Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars is Exactly What It Says on the Tin; It was the first Mario game to be a Role-Playing Game. It was developed by Nintendo and Square and released in 1996 for the SNES — this gives it the honor of being the last Mario game made for that system.During a routine princess-saving by Mario, a giant sword with a face on the hilt crashes into Bowser's Keep, sending Mario, the Princess, and Bowser flying. Soon afterwards, a messenger from the stars named Geno (or rather, "Heart-1/8 Note-Exclamation Point-Question Mark") informs Mario that the sword also destroyed the Star Road, which grants the wishes of Mario's world. Unless the seven Star Pieces can be obtained and reassembled, no wishes will ever come true again. With the help of his companions (including, for the first time, Bowser), Mario sets off to smash the Smithy Gang and save the world.The game was one of the first games to engage in a full-on frenzy of Lampshade Hanging regarding the tropes of the Mario series and RPGs. Nintendo would take this theme and run with it, producing a series of pseudo-sequels (Paper Mario, Mario & Luigi) without Square's involvement. (Nintendo and Square would finally work again, starting with Mario Hoops 3-on-3 on the Nintendo DS).Due to licensing problems, very few of the characters that made their debut in this game have recurred in later Mario games, including fan-favorite Geno. But worry not! The game has appeared on the Wii's Virtual Console for all regions!
100% Completion: Hidden chests, the Frog Coin store in Seaside Townnote Five one of a kind items for sale, their combined price is approximately 150 Frog Coins, Grate Guy's Casino, Yo'ster Isle, getting everyone to Level 30...
Absurdly Low Level Cap: Even when your party is maxed out at Level 30, the final battle with Smithy's two forms is pretty challenging.
Actually Four Mooks: Mostly seen with random encounters; scripted fights and boss battles usually have the same number of enemies both on the map and in battle, though not always. The lone-on-the-overworld Hammer Bro faced as the Warmup Boss somehow becomes two in battle.
Addressing the Player: You're required to have a profile name. It ends up being the password to the balcony in Booster's Tower. However, Mario doesn't know this, which causes problems for a player doing a second playthrough.
After Combat Recovery: Dead characters are revived with 1 HP and even gain experience at the end of battle.
And Now You Must Marry Me: Subverted with Booster. His plot to marry Toadstool seems quite sinister at first... until over time you realize he has absolutely no clue what marriage is, let alone any interest in being with Toadstool after the "wedding". He just thought the idea of a wedding party sounded fun. After a chaotic ceremony, swallowing a gigantic cake monster, and getting a kiss from Bowser and/or Mario, he promptly leaves, content with his "wedding" party, and never bothers the heroes again.
Anthropomorphic Food: Bundt, the surprisingly difficult cake boss. There's also a giant carrot enemy in Booster Pass.
Die and you respawn with your levels retained, and there's always a chance to save and heal before major bosses. In fact, a lot of rooms before the bosses have a chest, hidden or visible, with a Mushroom inside to fully restore your stats. Or, in the case of Yaridovich and Valentina, you fight them when you go to a certain location and thus can go to another town and rest up at an Inn (one of which is always FREE to use) or Mario's Pad.
A more specific occurrence is in a platform minigame in Bowser's Castle. You're required to leap over a series of moving platforms over a pit of lava, but if you fail ten times you get kicked out of the room, second of three in a gauntlet of minigames. Fortunately, the platforms stop moving when you're jumping so you don't need to time your leaps, if you fall off you respawn on the platform you were on before you jumped, and if you attempt to walk off normally Mario will stumble back to safety. If you die in once of the two battle corridors, you're simply booted back out to the selection room, same as if you failed the action or puzzle sections, rather than getting a game over.
Apocalyptic Log: Johnathan Jones' diary tells of his ship getting entangled by King Calamari.
Art Shift: Culex is a classic, Amano-styleFinal Fantasy enemy. In keeping with that spirit, his sprite isn't animated (aside from bobbing up and down).
Ash Face: A massive bomb in the mines goes off, but thankfully only inflicts this.
Awesome, but Impractical: Toadstool's Psych Bomb attack (the last attack she earns). Hits everyone and definitely makes her a bit of a Badass but it burns a lot of FP that could be better used for her healing abilities.
Bag of Sharing: Exists in the traditional sense, but also strangely for an RPG, Flower Points (the game's equivalent of Mana) are also shared between everyone.
Baleful Polymorph: Your party members can be turned into Mushrooms and scarecrows. In addition, the Sheep Attack can turn enemies into harmless lambs who float away as long as they're either immune to it or they don't successfully resist it.
Bonus Boss: Monstro Town has two: Jinx, the diminutive martial-arts master who has to be fought three times, and Culex, the Dark Knight of Vanda.
Boss Corridor: The Factory's final stretch. A number of helmeted bureaucrats stand between you and Smithy.
Boring, but Practical: One of the most hard-hitting attacks you have to watch out for during the battle with Culex and his crystals is Culex's standard physical no-flashy-effects attack. There's virtually no telegraphing for it (as he doesn't even move from his position when it happens), so it's very difficult to defend with the Action Command. Luckily, he doesn't use it as often as his magic attacks.
The game has the Factory stage. Just getting in requires that you defeat an evil alarm clock, followed by Domino & Cloaker, a DualSequential Boss (whose second stage is another Dual Boss). Inside the Factory proper, Mario has to fight through four levels of factory management, the first three of which have bodyguards while the Factory Chief has his own autonomous secret weapon.
Also, the end of the previous stage, Bowser's Keep, was made of three other bosses: a Magikoopa, Boomer, and Exor. And there was a chance the fight a Boss in Mook Clothing, Chester, right before the Magikoopa. You're not given a chance to heal in-between Boomer and Exor either.
Mokura/Mokuka, who appears on the overworld like a normal enemy, but has powerful magic attacks that target the entire party, and far more HP than any other enemy in the area. He does try to avoid you, and the game treats him more like a boss, though, so he could also be considered a lesser Bonus Boss.
The chest monsters are also this. Box Boy, for example, uses Carni-Kiss and powerful magic spells, and summons Fautso, which can put your entire party to sleep.
Boss Remix: The "Armed Boss" theme, played when fighting against Smithy's goons, is a remix of the background music played in a town troubled by one of them.
Bouncing Battler: Mario, of course, but the trope also gets lampshaded here. After Mario beats Jinx, a professional martial artist, Jinx and his student decide to incorporate Mario's jumping techniques into their own fighting styles and spend the rest of the game bouncing up and down on one spot trying to emulate Mario.
Broken Bridge: Exor the giant sword literally breaks the bridge to Bowser's Castle so that Mario can't just walk in and immediately take on Smithy. He finally finds a way back in once Lakitu's bus service is resumed.
There is a pretty good bit where you are given the option of telling Prince Mallow that you willnot help him, but doing so causes him to keep crying until you agree. Since his crying causes it to rain, this is a bit of a big deal.
Also happens once you rescue Toadstool and try to leave Marrymore in the way that doesn't go back to the castle. Your party members will come out one by one convincing you to go the other way. What makes this odd is that both exits are functionally identical, since they just take you to the world map anyway.
Surprisingly, the game's level cap is one of the lowest eastern examples at 30.
The amount of coins the party can hold is also very limited at 999; some items can sell for more than half of that.
The item cap is also much lower than most games of the era, managing inventory space becomes on of the challenges. You even get a little visual reward if you sacrifice some of your inventory space in order to hold some fireworks.
Cartoon Juggling: Knife Guy's idle animation is endless juggling, cascade-style.
Credits Medley: The ending sequence depicts the entire cast participating in a parade with floats. The medley rolls through several variations on the Mushroom Kingdom; We're also treated to Smithy's goons and their leitmotif one more time.
Dangerously Genre Savvy: The entire Smithy Gang is pointedly not stupid, they come to realize Mario's patterns and use them to their advantage, and also begin seeking the Star Pieces when they find out how powerful they are. Starts right at the beginning of the game when Exor, annoyed at Mario coming to Bowser's Keep after they just invaded, collapses the bridge, keeping Mario out for most of the game because not even he can jump that far. This culminates with the battle for the sixth Power Star, when after most of the Smithy Gang has been beaten despite their various tricks and schemes, the Axem Rangers decide the best way to solve the Mario problem is to grab the star and run like hell.
Deadpan Snarker: One of the Toads in Mushroom Kingdom who delivers this line regarding why he didn't stop the thief Croco.
When using the Hurly Gloves, Bowser tosses Mario at his foes. If Mario is under a status effect, Bowser tosses a doll instead.
When you confront Mack, two Shysters try to jump on Mario's head and he deflects them, knocking them off the platform and so only the remaining four aid Mack in the fight, those two survive to flee and tell Smithy what happened. If you approach the platform from the sides and thus walk past the Shysters, when Mack does his Dynamic Entry the two are knocked backwards off the platform to keep the story straight.
In one town, a toad kid can be seen running in circles. Jumping to the top of his head, then waiting a bit would cause a brief cutscene of Mario jumping off the kid's head dazed.
Smithy's second form's default head (before he reforges it into a tank, a mage, a chest or a literal Stone Wall) has an attack animation despite said default head not having any attacks. While this would normally be considered Dummied Out content, if you'd notice that said second form's defeat animation involves involves the head playing its attack animation over and over again, you'd realized that the developers accounted for the very unlikely event of you defeating Smithy before he even has a chance to reforge his head into a different form.
Goomba Stomping. In order to get prizes, you have to get a score of at least 20 points at first, and then beat your previous record by at least 2 points, so it makes the most sense to get 20, 22, 24, ...
Also the Mine Cart mini-game. You get a prize each time you get a new record time. Since you are guaranteed to eventually reach the end of the course no matter how badly you screw up, the best strategy for the first run is go as slow as possible: hold down the brakes the entire time, leap off the track at every turn, and deliberately miss every jump.
Duel Boss: A couple. The battle with Johnny with eventually escalate to the boss insisting on going one-on-one with Mario (unless you exploit an oversight in leaving at least one if his flunkies alive, in which Johnny will never speak up about this). Then there's the last throwdown with Valentina, where Dodo will inevitably whisk whichever ally you put in the middle away for a little session of single combat until you tire him out.
Walking behind one of the curtains in Booster's Tower will transform you into 8-bit Mario.
In Mushroom Kingdom, there's a young Toad running around quickly in a square path. Jump onto her head and stay on for a few laps, and Mario will eventually fall off and collapse out of dizziness.
If you spam "no" while trying to overwrite an different save file, Mario's expression will change from the victory pose (normal) to anger (spam it a few times) or depression (spam it a lot) once you finally save.
The above-mentioned cameos of Link and Samus, who only appear for a short time after certain events are completed.
There's a character hidden behind the left-most house in the Mushroom Kingdom whose dialogue changes with pretty much every major plot event. Hacking and emulation revealed that this character doesn't have a sprite.
An Easter Egg exclusive to the Japanese version of the game plays a sort cutscene of Toad mocking the concept of Classic Cheat Codes if you pressed a certain button combination.
Easy Levels, Hard Bosses: The normal enemies you encounter aren't too tough and will likely die with one strike from a Timed Hit. Bosses however make frequent use of group-hitting attacks that do heavy damage, and a lot of them have status-inducing attacks which may also be group-hitting, and/or employ Mooks to assist them. This in in addition to unique gimmicks to catch you off guard — Bowyer locks button commands, Bundt has to have candles blown out, Johnny Jones fights one-on-one, etc.
Enemy Mine: The first time, though not the last (discounting spinoffs), that Mario and Bowser work together.
Escape Battle Technique: The game has the standard Run Away command, but it can sometimes fail, causing your turn to be wasted. Halfway through the game, you could get the See Ya! item that lets you run away from fights successfully.
Evolving Attack: Unlike the other party members, who have a variety of special moves, Mario only gets two types: jumping on enemies and shooting fireballs at them. Later variations do more damage or target multiple enemies, but cost more FP. Also see Magikarp Power for a more subtle version of this.
Face Fault: Hilariously happens a great many times, with heroes, villains, and NPCs.
Final Boss, New Dimension: After fighting Exor, he swallows you up into a level called Gate. This strange void eventually merges into the Factory, the location of the 7th Star Piece.
Fixed Damage Attack: The Star Egg does 100 damage to all enemies and can be used an unlimited number of times, while the Rock Candy does 200 but can only be used once. The Attack Up buff increases the damage to 150 and 300, respectively.
Flunky Boss: Several. Jonathan Jones subverts this a bit in that if you kill his flunkies before beating Johnny himself, he'll immediately challenge Mario to a little one-on-one for the star.
Flying Car: The Royal Bus that's made out of clouds and driven by a Lakitu. It's under control of King Nimbus, who lives in a cloud city. Mario and the gang eventually used it to go to Bowser's Castle despite the broken bridge.
In the battle at Nimbus Land, every time you hit Queen Valentina, her breasts shake. Seriously, this happens in a game approved for everyone, kids and adults alike. Her hair is also appears to be dead parrot. It reacts to her being hit however.
Johnny's currant juice? Well, it may or may not be a substitute for wine, which currant berries can be used to make.
Poke around Toadstool's room and you'll get a message saying Mario "found Toadstool's ????". Her grandmother will immediately run over and tell you to stop rummaging through her things, before giving you a mushroom to go away. Try it again when Toadstool's actually in the party and she won't let you anywhere near it. It's never revealed what the item in question actually is, but given the character reactions, most adult players can come up with a few ideas...
The Giant Squid, King Calimari, is a Blooper on steroids.
Giant Space Flea from Nowhere: Punchinello is a Lampshade Hanging of this, you hear nothing about him prior to the fight, and Mallow states outright that he's never heard of him. And he wants to be famous... In fact, the only reason you fight him is because he believes that defeating you will make him famous.
One shop in Tadpole Pond only takes Frog Coins, which are a bit trickier to get a hold of.
There's also a shop in Moleville that only sells three of the bomb-type items (Fright, Fire, and Ice), and they don't take money at all. Instead you trade them items, and receive points based on how rare the item is.
Go Karting with Bowser: Played with. Bowser's lost his castle to a certain giant sword, and is thus willing to "let Mario join the Koopa Troop" until this is rectified.
Gray Rain of Depression: Sort of. It starts raining when Mallow cries, and it seems as if the rain is his tears. Eventually turns into a Brick Joke when Mallow reunites with his parents. Mario had the foresight to at least take out his umbrella before it rained.
Finding Grate Guy's Casino, and for that matter getting in. There's a guy in the Marrymore Inn that will give you hints, but not very helpful ones. First, you have to beat Knife Guy 10 times to win the Bright Card. He gives you useless items, so casual players would just ignore him after a couple tries. Then, go to Bean Valley and enter the top pipe in the group of five. If you stand in a certain spot and jump three times, a platform will appear that when jumped on takes you to a secret area that holds Grate Guy's Casino.
If you talk to Grate Guy several times he'll finally ask if you want to play a game of "Look Away". If you guess right a total of 100 times, he'll reward you with the Star Egg, an item that deals 100HP of damage to all enemies on the field and can be used again and again.
Also the Mystery Egg's use. You equip Toadstool with the B'tub Ring, a random item bought from a Mole kid, and use the Mystery Egg on her turn ten times... On the tenth time, it will turn into the Lamb's Lure. Use it another 48 times, and it will turn into the Sheep Attack, an item that turns most non-boss enemies into sheep and ends the battle.
In fact, most of the weapons and accessories have very vague in-game descriptions, often not mentioning what their most important effects are! Indeed, the game is notorious for the sheer crazy steps needed to complete secrets, or even activate the ability to even start the steps for those secrets. Many of the secrets, like the above Star Egg, are piled onto other secrets where you wouldn't expect to look for them. Super Mario RPG definitely gives the old Pokemon PokeGod rumors a run for their money.
For those of us who have played a Low Level Run of SMRPG, there is a way to convert Mario's standard 3FP Jump attack into an almost necessary Disc One Nuke. The Jump attack's power rises 2 points every time it's used (up to 125 times), making it into the most powerful move in the game (100 Super Jumps might be more powerful, but you'll never learn the attack if you do the Level 3 challenge), and will carry you right until you get Bowser, which is coincidentally when Mario starts turning into Glass Joe. Powering up Jump and collecting experience turns it into a Game Breaker of epic proportions.
The timing on "timed hits" isn't always obvious, and it's usually pretty finicky.
The hidden chest in the Mushroom Castle. You can only get it when you first enter, before you'll even know it's there. To get it, you have to stand on Toad's head and jump onto the doorway at the end of the hall, landing not on an invisible platform, but on part of the background that shouldn't even be possible to step on. Even if you blockade Toad into that position later in the game, it won't work, for whatever reason you can't jump high enough save for that one time.
The 3D maze puzzle in the Sunken Ship. The problem is that 90% of the maze is obscured. Sure you could feel your way around it, but you'll more than likely go in circles.
Hard Levels, Easy Bosses: Anyone who played other Squaresoft/Square-Enix games, or who is playing the story a second time would find the bosses in this game quite easy in comparison. What is not as easy, however, is trying to navigate the stages/courses/routes/dungeons. Unlike in most other Square-Enix RPGs, you actually need to run/jump as with most other Mario games, and the axiometric pseudo-3D view used in this game combined with awkward controls makes this easier said than done.
He Knows About Timed Hits: The Trope Namer, although it's not nearly as bad as other games that came after it. Still, the game doesn't bother to try and segregate the game's mechanics instructions from its story.
Heroic Mime: Mario. He even transforms into Princess Toadstool and Bowser during his pantomimed explanation of what happened.
Hold Your Hippogriffs: When first entering the Moleville Mines, one of the moles there reacts at Mario's presence with the line, "Well, I'll be a Goomba's uncle!!"
Infinity+1 Sword: Lazy Shell, Frying Pan. The Super Jacket armor and Attack Scarf accessory are also Game Breakers, but they're at least ridiculously hard to earn.
Infinity–1 Sword: The Ultra Hammer, found in the last dungeon. The Lazy Shell, the strongest weapon in the game, can be found before you even get the sixth star.
Inn Security: Entering Rose Town's inn gets Mario knocked out, and Geno awakens that night. At first, the Seaside Town inn is free... but the "innkeeper" will take the chance to watch you sleep. Monstro Town's "inn" (actually just a room with a bed) is also free, but happens to be haunted by the 3 Musty Fears.
King Mook: King Calamari. Megaslimax is well, a giant Smilax, an enemy never encountered until you fight it, but both the normal and mega varieties are species of Piranha Plant.
Kleptomaniac Hero Found Underwear: Mario can case Princess Toadstool's room to find her "???" - and a retainer will immediately run up and swap it for an item. If you wait until she's a party member, you'll be treated to a freak-out on her part.
This is not a game that takes itself seriously. The general reaction to Bowser's having kidnapped the princess is, "What, again?"
After beating the Axem Rangers, they use their ship weapon against you. In the Japanese version, perfectly scanning it with Mallow will net you a remark about how it was not used right from the start against you.
The "Smithy Gang" has one, which is remixed three different ways: as background music playing in any town they've invaded; as the boss theme for Smithy's lieutenants; and as the first boss theme for Smithy himself.
Smithy's final boss theme is very different from the other boss music, but the main leitmotif actually does play on bass for a few seconds. Listen to it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jI1BudS4Ego at 1:00 to hear the riff.
An invisible chest in the Mushroom Kingdom castle can only be reached at the very beginning of the game when Toad is running down the hall, by jumping onto his head and then leaping up to a platform where the chest is. Besides the fact the platform is part of the doorframe and nothing would indicate you can step there, you don't even find out the chest was there until late in the game when you acquire an accessory that alerts you to hidden chests, and for some reason you get a higher boost off of Toad's head than anyone else, so only he can get you up there that one time. Guide Dang It to the extreme.
Samus's cameo is only available during a certain period in the game. However, as soon as Link appears in a similar manner, he stays there the whole game.
Some of the items you can buy from Seaside Town can only be acquired before you liberate it. On the bright side, most of them aren't that good so you won't miss much.
Beating Croco's Crooks in the Coal Mines will earn you extra Flower Points. But only if you choose to fight Croco last instead of immediately.
During the second battle with Belome, if Princess Toadstool is active in your party and Belome eats her, he'll say, "Mmm, tastes peachy..." Super Mario RPG was the last Mario game to use her Dub Name Change; Super Mario 64, released that same year in North America, phased it out.
There's the item called the Red Yoshi Essence, or the Lazy Shells being Heavy Troopa's shells, and the Safety Badge protecting from more than just mute and poison.
Belome sounding more sleepy and his name being a pun with "Bero", tongue, and several puns with names of the opponent you fight.
Another punny name lost is Chomp Chomp's original name is Wan Tsu (read: Japanese pronunciation of "one two"). The joke is that Chomps were originally called "Wan Wan", which is an onomatopoeia for a dog's bark.
The Magikoopa you fight in Bowser's Keep before reaching Boomer and Exor isn't a mere random Koopa Trooper - it's Kamek. Like with Mario Party 9, his name was goofed up in the localizing.
Bowser's ultimate unique armor - the... Heal Shell? That doesn't suit him at all, unlike the other four characters. If it was the Fear Shell, that would be much more fitting...note It doesn't help the Japanese name is Hiiru Shell(ヒールシェル), which doesn't even sound like "Fear"
The Shy Guys that hold the chandeliers together on the second visit to Bowser's Keep are named Chandeli-ho. This is in fact a portmanteau of "chandelier" and "Heiho", the Japanese name for Shy Guys.note Interestingly, unused data suggesting that one was originally intended to be a target in battle like Kinklink gives it the more Western name of "Hangin' Shy".
Geno written in Japanese is ジーノ (jiino). jiino is the Japanese pronunciation of "xeno" (there is traditionally no "zi" sound in Japanese). The word prefix xeno- is Greek for “alien,” “strange,” “guest.” Guess where Geno comes from in Super Mario RPG when he's introduced and where he returns to at the end of the game?
Smithy himself is a weapon maker, i.e., a blacksmith.
Metal Slime: The Shy Ranger will randomly appear with Pirahna Plants, and has an insanely high speed, high defense, and immunity to all four elements. Beating it rewards the player with a buttload of experience.
Minecart Madness: After working your way through the Coal Mines and beating the chapter boss, you must escape via a mine cart over three courses. This later becomes a mini game if you talk to the mole outside.
Mini-Game: There are all the gambling games, a scavenger hunt you are asked to do for some ghosts, someone who challenges you to find all the hidden treasure boxes, Parakoopas who challenge you to climb a wall within a time limit, a challenge to do as many super jumps in a row as you can, races on Yo'Ster's island, a pond where you make different music by jumping on tadpoles, and a game where you collect coins going down a waterfall in order to be rewarded with frog coins.
Minigame Zone: Grate Guy's Casino. It's actually hard to find and access, not very large, and not very profitable. Booster's Tower is also supposedly a very fun yet eccentric amusement park, with clowns, an indoor railroad, and dolls.
Monster Town: Monstro Town is populated with Goombas, Koopa Troopas, Twomps, and other classic Mario enemies along side some other monsters unique to Mario RPG like the Starfish. They do not fight you or anything, they all seem pretty peaceful.
Motor Mouth: The Gardener in Rose Town, who often rambles stories in excitement if you give him the items required to fetch the Lazy Shell.
Musical Spoiler: As if the patently creepy behavior of the townspeople wasn't enough of a clue, the presence of the "town in trouble" theme is a dead giveaway that something is seriously not right in Seaside Town.
Getting the Super Suit requires you to do 100 Super Jumps in a row. That's 100 perfectly timed button presses in a row, without pausing, the timing getting harder and harder to nail every time. And you thought getting 30 was hard?
Getting 100 coins on the Midas River, as well as the Mushroom Derby. This is the only non-TAS video with a run of the former, and it still expresses frustration over the latter.
Noble Shoplifter: When the Mushroom Kingdom is under attack, the item shopkeeper can be found cowering in the back of the shop, with a sign on the counter saying to take what you want and leave the money. Reading it allows you to buy items as if the shopkeeper was there, with no option to leave without paying.
Obstacle Ski Course: Booster Hill is a steep slope leading to Marrymore. Mario tries to catch Booster on this hill before he can marry Toadstool. Unfortunately, there a dozens of rolling barrels in his path.
Off Model: Some of the returning characters and enemies look different than their official appearance, even before this game. Example: The Goombas look flat in this game.
One-Hit Kill: The "Magnum" attack. Also, Pulsar and Corkpedite Body's self-destruct "Migraine", Jinx's "Silver Bullet" attack, Glum Reaper's "Scythe", and Cluster's less common "Psyche".
Panty Shot: Inverted hilariously with an extremely rare male version: as the party is falling down inside of Exor's to the last area, the camera is pointed downward with everyone falling head-first — except for Toadstool, who is feet-first.
After a conversation is supposedly concluded, all the characters prepare to step back inside Mario. The speaker then remembers something and when he says, "Oh and one more thing..." all the characters bump heads. A moment later, when the speaker has finished for real, they start to move into Mario again, and Mario makes them stop until he's ready.
The other party members are also apparently literally inside Mario (or merged with him, or something), rather than metaphorically. Check out the reaction of the Mushroom Chancellor and his court when Bowser steps out. You'd think they'd have noticed the giant turtle-dragon if he'd actually been present prior to this.
Similarly, at one point after Bowser joins the party a Mushroom Kingdom citizen will start to tell you what an awful, evil person he thinks Bowser is. Bowser growls from (apparently) inside Mario, causing the guy to ask wildly what that horrible noise was.
Pintsized Powerhouse: Jinx is a martial arts master you challenge three times in Monstro Town. He is wicked fast and specializes in one-hit-KO moves. He is also less than half Mario's size.
Playing Card Motifs: Mario's special attacks involve a spade aura, Mallow's a club, Bowser's a diamond, and Toadstool's a heart. Geno ends up with a star aura.
Power Fist: Several of the weapons. Mario gets ones that give him a longer punch combo, then ones that make his fists huge, Mallow gets something similar, Princess Toadstool gets a larger hand to slap enemies, and Bowser's best weapon is called 'Drill Claw'.
The fight against Bowser in the game's start. You can attack him but his HP is so high that Mario will be down before he can even knock Bowser out. The princess tells Mario to attack the chain instead, since breaking it will cause the chandler Bowser is standing on to fall. Actually, Bowser has relatively little HP but just doesn't die after it's depleted, and subsequently takes no damage anymore, forcing you to hit the chain.
The battle against Birdo. Although you can beat Birdo by sheer force, it will take a lot of level grinding to bypass her defense and her egg attacks can seriously damage your party. What isn't told about the fight is if you have your characters use Defend, the eggs will bounce back to Birdo's nest and become targets. Destroying the eggs afterwards creates an explosion that severly hurts Birdo.
Bundt has no Hit Points. Use Psychopath on it and its HP reading will come up zero. Its health is only dictated by the number of lit candles on its head, each candle getting snuffed whenever you land a hit. But one relights every time Bundt has his turn. So one must continually pelt Bundt with attacks nonstop to ensure the first phase of this battle ends quickly. The second phase gives the boss back a set amount of HP.
Smithy's second form has a spell called this. He also has two other variations, Spear Rain and Sword Rain, that pretty much do the same thing.
This is Bowyer's preferred method of attacking Rose Town, constantly firing arrows into it from the forest. When someone is struck with the arrow, they are paralyzed in place, unable to move, but still able to talk. Rather fitting considering that he's a giant bow and all of his minions are sentient arrows.
Rearrange the Song: Does the music for the fight with Bowser at the beginning of the game sound familiar? It should! It's his boss music in Super Mario Bros 3!
Reset Button: An item called Earlier Times lets you redo a battle from the beginning again.
Rhymes on a Dime: Belome, when casting the game's first instance of the Scarecrow status, S'crow Funk:
Stick for a body, head full of straw, give me a scarecrow, rah, rah, RAH!
Save the Princess: Starts off with Peach being kidnapped and Mario rescuing her from Bowser, only for their fight to be interupted and for all three of them to go flying in different directions. Mario initially sets out to get Peach back and has to rescue her from Booster, but after saving her they decide they need to stop to primary enemy, Smithy, a task Princess Peach joins the team to complete.
Say It with Hearts: Birdo's text balloons consistently use hearts. Sometimes she is being overtly flirty, and sometimes to effect is just off-putting when she tacks them on to statements about how she is being hurt.
Scarf of Asskicking: The Attack Scarf, a Mario-only accessory that can only be obtained by doing 30 Super Jumps in a row. There's also the Rare Scarf, which can be used by anybody and boosts defense.
By running away from an enemy in Kero Sewers and jumping on their head, you can get an item box and go to an area that you normally couldn't get until over halfway through the game... but The Dev Team Thinks of Everything, and the item box contains a single Flower instead of the Cricket Jam you'd normally get, and a Broken Bridge prevents you from going anywhere in Land's End (and an enemy even has special dialogue if you try this).
You can also skip the first major boss by making a very precision jump. The game continues on as normal, but the Star Piece option never shows up in the menu.
Sequential Boss: Boomer and Exor are fought back-to-back with no chance for healing, and then the battle with Smithy has two parts.
The Lazy Shell armor will turn anyone into this when it's equipped, raising their defense and magic defense through the roof but at a severe cost to their offensive power. Stick it on the Princess and your party is effectively unbeatable unless your opponent has a One-Hit KO move or you run out of Flower Points.
The Rare Scarf is an accessory that further boosts both defense stats; pairing both the Shell and the Scarf is useful against Culex and Jinx, who have incredibly damaging attacks.
Stupidity Is the Only Option: Would you rather get to Tadpole Pond by: a) walking on dry land the whole way, or b) wander through a temple filled with ghosts and killer fish, defeat a huge guardian dog who wants nothing more than to literally eat you alive, and get washed away by the flood (which the guardian dog was preventing by standing on the switch) and carried downriver on a barrel after going over a waterfall? Admittedly the waterfall option involves getting a flower tab and some frog coins, but still...
Suspiciously Similar Substitute: The Koopa Troopas in this game are all replaced with soldiers called Terrapins (never mind that Koopa Troopas have already been shown to walk on two legs at this point). The Sky Troopas managed to stay, though. Even the cooks in Marrymore are Terrapins, as well. This is, however, a subversion brought about due to the game's translation - their Japanese name is "Nokohei", "hei" being the Japanese word for Soldier and "Noko" being half of their Japanese namenote Their full Japanese name is "Noko Noko".. With this regard, their Japanese name could more properly be translated into English as "Koopa Soldier".
Talking Is a Free Action: Played with. Mario and Mallow have a conversation with Geno after interrupting the duel between him and Bowyer, only for Bowyer to stomp the ground to get their attention and yell at them for ignoring him. The three promptly assume their regular positions and the fight begins.
Tentacle Rope: One of King Calamari's attacks consists of dragging a character away offscreen. When they return, they are inflicted with the fear status, which splits their attack and defense in half and makes them tremble violently.
Too Awesome to Use: KeroKero Colas (full heal for everyone), Rock Candies (massive damage to all enemies), and especially Red Essences (3 turns of invincibility). Thankfully, you have a chance of getting a "freebie" whenever you use any item, so luck (or Save Scumming) can allow you to use them multiple times.
Took a Level in Badass: One of Bowser's subordinates had an epiphany not long after the start of the game. He sucked royally and decided to train his mind and body so he could be a more effective minion for his boss. Bowser, upon finding this out, forgives him for what would technically be desertion and wishes him well on his goal.
Took a Shortcut: How else would Toad get to the second last room in the game, which is in the middle of the enemy's factory?
Trauma Inn: All of them cost money to stay in, except for the one in Rose Town and Mario's house (obviously). In the Marrymore Inn, it's even possible to delay checking out until you're broke.
When you recover that guy's wallet from Croco, you can sell it for money. You shouldn't, because he rewards you with a much-harder-to-obtain if you return it.
If you help the guy out in Rose Town by opening his house, you can steal from the chests inside. When he enters, he'll ask if they're okay. If you left them alone - okay, great, you get some directions in the Maze. If you didn't, they contained two Flowers.
Villainous Breakdown: Smithy when defeated in his first form by Mario and allies, with the minions even try to calm their boss down to no avail.
Croco serves as a wake up call to players that haven't used all available options in battle properly. Mallow is too physically weak to damage the boss and spamming Thunderbolt will quickly drain your FP and leave none for Mario to use his special attacks since the party shares FP instead of having it individually. Croco also introduces attacks that CAN'T be blocked with button timing and uses an item to heal himself. Unless the player uses the defend command for Mallow and learn how to ration FP and items, they will be in for a very rough fight.
Bowyer also serves as a wake up call gimmick boss. After depleting some of his HP. Bowyer will lock out the battle commands (attack, items, and abilities) you've used most the past few turns and he will utterly destroy you if you don't quickly adapt to having an option taken from you.
Yardovich is a very tough boss if you haven't optimized properly: he hits hard, has a lot of HP, and to make it even more difficult, he splits in two halfway through the fight and gets twice as many actions.
Warmup Boss: Hammer Brothers. This battle stops constantly for Toad to explain to you have different things are done.
What the Hell, Player?: In the first room of Booster Tower, among some normal enemies, there are two Spookums apparently having a conversation. Like normal enemies, if you touch one, you will enter a battle; however, after defeating one, its partner will continue talking for a bit, then look around, panic, run to the corner and stay there, shuddering, until you defeat him.
Mallow is officially crowned the prince of Nimbus Land.
Bowser is repairing his castle, and gets mad at a Shy Guy that hijacks his Clown Car.
Johnny Jones enjoys the sunset in the area where Yaridovich was fought.
Croco has moved to Yo'ster Island, and befriends Boshi after losing a race to Yoshi.
Frogfucius and his student (the one who was in Seaside Town) attend a concert conducted by Toadofsky.
In the middle of his wedding to Valentina, Booster runs off, to the befuddlement of Dodo and the Snifits.
Mario and Peach return to the Mushroom Kingdom.
Where It All Began: The first stage you enter is Bowser's castle, when a landing spaceship flings you out and make the original path you took impossible to take again. Ultimately you need to reenter the castle to challenge the invader. To do this you travel the long way around, eventually forming a complete circle on your map.
Who Dares?: In Johnny Jones' lair: "How dare you dodge the barrel!"
Work Off the Debt: If you overstay your welcome in the Marrymore Inn, you get to be a bellhop. Some players do this on purpose for the fun of it or for the occasional really good tip in forms of rare items like Max Mushrooms or Flower Boxes.
You Don't Look Like You: Some of the returning characters and enemies look different than their official appearance, even before this game. Example: The Hammer Brothers look like thugs in this game, in comparison to their usually cutesy appearances within the other games.
Your Princess Is in Another Castle: The party finally manages to exorcise Exor, only to realize the portal to Smithy's factory is still open. Now that he's gotten his castle back, Bowser is content to leave everyone to rot, but Geno persuades him that Smithy could crash it again.
"No, you may NOT sleep in the princess's bed! Have you no manners?"