Super Mario RPG, subtitled Legend of the Seven Stars in its North American release, is a role-playing game developed by Square (now Square Enix) and published by Nintendo for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. 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.
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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.
Square did much of the development of Super Mario RPG under direct guidance from producer Shigeru Miyamoto. The game was well-received upon release, praised particularly for its 3D rendered graphics and humor. The game spawned the Mario RPG series, and two successive RPG-themed spiritual sequels followed: the Paper Mario and Mario & Luigi series, both of which use certain conventions established in the original.
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.