Review by RageBot
"A game that can fit the Square to the round... pun intended."
In 1995, the world, or America at least, had only seen five Mario games, and all of them were simple side-scrollers. Obviously, there were some spinoffs - Mario Kart, educational games, etc. - but those are not the subject of this review. The subject is one fateful day, when Shigeru Miyamoto, the head of Nintendo, sat alongside Hironobu Sakaguchi, head of a large third-side company called Squaresoft, and the brain behind one of the best RPG franchises of all time, Final Fantasy.
Anyway, the two legends of gaming decided to combine their strongest points into one epic game, to make the SNES to go for broke at the end of its life. Thus this hybrid was created - An RPG taking place in the Mushroom Kingdom, starring the one and only Super Mario, Princess Toadstool (Peach) and Bowser as party members, as well as two extra characters never to be seen again outside of this game, and plenty of jumps.
The game starts at the end of a usual Mario side-scroller - Mario waltzes into Bowser's fortress, ready to save Toadstool once again. Oh, Nintendo and their princesses... While this is a casual event for Mario, the battles are turn-based. The enemies are all weak as hell, to help you adapt to the system. Plow through some measly guards, defeat Bowser, and Toadstool is saved. Victory is yours... wait, what the?!? A giant sword falls down on Bowser's fort! Mario, Bowser and Toadstool all scatter in different directions, seven stars rain down from above, and the game officially begins.
Not only is this game an RPG, this is also Mario's first venture into 3D, although his first official quest is not too far away, as this game was released just before the N64. This game has a 2D-3D feel to it, similarly to Final Fantasy Tactics on the Playstation. Mario runs around the world, jumps with the B button, dashes with Y and interacts with A. X opens the menu, which is a regular RPG affair. All things that make an RPG are also here - usage of items, equipping weapons and armor, and some juicy side-quests. No world map, however.
Coming to battle, there is another button pattern. Press the A button for a regular attack, Y for special attacks (Magic and such), X to use items in-battle, or B to run away. New to this game are timed attacks: Every regular attack has a specific time where you must press the A button again for increased damage. Yes, critical attacks are not based on luck, but precision this time. Square will use this again for the main character of Final Fantasy 8. In addition, press A to increase your defense when the enemy strikes.
This game is full of secrets, as is expected from a full-fledged RPG. Hidden treasure chests are anywhere, and they contain either a Frog Coin (A secondary from of currency), flower (this game's equivalent of MP), a mushroom (Heals your HP, and yes, the items in this game are mushrooms), or a rare and expensive item. Normal chests are also common, and they may hold any of the above, as well as a fixed number of regular coins.
Other secrets are also abound. There are two very strong optional bosses. One is a dojo master that attacks you with force, and the other is a shining gem, or crystal, put by Square: A demon straight from Final Fantasy 4, complete with the four elemental crystals, and the original FF4 boss theme! Both give you powerful equipment when defeated. You can also get an absurdly powerful item from a hidden casino, and a supreme weapon and an armor, high in the sky.
I can't talk much else without spoiling a lot, so let's get to the main bad point of the game: It's too short. The first five stars feature only one or two dungeons, plus one "Field dungeon", and one town. It takes about ten hours to get there. Then the pacing breaks completely, as you must fight through four dungeons to get to the next star. Finally, the last star can only be achieved by defeating the final boss. Also, it seems Square could have done much more, but I don't blame them: They were probably busy enough, developing the masterpiece that is Final Fantasy 7.
All in all, this in a decent little game, but is a bit disappointing as a game that comes from the meeting of two giants of gaming.
Final Grade: 8.7/10
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 06/14/12, Updated 06/22/12
Game Release: Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars (US, 05/13/96)
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