And… I liked it. I did.
Yet I didn’t love it as much as everyone else seems to.
It deserves credit for laying down the groundwork for subsequent games. In Super Mario RPG, I see the origin of both Paper Mario and Mario & Luigi’s gameplay.
For example, you can use timed hits, which add an element of action to the turn-based battles by letting you increase the power of your attacks or defend through good timing. Aside from that, it plays like a typical turn-based RPG, although your party shares a single FP (magic) pool.
Super Mario RPG also has a traditional party system. Over the course of the game, several characters join your party, and you choose which ones to have in your battle party. Neither Paper Mario nor Mario & Luigi do this, and it’s a system I’d like to see explored again by Mario RPGs.
Although it follows several JRPG traditions, it doesn’t have an overworld like classic Final Fantasy games. (This disappointed me, since I love world maps.) While areas do connect to one another, each is accessible from a map more akin to a traditional Mario level-select screen.
The areas themselves are charming (although every dungeon had at least one part that annoyed me), and I enjoyed the character interactions. There were several fun NPCs and enemies, and the party was entertaining as well. Super Mario RPG also seems to have begun the tradition of portraying Bowser in a more sympathetic light, as he’s a decent ally and a good boss to the minions you meet in Monstro Town.
Not in combat, no. Once the princess leveled up enough to survive battles, I barely used Mallow. But in terms of the story, Mallow had character development, an interesting premise, and an enjoyable subplot.
Geno… was there to save the world.
Saving the world is great and all… but I never got a good sense for Geno as a character.
And that brings me to my final concern: the story. People talk about how Super Mario RPG has a deep, epic story. Could someone please explain that to me?
To me, Super Mario RPG’s story felt pretty basic. Sure, the first Paper Mario had a basic story, too, but people don’t herald it as epic. And yes, it’s an old game, but Super Mario RPG was made two years after Final Fantasy VI, so epic RPG stories existed at the time.
But after all this criticism, I want to repeat what I said at the start: I liked Super Mario RPG. I’m happy I played it, and I enjoyed playing it.
I just never felt myself dying to play more.---
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