Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars is a game that needs no introduction, so let’s skip right to the issue we’ll be discussing today:
Geno for Smash
Going back to, hell, I want to say Super Smash Bros Melee, it seems there has been a very vocal contingent of fans that desire Geno, one of the original characters of Super Mario RPG, to make an appearance. This fervor reached a fever pitch during the Super Smash Bros Brawl days, when it was discovered that a song from Super Mario RPG was cut from the final lineup. This song was “Beware the Forest’s Mushrooms“ aka the song playing in the area where Geno joins Mario’s party. Many took this as a sign that Geno was intended for Super Smash Bros Brawl, but was cut due to Squaresoft interference, Nintendo not wanting to share rights, or perhaps a nefarious plot by the Axem Rangers. Oh, also, it might not have been that song at all, but “Toadwood Forest”, a song from Partners in Time… but why should we let facts get in the way? Nintendo is hiding Geno!
But I’ve got some bad news for all you Geno fans: he’s the least interesting character in the game.
I played through Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars with an eye on the little puppet, and, as soon as he was available, stuck ‘em in my party, permanently, just to make sure there weren’t any special scenes that only occur when he’s handy. The results? Here’s Geno’s greatest hits:
- Geno the star creature lands and possesses a child’s toy, and then ventures into the forest to retrieve a star piece.
- Geno confronts Bowyer, one of Smithy’s goons that has claimed the star piece. Geno is then joined by Mario and Mallow, and all three combine to defeat Bowyer.
- Geno explains the overarching plot of the game: please collect all the star pieces to repair Star Road to grant the world’s wishes. Geno officially joins Team Mario to facilitate this quest.
- Geno returns to Rose Town to speak to Gaz, owner of the Geno toy/body. Gaz wishes Geno well on his journey, and Geno thanks Gaz.
- Geno notes, once again, his mission at Star Hill, technically his home.
- In the final area of the game, Geno notes that he must repair the Star Road, but there may be vague consequences.
- After Smithy is destroyed and the final star piece is retrieved, Geno de-possesses the doll body, and flies off as a small star sparkle. Everyone is moderately disturbed for a period of no longer than thirty seconds.
And that’s it! We’re looking at a 10-15 hour long game, and Geno’s entire contribution to the plot can be listed in less time than it takes to complete the prologue. And, just to be thorough, Geno’s battle prowess is no great shakes, either. Yes, he has a “secret” move that will instantly eliminate any normal monster, but aside from that, he’s just got a handful of boring toy robot-themed attacks, and one cool move where he transforms into a cannon that can fire the sun. Not bad, but not exactly top shelf material, either.
I may have found that Geno is probably better served as termite fodder during my most recent playthrough, but I also found something else: Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars is a really great game. Seriously. I hadn’t played this game in something like fifteen years, and I wasn’t really expecting much, what with the cavalcade of Mario RPGs and JRPG innovations that have barreled forward over the last few decades. I was downright shocked by how much I enjoyed this game, though, and, really thinking about it, I’d put it up with Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door as the best Mario RPG, period. This is kind of an amazing feat, as you don’t ever see someone claiming Super Mario Bros. 1 was the best in the franchise, but here we are, the first and possibly best is Super Mario RPG.
So I feel you, Geno supporters. You know Super Mario RPG was a great game, and you want to see it represented in the Nintendo’s Greatest Hits that is Smash Bros. Just, you know, Geno was kind of a dud, so how about we look at a list of characters from Super Mario RPG that would be better served venturing into trophyhood.
First of all, the best character in Super Mario RPG is already in Smash Bros: Bowser. This King of the Koopas is everything you could ever want from an antagonist turned ally. He goes from evil king to revolutionary general to lonely menace who has to “recruit” Mario into his Koopa Troop just to convince himself he’s still a player. He then proceeds to spend the rest of the game randomly inserting himself into conversations to further boost his own ego, save for quiet moments when Bowser bonds with his former troops in their new lives (Goomba family 4-eva). When Bowser returns to his keep and notes that he loves that smell of lava, you’re nodding with him, happy to be back in the familiar setting you’ve fought to reclaim. Conversely, the worst part of Bowser is Princess Peach, the other Nintendo heavy that joins Mario, who, annoyingly, has pretty much zero additional characterization, and makes the thoroughness applied to Bowser seem vaguely misogynistic. I’m sure it wasn’t intentional, but it does seem a little… off when you start to notice it.
While we’re talking about party members, Mallow is probably the best character to represent Super Mario RPG. Here we have a character that is with Mario from pretty much the moment Super Mario RPG becomes its own thing (storming the castle, defeating Bowser, attempting to rescue the princess, and battling the Hammer Bros. may have been something seen in previous Mario games). While all of Mario’s skills are based on his normal Mario moveset (jumping, hammering, fire-chucking), Mallow has a variety of offensive and support spells that seem to be optimized for living in a RPG world, where healing and attacking multiple monsters at once is king. And speaking of kings, Mallow actually has a personal character arc, going from crybaby to brave warrior, and a story arc, going from orphaned “tadpole” to literal King of the Heavens. Come to think of it, forget Smash Bros, Mallow should star in the next Dragon Quest game. Regardless, Mallow has a real place in the Super Mario RPG world, and his abilities scream “I come from an RPG”, which is more than I can say for a certain marionette that just kinda looks cool.
And there’s even characters in Super Mario RPG that look cooler than Geno. For one thing, there’s Jonathan “Johnny” Jones, radical shark pirate of the Southern Seas. Johnny only appears in one area of the game, and it’s not like he ever joins the party or anything, but he does assist the good guys against the wicked Yaridovich, so he qualifies for that bodacious “unwilling ally” accolade. Coolness quotient aside, we’re still talking about a man-shark with an entire man-shark pirate crew and a giant blooper under his control, and that has to count for something. If Johnny makes it into Smash Bros, at least we’ll know the exact moment the franchise jumped the shark.
Speaking of cool blue guys (that are better than Geno), there’s Boshi, who isn’t much of anything, but he is the only Yoshi in the entire franchise to ever show some fashion sense. Croco (who… might be purple) would be another worthy choice, as there are far too few coin-obsessed thieves in the Smash roster. Actually, that reminds me of…
Booster is kind of an interesting character to examine for his timing in creation. Let’s not mince words: if Super Mario RPG was released sometime after Mario Kart 64 or so, Booster would simply be Wario. He has all the same traits: bizarre facial hair, general weirdness, inexplicable real estate holdings, and a childish desire for anything and everything. However, Wario wasn’t really much of an established character at Super Mario RPG’s release, so Booster took the stage. Due to the Wario similarity, I doubt Booster would be really considered for any Smash times, but Booster does dominate a sizeable chunk of SMRPG time while he’s attempting to repel Mario’s invasion, and he is responsible for the first homosexual kiss in Nintendo history, so that has to count for something.
Related: Birdo for Smash.
On the subject of smooching, Valentina and Dodo would also be a fascinating choice. Most Nintendo games have a dearth of malicious women, leaving all the world conquering to the Bowsers, Ganons, and Androsses of the universe. Nintendo’s greatest female villain is a disembodied brain in a jar, and she doesn’t even think to show up to most of her adversary’s adventures. Valentina is a witchy woman, and she’s definitely trying to conquer a kingdom, but unlike a lot of Nintendo antagonists, she’s not pure evil, she’s just… kind of a jerk. Like, you could claim she’s conquering Mallow’s kingdom through clever guile and trickery, but she’s mainly just bossing around a group of nitwits that can’t tell a cloud from a bird. That bird, Dodo, is Valentina’s servant, and she treats him about as well as Dutch sailors treated his ancestors. In response, the mute Dodo takes out all his frustrations by violently pecking Valentina statues. This duo could work really well as a dysfunctional Banjo & Kazooie in a game that needs a few more characters that could resemble something like “Princess Wario”.
Monstro Town houses a pair of characters that are very memorable deep cuts for the Super Mario RPG fan. Jinx hosts his own martial arts dojo, and is one of the most powerful creatures in the game. Despite appearing as a little naked man with a cape and mohawk, Jinx is a formidable foe, and it would be fun to have someone so tiny, fast, and powerful in the Smash roster, though one with significant glass cannon issues for balance. And speaking of super bosses, Culex is the original crossover character, a monster meant to evoke the parade of Final Fantasy weirdo bosses that even borrows his parent series’ battle music. Culex’s appearance would be a fine way to commemorate this new age of Square/Nintendo cooperation… though I would be willing to accept a new Final Fantasy game on the WiiU. Come on, guys, if it’s cool enough for Dragon Quest…
We may as well take a look at the villains, too. Extor is a fairly motionless giant sword, but he’s on that iconic cover, so it seems like he should at least be the centerpiece of a stage. Smithy, the big bad himself, might make a very interesting character. Yeah, he’s probably the least iconic character in the game, because you don’t see hide nor hair of the guy before the final battle, but his attack style is based on constantly molding his head into new and potent forms, like a tank, a mage, or a treasure chest. Combine this with the fact that he’d be able to forge any “minion” from the entire game to add to his offense, and you’d have a fun character that wasn’t just another “sword guy”. I mean, it’s not going to happen, but he’d be an enjoyable time.
Really, that’s my point here. There are a host of entertaining, interesting characters in Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars, and they’re not making it into Smash Bros, but they’d still all make amusing participants. Except Geno. Geno sucks.
FGC #60 Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars
- System: Super Nintendo, with a side of Wii Virtual Console. It’s apparently available on the Japanese WiiU VC as well, which begs the question, hey, Japan, what did we ever do to you? Please share.
- Number of Players: Like most JRPGS, just one. Though that “second controller controls some characters” would actually make a difference in an “action” JRPG like this.
- Luigi? Totally absent, save for a cameo during the ending and maybe on Star Hill, but Luigi does “host” the instruction manual, so he’s getting a paycheck somewhere.
- Favorite Character: Bowser really steals the show, maybe because he’s actually allowed to speak. Mario’s mime skills are pretty impressive, but he’s never going to amass an army with his mouth shut.
- Favorite whatever: I don’t know why, but I’ve always been fascinated by the Lazy Shell, only obtainable after ferreting out a very hidden Fly Guy. It’s a shame this game was designed before it became viable to model all armor on party members, because I’d really like to see Mallow or Princess Peach stuffed inside a giant, impregnable turtle shell. … I’m sure this is illustrated somewhere on Deviantart.
- Further Dragon Quest Nonsense: There’s also a hidden casino run by Grate Guy, one of Booster’s henchmen. It requires a lot of searching and luck to find, and its rewards are insignificant, but I can’t really be too mad at its completely random existence. Like a lot of things in Super Mario RPG (Mystery Egg, Fireworks, Jump Challenges), it’s entirely superfluous, but kind of charming.
- Just play the gig, man: Also, yeah, the music is great. Interestingly, while Uematsu and Kondo contributed to the soundtrack, the bulk of it was composed by Yoko Shimomura, best known for Final Fight and Street Fighter 2 musical times. She went on to work on the soundtrack for a little-known game by the name of Kingdom Hearts, which isn’t surprising, as a few tracks in SMRPG are very evocative of later KH songs. Or maybe KH has penetrated by brain so fully, I can’t not hear its tunes any longer. Hm.
- Did you know? Boshi is the only Yoshi in the entire franchise to go barefoot. Yoshis have reptilian toes. Good to know.
- Would I play again? Yes, but it will probably be a while. This game is surprisingly fun, but it’s still a JRPG, which means it doesn’t really complete easily inside of a week without some dedicated playing. A portable Super Mario RPG “Advance” would really make me happy, though.
What’s Next? BEAT has chosen… Bangai-O! Incidentally, I’ve received all your recommendations thus far, and I’m not going in any particular order, just whatever makes it easier to play/write about these games. I’ve played Bangai-O quite a bit, so it’s first by virtue of being already embedded in my brain. So, it’s Bangai-O! Please look forward to it!
Ever feel like you’re forgetting someone?