Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Super Mario RPG, level one

“How about SuperMario RPG? It’s the first 3D Mario game,” my friend asks after an attempt at Star Fox that made me want to kill my too-annoying team of a frog I was tempted to shoot down, a rabbit that looked like a donkey and an unnecessarily impatient falcon.

Time to learn a story and kick some ass, plumber-style.

“What’s that? A clown?” I ask my friend as a novelty flying ship goes fluttering by.

“A flying clown car,” my friend says knowingly.

“A flying clown head car blimp,” I correct as if I know things.

Let’s do this, Mario. Let’s save Peach – or Toadstool, my friend corrects me. I guess I don’t really know things.

I run into a guard and suddenly we’re standing on a carpet. “Is this a face-off?!” I ask, excitedly.

“It’s turn-based RPG,” my friend answers. “You take turns attacking one another.”

Right. This seems incredibly strange. Not to mention the fact that instead of going straight or left or right, I have to now move in diagonals along these floors that seem to be floating in outer space. As I type this, the guard is raring to go. Okay, Terrapin, you unarmed guard you, let’s face this thing off.

My name is MOFO for a reason. (Oh right. Instead of typing in my own name, I thought I’d try to be original. It’s not like any gamer has ever done this before.)

And I’m in the castle! And suddenly, Toadstool is hanging from a rope, Bowser is on a chandelier, and I eagerly punch in the air, ready to face him from what must be incredibly strong lighting fixtures. You’d think as the owner of this castle, Bowser would want to take more care of his décor. No wonder he’s the bad guy.

“Bowser: Mario! Prepare yourself for the great beyond!”

Interesting that the SuperMario characters seem to believe in an afterlife. I wonder if they ever get caught up in existential discussions while sitting in thrones or running over lava on wooden bridges – a combination that seems perilous at best.

Good thing Toadstool is here to help me, though. Otherwise I would really be SOL. Plus she’s a far greater help than the easily confused Toad, although Toad does give me an awful lot of gifts, something Princess Toadstool wasn’t able to do while she was hanging from a rope in Bowser’s castle.

It seems as though I did not have a childhood because this is way too enjoyable. How did I miss out on this stuff when it was a more socially appropriate age? From the chipper music to the puntastic dialogue to the fact that I, Mario, get to explain everything through charades and interpretative dance – I feel like a part of me missed out on the joy of youth. I guess I’ll have to make up for it now – even if the pacing is a little slow and the whole 3D format doesn’t have the novelty it had when it was originally released.

What can I say, though? There are quite a few characters in this game. And by characters, I mean freaks. There’s a frog that’s not a frog and seems to be named after a Marshmallow (who is quite clearly a cloud – it cries and suddenly it’s raining). There are dozens of weirdos living in Mushroom Kingdom, including a kid who is clearly tripping on acid and running around in squares – not circles, squares. There’s a crocodile wearing a top hat running around stealing heirloom coins and a bunch of different monsters who enjoy the Muhammad Ali dance before attacking. Oh, and of course, there’s Toadstool’s bedroom – I mean, how could I not take a look? Her bed is peculiarly placed in the middle of the room and was more akin to a trampoline than a comfortable bed. I mean I get that she’s a princess, but I don’t get why princesses can’t push their beds against the wall and have more room to practice hanging from chandeliers or escaping rope knots for when they will inevitably be captured.

Something has changed in me from Legend of Zelda to SuperMario RPG. I actually enjoyed a bit of the exploring with Mario. As Link I felt like at any moment I would have to whip out my sword and fight for my life, but as a plumber, I can inconspicuously climb castle stairs, visit a princess’s bedroom, go through houses, jump on people sleeping and essentially just run around – or saunter when not pressing “Y”.

A giant springboard lands in front of me, which apparently meant my level was over.

“We’ll make a gamer out of you yet,” my friend proudly remarks. I shrug it off, unsure of her confidence in me, especially since my greatest trouble was moving from one suspended block to another. Pressing “B” and moving on a diagonal is much harder in this faux-3D format.

Additional note: A previous version originally appeared in issue 16 of The Cascade on June 5, 2013.

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