The graphics are more clearly dated, but with this being a SNES game around the time the N64 came out (the last Mario SNES game if i’m not mistaken) that makes sense. Possibly one of the reasons why originally, this game never made it to Europe.

Considering this is 1996 the graphics would have been dated even for then. Possibly more on par. But yeah, using 3D models as sprites just doesn’t always work. It worked in the original Tomb Raider though. Both released in the same year and yet it’s graphics ran rings around Mario RPG I don’t understand why they did not wait another year so it could be a launch title on the N64.

It’s a different platform though – Super Mario RPG was for the aging SNES, while Tomb Raider wouldn’t run on PCs from the time the SNES launched. Probably speed of development – had they waited another year, a lot would need to be redone to make it work.

In Japan they were released 3 months apart, bit of a false economy if you ask me as it would have made for a supreme launch title. That’s true, although it’s worth remember that this might’ve meant that the game wouldn’t have been made – this is the last Square game for a Nintendo system for quite a while, things were probably already strained.

It’s also a bit obvious to me that this is a 3rd party development deal. The sense of humour is slightly different and the gameplay is a bit simpler (more traditional maybe?) compared to what was then a typical Nintendo game. That’s true. The Final Fantasy influences are there especially in the way that the battles and menus are arranged (and the lengthy cut-scenes) and the ambiguity of whether something is a frog, a cloud or an anime chicken (In-game, a cloud. I won’t spoil it, but there’s some neat sequences related to Mallow).

Still, I say it’s a great game, well worth playing for anyone who loves Mario or RPGs. A great game in both ways. However, if you are like me and see RPGs as the likes of Fallout 3 you will be slightly knocked by the stopping and starting concerned with the battle sequences. This is a highly traditional RPG in that sense and to be a serious gamer you really need to sample one like this at some point. The Mario RPG seems like a good introduction.

In style, absolutely. And if you’re like me, the turn-based nature means it can be easy playing as you get easily distracted. Plus, there’s plenty of secrets to discover.

But if you like gaming for the adrenaline rush of being under fire or nearly dying at the hands of some robot it could be a bit of a turn-off… then again so would Tetris.

Yes. If you’re curious – the game is on the Wii Virtual Console now, so nothing is stopping you from playing it (if you have a Wii)!

Final Thoughts

It’s funny, it’s a good story, it’s challenging, it’s Mario, it’s an RPG. It’s not a game if you prefer action-packed non-stop violence, nor is it for you if you want the latest and best graphics, but if you want to get into a Mario game that’s more than “Bowser captures the Princess, Mario gets her back by jumping around the world and making sure he doesn’t fall into endless holes.”, this is the best to start of with. Not to worry though – sequels are coming, other Mario RPGs with more action and/or better graphics. More on those before we’ve gone through all 1001!

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