Super Mario RPG is one of the coolest RPGs on the Super NES. Releasing in 1996, it came out after Final Fantasy VI but not long before next generation RPG classics and it has held up extremely well so let's check it out.
Super Mario RPG was developed by Square who created lots of other popular SNES RPGs like Final Fantasy VI and Chrono Trigger. Combining their RPG formula with the Mario universe might have seemed like a strange idea, especially with the number of subpar third-party Mario games out at the time. However, it turned out beautifully and remains a very special RPG to this day.
Enter Bowser's keep where Mario has to rescue Princess Toadstool from Bowser yet again. Suddenly, a big sword named Exor falls from the sky and stabs the castle with Mario and Peach still inside! Then, the sword starts talking and tells Mario that the castle now belongs to the Smithy gang and soon, they'll take over the world. How? With Smithy's army of sentient weapon things, of course! So, it's up to Mario to restore peace but this time, he's not alone as he's joined by the fluffy Prince Mallow, Princess Toadstool, the star kid Geno, and Bowser which marks the first time that Mario and Bowser have teamed up. Anyway, they also need to repair the Star Road and require 7 stars to do so but the Smithy gang are after them, too, so Mario and gang travel all over the world in the hopes of acquiring them first.
Super Mario RPG's tone is lighthearted and fun like most other Mario games. Plus, the writing is genuinely funny such as little details like how Mario falls flat on his face when he's embarrassed. There's also a silly part where you have to save Princess Toadstool from getting married to some clown. Also, in various places in the world, you can actually find Samus, Link, F-Zero's Blue Falcon, and Star Fox's Arwing. Meanwhile, the enemies are unlike the ones in any other Mario game. For example, most bosses are Smithy's henchmen and they're basically talking weapons. Super Mario RPG is also an amazing-looking SNES game. Mario, his friends, and the bad guys all look special and the music is really catchy and upbeat. The only bad thing is that you listen to the same few songs quite a lot.
Super Mario RPG features an isometric perspective with lots of 3D environments to explore and there are tons of hidden secrets that you can find in each area. For example, there are hidden blocks which require a lot of random jumping around to discover but finding them becomes easier once you acquire the signal ring. Whenever you return to town, you might find someone in need of assistance and then you may obtain some cool rewards for helping them. If you're savvy enough, you might also find the 2 Lazy Shells which double as Mario's most powerful weapon as well as the most powerful armor in the entire game.
As you progress, there are a few cool mini-games that you can play. First, the Midas River game has you swim down a waterfall then perform barrel jumps along the river while you collect coins. The mine cart mini-game lets you escape a mountain inside a mine cart and there are several others as well such as bridge jumping, bug catching, and Yoshi racing. Most of them provide frog coins which you can trade in for powerful rewards like an XP-enhancing ring and a ring that lets you gather double coins.
In addition to the story bosses, there is also a post-game boss and to defeat it, you'll probably need to reach the level cap and find the strongest gear. It's great that Square snuck in such a powerful boss but I wish they did the same for Final Fantasy VI as well.
There are no random encounters in Super Mario RPG. Instead, you find enemies wandering around and when you touch them, you enter battle which is good because I never liked random encounters. The combat works the same as in many RPGs as Mario and his buddies can attack, use items, perform special moves, defend, or run away. Your party and the bad guys take turns and if you run out of HP, you lose. That's easy to understand, right? Special moves cost flower points which are shared between your whole party. There are also action commands that you can perform by trying to hit A before you strike to do more damage as well as tapping A before enemies strike so they deal 0 damage. These are awesome but I wish there was some action command tutorial like there is in Paper Mario.
Super Mario RPG is not very difficult as long as you don't run away from most fights but that's true of almost any RPG. That being said, there is a fairly hard boss in the middle of the story called Yaridovich. If you can beat him, you should be able to handle the rest of the game so don't get discouraged! If you have trouble, it can also be fun to come back a few levels later then crush him.
Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars is itself a legend. It's a truly great game and it started a whole franchise of fun Mario RPGs. Have you played it? What are your thoughts on this Super NES RPG classic? Let's chat below!