“Nintendo and Square, working together on a project meant they would combine their respective strong suits – the Mario character and RPG development”. Although created by Square it was published by Nintendo. This lead to ‘Super Mario RPG’ taking the play style of a tradition JRPG, but shifting the action to the Mushroom Kingdom rather than the typical quasi-medieval setting. Instead of colourful haired, angst ridden teens, player would guide Mario and Princess Toadstool. It was a fusion of talent that could only have a positive result, but there was a problem – it wouldn’t be released until 1996.
Although the antagonist is different, to a certain extent, the general story of the 2D ‘Mario’ platform games has been transplanted into a RPG. Other than the twist in the game’s opening, there are few narrative surprises that typify the JRPG genre, no world changing moments, or stories of unrequited love. As soon as you meet Mario’s travelling companions, Geno and Mallow, you get exposed to their back stories and you can easily predict how these will be resolved.
“It was only natural it would end up that way. It was all fine because Mr Miyamoto didn’t get angry, he pretty much gave us a free hand although he did let us know which series characters he wanted to appear”. Its lucky Miyamoto was on board as the bulk of ‘Super Mario RPG’s humour is self deprecating. It knowingly ridicules the Mario series, while also mocking the traditions of the, oh so serious, JRPG genre. For example, the citizens of mushroom kingdom at the start of the game hardly seem surprised that Princess Peach has once again been kidnapped; it is a weekly occurrence after all. Rather than running around in a blind panic, they instead are happy to go about their day knowing the hero in red dungarees will surely save her. Mild concern, only really sets in when Mario’s overly elaborate comedic mime informs them that perhaps Bowser isn’t the guilty party in this regal abduction. Bowser, himself becomes more and more ridiculed as the game progresses. Reluctantly fighting alongside his former nemesis, he is presented as bumbling fool with an inferiority complex. The ‘King of the Koopers’ just wants his castle back. For Bowser it's an adventure filled with many moments of despair.
He “misses the good old days”, holding onto the belief that “no one is authorized to kidnap the Princess except [him]” after all “it just wouldn't be right!" Alongside these knowing series winks, comedy slapstick punctuates ‘Super Mario RPG’. If there is an opportunity for any character to stumble or fall over, they certainly will. Overly elaborate gestures are also the chosen method of communication in the Mushroom Kingdom. If you agree with someone, saying yes simply isn’t enough. Sometimes a frantic nod of the head and wild arm gestures are a far better form of expression.