Well this is a bit late, isn’t it?
Probably because we finished Super Mario RPG and I enjoyed it, so I didn’t feel the need to rant immediately. [editor’s note: also because Troy was very slow at getting the GIFs for this post done.] SMRPG got a lot right and very little wrong, and I’m really looking forward to Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door. We’re skipping Paper Mario because while it’s a competent game, of the three console Mario RPGs that actually count, it’s the weakest. Writing’s fine, but the gameplay is a bit too simple.
The game subscribes to the Chuck Jones theory of gravity.
Right out of the gate, Super Mario RPG gets you started. No lengthy cutscene, no slow exposition dump. You’re Mario, Bowser just took the Princess, and you’re invading his castle to get her back. This doesn’t work, because if it did the game would be over entirely too quick. A giant sword crashes through the castle and sends everyone flying. Mario lands in his own house, on a clothes peg, and Toad immediately snarks at him for it. Then he suggests that you go back to the castle and get the Princess. You do, and you don’t, respectively. The sword collapses the bridge by violently flapping his gums, and you go back home to explain to Toad.
The explanation is the best way I’ve ever seen a silent protagonist handled, and I wish all future depictions of Mario handled dialogue the same way.
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We’ve been streaming for RPG Saturdays for a while now, but Sin of Mana was the first modded game we used. Perhaps I chose poorly.
It began with me, as Hawk, getting killed several times in one shot by an enemy on the way out of the starting area. The solution was to leave and return until one I could survive spawned. But in the course of these deaths, the death HP penalty kicked in. Oh, yes, this mod has a death penalty. 10% of your max HP. Your punishment for dying is that dying is easier. There’s a reason Final Fantasy XIV’s battle-res penalty dropped the Vitality reduction in favor of stronger offense penalties – if someone’s already dying, the last thing anyone needs is for them to die faster. Death spirals are not fun. This penalty is most punishing in the early game; revival with Angel Grails spares you the penalty, but those are expensive.
About an hour of frustration into it, we applied one of the lower difficulty patches, the Normal one (mid-range, 3 out of 5 with default being 5 and 2 being compared to the original, though I’m starting to have doubts given that praetarius5018 thinks the default is reasonable). At this point, the game was fun again. There was occasional grinding necessary, but figuring out what worked against the bosses was interesting and an improvement over the unremarkable slugfests I vaguely remember from my attempt at the original. On the other hand, Lugar was a straight-up brawl, but it was paced well enough to be fun – just two sides beating the hell out of each other at a steady pace. Healing wasn’t stressful but it also wasn’t too easy and the fight didn’t overstay its welcome. The God-Beasts is where the fights started to get unpleasant again, mostly for sheer length.
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