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Staff Sez #11: Mario RPG Throwdown Edition

by Nate Andrews - November 7, 2012, 5:24 pm PST
Total comments: 9

Tempers rise and friendships die as we opine on the best Mario RPG.

With so many unique stripes of Mario RPG from which to pick, it's no surprise that we each have different choices and reasons for a favorite. 

From the humble origins of Super Mario RPG, through the ongoing, (literally) two-dimensional journeys of the Paper Mario series, and the sly, brotherly co-op of the Mario & Luigi games, there's a lot to like (and sometimes dislike). Read along as the staff sounds off on what the best Mario RPG may be, and leave your own analysis below!

Alex "Chucklehuck" Culafi

TTYD is one of the best games* ever made...

Andy "Mushroom Boy" Goergen

... *novels.

Patrick "Bowletta" Barnett

Mario & Luigi is fast paced, fun, and charming.

Josh "Stuffwell" Max

Paper. Because shut up.

Neal "Knife Guy" Ronaghan

Super Mario RPG came first and has the Lazy Shell.

J.P. "Ding-A-Ling" Corbran

Super Mario RPG does not hold up at all.

Neal "Revenge" Ronaghan

J.P. Corbran is an asshole.

Tyler "Woohoo University" Ohlew

Ageless sprite work and better writing trump shallow paper mechanics.

Zach "Factory Chief" Miller

SMRPG set the bar, M&L inherited it, PM ignored progress.

Tom "Bowser innards" Malina

Bowser's Inside Story burns all others to the ground.

Zack "Castle fight" Kaplan

Bowser's Inside Story, since I haven't played any others.

Carmine "Blorbs" Red

Woo bean. Hoo bean. Woohoo blend. I have fury! Q.E.D.

Andrew "Yoob" Brown

Luigi steals the show in the Mario & Luigi series.

Nicholas "Sleeping Samus" Bray

Super Mario RPG—it's charming and has Geno.

Talkback

red14November 08, 2012

So.. just two or three who like Paper Mario... this site is unbalanced.

TJ SpykeNovember 08, 2012

I agree with Alex, the second Paper Mario games is one of my favorite games ever.

Ian SaneNovember 08, 2012

If Nintendo had not gone with cartridges on the N64 and Square had stuck around would they just have continued making direct sequels to Super Mario RPG?

Who here prefers Paper Mario but played Super Mario RPG first?  Super Mario RPG has a bit of a "you had to be there" thing to it.  I also find that Nintendo fans tend to have different opinions based on if they came on board before or after the N64.  It's an important milestone since it switched from 2D to 3D and marked a change from Nintendo consoles having the best third party support to relying almost solely on first party content to keep the system afloat.  If the N64 was your first Nintendo system your experience has been quite different than that of someone who started off with the NES or SNES.  I suspect the Paper Mario fans are more the N64 era Nintendo fans for which Paper Mario was their first Mario RPG (or possibly first RPG PERIOD) and Square was some Playstation company.

As for the "unbalanced" view of this site.  I'll guess that there are more staff members that old geezers like myself that first played Super Mario RPG when it was current.

I think part of the reason I don't much care for SMRPG is that it's a pretty standard JRPG, a genre which I've never been a huge fan of. I like the Paper Mario and Mario & Luigi games because they do their own thing more and vary up the formula.

One of the things I love about Nintendo is that they always put their own spin on a genre. They didn't make a traditional FPS, they made Metroid Prime, and they didn't make a traditional RTS, they made Pikmin. I don't want a generic RPG with Mario slapped into it, which is what SMRPG feels like to me.

SarailNovember 08, 2012

See, I disagree, J.P. SMRPG isn't a pretty standard JRPG by any means. It introduced the Nintendo-flavoured timed attacks, broke away from an ATB-styled, menu-based battle system for a SNES button-style navigational menu, and also had all of the world maps incredibly interactive - whether through platforming, chasing down (or being chased by) enemies, and TONS of mini-games strewn about. AAAAAAND... it used Rare's platform-defining ACM graphics technology that no other JRPG had used up to that point. (I still feel like the maps in SMRPG look way better than any map in FFVII.)

So, no. Paper Mario and M&L didn't do their own thing more... they just did a bit differently. SMRPG is just as varied - if not more - as those series are.

Quote from: Ian

Who here prefers Paper Mario but played Super Mario RPG first?  Super Mario RPG has a bit of a "you had to be there" thing to it.  I also find that Nintendo fans tend to have different opinions based on if they came on board before or after the N64.  It's an important milestone since it switched from 2D to 3D and marked a change from Nintendo consoles having the best third party support to relying almost solely on first party content to keep the system afloat.  If the N64 was your first Nintendo system your experience has been quite different than that of someone who started off with the NES or SNES.  I suspect the Paper Mario fans are more the N64 era Nintendo fans for which Paper Mario was their first Mario RPG (or possibly first RPG PERIOD) and Square was some Playstation company.

Up there I had to settle on Mario & Luigi, but I DID play Super Mario RPG first and I DO prefer Paper Mario for the N64 to it. I haven't worked out all my thoughts to it, but I feel like Paper Mario for the N64 was just... streamlined compared to SMRPG... though maybe my younger brother disagrees. Anyways, that preference may also have something to do with me playing Paper Mario during a hospital stay and falling in love with it during that part of my life.

Ian SaneNovember 08, 2012

Quote from: NWR_insanolord

One of the things I love about Nintendo is that they always put their own spin on a genre. They didn't make a traditional FPS, they made Metroid Prime, and they didn't make a traditional RTS, they made Pikmin. I don't want a generic RPG with Mario slapped into it, which is what SMRPG feels like to me.

I like that about Nintendo but there are two thing that I consider their major strengths as videogame devs.  They're creative but they're also incredibly competent.  Their competence is why a largely derivative series like NSMB still results in really great games.  So when they take on a genre they can turn it on its ear but they can also do something more conventional and just do it better than anyone else.  They can reinvent the wheel or perfect it.

Like if I want to play an FPS, I don't play Metroid Prime.  I LOVE Metroid Prime for the great game it is but as an FPS is just doesn't deliver the experience I want out of that genre.  Now Goldeneye and Perfect Dark were much more conventional but were just so damn great it didn't matter (and they still were pretty creative as well).  I really want Nintendo to make a traditional FPS because I KNOW they'll do a kick ass job of it and make Halo and CoD look like jokes.

So Super Mario RPG is Nintendo teaming up with the top RPG developer of the time and adding the Nintendo magic to make just a kickass RPG with some unique ideas thrown in.  It's like Nintendo saying "now this is how you make a fucking RPG!"

What's really bizarre is the Super Mario RPG came out on the SNES, a system full of great traditional RPGs.  Paper Mario came out on the N64 which had Ogre Battle 64 and jackshit else for RPGs and yet that is the one that was less traditional.  Ideally wouldn't N64 fans want a more traditional RPG experience since their system effectively didn't have it?  And at the same time why give SNES fans a more traditional RPG when they already have Final Fantasy and Chrono Trigger to work with?  Doing a really out-there take on a genre is kind of idiotic if the system lacks that genre.  You're essentially teasing your fans by continuing to deny them the experience they're missing out on.

Though Nintendo's reaction to the lack of RPGs on the N64 was to brainwash their fanboys into thinking RPGs sucked.  So an "anti-RPG" like Paper Mario was probably the only thing they figured they could sell to such a userbase.  Plus there's pride.  A more conventional follow-up to Super Mario RPG would effectively give credit to Square, the very company that "screwed" Nintendo and helped the competition kick their ass.  Probably better for Nintendo's ego at the time to start fresh and pretend the Nintendo-Square partnership never happened.

I agree with Ratcht. SMRPG isn't "typical JRPG" fare. It's probably the most JRPG-trope-heavy of the series, but it also came from Squaresoft. Each game/series does its own twist on the formula, whether it's the bro stuff in M&L or the Fischer Price My First RPG machinations of some Paper Mario games.

red14November 08, 2012

You don't have to put it so harshly Neal..

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