Super Mario RPG, subtitled Legend of the Seven Stars in the North American release, is a role-playing game developed by Square (now Square Enix) and published by Nintendo for the Super Famicom and Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES). It was originally released on March 9, 1996 in Japan and on May 13, 1996 in North America. Nintendo ported the game, with minor differences, to the Wii's Virtual Console service in 2008 to regions around the world. It is the first role-playing video game in the Mario series. The game contains token similarities to other Square role-playing video games, such as the Final Fantasy series, with a story and action-based gameplay derived from the Super Mario Bros. series.
The story focuses on Mario and his teammates as they seek to eliminate the game's main antagonist, Smithy. Smithy has stolen the seven star pieces of Star Road where all the world's inhabitants' wishes become Wish Stars, and Mario must return the pieces so these wishes may again be granted. The game features five permanent playable characters. Super Mario RPG was directed by Yoshihiko Maekawa and Chihiro Fujioka and produced by Shigeru Miyamoto. Yoko Shimomura composed the game's score, which was released on a soundtrack album in Japan shortly after the game's debut.
Super Mario RPG contains token similarities to other Square video games, such as the Final Fantasy series, along with a story and gameplay based on the Super Mario Bros. series of platform games. Like most RPGs, there are two main sections to the game: adventuring and turn-based monster battles. Much of Super Mario RPG 's gameplay is outside monster battles and plays like an isometric platformer, in which traditional Mario elements such as punching floating question blocks from below are prominent. Enemies are visible in the field; a battle ensues only if Mario comes in contact with one. This allows the player to evade unnecessary battles.
The player controls only Mario at the journey's beginning. Ultimately, the player will gain a party of five characters, though only three characters can be used during a battle at any given time. Mario is always in the player's party, but the other two characters can be selected before battles. Each of the five characters has a unique set of attacks and techniques. For example, Toadstool's abilities are primarily healing techniques, whereas Geno and Bowser have offensive attacks that deal high amounts of damage. The combat is based on a traditional turn based battle system with the addition of action commands that amplify a move's effects. The action command consists of timed button presses during an attack, special move, defense, or item usage. This is one of the more innovative features of gameplay, becoming a mainstay of later Mario RPGs.
The game begins when Mario enters Bowser's Castle to rescue Princess Toadstool. During the battle, a giant sword falls from the sky, breaks through the Star Road (a pathway that helps grant people's wishes), and crashes into Bowser’s castle, sending Mario, Princess Toadstool, and Bowser flying in different directions, as well as scattering seven star fragments. Mario makes his way to the Mushroom Kingdom, where the mushroom chancellor insists that Mario recover the Princess and discover the purpose of the giant sword, but once he returns to Bowser's castle, the giant sword (who reveals that it can talk) destroys the bridge, preventing him from entering. Upon returning, Mario encounters Mallow, a 'tadpole' who has lost a frog coin to Croco, a local thief. Mario agrees to help him, but when they return to the castle, he finds that the kingdom is overrun by creatures from the Smithy Gang led by an evil robotic blacksmith king named Smithy. He and Mallow enter the castle and are met by the first boss in the game, a giant knife and spring-like creature named Mack. When Mack is defeated, they find a mysterious Star Piece, which Mario takes.
Mallow accompanies Mario as they travel through the Kero Sewers and after they defeat a monster named Belome, they reach Tadpole Pond where they meet Mallow's grandfather, who reveals that Mallow isn't really a tadpole and claims that his real parents are waiting for him to return home. The duo travel to Rose Town where they meet a star spirit who has taken control of a doll named Geno. After battling the bow-like creature, Bowyer, who is immobilizing residents of Rose Town with his arrows, they retrieve another Star Piece and Geno joins Mario and tells him that the Star Piece is a part of the shattered Star Road, where he resides. Geno has been tasked with repairing Star Road and defeating Smithy, so that the world's wishes may again be heard, and he must find the seven pieces held by members of the Smithy gang. The three retrieve the third Star Piece from Punchinello, another member of the Smithy gang. The three continue to Booster's Tower where they encounter Bowser, who is trying to reassemble his forces. Though former enemies, they join forces to fight a common enemy as Bowser wishes to reclaim his castle. The new team intercepts the princess, just before she is forcibly married to the eccentric amusement-venue owner, Booster, but it turns out that the wedding wasn't real and that Booster only wanted the wedding cake. After her rescue, the princess initially returns to Mushroom Kingdom but later joins the party as its final member. After recovering six of the Star Pieces, Mario's group learns that the final piece is held by Smithy in Bowser's castle. Upon battling their way through the assembled enemies and returning to the giant sword, they discover that it is actually a gateway to Smithy's factory and they fight it to gain access to the factory, where Smithy mass-produces his army. In the end, Smithy is defeated, the giant sword disappears, and the collected Star Pieces are used to repair the Star Road.
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