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Super Mario RPG:

Legend of the Seven Stars




When you think of the great RPG's on the Super Nintendo this one is probably not one of the first that pops up on the list.  You see there was one small problem with Super Mario RPG (SMR).  It's not a graphical or technical flaw, but timing.


For starters, Super Mario RPG was released when the SNES was on its final legs and people were ready to move on to the N64 or PSX.  So the game was probably overlooked in some ways.  The more glaring reason why SMR isn't listed among the elite is that another game, released in the same year, stole all its "mojo".  And that game of course is Chrono Trigger, probably the greatest console role-playing game of all-time!


Don't get me wrong; SMR was a great RPG in its own right.  The game was destined for greatness.  The two biggest video game powerhouses of the era, Nintendo and Squaresoft, meshed their gaming greatness to create a role-playing game that starred none other than the Nintendo poster-boy, Mario.




SMR starts off just like all the other Mario games do: Bowser captures Princess Toadstool and you must save the day.  Mario shows up and does his job, but after freeing the Princess, a gigantic sword named Smithy crashes into Bowser's castle sending the three characters to different parts of the Mario World.  This is where the Legend of the Seven Stars part of the name kicks in.  To get to Smithy you will have to obtain the seven stars to repair the Star Road (apparently Smithy destroyed that also).



The journey is a very joyous one.  SMR seamlessly intertwines role-playing elements while maintaining enough of the "Mario" touch.  All of Mario's special attacks are jump-based and the whole game environment has the "Mario" feel.  The storyline is very entertaining.  I wouldn't say that the experience is full of suspense and plot twists, but sticks to the game's light-hearted approach.  The character development is also pretty good compared to some of the games today.


In SMR you have the ability to add a double attack to your offense and block the opponent's attack on defense.  I think this was added to the game so that Mario fans would still have a little "action" element to toy around with.


One of game's strongest elements is that it will make you laugh.  Mario and his ensemble of friends provide plenty of tongue-in-cheek humor and the game even poked fun at the Power Rangers (remember them?).  In one of the later levels of the game there are five spacesuit-wearing bosses that mimic the Power Rangers.  Bowser, who joins your party later in the game, also provides some Rodney Dangerfield lines.


The graphics in the game are very solid.  For the time they were spectacular as almost everything was in 3-D.  The only downfall was that the game was given a cartoonish look.  The level design is awesome and the main characters and the enemies are well depicted .  If the game were released today, the game could easily pass for a N64 title.


The game's main problem is the level of difficulty.  I lucked out in my SMR experience because it was the first role-playing game that I had ever played.  The dumbed-down fighting system was tailor-made to my gaming talents, but now when I replay the game I can see where an experienced RPGer would get bored.  There are a few side missions that are a little challenging, but I think an experienced gamer could finish the game in under 15 hours.


A sequel came out on the N64 (Paper Mario), but it didn't have the success of its predecessor.  Now that the Gamecube is out, I would like to see a Super Mario RPG III.  But maybe instead of having just Mario characters, incorporate Link, Samus, and Star Fox -- an all-star cast similar to the Super Smash Brothers games.  It'll probably never happen, but I can always hope.


- Tim Martin

(April 8, 2002)


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