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The Wired Fish

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Retro Gaming Weekends - Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars
This year, Super Mario Bros. turns 25 years old. The chubby plumber has been in a total of 9 flagship platforming titles, 7 Kart games (including Arcade GP), and countless sports and party titles. But, there is one interpretation of the Mario universe that has always resonated with me since I first saw the commercial and finally played the game. Super Mario RPG would be the first game to teach me the ropes of how an RPG works and at the same time play out some of the most memorable scenes I've experienced in my videogame childhood. From the first epic encounter with Bowser on top of some chandeliers, to the final showdown with Smithy, this game, to this date, I consider to be the best game I've ever played and shaped the kind of gamer I am today.

Title: Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars
System: SNES
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Squaresoft
Released: May 13, 1996. Obtained: December 1996-1997

First Contact
I remember seeing a commercial for this game, not quite understanding what I was watching but still thinking it was awesome. My mom was sifting through the Fingerhut catalog looking for something to buy. Fingerhut is also known for selling games, though at some pretty high prices, higher than the retail price. By some one-off shot, I told my mom that I'd really like to get Super Mario RPG for Christmas and explained to her what I saw on the commercial. Little did I know that the game actually played like another game I played some months prior that, at the time, I absolutely hated: Final Fantasy II (FFIV). So when I finally got the game that Christmas and played it, I got a bit scared. If my mom saw this game, I thought she would get mad, saying that it played like the other game, thus it was a waste. My mom and older sister saw it, and said immediately that it played like Final Fantasy II. I agreed, but I knew that this game, though similar, was different from Final Fantasy II. I freaked a bit when I faced Culex and heard the boss battle theme from FFII and though, "Oh crap, it is like Final Fantasy II!" Nevertheless, I enjoyed the game from beginning to end.

Super Mario RPG played like many other RPGs in the market around the time. There were towns, dungeons, item and equipment management, etc. However, this game did few things differently that made it stand out from many other RPGs. First was that this game had no random encounters. All enemies would appear on-screen and touching them, or being ambushed, would initiate a battle. In battle, many attacks were strengthened by a certain button press. For example, pressing "A" at the right moment made Mario do a second hit on the enemy, or holding "Y" made Geno's beam more stronger. So in a way, your were always a participant in the battle, rather than a spectator just yelling out commands. Also, since this was a Mario game, there had to be some platforming. Unlike other RPGs, the environment was not just some backdrop of long corridors to lead you to the next scene or battle. Here, the environments had their own personality and secrets to uncover. This was also encouraged by the fact that you can jump in this game. So in a sense, this could be seen as a Platformer/RPG.

That One Memorable Moment
There are many moments to choose from in this game, all with their own merits. If anything, I'd actually love to talk about the ending, but I have a "Don't Talking About Ending" rule with the Memorable Moments section. So instead, I'll talk about...God there's so many. Okay, I'll just talk about The Axem Rangers. Seeing these guys made me and my sisters laugh like hell. I still remember my older sister saying, "Oh shit, Trini got FAT!" Not only did she get fat, she gained a whole lot of defense as well and was a tough nut to KO. You were outnumbered in this battle 5-3. One thing I absolutely hated in this battle was that Axem Pink would turn all of your party members into Mushrooms, thus they couldn't do anything! If I rememeber the strategy did, I focused my attention on Axem Pink (because of the Petal Dance move that turned your party into mushrooms), and Axem Green (since he had the lowest defense). The other three I just tried my best to stay alive and time my button presses carefully. When I finally kicked their asses (after many, maaaaaaany attempts), I encountered their second form. I learned a new swear word that day... a word called "fuckinshit!" I held off my victory cry until I beat that thing that the Rangers were hiding behind. I remember defending a lot until the magical words popped up: "No FP Remaining." "Hallelujah they can't do shit now!" I started wiping the floor with them until they disappeared and I heard the victory theme play.

Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars - Armed Boss
Composer: Yoko Shimomura

Many memories run rampant in the minds of gamers upon hearing this theme. Some remember the first boss, Mack. Many remember the NYA-ing the button-locking of Bowyer, the difficulty of  Yaridovich, the above mentioned Axem Rangers, of the star of the boxart Exor the Sword. A quick look at the comments in the youtube video and you'll see people saying some popular quotes like, "NYAT fair," "Exor is protecting the Left Eye," or "Hey Red, My makeup's running!" To me, this still reminds me of the Axem Rangers and Bowyer. The song itself is a mixture of seriousness and mischief, blending well with the mood of the Mario universe.

Other Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars Stuff
US Commercial
Japanese Commercial

So now it's your turn. What are some memories you have of this game. Don't be afraid to comment below.

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