Platform: SNES, Wii
A rare marriage by Square and Nintendo brought Mario and family to this genre for the first time. Released late in the SNES run, it successfully uses up every ounce of power the SNES has for its graphics, but unfortunately suffers from an aimless and uninspiring plot that eventually bored me into quitting.
One of the strong appeals to me of RPGs is following appealing characters through an engaging story. There is nothing inherently interesting about the goals of Mario if you’re over the age of ten. The plot, involving Peach’s biannual Stockholm Syndrome party, is at least layered but not what’s going to pull you through the game. Without interesting characters or stories, the game then needs to rely heavily on mechanics, humor, and spectacle.
Super Mario RPG is mostly successful in these areas. The graphics were stunning at the time. Alittle too cartoony for my tastes, even for a Mario game, but they definitely add to the experience. The battle music becomes obnoxious after a while. The mechanics are unique and interesting, if not terribly beginner-friendly. Battles are never random, though there’s no point in skipping any if you want to advance in the game. Not too much time is needed to dedicate to level-building. Attacks are done not just by simply clicking attack, but by then using timed button presses to attack the enemy. While this isn’t terribly difficult, it’s probably the turn-based RPG I’ve played where hand-eye coordination is used the most. Also, it gets a little repetitive after a while. There are puzzles throughout the game that require Mario to also use his jumping and maneuvering abilities, just like in the other Mario games, but these are usually not time-sensitive (or if they are, they’re generally optional) and are a welcome respite from battles.
What could have won me over with this game is humor. It’s definitely there. I was amused a lot in the first few areas of the game. But it’s simply not funny enough to keep it interesting. Both times I tried to play this game, I put in about ten hours before I just completely lost interest. I will say this was during my 20’s; I am guessing had I owned this game as a teenager, I would have finished it. But I believe this game holds the record for most time spent playing without reaching the end.