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The One Change Nintendo Should Make To Super Mario RPG – TheFantasyTimes

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By Nikita Gambhir

The One Change Nintendo Should Make To Super Mario RPG



As a passionate enthusiast of classic Nintendo games, I have a deep-rooted love for the company’s consoles. Although I began my gaming journey with the Intellivision at 3 years old, my first new console was the NES. I fondly remember the orange Zapper and crinkly plastic blanket which I’d pound my fists into when I was supposed to be running on it. The Super Nintendo was my next console, and to this day, I’d argue that it had the best mix of original releases. Among its incredible catalogue was a hefty collection of games that introduced me to the wonderful world of party-based RPGs. While I was overwhelmed by the depth of story in games like Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy 2, there was one oddball that took the classic turn-based style of combat, added some action elements and packaged it around every Nintendo nerd’s ultimate hero, a chubby plumber from Brooklyn.

I was ecstatic when a remastered Super Mario RPG was announced at last week’s Nintendo Direct, bringing fresh, smooth graphics to all those familiar scenes I loved as a child. The big Yoshi race, the ridiculous wedding scene, and musical tadpoles were all included. While I’m generally not too excited about remasters of games I’ve already played, every image I saw during that glorious two minutes brought so many happy memories from my childhood living room flooding back. I was satisfied that everything seemed to be just a prettier version of the same game I’d loved all those years ago, with seemingly no real changes. However, it soon dawned on me that 40 percent of the playable characters in the game kind of suck.

Before you grab your pitchforks, let me clarify that Geno and Mallow, the two heroes created just for Super Mario RPG, have their rabid fan bases. Geno is the personification of cool, an incorporeal celestial being inhabiting the body of a puppet and laying waste to enemies with a combination of star magic and projectile weapons. Sweet little Mallow is a cloud prince with pants who cries a lot and inadvertently causes massive rainstorms as a result. However, they’re both heavily outclassed by the two party members you pick up later in the story, Peach (sorry, ‘Princess Toadstool’) and Bowser.

If you’ve never played Super Mario RPG, battles work similarly to other RPGs of the SNES era. You run into an enemy on the world map, and then the screen flashes to a turn-based battle, and you attack, defend, or use special skills that consume your pool of FP. However, there’s an additional action element in the battles, and if you time your button presses right, you’ll be able to unload some massive combos even with your basic attacks. That feature increases everyone’s viability, but not by enough.

Mallow is the first character to join you on your quest, and you’ll be glad to have him since he unlocks a healing ability very early on. However, by the time you’re finally about to add Peach to your party, you’ll probably be more dependent on healing items over that little drizzle of health. Peach’s ability to heal the full party at once and even revive downed characters means the cloud is left riding the bench until the credits roll. Geno is a damage-dealing powerhouse, but he’s just so brittle. The big problem is that no matter how I try to beef him up, he’s the quintessential glass cannon. By the time you’re going up against The Axem Rangers and Smithy, you can’t keep putting everyone else’s HP at risk to keep reviving him every few turns.

I’m hoping that Nintendo will fix this in the remastered version. While I’m excited to chase a larcenous purple crocodile and stomp a killer wedding cake all over again, I want to be able to do it with the characters I choose, and that’ll be a lot easier with a little party parity.

I’m a huge nerd for classic Nintendo games. While I cut my teeth on Intellivision at the age of 3, my first new console was the NES, complete with the orange Zapper and crinkly plastic blanket that I’d pound my fists into when I was supposed to be running on it because no 7-year-old is running the 110-meter hurdles in under 15 seconds.



Then came the Super Nintendo, a console that, to this day, I’d argue had the all-time best mix of original releases. Among its immense catalogue was a hefty collection of games that served as my introduction into the wonderful world of party-based RPGs. And while I was overwhelmed with the depth of story in games like Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy 2 … err, 4 (the numbering system got really confusing in the ’90s) … there was this one oddball that took the classic turn-based style of combat, added in some action elements, and packaged it around every Nintendo nerd’s ultimate hero, a chubby plumber from Brooklyn.


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Super Mario RPG Mario, Peach, and Geno

So you can imagine my excitement when a remastered Super Mario RPG made an appearance at last week’s Nintendo Direct, bringing fresh, smooth graphics to all those familiar scenes I’d loved as a child. The big Yoshi race? Yep, it’s in there. The ridiculous wedding scene? Check. Musical tadpoles? Wouldn’t have been the same without ’em. I’ve never been too excited for remasters of games I’ve already played, but every image I saw during that glorious two minutes brought so many happy memories from my childhood living room flooding back, and I was so satisfied that everything seemed to be just a prettier version of the same game I’d loved all those years ago, with seemingly no real changes.

And then it hit me — this game needs to change, because 40 percent of the playable characters in it kind of suck.

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Don’t get out the pitchforks just yet. I know Geno and Mallow, the two heroes that were created just for Super Mario RPG, have their rabid fan bases (well, Geno does, and Mallow’s gonna cause a downpour if he feels excluded), but they’re the first two party members that Mario picks up, and they’re both heavily outclassed by the two you pick up later in the story, Peach (sorry, ‘Princess Toadstool’) and Bowser.

Super Mario RPG Geno attacks with celestial light

And that criticism doesn’t extend to the characters themselves. They’re actually great in their own right, and even though they’re generally confined to this one video game from 1996, I can’t help but feel their influence in later works of fiction. Geno is just the personification of cool — an incorporeal celestial being inhabiting the body of a puppet, laying waste to enemies with a combination of star magic and projectile weapons. If the hype surrounding Lies of P is any indicator, killer puppet is still a valid hero archetype in 2023, but seeing Geno turn his fingers into gattling guns or just firing off his forearm as a missile is giving me some strong Naruto vibes that I couldn’t have gotten back in the day, because Kankuro, Chiyo, and Sasori hadn’t been written into existence yet.

Then there’s sweet little Mallow, a cloud prince with pants who cries a lot and inadvertently causes massive rainstorms as a result. (Hey there, Pepa from Disney’s Encanto. When did you get here?) Admittedly, ’90s me found him super annoying, but now I’ve seen every episode of Steven Universe, so a sensitive hero who wears his heart on his sleeve (even with no shirt) and bawls his eyes out all the time feels a lot more valid, and I’m a lot more willing to give the puffy little dude a second chance.

Super Mario RPG Mallow close-up

But then I think about having to actually use them in combat. If you’ve never played Super Mario RPG, battles work pretty similarly to other RPGs of the SNES area: you run into an enemy on the world map, and then the screen flashes to a turn-based battle, and you attack, defend, or use special skills that consume your pool of FP. However, there’s an additional action element in the battles, and if you time your button presses right, you’ll be able to unload some massive combos even with your basic attacks. That feature increases everyone’s viability, but not by enough.

RELATED: The Best Secret Bosses In Games, Ranked

Mallow is the first character to join you on your quest, and you’ll be glad to have him, since he unlocks a healing ability very early on. And then he goes on to unlock exactly zero more! Thanks to HP Rain, Mallow is undeniably essential through the beginning of the game, but by the time you’re finally about to add Peach to your party, you’ll probably be more dependent on healing items over that little drizzle of health, and afterwards, Peach’s ability to heal the full party at once and even revive downed characters means the cloud is left riding the bench until the credits roll.

Then there’s Geno, and my dude, I tried. I really tried to make you an end-game party member, but you’re just so brittle. Damage-dealing isn’t the issue — although it feels like Big Bowsey still does it better with his ball-and-chain-chomp tosses — but the big problem is that no matter how I try to beef you up, you’re the quintessential glass cannon. And by the time we’re going up against The Axem Rangers and Smithy, I can’t keep putting everyone else’s HP at risk to keep reviving you every few turns. Smithy’s army is made up of living weapons — literal walking swords and spears. Maybe choose something sturdier than a children’s toy to possess next time you descend from the heavens?

Sigh. That was hard. But the truth hits hard, and Geno can’t tank it like Bowser, and Mallow can’t heal it like Peach. And that’s what I’m hoping Nintendo fixes this time around. Because while I’m itching for November 17th to get here so I can chase a larcenous purple crocodile and stomp a killer wedding cake all over again, I want to be able to do it with the characters I choose, and that’ll be a lot easier with a little party parity.

NEXT: The Dead Hands Are Still Zelda’s Most Terrifying Enemies

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