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Super Mario RPG: Legend Of The Seven Stars

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Released: 1996

Genre: RPG

Format reviewed: SNES

Publisher: Nintendo

Developer: Square

Submitted by: Craig Hawkins

Square didn't need the Mario license to sell a SNES game. The creator of the Final Fantasy series, Chrono Trigger and Secret Of Mana spent the entirety of the SNES's life effortlessly churning out classic after minor classic after classic.

Mario didn't need Square either, what with Miyamoto-san about to unleash the epoch-making Super Mario 64. Nevertheless the two titans combined forces to create another classic SNES RPG and one of many successful changes of direction, and genre, for the medium's biggest star.

Fans were sceptical as to how well a Mario RPG would work. The results proved an unequivocal success in every regard. Legend of the Seven Stars is an accessible RPG with platforming elements (isometric ones at that!) and a refreshing battle system featuring timed attacks that determine damage levels and spice up the monotony of turn-based combat.

Mushroom Kingdom is brought to life like never before with Square's usual high quality artwork and extravagant score, including variations on previous Mario themes. The dialogue, though since surpassed by the Paper Mario series, is witty and engaging with a narrative more refined than the usual 'the princess is in another castle'.

Bowser and Princess Toadstool join your party at certain points, as well as newcomers Mallow and Geno. Other Mushroom Kingdom regulars pop up throughout the quest, and even Link, Donkey Kong, Fox McCloud and Samus turn up for cameos. Indeed, the game features what must be the world's only isometric Donkey Kong arcade level.

There's something around every corner to keep you interested, although the game is by no means a walk in the park and you'll have to possess the patience and composure of someone waiting for a plumber to fix their washing machine to make it to the end.

The attention to detail is striking. Before reviewers were describing the Super Smash Bros. series as a love letter to Nintendo gamers, Square was penning its own. Which is ironic, because the two companies immediately and famously fell out for years.

Like many Square titles, the game never found a European release – until a belated but welcome appearance on Virtual Console.