Article originally written by SchwarzerWind for Super Mario Portal (marioportal.com) on 11th of December, 2003.
So here we are, hearing rumours that Nintendo is about to launch its
next-generation system to replace the GameCube within the next six months, and
to date, the only Mario game we’ve gotten is the awesome, yet deja-vu inducing
Mario Sunshine. Sure, there’s the new Mario Party 5, Luigi’s Mansion, Toadstool
Tour and who could forgivably forget Mario Kart: Double Dash; but these are all
niche titles there were originally created solely for the purpose of filling a
stop gap in Mario content on Nintendo’s systems.
While they are all great games, some of them genre-defining, the point is that they were all originally created because of that niggling little problem that a new Mario game comes out about once every 4 years anymore. And when you’re a Mario, hell even a Nintendo fan, 4 years is a damn long time to wait for a new game. This causes each new, traditional Mario game to have expectations that nothing can possibly fulfill.
Nintendo knew right after release that Mario Sunshine was not the cure for AIDS it had been made out to be. It was interesting; the thought of Toadstool in beach attire was sure promising, and the fact Mario’s outfit had had some subtle changes was nice. They even introduced the new water cannon Mario used to clean up the mess left behind by Evil Mario. It was a very strong step forward for the entire Mario universe, but as a whole experience, it was lacking. Why? Because a good deal of the play mechanics were recycled from Super Mario 64, which completely rewrote programming rules for the 3D Platformer. And quite honestly, running around getting those fucking shines got boring as shit after a bit.
Since the release of Super Mario World, which is now a legendary masterpiece in the annals of gaming history, there have been only two true Mario games released that not only stood and delivered, but took the series to heights previously unreachable. These two titles were Super Mario 64 by Miyamoto-san, and Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars, which was made by none other than Final Fantasy creators, Squaresoft (now Square-Enix). Allow me to focus for a little while on the latter game in the previous sentence.
Square made one of the most respected, sought-after role-playing games of all time, next to its own Final Fantasy games. Not only did Mario RPG incorporate every single bit of the classic 2D Mario games, like Mario’s ability to throw fireballs and use the Mallet, but it even incorporated his other abilities, such as his legendary jumping prowess, directly into the story. Not only that, but they took a page from Super Mario Bros. 2 and expanded on the Princess’ ability to dole out pain in bucket loads, making her one of the toughest female party members ever in an RPG. And if you doubt that statement, be sure to learn all of her magic spells, and find all her weapons. The Princess doesn’t play.
Even introducing a Squaresoft-ish character like Geno into the game, only made it even better. A four-foot tall action figure come to life, Geno’s abilities included firing off his fists, Gundam-style, and transforming into the “Geno Cannon”, a feat that if used properly could take out whole squads of enemies. The only thing that was missing from this game was, of course, Luigi, who it’s rumored Nintendo asked Squaresoft to omit from the game, much as they have from every other Mario title since Super Mario Bros. 3 (even in Mario World, he was just a palette-swapped Mario clone). It’s got to be a tough job, being Mario’s Bitch 24/7, but at least Luigi takes it like a man
The travesty to all of this, is that shortly after Mario RPG was released, Square told Nintendo to kiss their ass, and made for the greener, CD-ROM based pastures of the then-fledgling Playstation, where they had azure dreams of a spikey-haired blond guy with a big-ass sword, selling a googooplex or two copies of Final Fantasy VII. This meant that in Mushroom Kingdom, the Star Road was repaired and all was happy, including Mario who had all the time in the world to test the bed springs in the Princess’ room (Oh tell me you didn’t try that in the game and invent some perverted joke yourself).
We’re now into the next millennium, and no new Mario RPG game has been released. There’s no new frying pan attacks from the Princess, and Mario has yet to use a Koopa-Troopa shell as a soccer ball again in battle. And worst of all, there’s no Geno! Or Smithy for that matter (Smithy was a kick-ass villain)! Hear that Nintendo? Bowser’s great and all, but Smithy is a true evil bastard who can shapeshift into giant tanks with faces. And unlike Bowser, he’s not secretly seeking attention. He just wants to coat everything in a nice metal sheen of death.
My point to all of this is, Squaresoft is now back in the Nintendo stables, at least halfway, with several secret titles in development. The first public ally known title is Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles, an amazing looking little game that has garnered a lot of public support. But what are those secret titles? Could one of them possibly be a sequel to the magnificence that is Super Mario RPG? And while we’re on the subject, could someone please remove all traces of Paper Mario from ever existing? And having the nuts to call itself Super Mario RPG 2? Please?!
Let’s discuss the ways that a new Mario RPG could help Nintendo, both in sales and in image. While the original Mario RPG kept to the series roots in being light-hearted and good for kids, it became apparent by the end of the game that the game’s tone shifted to that of a slightly more dark and menacing nature. The GameCube is continually being blasted as a kiddie system, wouldn’t this more-mature-than-the-usual-Mario-game offering help fight that?
Here’s a story arc for you. The only time anyone has ever seen the Mushroom Kingdom’s actual King was in Mario RPG. Why is that? Why doesn’t he exist in Mario 3? Super Mario 64? Etc? And to make it odder, it was plainly obvious that the Mushroom King wasn’t even Princess Peach’s father. So why is she human and the rest of her subjects are fungus? That’s an interesting question. Best answered in an RPG, I’d wager to bet.
And what happened to Smithy? Is he truly destroyed? Usually, old psychotically evil bastards like that don’t die, they just go to the dimension of black voids for a bit, and recharge their batteries and return with some new “ultimate weapon”. Ask Skeletor.
And where the hell was Luigi in the original game? I mean, you had access to the entire Mushroom Kingdom and then some, and you didn’t run into his green-overalled ass not even once? Where was he then? Had he went back to Brooklyn? Had Mario locked him up under the stairs? These are questions that inquiring minds want to know the answers to.
This type of game would greatly help the GameCube, which to date, has RPGs like Lost Kingdoms and Darkened Skye, in which you look for cards and Skittles, respectively (and no, I’m not making that up). The story in Super Mario RPG was so deep and so well-fleshed out the world of Mario that a story for a sequel writes itself. Hell, here, I can even get them started.
It’s Mario’s birthday, and everyone in Mushroom Kingdom is gearing up a huge party bash to celebrate. The day of the big celebration comes, and everyone’s gathered at the castle. Before Peach can even cut the first slice of cake, however, the skies suddenly turn dark and a dimensional portal rips open in the sky above. The long-forgotten henchmen of Smithy pour out of it, swarming all over the party guests and Mario and friends.
As a huge battle wages on the party grounds, a new type of sword begins to descend from the rift hole, directly into the Princess’ Castle. It’s a giant, two-handed Claymore battle sword. The swarms of Smithy’s henchmen overtake the unprepared party goers, and Mario and co., by utter surprise. In fact, they capture Mario and fly him away to some unknown destination, leaving the party grounds in ruins, and the Princess’ Castle completely off-limits.
The Princess is naturally upset about losing Mario, but being Mario’s brother, and Italian, Luigi is particularly pissed, especially since he didn’t get any cake. The Princess, Luigi and Toad make up your original party, as they set off to find out what has happened to Mario. The Princess retains a lot of her old powers, as well as gaining all new ones. Luigi would use a good bit of his brother’s attacks and Flower Point Attacks, but would utilize Matrix-like jumping techniques as well, true to his heritage at being more flexible in the jumping department (and able to jump higher than Mario, but don’t tell Squaresoft that). Toad would just have some kind of attack…I don’t know what, I don’t really care. He’s just there to absorb damage for the Princess far as I care.
The rest of the main story of the game involves you freeing Mario and getting him back into your party (as a fun twist, I’d make him able to turn into Super Mario –from Super Mario World- much as Terra turned into an Esper in FF3, on command). You’d also need an airship to traverse the Mushroom Kingdom, and I’m sure the Professor (who helped out Luigi in Luigi’s Mansion) could easily provide that, even if it was boo-powered or something.
See, I’m just a Mario fan here, and I can write a half-decent sequel to Mario RPG. So why has it proved impossible for everyone else? I mean, come on, this is one of the greatest RPGs of all-time, and the best they give us is Paper Mario? What the hell kind of smack was Nintendo on when they approved that travesty?
I hate that game! The Princess looks like a fat bloated codsack, with eyes like a crack-addicted Little Orphan Annie. And what’s with this whole “paper” shtick? Oooh, Mario looks like a page turning when he changes directions! Whoop-dee-fucking-doo! It reeks of “gimmick” to me, and we all know gimmicks are used to distract you from the fact there’s some shit-stinky game play underneath. Look at Tomb Raider (any one of ‘em). It used a female Indiana Jones with porn star-sized tits. If “Lara” had been “Lewis” and had five o’clock shadow and testicles, it wouldn’t have even sold half a dozen copies. Because you’ve done the same game, in different packaging, a million times before. But because it was a woman in daisy dukes, with massive, undulating tits, suddenly it’s a masterpiece? For God’s Sakes, can’t you just keep masturbating to Princess Leia’s slave outfit in Empire Strikes Back and stop making dimwit game designers think you’re buying their game because it’s good? Or hire a hooker, just quit fucking up the gaming market because you’re buying games with lots of tits and ass.
I’d like to add I own Dead or Alive: Xtreme Volleyball for my Xbox, but I’ll have you know that’s some of the best volleyball to be had on a console. The thing has more depth and entertainment value than tossing a cooked ham into a room of schoolchildren, in front of Roseanne Barr.
Let’s start bitching to Nintendo we want a new, REAL Mario RPG, and let’s tell them if they ever refer to Paper Mario as our answered prayer again, that we’ll cut off their nuts and beat them to death with them. That’s like giving cocaine addicts a bag of flour and pretending you didn’t fuck them over. We need the real thing, goddamnit!