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Super Mario RPG Command System Inspired by a Laptop-Style "Children's Toy"

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

Each Mario & Luigi entry strives for evolution

Mario & Luigi: Dream Team has now been released across the world on the 3DS, the latest in the popular if somewhat niche series. It's not necessarily the biggest-selling series in Nintendo's library, but it feels like one of its most valuable; it incorporates familiar characters in a Universe of its own, with a sense of humour and style that helps to set it apart from the crowd.

This RPG series' roots can be traced to Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars on the Super NES, which was an entirely fresh and surprising Mario entry at the time. The AlphaDream series brought Luigi into the fray in a more important role, or course, but the series retained the Action Command system introduced in the Super NES title, but with evolution always on the agenda. AlphaDream Producer Yoshihiko Maekawa explained the inspiration for the original idea and how it's evolved in an interview with IGN.

The first time anyone encountered an action command battle system like that was in Super Mario RPG, which I was in fact involved with. That was very much inspired by a children’s toy that was available in Japan at the time. It was like a large laptop with these buttons that would play music. You had to press the buttons with good timing to the music. It was that idea, having gameplay built around timing button presses, that inspired me to hybridize these two genres of game, to get a little bit of action and RPG into the same game.

Having Mario just be turn-based was something that didn’t feel very Mario to us at the time, when we were experimenting with it. Once we included these action commands, we did feel like we were bringing the more traditional Mario action gameplay feel, but melding that with an RPG.

Then, once we moved on to the Mario & Luigi series, I think there was another interesting evolution. That was that you could then start to dodge enemy attacks entirely, which you couldn’t do before. You could only reduce damage if you had good timing on a button press. “From the second and third installments of the game forward – and this is something we went back and forth on a lot with the battle planner at the time – we decided that it shouldn’t just be the buttons. You should also be able to use the direction pad and the circle pad. Now you can even use the gyro sensor for this function as well. I think that’s the evolution that’s brought us to the state it’s in today.

In comments sure to please fans of the 16-bit RPG, meanwhile, Maekawa-san and Nintendo Producer Akira Ohtani were asked about bringing back some of the original characters in the Mario & Luigi series. After Ohtani-san admitted that thought could be given to revisiting the past while continuing to evolve the series, Maekawa-san explained why returning characters such as Geno and Mallow could be worth consideration.

In this game, in Dream Team, we were able to bring back some characters from the first game in the Mario & Luigi series, that had appeared in the Beanbean Kingdom. These characters tend to be sort of minor characters that show up in less important areas, but they do have a few lines, and so you get to learn a little bit about what they’re up to now.

I was wondering if that might be some way to approach using Geno and Mallow in a future game, so that we’d still be able to look for fun new ideas like Mr. Ohtani was talking about. We wouldn’t get bogged down, but we could still provide a view of these characters for fans who really want to see one.

Have you delved into Mario & Luigi: Dream Team yet, and what do you think of these comments on the evolution of the battle system and returning characters? Let us know in the comments below.

[via uk.ign.com]

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User Comments (12)

orravan85

#1

orravan85 said:

Awesome series! Loved Bowser Inside story, and I really enjoy the battle system. It is a plus change to the old "just pressing A, until the battle is over" gameplay. Come the end of the month, I will definitly pick this up. Although my SD card is filled almost all the way to top.

DestinyMan

#2

DestinyMan said:

Dream Team is a lot of fun, and I've always liked how you can dodge enemy attacks unlike other RPGs like Paper Mario. I would love to see Super Mario RPG characters in the next Mario & Luigi!

Dark-Luigi

#3

Dark-Luigi said:

Truly the best Mario and Luigi game I played so far, I loved how a few characters returned from the previous games too! Absolutely love it!

kondabasu

#5

kondabasu said:

I loved Superstar Saga, but for some reason didn't try either of the DS titles in the series. Will definitely check this one out.

bahooney

#6

bahooney said:

I'm really not a huge RPG fan; I love EarthBound, and that's it really. I just don't like how auto-pilot MOST turn-based battles seem to be.

Regardless... on a whim, I picked up Dream Team for my birthday on Sunday. I'm mesmerized. This is my first Mario + Luigi RPG... I can't believe how good it is. And the battle system is exactly why. I love rhythm games, and the battles for this actually keep me conscious, they feel interactive. I love it! Once I beat this guy, I'll definitely have to pick up the others in the series.

Dodger

#7

Dodger said:

Bowser's Inside Story is my favorite DS game by far. The writing is incredible and it switches from platforming to puzzle solving to turn based battling seamlessly (and sometimes just has all three at the same time). Dream Team is a blast so far even if the writing isn't as top-notch.

RantingThespian

#8

RantingThespian said:

I still hope for the day where we'll get a true sequel to Super Mario RPG. As much as I love the Paper Mario and Mario & Luigi series, there was something so different and magical about that SNES title.

Sadly, because of the whole Sqaure Enix copyright issues, and the other 2 RPG series, I don't think we'll ever see one. :(

WoottWinds

#9

WoottWinds said:

@RantingThespian Right there with you (if you can't tell by my avatar). I really would love to see Geno and Mallow show up somehow though, whether it's in an entirely new SMRPG game, a 3DS port of the original, Smash Bros., and/or Mario & Luigi. I remember freaking out over the little Geno easter egg in Superstar Saga, and if they could both be actual characters again (even in tiny NPC roles), it'd be insanely cool to see.

Really exciting to hear their names mentioned by the developers though, still a little bit of hope even after all these years! As much as I adore the Paper Mario and Mario & Luigi games, Super Mario RPG will always be my top favorite.

Luffymcduck

#10

Luffymcduck said:

Mario & Luigi is such an awesome series. This is how it should be done: introduce new characters while keeping some of the old ones, not just friggin Toads. I hope Paper Mario´s next instalment gets back to the level of Thousand Year Door (the one where you can actually fully block enemys attack with great timing).

Henmii

#12

Henmii said:

I think the whole "action command system" was a stroke of genius! In the past rpg's where a bit dry, because you just chose a attack from a list, and that's it! But with the Mario and Luigi series you have to time your jumps, time your hammer, and avoid enemy attacks! The result is that you are always involved, wich is awesome!

By the way: The traditional rpg's are a bit of the past! Xenoblade chronicles was already a real-time affair (and awesome), and I recntly saw that even the upcoming PS4 Final fantasy is real-time!

As for old characters: Love to see some old Mario rpg characters in a future Mario and Luigi game! But they don't necesarily have to be just cameo's. Why not give them a bigger role? They are part of the Mario universe too!

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