Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars is widely considered one of the Super Nintendo’s classic RPGs, yet it hasn’t gotten much love from Nintendo over the years. It’s the game that kicked off Mario’s RPG career, and without it we wouldn’t have the Paper Mario or Mario & Luigi series. With Nintendo rumored to be re-releasing and remastering several games for Mario’s 35th anniversary, Super Mario RPG should be part of the catalogue, even if it’s only as one of Nintendo Switch Online’s SNES offerings.
Super Mario RPG was a collaboration between Nintendo and Squaresoft, now Square Enix, which is likely why this game has been overlooked for so many years. Square is known for their RPGs and was one of the kings of RPG development during the SNES era, so it’s only natural that Nintendo would have trusted its iconic character with the company. In fact, Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto himself was the one who brought up the idea. With Nintendo involved, Square had to step out of their conventional RPG designs and come up with new game play and styles to fit the project. And it worked out well.
The game introduced plenty of unique and interesting elements that would carry into later Mario RPG series. The story was light and filled with humor, and gameplay was kept simple while featuring new mechanics that kept it fresh and fun. For example, using Mario’s iconic jump in the overworld as a way to avoid enemies or reach high places wasn’t something you’d find in other RPGs, and it is uniquely Mario.
Additionally, Mario’s use of the hammer in Paper Mario and Mario & Luigi directly comes from Super Mario RPG’s combat. Having Flower Points (FP) instead of mana was also carried over from this game, as were many of Mario’s special moves. The combination of puzzles and exploration also began here. Square kept things simple but fun, creating a game that was accessible to players in any age group.
In particular, it greatly influenced the first Paper Mario game. If not for Super Mario RPG, we may not have the series today. While in development, the game was originally called Super Mario RPG 2 and was meant to branch off the SNES game. Miyamoto wanted to take the RPG in a different direction from Super Mario RPG, but incorporated a lot of key elements into the Paper series. Exploration, combat mechanics and even a story involving stars made its way to the new game, launching the series fans know today.
The Mario & Luigi RPG series also has its roots in the SNES game. The director for the very first game in the series, Yoshi Maekawa, originally worked on Super Mario RPG as co-director. Again, elements from the SNES game were used to create a new series.
As the grandfather to all Mario RPGs, it’s disappointing that Super Mario RPG hasn’t received a true sequel or remake. So far, the game has only been rereleased twice: once on the Wii U’s Virtual Console and again as part of the SNES Classic. While a second collaboration between Square Enix and Nintendo on a Super Mario RPG 2 would be as amazing as it is unlikely, the game at least deserves to be rereleased for this console generation. And Mario’s 35th Anniversary is the perfect opportunity for Nintendo to either give this classic a makeover or port it to the Switch’s SNES catalogue.
Remake rumors have surfaced for Mario's 35th Anniversary, but Mario's original venture into the RPG genre remains in the dark.