Winter!: Prepare for holiday gaming!
Let's talk about Super Mario RPG : Legend of the Seven Stars. Before I get too far in, let me just explain how I rate games. I focus on 5 sections. (Story, Game play, Play Control, Graphics and Sound) and rate each 1 - 5. My final rating is the average of these 5, except on Gamefaqs, the score is doubled. That being said, onto the review.
Super Mario RPG is, as you guessed it, an RPG released on the Super Nintendo and developed by SquareSoft. Around this time, several Mario games were being released on various Nintendo systems, and at a glance, may seem like "Just another Mario game" However, SquareSoft developed the game based around the Final Fantasy series's game play and because of this we have a very well done RPG which focused on a simple, yet engaging battle system, a serious, though comedic story and the teaming up of several old, and new characters from the Mario universe and combining them into a short, but entertaining RPG game.
Story : 4 out of 5
Super Mario RPG starts of with the traditional Bowser kidnaps Peach story. During a short intro level Mario manages to rescue Peach when suddenly a giant, talking sword impales itself into Bowser's Keep sending Mario, Peach and Bowser flying. Mario returns to the Keep to find that the sword is working for the "Smithy Gang" and doesn't want Mario getting in his way. After the bridge to Bowser's Keep is destroyed, Mario must find a new way to enter the Keep, where he assumes Peach is still at.
As the game goes on, Mario teams up with a couple of new characters as well as a few old ones. In time, he learns that the giant sword destroyed the Star Road, a magical road that grants people's wishes and that the only way to restore it is to recover the seven Star Pieces. Suddenly, Mario's problems become larger then just a missing princess.
All in all, the story is pretty well written. Taking the seriousness of a traditional RPG game and inserting some comedy at just the right moments makes for a story that not only makes you want to keep playing, but also remains entertaining. Another bonus, cut scenes are keep fairly short, so you're able to keep up the pace without reading a novel every 10 minutes. The only part I have to knock the story on is the fact that it's kept fairly simple. Most of the plot is resolved as you make your way through the game so there's not much to try and figure out on your own. This can be good or bad depending on your point of view.
Game play : 3 out of 5
Game play is divided between 4 different sections. Menus, Battle, Area Maps and Map screen. The Map Screen is pretty basic. Several dots appear on a large map, you move Mario from dot to dot and press A. Simple, sweet and to the point. While in an Area Map, you can press X to bring up your typical RPG menu screen which lets you go through things like, Items, Stats, Equip, Map, etc. It's a menu screen, so nothing too special there.
The bulk of your Game play is going to take place on the Area Maps, where you move Mario around, and the Battle screen. Area maps contain enemies which, when touched start battles. They also contain moving platforms, chests, flowers, coins, items and so forth. Typically, Mario's goal is to make it from one end of an area, to the other. Area's are usually made of several maps which Mario can Walk, Run and Jump through.
There's two basic types of areas. Towns and Exploration. Towns are usually a rest point for Mario's team allowing him to heal and buy new items/weapons/armor. Towns may or may not contain enemies depending on how far you are in the story or where you're at specifically. Exploration Areas are places that Mario usually has to find and fight his way through to reach the next Town/Area. There are several different places Mario explores from Sewers, forests, sunken ships, clouds and a volcano. Mario's goal is usually to reach the end of these areas where he sometimes has a boss to fight or an item to find.
Sooner or later, you're going to end up in battle. The nice thing about battles is that SquareSoft kept it simple. The X button brings up and uses items, A is your normal attack, B is your Defend/Run Away options, Y is your special attack. Battles are turned based and Mario's team consists of 1 to 3 people always including himself. Special attacks usually require you to do something, like press a button, rotate the D-Pad, hold a button etc.
Battles also introduce the idea of "Timed Hits" Pressing the A button right before a normal attack hits, if done right, will give you a stronger attack. Likewise, when attacked, pressing A at the right time can reduce the damage you take. Special moves tend to work the same way, though you usually have to use Y instead.
All in all, SquareSoft manages to bring home the traditional RPG style game play without creating a complicated mess of menus, stats and equipment. The game is pretty easy to pick up an play, which is nice for an RPG. The only downside
Game Traits applied to Super Mario RPG Legend of the Seven Stars (SNES) by FarplaneDragon