SMRPG is a game that, in retrospect, I consider to be an interesting failure. There's a lot to recommend it but almost as many sore spots. Let's start with the good:

The Timing System: What is the number one genre staple in JRPGs that is persistently tolerated and rarely improved? The grind. 80% of JRPGs consist of pressing the action button. This is true. Random battles rarely require any sort of deep strategical thinking and can be conquered with basic attacks. This is necessary; it'd be exhausting to think each and every encounter. It'd be like having to figure out the best way to tackle a goomba. So, this gets boring, almost every time. In SMRPG, they introduce this rudimentary timed button press system to keep you engaged throughout. This is a masterstroke innovation.

The Tone: Most JRPGs are bleak stuff (Earthbound aside). The tone here is goofy, light and fun, a real rarity at the time.

Then, we run into a bunch of stuff that's passable in the middle. The character advancement, as it were, the level designs, the music. It's all *fine* without being remarkable (at least to me). On to demerits:

The Characters: I might be in the minority here but I didn't like many of the new characters introduced. When you have a powerful license like Mario, why populate your game with uncharismatic new comers? A lot of the designs just seemed dumb and amateurish to me.

The Villains: This ties into the last point but this game has a serious case of an unforeseen bad guy coming up out of nowhere at the end. Now, Final Fantasy 4 does this as well but much more successfully. The ultimate antagonist of SMRPG is just an evil weapon maker with no back story. At least in FF4 he was an Azathothian cosmic horror.

In the end, worth playing but I didn't love it. Check out the episode for a more in depth discussion:

Jacob_Richardson wrote on 11/02/2012 at 08:44pm

Aww. This was one of the first games I ever beat all the way. Geno is still one of my favorite characters of all time. I love the marionette. I still consider this to be one of the best games of all time. I love the culex battle as a throwback to early final fantasy games. It also was the precursor to the long running and much beloved paper mario games. The minecart mini game was also really fun. As was the music note tadpoles. Thanks for taking the time to write something up on such and old classic though. It's rarely mentioned nowadays.

Gary_Butterfield   Post Author wrote on 11/02/2012 at 09:16pm

I didn't have history with it, is one thing. Coming at games as an adult is tougher than as a kid sometimes. I don't think it's a bad game by any means. It's an experiential thing, right? The important thing is how you felt playing. That's what the podcast is about and also this site, I think.

Jacob_Richardson wrote on 11/02/2012 at 09:31pm

Ya I don't fault you for disliking it or anything. You made valid points about it. Just giving my own opinions on a game from my childhood. I've gone back and finished it again about 3years ago replaying some games to see if it was all nostalgia.

Gary_Butterfield   Post Author wrote on 11/02/2012 at 09:47pm

There are some games I definitely give a lot of affection to due to nostalgia. I loved SNES RPGs but this is a weird blind spot for me as a young'n. If I had stumbled across it at that age, I would have ate it the fuck up. Instead, I wasted time on Paladin's Quest.

Jacob_Richardson wrote on 11/02/2012 at 10:12pm

paladins quest...OH! I remember why that sounds familiar. It's also called Lennus. I just recently finished Lennus 2 a month or so ago. It was a great game.

jdodson   Admin wrote on 11/03/2012 at 09:59pm

I missed Super Mario RPG too. My cousin played it and loved it, but I didn't have it. By the time it came around I was moving on to being in a band and I skipped this entirely.

I came back to try it later and the faux 3D sort of didn't resonate with me. It seems to garner high praise from people that love it though. The fighting didn't stick with me and the story wasn't memorable, for the small bit I did play.

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