Super Mario RPG: The Mario Game Nintendo Forgot

Super Mario RPG

Super Mario RPG

When Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars came out in March of 1996, I was nine years old. Back then, I went to the video store with my parents and literally judged games by their cover. This game had Mario on the box. I was in.

I didn’t know this particular game was very different from the usual platforming, hop-and-bop gameplay you might expect. For one, it was an isometric game. Yet when I loaded up the save file of whoever played the video store cartridge last, the first thing I did was jump on a goomba. When the game screen wiped into a completely different area that had Mario on one side and the goomba on the other, I knew what kind of game this was.

It was like EarthBound.

Mario at Bowser's Castle
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It was another turn-based game with lots of text (even though Mario never spoke a word) and memorable characters. Developed by Squaresoft (before they merged with Enix and became Square-Enix), it had classic Final Fantasy gameplay with a Mario twist. The game had timed hits and timed blocks. Both Princess Toadstool and Bowser could join your team.

As a kid whose first video game ever was Donkey Kong, and first console game ever was the original Super Mario Bros., this game was insane. The graphics were amazing (for their time), and the world of Mario became so much more than just floating platforms and turtle dragons. There were towns. There were regular people, with regular jobs.

This was a Super Mario World I wanted to live in.

I fell in love with characters like Mallow the cloud prince, and Geno the battle-puppet. I still hum the game’s soundtrack to this day. And the timed hits system was so ahead of its time, when games like Legend of Dragoon came out, it was old hat to me.

So how come very few people seem to remember this game?

Mario RPG World
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Easy answer? Squaresoft broke away from Nintendo to join the Sony squad. The PlayStation was simply the best console for Final Fantasy VII. So while Nintendo may own Mario and his friends, characters like Geno and Mallow belonged to Square.

In short, these characters would never come back in a Nintendo game. Even after Square-Enix patched things up with Nintendo and started doing the Crystal Chronicles thing, Mario RPG was old news. And we all know how much Nintendo hates their old beloved SNES RPGs.

While we might see it on virtual consoles for Nintendo systems, the franchise has effectively been replaced by Paper Mario and the Mario and Luigi Superstar games. Which, if you ask me, are vastly inferior.

I will not stop clamoring for Geno and Mallow to become Nintendo regulars. Why can’t I punch Mallow’s fluffy face in Smash Bros? Why can’t I blast tennis balls from Geno’s arm rockets? I want my beloved childhood back. In closing, life is unfair. And so is Nintendo.

5 RPGs That We All Forgot But Are Still Awesome

Final Fantasy XII

RPGs

2016 has been a great year for Role-Playing Games (RPGs) and just to name a few, we have XCOM 2, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, The Witcher 3, Fallout 4, and Final Fantasy XV. Also, a tormenting torture device called Dark Souls III came out last 2016. While these games have their own share of glory and fame, some wonderful RPGs were forgotten in the box down in our basements. To give you a drop of that nostalgia potion, here are 5 RPGs that we all forgot but are still awesome.

Vagrant Story (also known as “The Phantom Pain”)

RPGs Gem: Vagrant Story
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Once upon a time, in the year 2000, the developers of Final Fantasy (Square Co., Ltd. which is now known as Square Enix after merging with Enix) decided to make a game with a lot of puzzles, a unique battle system, and a weapon and crafting system that is comparable to a lot of modern games like Fallout 3 and the Elder Scrolls Series. That game was Vagrant Story. Also known as “The Phantom Pain”, Vagrant story is an action role-playing game that has elements of a dungeon crawler game, a hack and slash game, and a rhythm game.

The game received high ratings from various video game critics. Knowing Final Fantasy developers, they sure hid a lot of gems in the game for you to discover. Go add Vagrant Story in your list of “to-play” games and enjoy the world of Valendia.

Valkyrie Profile Series

RPGs Gem: Valkyrie Profile
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Valkyrie Profile is a series of RPGs based on the Norse mythology and follows the story of three Goddesses of Fate namely – Silmeria, Lenneth, and Hrist – as they (well, mostly Lenneth) venture into the world of mortals, in the realm of Midgard, in order to gather brave human souls to serve as ‘einherjar’ or warriors for the coming Ragnarok, the final battle which decides the fate of all creation.

The game has a unique battle mechanics wherein, you link or assign the characters to the buttons on the controller and when pressed, the respective character linked to that button performs an action. It’s a mechanic worth experiencing and the story is fine, especially it covers human behavior and honor. If you want to play this forgotten gem, it’s available on the PlayStation Portable. Enjoy and defeat those enemies, Nibelung Valesti!

Final Fantasy Tactics (Original and the “War of the Lions” version)

RPGs Gem: Final Fantasy Tactics
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Who doesn’t love Final Fantasy Tactics? Well, that is probably because you haven’t played it yet, young squire. This entry in the Final Fantasy franchise was made last 1997 and was re-released for the PSP in 2007 as “Final Fantasy Tactics: The war of the Lions”. Which added new movies, scenarios, jobs, and a lot of words that made me grab a dictionary. You can’t miss a single point in the wonderful story of greed, revenge, corruption, friendship, and betrayal that gave life to the world of Ivalice.

Oh and, various characters from the ‘main’ Final Fantasy franchise also appeared in FFT. Having trouble where to get it? Well, worry no more. The game was made available on the smartphone last 2011. Go on and visit your app store and grab a copy of this critically acclaimed entry in the Final Fantasy universe.

Breath of Fire III

RPGs Gem: Breath of Fire
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First off, I’ve also played Breath of Fire IV but I never finished it…and I apologize for that, my dear BOF IV fans out there. That being said, I chose Breath of Fire III, the first three-dimensional entry in the series. It offers a lot of mechanics that will make you play for hours and hours. Collecting all of Ryu’s Dragon Genes, fishing, and learning all the skills, are just some of the things that will make you come back and play some more. Battles occur quite similarly to another RPG – ehem, Final Fantasy – which is random. I won’t spoil the story, because there are a lot of plot twists in this game accompanied by a very gorgeous soundtrack. Plus, the diverse characters that will make you properly plan the composition of your party in order to defeat the myriad of enemies that will cross your path.

The game was re-released for the PlayStation Portable for you, guys, to pick up and enjoy.

Xenogears

RPGs Gem: The Xenogears Title Screen
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Have you ever heard of that game that has a long-haired main character? The one that fights with his fists and has a giant Gundam-like robot? Well, that is Fei Fong Wong. He is the protagonist of the gem that I think is lost in the back of the minds of most people, Xenogears. This game tackles a lot of social issues that makes it more appealing to more matured audiences. Issues include slavery, war, prejudice, and corruption. A lot of critics hailed Xenogears for its somewhat controversial take on religion, humanism, and psychology.

The gameplay involves the use of Action Points or AP in order to execute combos. The Triangle, Square, and X buttons on the controller are used to perform those combos. Then, there are gears. These are combat robots, fighting machines that bear a similar fighting style as the owner or pilot. For example, one character in the game, Bart, uses a whip when outside his whip-wielding Gear. Xenogears has anime-style cutscenes which are backed by gorgeous soundtracks composed by Yasunori Mitsuda, the composer for Chrono Trigger, Xenosaga, Soul Sacrifice Delta, and a lot more.

You can get it from the PlayStation Network and enjoy the brain-teasing world of Xenogears.

I hope you enjoyed my list of some of the top RPGs of the previous generations that seem to have been forgotten. If you are looking for games to play while waiting for that next-level role-playing game coming out in just a few months, you can try the games above. You will not regret it.

How about you? If you know any role-playing games, that made you feel like you live in another world, that seem to have been forgotten now? Let us know in the comments down below and happy gaming!

OP Or Not OP, That Is The Question: #3- Final Fantasy VIII’s Junctioning

Final Fantasy

Here’s an interesting case study. In terms of singleplayer-only gaming, what can OP really mean?

In the early days of gaming, there were cheat codes-amundo. These button combinations would enable all kinds of funky effects, from big head modes to invulnerability and level selects. In a sense, of course, this ‘broke’ the game in question, allowing you to effortlessly waltz through the tricksiest sections with ease. Oftentimes, such things were frowned upon.

What mattered, in my view, was when and where you chose to use them. With a game you’ve already beaten umpteen times, why not? Nothing ups replay value like the chance to play through again while invincible, or with end-game weapons unlocked from the start.

In-game mechanics can have a similar effect. There’s no use of cheat codes per say, but you’re abusing the tools you’re given to break the game in a whole different way. Final Fantasy VIII is a great example of this.

As fans of the much-ballyhooed RPG series will know, each game handles character progression differently. Final Fantasy VIIs materia system and XIII’s crystarium, for instance, are two wildly disparate ways of handling characters’ stat growth and learning of abilities. Final Fantasy VIII utilized the junction system, and it’s a little nutty. Let’s check it out.

Final Fantasy VIII 2

In this game, there was no armor to equip, only weapons. This is RPG blasphemy, of course, but armor was rendered obsolete by the much more customisable stats junctioning offered. Essentially, the menu allowed you to ‘equip’ a magic spell from your arsenal to a particular stat. The boost you’d get from this depended on the spell and how many uses of it you had (magic didn’t cost MP here, but was instead limited by the amount of ‘copies’ of the spell that character had stocked).

Each stat was better suited to certain magic, and this is where your team could quickly become overpowered. Junctioning powerful healing spells to your HP, for instance, paid dividends. The key here is that a lot of these spells could be acquired early on, leaving characters vastly overleveled for that point in the story.

But it’s a long slog to do so. In my most recent playthrough of Final Fantasy VIII, I decided to try out some real junctioning abuse. I also took the time to acquire some ultimate weapons on the first disk to boot. This was all kinds of a pain in the butt, requiring several hours of the card game Triple Triad (cards can be refined into items, which can in turn become a stock of powerful magic).

It added a whole new dimension to the game, being able to unleash powers and attacks that were flattening bosses in a single hit. OP? In a sense, sure. The first time playing, I’d never dream of doing so. I felt the same rush that school bullies probably feel as they flush the toilet with a nerdly little kid’s head in it. Or PHENOMENAL COSMIC POWER, as the genie from Aladdin put it.

Nevertheless, it takes a certain degree of expertise to abuse the system in this way. For newcomers, junctioning can be a head-scratching business. And even when you know what you’re doing, it’s so time consuming. I earned my stats and Squall’s spangly blue gunblade, there’s no doubt about that. Having worked for it, I can’t see this as too objectionable.

Is it Really the Best Game Ever? #4: Final Fantasy IX

Final Fantasy

When it comes to big ol’ fame-tastic franchises, Final Fantasy will inevitably be mentioned. For many, this enduring and seminal series (because I’m an alliterate twice in two sentences sort of guy) is the very last word in… RPGing goodness.

This time, we’re taking a look at the best game in the series: Final Fantasy IX.

Before rage-spittle starts flying all over your monitor, that’s ‘best’ in the most objective sense it’s really possible: the highest compiled score on gamerankings and metacritics and suchlike. So just what is it about the ninth game? Let’s have a quick muse.

Final Fantasy IX was released in 2000, the last in the series to hit the PlayStation. At this point, the series had been gathering momentum worldwide thanks to the almighty Final Fantasy VII. This installment, a few years before, popularized the genre and was many gamers’ first real taste of it. But for the long-time Fantasists, it was something new.

Final Fantasy IX 2

Games VII and VIII eschewed the familiar job system, in favour of more customisable characters. This had been a hallmark of the games since the first release in 1987, and was a sad loss. It was also one thing that Final Fantasy IX tried to address.

First and foremost, the game is a love letter to the franchise’s roots. Everything from the colour scheme of the dialogue boxes to clever little puns about Clouds and Squalls screams throwback. But there’s more to it than that.

Without parading over ground which has been endlessly trodden, it’s a poignant and gripping story told well, and presented in brilliant style. The game’s art has a kind of storybook aesthetic, which I’d say makes it the most ‘charming’ of the Final Fantasies. I had seen nothing quite like it, and it still looks wonderful today.

The familiar gameplay itself was also buffed to a fine, shiny sheen of… shiny sheen-ery here, and the sidequests are enjoyable and actually rewarding. Then there’s the glorious soundtrack. There can be no doubt that this is a very special package.

Whatever Happened to… Final Fantasy Job Classes?

Final Fantasy

Back in the days of yore, when we sported ill-advised hairstyles and mobile phones the size of housebricks, things were simpler. Our RPG stars were succinctly characterised into ‘jobs,’ and everyone knew what they were supposed to be doing. Final Fantasy Warriors would righteously smite enemies in the eyeballs with pointy swords, White Mages would heal them, and Janitors would sweep up the monster guts afterwards.

Truly, it was a golden, sense-making age.

Job classes were introduced in the first Final Fantasy installment. After naming each of your four intrepit heroes, you’d assign them a role, a literal job. This defined the weapons they could equip and the abilities they could use in battle, and had a huge impact. Thief, Black Mage, Warrior and so forth are each gaming icons in their own right, though the characters themselves were nameless (beyond whatever you chose to input).

Final Fantasy White Mage

It was quite a rudimentary system in its original form, offering only a scant few choices. As the series progressed, though, more and more rather eccentric jobs were added. By Final Fantasy III, we had the brilliantly camp –Peter Pan called, he wants his tights back– Ranger, a projectile fighter who favoured the longbow. There was also the Viking, complete with horned helmet and defensive abilities that allowed him/her to shrug off bullets like the Terminator.

A few games later, Dark Knights and Berserkers and all kinds of other crazies were vying for our attention. I remember delighting in switching between many different jobs, just to see what each can do and experiment with fitting a party together. Ah, memories.

Then there was Final Fantasy VII, which did away with jobs entirely. Instead, each party member could be customised with Materia stones, allowing anybody to use any skill freely. Since then, the series has brought us many different ways of dealing with this. There was the junction system of VIII, in which you could merrily assign magic to every stat; similarly making your characters serve any purpose you wished.

The final PlayStation installment came closest to rekindling the magic. Final Fantasy IX did not mention any jobs by name, but simply locked each party member into an appropriate set of skills. The game was an intentional homage to the series’ roots, but didn’t quite scratch the itch in this regard. The recent Bravely Default does so with aplomb, though.