Nick DeMarco

TURN TO CHANNEL 3: SNES’ ‘Super Mario RPG’ is full of personality and creativity

TURN TO CHANNEL 3: SNES’ ‘Super Mario RPG’ is full of personality and creativity
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Ah yes, November, a month in which we give thanks, and this is especially true of gamers, if only your faithful scribe!

This month on Turn to Channel 3, we will continue my tradition of looking at games that I am personally grateful for in my vast years of gaming. This week, we’re playing a game that not only spawned a whole other series of successful titles, but also ended an era in the relationship between Nintendo and Squaresoft, which would then lead to the formation of Square Enix and future “Final Fantasy” titles becoming PlayStation exclusives.

Today, I am eternally thankful for “Super Mario RPG” on the Super Nintendo!

“Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars” (SNES)


Like other stellar SNES RPGs like “EarthBound,” “Chrono Trigger,” and “Secret of Mana,” “Super Mario RPG” possesses an all-star roster of great composers, producers, and programmers that, when mixed together, created something truly magical, and it begins with a soundtrack that takes something old and makes it new again.

You hear some established “Super Mario” hits tweaked in such a way to make them that much more fun, that much more epic in order to fit this vast and wondrous adventure you’re taken on. Balanced with tunes that fit like a glove into the spots you hear them in the game, a lot of thought went into the soundtrack for this game, for certain.


If there’s a bridge between 2D and 3D graphics, then this is where “Super Mario RPG” lives and excels, I might add. With companies like Rare cranking out great games with graphics that made our jaws drop at the time, it made sense for the folks at Nintendo and Squaresoft to come up with something equally dazzling, and they succeeded and then some.

With worlds of bright colors mixed with dark and ominous tones when needed, this is a world you can instantly feel at home in. Enemies and heroes alike look awesome, from Mario to a cast of characters that sadly don’t appear outside of this game. Developers didn’t mess around with making this a truly great collaboration between Nintendo and Squaresoft visually.


“Super Mario RPG” is not an easy game, taking on elements that were not truly present in RPGs at the time. Things like timed hits via button pushes, star points, and even Bowser as an ally was all seemingly unheard of in a Mario game of any kind at the time. This game is chock full of personality, which shines through from beginning to end.

Gamers may be turned off by a turn based Mario game, but the fact is, you never feel like you’re playing an RPG that just so happens to have Mario influence in it. You feel like you’re playing something unlike anything else on the SNES, “Super Mario World” or otherwise. The user interface is great, effective, and makes the game both strategic and fun, and isn’t that what great RPGs are about?


Long looked at as the high watermark for 3D graphics on the SNES and having a unique charm all its own, it is no wonder that “Super Mario RPG,” which was released on the Virtual Console on the Wii U a few months ago, is still considered a must-have in any SNES collector’s private stash. Keep in mind, with a price tag of $45-$50 in most circles, this is a game that could break the bank, but in the eyes and hearts of many SNES enthusiasts, it’s worth every coin.

That does it for me. Join me next week for the next installment of “Games to Be Thankful For” month as we look at an unsung hero of SNES RPGs, “The 7th Saga!”

Until then, stay warm, enjoy some hot cocoa, and game on!

Tune in to NEPA Scene’s gaming column, Turn to Channel 3, every Thursday for new perspectives on retro gaming as well as fresh twists on the classics. All ratings for Turn to Channel 3 are based on a scale of 1-10.