Rebekah Valentine (Twitter)
Not a lot of people remember that back in the days of the GameBoy Color, Pokemon had a twin. A sort of “Pokemon that never was.” Magi-Nation began as a trading card game, but evolved into a GBC game and a TV show. You played as Tony Jones, a normal boy sent into a strange world who, as the great “Magus Kyros” must visit four shadow geysers and save the world…all by essentially capturing monsters and using them to fight for you.
This game may have used the mechanics of Pokemon and the basic plot of every RPG on the market, but what made it stand out was its humor and its atmosphere. The world of Magi-Nation is full of flawed, strange people and way too many mushrooms. There was the trainer, Yaki, who always yelled; Orlon, who was constantly trying to make bad puns; Valkan, who was incompetent but good-natured…every single character was well-written. Most items in the world were able to be examined, with Tony making wry comments such as “reminds me of my dog” to a wheelbarrow. The world was vast, with different unique regions and a few insanely vague sidequests. And the game was challenging–summoning monster drained Tony’s health pool, making strategy important and at times very difficult.
The TCG had areas and characters and concepts that weren’t in the game. I kept expecting a sequel where we could explore those, but…it never came. It’s probably too late for Magi-Nation, particularly with its gameplay similarities to Pokemon, but it makes me sad that such a clever universe will go to waste.
Daniel George (Twitter)
Although there have been Mario RPG games that have superseded this title (including the Paper Mario console and Mario & Luigi handheld series), there really hasn’t been anything that Nintendo has produced in the realm of a Super Mario RPG sequel. It perfectly blended the sensibilities of the Mario universe with the turn-based RPG style of Final Fantasy entries, while using time-based combat actions to improve the strength of abilities and the defensive effectiveness of shielding. Mario platforming and Squaresoft-developed RPG mechanics meant a winning system of play.
Plus, the story of Super Mario RPG dictated that Mario’s friends (and even foes) had to come together in order to defeat the ongoing threat of the Smithy Gang. It’s rare to see Mario and Bowser team up within a video game, and rarer, at the time, for Princess Peach to be playable in a non-passive role. The game also saw the birth and death of Mallow and Geno, two interesting characters with emotional depth that have not seen the light of day since.
To see a sequel would mean Square Enix would have to team up with Nintendo to get it done once again. If a sequel of Super Mario RPG meant living on the Nintendo 3DS (like Square Enix’s Bravely Default), I’ll take it. Anything to get back to that core heart of Square’s RPG vision with Nintendo’s love for all things Mario.
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