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Super Mario RPG

Square & Nintendo
Traditional RPG
  • May 13, 1996
  • March 9, 1996
A- 73 total ratings
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Shake & Bake

A Super Mario RPG review Author: Matt Payte Published: August 15, 2007
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In a way, Super Mario RPG is the prodigal sibling of the Kingdom Hearts series; a departure from typical Square fare experimenting with a style of play that, if not entirely original in the entire pantheon of games, is certainly new to this specific company's resume. Both products lend credence to the notion that Square handles other company's licenses better than it deals with its own.

The old SNES Square games tended to have this sort of weird quirkiness that, in the "straight fantasy" settings of most of the FF's, at times seemed awkward or somewhat out of place. But, having apparently recognized the inherent absurdities of a world where a man can be famous, AND have a mustache like that, AND not be John Holmes, that weirdness finds a perfect niche in SMRPG (Quick side-note; I immediately thought "Sado-Masochism Roleplaying Game" when I typed that - makes me wish the acronym had caught on back when the game came out).

This game's a great example of the difference between what I call hard gameplay, and soft gameplay. Hard gameplay would be, in this game's case, actual battles. Soft gameplay would be all of the rest; tracing Booster's family lineage, chilling at the Casino, taking a shower at the Suite, and watching the bubblegum colored snot bubbles ebb, and flow, but never pop.

The battle system itself is unremarkable, but makes no particular attempt to be more than what it is. It's simple, and every character has their own highly distinct stats and spells; it's a system that's designed to avoid pissing off the player, easier than most RPG's, but not always just giving it up like Neville Chamberlain. Some hardcores might lament the easy fights, but really, so what? This isn't Contra, and there are plenty of Final Fantasies that don't make the attempt to avoid frustration. It's all about the soft play.

Super Mario RPG is one of the most fantastically sly, charming, and interactive games around. From the more obvious minigames - beetles on the hill, swimming down the hurricane, Yoshi racing, Land's End Bridge, the Koopa climb, and so on - to the more subtle touches, like finding Peach's never explicitly mentioned unmentionables, or chilling in the hot springs until Mario's skin goes as red as Stalin's ideologies, - to the more elaborate events, the best of which being the secret Casino, the game isn't about flitting from battle to battle like so much Square fare.

It's about the ride, and always with a sense of humor. Turn on your console, right now. Jinx will still be jumping. You can count on it.
Editor's Grade
dotted line "It isn't perfect, but it doesn't have to be. It is a perfect incarnation of what it was meant to be - quirky, immersing, funny, and fantastical."
A- dotted line Average Reader Score (Based on 73 ratings) | Rate it Now
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