Super Mario RPG - Legend of the Seven Stars is a game for the Super Nintendo system. Instead of Bowser posing as the standard enemy, a foe from another world (Smithy) attacks Mario's world with the intent of taking it over.
As would be expected, Mario is the main character in this adventure, but Luigi doesn't show up anywhere. Instead, Mallow, Geno, Bowser and Princess show up at various points in the game and join Mario in his quest.
When Smithy and his gang arrived to attack Mushroom Kingdom, they broke the Star Road in their hasty arrival. Now Mario must find the star pieces in order to put the Star Road back together. Smithy catches the seventh piece, so winning the game depends on defeating him.
Jumping maniac, now he has fireballs at his command as well (not just the little wimpy ones!). His weapons are either hammers or boxing gloves or turtle shells. Ultimate weapon: the Ultra hammer, or the Lazy Shell. The game starts and ends with this guy.
This puff of cloud joins Mario early in the game. He initially claims to be a tadpole, but later revelations show that he is a prince of the cloud people. His weapons vary from punching gloves to clubs to 'Sonic Symbols' (cymbals =). His 'spells' include HP Rain (healing), Psychopath (see enemy's status) and Bolt (lightning). Not all that great a fighter, but good to have when no one else is around.
This strange character is new to the scene. He claims to live near the Star Road, involved in its protection (!). He almost competes with Mario as a fighter; all of his projectile weapons and all of his spells are quite adequate in any fight. The only thing he lacks is a healing spell. Geno is the name he chose because that was the doll's name whose shape he took (his real name is "unpronouncable" in Mario's language).
This guy's got nerve. Smithy kicks Bowser out of his own castle at the beginning of the game (just after Mario saves the Princess 'as usual'), so Bowser summons his Koopa troop and goes back to reclaim his own. He loses, and eventually Mario and party meet up with him attempting to capture the Princess again. Bowser has the audacity to offer Mario a place in his Koopa troop. Mario pretends to accept (Bowser joins the party), and the foursome go in search of the Princess. Weapons: kinklinks, claws, Mario dolls. He's slow, but has a lot of defense and some interesting spells.
Finally, she joins Mario in the fight! After being saved by Mario so many times, she joins in the quest to save her world. And watch out! Her frying pan is nothing to trifle with! She will also wield umbrellas and fans. Her spells are among the best in the game (Group Hug is a mass-healing spell), and she fares none the worse in weapons and armor for being female.
This is a computerized role-playing game. Fighting is 'traditional' (timed/turn-based); each character has 'experience' and gains levels; there is a fairly extensive/complex storyline.
All characters can reach level 30 (9999 experience points), but the player has some choice of the characteristics that each character has. For instance, when any character gains a level, the player is presented with three bonuses (attack/defense, HP Max, Magic attack/defense). Sometimes there is a 'special' bonus (extra) in one of the three categories (gain 3 attack instead of 1), so it makes sense to check all the categories before choosing.
The 'magic' system is fairly strict and limited. The basis is 'flower points' (FP), and the FP reserve is 'communal': all characters share a maximum of 99 FP. There is a max of six spells per character, and each character has unique spells. Often the player is forced to win fights by brute force (though this is not particularly difficult) through a lack of FP. Spells are 'learned' by simply gaining the proper levels.
The timing system is a little malnourished. If you attack or defend or cast a spell, and press the appropriate button (read: "A") at the right time, your action will have greater effect (attacks stronger, defends=takes less/no damage, etc.). But this is the end of it. I think it could extend to full Mario-type timing, where (many) enemies can be killed with well-placed jumps, and everyone knows about timed jumps with Mario. =)
Squaresoft treated Nintendo to a fairly good game. There are plenty of sub-quests and secret items, but there are also many 'normal' Mario-type things. The 'secret boxes' quest isn't quite complete (no item or other specialness for finding them all!), but almost all the other quests seem right and proper. There are ghosts, pipes, turtles, goombas, moles, the Yoshi clan, and many others, while there are also plenty of new characters to deal with (who's this Booster guy, anyway?). The game takes as long as a 'normal' RPG should (four good hours to a finish), but while it's interesting to find everything, it's not all that great to play again. Remember to have fun!