Review: Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars (SNES)

Mario + RPG = WIN!

What do you get when one of the best RPG creators in the world decides to build an RPG around one of the most recognizable video game characters in history? What you get is a video game that is considered one of the greatest ever made and an RPG that's not only unique, but extremely playable as well. Many were skeptical when the news first broke that Squaresoft was creating an rpg based on the Super Mario universe, but once the game was released, that skepticism was quickly put to rest and many were quick to call the game an "instant classic," even so soon after its release.

Here were are, over 13 years later and the game is once again getting ready to make yet another appearance, this time on Nintendo's Wii Virtual Console service. A lot of things have changed over the years and what was once a cutting edge production both musically and visually, has been surpassed by the advanced technology of current generation consoles. So how does the game that was labeled an "instant classic" stack up all these years later? It stacks up quite well, actually.

In Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars, you take control of our lovable mustached hero and you're once again handed the task of rescuing the princess. Only this time, Bowser's not to blame, in fact he too has had to sit back and watch as his castle is taken over of by the evil Smithy, a foe even more powerful than himself. Mario must somehow take down the evil Smithy and his minions in an effort to restore peace to the mushroom kingdom by collecting the Seven Stars foretold by the legend. Only this time he'll have to do it in turn-based RPG style instead of his usual platforming performance.

While there is plenty of platforming to be found throughout the game, you'll spend the majority of your time trying to figure out the puzzles laid out before you, not to mention taking part in one turn-based battle after another in your ongoing search for Smithy. As you win battles, you'll level up your characters and earn new special moves. Much like other RPGs, you'll have access to better equipment and healing items to help you out along the way. You'll also gain access to new playable characters throughout your journey, each with their own unique talents.

The combat system is probably what makes Super Mario RPG so unique. As in traditional rpg design, battles take place in turns. Mario can use various attacks and the game also employs something called the "timed attack" function. What this means is if at a specific time during your attack you press the attack button, it makes your attack much stronger when timed correctly. The same goes for defending against enemy attacks. If you press the button at the exact moment your attacked, you can cause the enemy's attack to do very little damage or even miss altogether. This might seem like a minor game play addition, but it can play a key role in surviving some of the tougher enemy battles and boss fights found throughout the game.

The control in Super Mario RPG is as smooth and responsive as gamers have come to expect over the years. Moving around is very easy and even the platforming portions of the game are handled quite well, even in the isometric viewpoint the game makes use of. The combat system and the timed attack technique is also very well executed and the addition of new weapons and magic spells adds more than enough variety to the game play mix. As if all of this weren't enough, there are also a ton of mini-games to break up of the monotony and keep the game play feeling fresh. You won't likely find a more enjoyable rpg game play experience than the one found in Super Mario RPG.

The visuals in Super Mario RPG pushed the Super Nintendo console about as far as humanly possible. So it's no surprise that the visuals still hold up quite well, even all these years later. The glossy look of the rendered visuals gives the game a unique look and feel and really does seem to fit the Super Mario world perfectly. There's a good reason that Super Mario RPG is widely considered to be the best-looking Super Nintendo title ever released and it won't take you long to see exactly why that is.

Many worried that Squaresoft might try to force a more traditional RPG musical score onto the game, but that worry was quickly put to rest once gamers got to hear the wonderful and very Super Mario-esque soundtrack that Square composed for the game. Not only was it upbeat and quirky, just like many of the classic Super Mario Bros. tunes, it also featured some of the actual classic musical pieces from previous Super Mario Bros. titles for added familiarity. The end result is what many fans consider arguably the best Super Mario soundtrack ever created.


Whether you're an RPG fan or not, you really owe it to yourself to give this legendary RPG classic a try. Who would have thought that putting Mario into a traditional rpg setting would end up working quite so well. As good as Super Mario RPG was back when it was first released, the game only seems to have gotten even better over time and is a true testament to what Square and Nintendo were able to accomplish with this absolutely amazing and timeless RPG classic.

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