Luckily for new players, Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars is actually very simple for an RPG and more action based than some of the other games in the genre.
At all times you'll be controlling Mario, who can walk, run, and jump around maps. Most objects, besides NPCs (who you can speak with), and enemies can be affected by jumping, which is integral to getting around. Along the journey you'll come across springs, switches, hovering blocks, and save blocks. All of which can be affected or triggered by jumping on or into them.
As you make your way around the world, you're going to get hurt at some point, no matter what. There are two methods of healing:
- Use one of your character's skills. You won't have this ability until you recruit your second character.
- Sleep. Usually this is at an Inn, but other places like Mario's home provide a free solution (in some cases, like when you're trying to save money) it's even best to run all the way to where you can heal for free).
Sometimes you'll see objects laying on the ground, like a small sack. These can contain anything from coins to restorative items like Mushrooms, or even weapons.
Completely unlike traditional RPGs (which tend to be based off of D&D), Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars only has three main stats: offense, defense, and special offense/defense (protection from and enhancement of skills). Additionally it has HP and Flowers.
Flowers act like the mana of traditional RPGs; they allow you to use the special skills of your characters. To regain flowers, either find them while exploring, or rest at an Inn.
When you level-up, you will be given the option of boosting your attack/defense, HP, or magic. One of the three will give you a larger boost than normal. How do you know which one to pick?
The answer is fairly simple. Divide your new level by 3 and take the remainder. If the remainder is zero, you'll get the biggest boost by choosing "attack". If the remainder is one, you'll get the biggest boost by choosing "HP". If it is two, you'll get the biggest boost by choosing "magic". This establishes this pattern:
- Level 2: remainder 2 : Magic
- Level 3: remainder 0 : Attack
- Level 4: remainder 1 : HP
- Level 5: remainder 2 : Magic
- Level 6: remainder 0 : Attack
- Level 7: remainder 1 : HP
- Level 8: remainder 2 : Magic
And so on: Magic, Attack, HP, cycling over and over. You can also remember which one you chose last for that particular character (if it was the correct one) and simply choose the one over to its right. For instance, if you chose HP last, then you should choose "magic". If you don't remember what you chose last, well, now you know how to figure out what to choose.
If you're not sure and you can't do the math in your head, you can simply look at each attribute. Go to "attack", press A to see how much it gets boosted. If it doesn't look like a big boost (only one point), press to cancel and choose "HP", and so on.
Of course, you don't have to follow this pattern, but it will likely lead to the best results.
The combat in Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars distinguishes it from a lot of other games with its timing feature.
You'll see all three of your selected party members' HP. The character that can act next will have four buttons surrounded by them, indicating the different menus. After selecting something, you'll often have a choice. For example if you attack, a cursor will appear allowing you to choose your target. The same goes with items and skills; however some of these affect all enemies or all allies (you cannot choose who will be affected).
Early in the game you'll get the chance to take the tutorial concerning timing, so do it if you don't fully understand the combat system.
In combat, almost everything has a secret trigger moment that will enhance the ability, skill, attack, or item. This secret moment is triggered by pressing at just the right time. When you take the tutorial, you'll get to practice this timing with both Mario's attack and defense. Timing is extremely important to enhancing the strengths of the characters; for example an enemy that only deals one damage can be blocked so that it deals zero damage, but only if you use the timing feature while defending.
Skills are the real meat of combat. These will keep your party healed, and your damage to a maximum, so always use these when you can, especially when training near a town where you can rest up.
Because this game takes a lot longer to beat than, say, a traditional platform game, saving is vital to both casual play and guaranteeing success throughout the game (giving you unlimited tries).
To save the game, you need to find a Save Block and then jump into it.