Saturday, February 14

Super Mario RPG: The Thousand Year Attempt

I tried to play Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars, I really did.  But I've run out of time.  I've spent a week, but all I've been able to do is play Paper Mario: The Thousand Year door.  I'm really happy I've played it, because it's great.  It's got comedy, strategy, variety, and clever story twists.  Play it if you have the opportunity.  I know that Super Mario RPG started that, and I did play far enough in that I could see where the later games came from.
But it's given me a perspective on the value of directness.  In Super Mario RPG which was developed by Square, and it has some unfortunate relics of the age.  For instance, how much damage am I going to do?  How much health does my enemy have?  What does leveling up give me?  That last one is direct and obvious.  When you level up, a splash image shows how your stats increase.  But you have little context for them.  You know the stats are better, but the inner workings are still a mystery.
In Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door, you have three stats you increase by leveling.  You can check on those stats anytime, and they all represent a threshold of ability that's easy to understand.  You always do the same amount of damage, enemies always have the same number of health points.  The first party member you get has a special ability that tells you the exacts stats of any enemy or boss character.  None of this information is necessary, and giving it never has to intrude on a play experience.  For those who do want it, it's worth a huge amount.  Also, it keeps its numbers low.  It is Magic: The Gathering to Super Mario RPG's Yu-Gi-Oh.
And I know I said I'd give Super Mario RPG the time it deserved, but I couldn't  I ended up sinking well over twenty more hours into Thousand Year Door.  I'll probably play it some more, too.  And Super Mario RPG is probably more than worth the time as well.  Everything I played was solid, comedic, and for its time must have been something incredible.
I wish I could go back to when it first came out, because I have these faint memories of seeing it in action, thinking it was one of the most incredible thing's I'd ever seen, and combined the Mario aesthetic I loved with the Final Fantasy style I didn't really understand.  Remember, when this game came out, I wasn't quite 7 years old.  It's amazing how formative those memories have been, and how I'll be going back even further, to game made before my birth.
Next time, Xevious.  A game made seven years before I was.

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