Super Mario RPG was always one of my favorite games of all time, and it still is. Even after... that... happened. The fateful night when my view of the game would change forever.
One night, I got tired of playing the games I'd been working on lately. Minecraft, Team Fortress 2 and stuff. I wanted something older and I thought, "What better than my old fave, Mario RPG?" In fact I'd even been neglecting my webcomic of it lately. I decided to play a little bit and it would get me in the mood to work on a new comic.
I dug out my SNES and my box of games and hooked it up. Normally I'd just use an emulator but I wanted to feel the controller in my hands. The WASD keyboard configuration was just getting tired to me. Anyway, I got it hooked up and looked through my games: Super Mario All-Stars, Super Metroid, Mario World, Crono Trigger, Super Mario RPG Legend of the Seven Stars. Found it.
But when I picked it up something was really weird. The cartridge was hot. I mean it was really hot. It had never done this before and there was no real explanation for it since it hadn’t even been used in months. And even though I should have been more concerned with WHY it was hot, I wanted to play it. I put it in the system anyway and turned it on.
Right away I noticed something else that was really unusual. Right after the Nintendo/Square licensing bit, there is usually a cut-scene of Toadstool getting kidnapped by Bowser and Mario opening his door, seeing her missing and jumps out to save the day. This time however was totally different. Toadstool was sitting on the ground on the same flower patch, but she was crying. As if she was mourning.
Where the usual happy music plays, there was only a crying sound effect. A sound I'd never even heard in the game before. And Bowser never showed up. She just continued to cry. Soon, Mario came out of his house and sat beside her looking sad and put his arm around her. He wasn't crying though, trying to be tough. I didn't know what happened but they obviously lost someone very close. The camera panned up to the sky and faded to white.
The screen faded back in to Mario in his house doing various things. Washing his face at the sink and looking over at the second sink and sighing. Sitting at the breakfast table with a place set for a second person across from him. He stared at the empty seat for a beat before breaking into tears. At this point I knew who they lost. It was Luigi. Mario was getting ready to go out and went for his hammer on the wall and paused when he saw the one next to it under the name “Luigi.” He looked like he was going to well up again but instead just grabbed his hammer, pulled down his hat and left.
The cut-scene cut back to Toadstool in her bedroom in the castle. She sat down on the bed and sighed, brushing her hair and looking out the window. That's when it faded to the title screen. “Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Screams.”
This was wrong. I'd never seen any of these sprites in this game EVER. And because of making a comic I'd seen every one, even the hidden, unused sprites. Seven “Screams?” I wanted to shut the game off because something was seriously wrong. But I was intrigued. I wanted to know more. I wanted to know what Mario was going to do next. Why Luigi was dead. Who or what was responsible? I had to hit start.
The file selection screen was the same. Only the Mario sprite you use to select your file didn't have the same old dumpy smile he always has. He looked pissed. And there was only one file. All my files were gone and I got pretty far on all of them, two of which had completed games on them. The file that remained was called “PAYBACK.” I selected the file and Mario jumped off the screen like he usually does.
The game faded in with Mario outside his house. And he actually had dialog. He never spoke in this game. Not one line. But he was speaking and it wasn't pretty.
Mario: "How could this happen? My own brother, taken from me. I'm gonna do something. They have to pay!”
I could move my character now. The sign above Mario's door that once said, “Pipe House,” now said, “Mario and Luigi,” with Luigi's name crossed out.
I went inside the house out of curiosity. Everything was different because there was two of everything. There were two beds, each with a nightstand and a lamp. Mario's was the one with a green blanket and Luigi's was the red one. It was nice they made some contrast there. I knew that was the case because if I tried to turn off Luigi's lamp, it would say, “Luigi wouldn't want me sleeping in his bed. I've got business to resolve anyway.”
I left the house and went for the overworld map. There wasn't much to it though. There were huge chunks that look like they were blown apart by an explosion of some sort. Mushroom Way was luckily intact. I selected Mushroom Way and went in. Everything looked totally different. The dense forests and vines look like they had been burned away and there were charred enemies on the ground, some with mangled faces and some torn in half with actual blood which was never, ever seen in a Mario game.
I got through the first screen and the second screen wasn't much better. The hills were flattened, the once spinning flowers were now piles of ash, once again there were enemies everywhere on the ground. The full heal block was still there, even though I didn't need it now.
I hadn't thought until now to check Mario's stats. I opened the menu and went to status and selected Mario. Mario had 20/20 health, and already had is hammer which I didn't think was weird considering everything else. His other stats were normal too except one. His attack, defense, Mgc. Attack, Mgc. Defense were all normal but there was a new one: Rage, and it was in red. That made me look at Mario's sprite again and he still looked pissed.
I closed out of that and continued to play. At the end of mushroom way there was a boss. But he wasn't alive. It was a skeleton of the Hammer Bro that was once blocking the way, burnt flesh fused to the bones. I inspected the skeleton and Mario stepped close, put his hand on in for a second, stepped back and smashed it to pieces with his hammer. I was so shocked at what I was seeing, but it was making for such an interesting story, I couldn't stop playing. I continued on to Mushroom Kingdom but it didn't get much better from there.
Mushroom Kingdom was in ruins. Walls to houses were crumbled, toads were wandering around, looking sick, some injured. The place looked like Hiroshima after the A-bomb. There was no music. Faint wailing could be heard in the background. I tried to talk to one of the people since it was the first NPC interaction so far. He didn't say anything but “. . .” I tried another.
She said, "Why did you come back? Is there another attack coming?” At this point I was crying. I couldn't take what I was seeing. I had to stop and come back later. I went down to the Inn to see if the save block was there. It wasn't. Come to think of it, none of the save blocks were there. The one by Mario's Pad, if I recalled correctly there was supposed to be one on Mushroom Way. I think it wants me to play until the end. I paused it and took a break anyway. During that time I thought about what the game was doing. What was this new story going to tell me? What happened to Mushroom Kingdom? Did Luigi die in one of those “attacks?” I guess I'd have to find out when I played again.
I got back to the game again. I usually turned my TV off when I had a game paused so my dad wouldn’t get after me about leaving stuff unattended. I turned the TV on and there was a message on my screen. “You left the game. I wouldn't recommend doing that again.” I was freaking out after that. I had to catch my breath but I bypassed the message and unpaused the game and started again.
The first place I wanted to go was the item shop to see what kind of items this new game had. But I got down there and the front door to the shop was boarded shut. There was a note on the door. I read the note and it said, “Item shop closed indefinitely by owner. Sorry for any inconvenience. I'm just too scared to keep going any longer.”
I half expected that. The mean old shop owner was a coward anyway. I see some peoples' personalities haven't been altered at all. The only real change I've seen so far is Mario. Not really a lot I can do now but go up to the castle and see the princess. When I got there, I was glad to see the castle didn't get too much damage like the rest of the town. The two guards that usually stand outside the door were gone. I guess with the assumed thinned numbers they were needed elsewhere. Once inside I was spotted by a toad immediately and in fact scolded for not being there sooner.
Toad: “Mario! Where have you been? The princess has been worried sick about you! I mean I would have gone to retrieve you myself but mushroom way lately's been so... so how are you holding up?”
Mario: “Better than you can probably imagine. Where's Toadstool?”
Toad: “She's in her room. But I recommend you see the chancellor first. I'll call her down for you.”
I moved forward to the main hall where the chancellor usually is. The room was a wreck. The red carpet was all ripped up, curtains torn off broken windows, holes in the floor, even dead toads still laying in places. Everybody still alive leaped up to their positions when I walked inside.
Chancellor: “Oh my spores! Mario! I'm so glad you are here! Mario, there's no other way to say it, it's bleak. There's not a lot we can do right now. Or probably ever. Mushroom kingdom as we know it may be done for."
Mario: “I don't care... there I said it. I just don't care anymore. I'd set out again to defeat a powerful evil. But not for any of you. My brother is dead. It's all their fault. I want to find the person who did this and peel the flesh off his bones. Then I'll rip out his eyes and show himself to them so he can see how ugly he is inside. Then I'll rip out his heart assuming he has one. And this hammer is going to get me there.”
Chancellor: “Now Mario, that's a bit dark for you... what's come over you?”
He inched closer to Mario and Mario took a step back and another step back before he... I couldn't believe it. He swung his hammer at him. He hit with all his might. Even with the sprites so small and pixelated I could tell what happened. He broke the chancellor's neck. A small amount of blood came from his mouth which took the most damage. The impact happened in slow motion almost. The other toads just watched in horror as their used-to-be hero killed their leader in cold blood.
Toad: “If we don't have Mario anymore, what hope do we have?”
Everyone started crying and Mario turned and left the room. This game was really depressing me. In the next room, Toadstool was waiting for him.
Toadstool: “I saw what you did. Why?”
Mario: “I don't know. You know this isn't me. But... I think after that little display... I'm a lost cause. I should leave and never come back. I'm sorry.”
Toadstool: “WAIT! Mario, this city is a lost cause. I think you did it a favor and put it out of its misery a little faster. Please... take me with you.”
Mario: “No. I can't loose two people close to me.”
Toadstool tried to respond one last time before there was a rumbling. Like when the sword, Exor, came down and shook Bowser's Keep. But it came from the next room. Mario and Toadstool went into the main hall and there above the chancellor's body was the grossest sci-fi alien I've ever seen. It was black and has long spider legs and a giant head. It was one of the most well done sprite I'd ever seen in this game. As in really high-def compared to the rest.
Toad: “It came out of the chancellor! Help us!”
It immediately started a battle. The first one I'd had since I started. It was the regular boss music. I was happy to finally hear some familiar music for once. I got my A/B/X/Y options and was ready to attack. I tried X to get a jump attack since some enemies have different weaknesses. I figured I'd test it out. I jumped, never did get rusty on the timing cause I got it perfectly. Except... it did... 0 damage. Now it was his turn to attack. With what just happened, I knew what to expect. It jumped on Mario and mauled him to death, dealing out 20 damage... my max HP. I was killed in one hit and the music slowed down to a halt as it does when all your party members die. The battle was over in one turn. I thought it must be a story event and it turned out it was.
I got out of the battle and the alien was standing over Mario, picked him up with its mouth and swallowed him whole. Toadstool and everyone else could only watch in horror as the screen faded to black. The look of udder shock on my face was unimaginable. Why would someone do this? Who could think up such a horrible ending for a Mario game?
It faded back in with Toadstool and all the remaining toads in Nimbus land, which I'm assuming was the only safe place left, holding a memorial service for Mario. The credits began to roll with no sound at all. Just silence with people in the background crying their eyes out and a wreathe with Mario's picture on it. I kept it on for the whole credits just in case something happened at the end. And I was right to keep that in mind. The thing I was expecting the least. It was Luigi. He poked his head in the shot with an evil grin on his face, he giggled loud in my speakers and the screen went black. I kept it on longer to see if anything else would happen and nothing did.
I turned off the game and turned it back on. But it was gone. The game was back to normal. My save files were back. Mario was happy again. I started a file. I was continuing in Smithy's Factory. I looked at everyone's stats. There was no rage. It was as if none of this madness ever happened! In a way I was glad. In a way I wanted to see how that story would have gone if... well it's too late to think about it now because it hasn't done it since. I don't know what my system was trying to tell me but it sure was scary to think about.
Thoughts of Revision
The author (me) is giving careful consideration to a revised version of this story so it's longer and less disappointing at the end. The day that happens is unclear. Stay tuned.