The princess has been kidnapped again! Bowser is up to his usual tricks, and Mario makes a bee-line to Koopa Castle to rescue the royalty as usual. Super Mario RPG is an isometric-view game, so Mario navigates the keep on a planar level-scape in four directions. Visible enemies pursue our protagonist and initiate battles if they touch Mario. On a turn-based battle screen, Mario clobbers helmeted Koopas with his white-gloved fist (or both fists if you already know the trick.) The experienced plumber quickly finds the throne room where Bowser has suspended Princess Toadstool near some chandeliers.
An expert jumper, Mario springs to the ornate chaneliers of the throne room to confront his nemesis and rescue Toadstool. In typical Squarsoft RPG fashion, there is a line of allied dialogue and a special trick to this battle, and Mario causes Bowser's chandelier to go crashing down. Not to be defeated so easily, Bowser disables Mario's chandelier in turn, and both platforms meet side-by-side on the way down. "That's it!" cries Bowser, tired of Mario's ceaseless meddling and determined to finish him once and for all, but our dauntless protagonist uses King Koopa's head as a spring-board, knocking him prone and propelling himself in a mighty, arm-flailing jump back up to the captive princess.
But all is not well. Just as Bowser seems foiled again, the castle around them begins to shake violently. Unseen up in the clouds, a giant sword descends through the sky, scattering seven stars in its wake and skewering the castle upon its landing. Thus begins the Squaresoft/Nintendo collaboration, Super Mario RPG "Legend of the Seven Stars."
The earliest scenes of SMRPG feature classic Mario music, but with a unique twist. This creative feat is accomplished by video game music composer Yoko Shimomura. For an analysis of how this was done, see episode #20 of the podcast "Into The Score". The sound and visual effects are very fitting as well, with Mario's punching actions making muted "doop" sounds and defeated enemies exploding with a dull "pop".
Even as early as this opening sequence, it's obvious that this game is full of subtle, yet uproarious humor; from Mario's pantomiming to Bowser's dialogue, I'm already chuckling. This short rescue sequence also serves to impart the feeling of 'Mario saves the day as usual' before starting the real story of Legend Of The Seven Stars.
Possessing pre-knowledge of the "timed hits" featured in this game, I was already ducking against enemy attacks and giving enemies the one-two-punch with Mario, although one hit alone would do them in just fine. The isometric walking controls are somewhat unwieldy, since to walk "straight" I have to push diagonally. It's easy to get used to, however.