The Legend of Geno: Super Mario RPG Turns 25 (Part 4)

In a game filled with memorable characters, one stood out above the rest and remains a cult favorite to this day. Let's look at Geno in Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars.


A major element of Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars involved taking established characters from the Mario series and putting them in an all-new setting. While Mario, Bowser, and Toadstool were the game's most recognizable characters, one thing that Super Mario RPG is remembered for is its original creations. One of those original creations managed to stand heads and tails above the rest to the point that they're still revered to this day. That character is Geno.

Who is Geno? He is a spirit descended from the cosmos who chooses to bring life to a wooden doll. His actual name is ♥♪!?, but he took on the doll's name to make pronunciation simpler for lowlier beings. In crashing through the skies, Smithy shattered the Star Road into seven star-shaped pieces, scattering them throughout the world. Geno has come to the terrestrial world to recover them and help rebuild the Star Road because its main function is to process and fulfill wishes. Geno's function, essentially, is to save a world that's now without wishes.

When seen through that prism, Geno fills many roles. He's a mighty warrior, he's a celestial link to Mario's world, and he also gives the greater Super Mario RPG story its highest stakes. Prior to meeting Geno, there were already some critical storylines playing out. Princess Toadstool was missing, Bowser's Castle had been taken over, the Mushroom Kingdom was facing a hostile invasion, and Mario was facing a challenge unlike anything he had ever seen. Finding Toadstool and trying to confront this powerful enemy stationed in Bowser's Castle would have been enough story to carry most other games. However, the side effect of Smithy breaking the Star Road and turning Mario's world into one without wishes made his journey all the more critical. It's also an adventure that he's ill-prepared for without Geno.

Beyond providing valuable exposition, Geno is an invaluable resource in battle. His Geno Boost can buff an ally's attack and defense. Geno Blast and Geno Flash can hit entire waves of enemies for heavy damage. Then there's Geno Whirl, which is the only attack in the game that can hit lesser enemies for 9,999 damage when a button press is timed just right. Geno's abilities make him one of the most powerful characters in the game and add to his overall cool factor. He's an otherworldly being. It stands to reason that his power level should indicate such.

Geno is in Super Mario RPG to serve its greatest purpose and once that purpose is fulfilled at the end of the game, he has no more reason to be in Mario's world. His departure after defeating Smithy once and for all proves to be one of the game's most emotional moments. Mario and his party express sadness that this friend that's been at their side for so long had left them, only leaving behind the lifeless husk of a wooden doll, before Geno's celestial form paves the way for the game's happy ending. This is a credit to composer Yoko Shimomura's soundtrack, which covers the full range of emotions and ends with a spirited crescendo.

Outside of some cameos, Super Mario RPG is Geno's only appearance. A big part of this is because Square still technically holds the rights to the character. Another factor involves Nintendo's general philosophy in regards to RPG games. Back in July, Paper Mario: The Origami King Producer Kensuke Tanabe indicated that the publisher required original characters for its RPGs.

"Since Paper Mario: Sticker Star, it’s no longer possible to modify Mario characters or to create original characters that touch on the Mario universe," Tanabe told Video Games Chronicle. "That means that if we aren’t using Mario characters for bosses, we need to create original characters with designs that don’t involve the Mario universe at all as we’ve done with Olly and the stationary bosses."

Over the history of Mario's RPGs, very rarely have original characters ever returned for an encore outing. Only breakout character Fawful from the Mario & Luigi series made repeat appearances. Characters in Mario RPGs have often been treated like Final Fantasy characters, in that they were solely contained to their single game. (Or series of games, as was the case with Final Fantasy X-2, the Final Fantasy 13 trilogy, or the entire franchise built off of Final Fantasy VII.)

However, that hasn't stopped fans from continuing to express their love and admiration for Geno. More than any other Super Mario RPG character, social media sites like Tumblr, Pinterest, Twitter, and many others pay respect to this otherworldly hero. Few communities celebrate Geno, however, more than the Super Smash Bros. community. Whenever a new character announcement is teased for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, the Geno fans will come out strong and root for their favorite.

"To me, it's the biggest rush of nostalgia, Super Mario RPG is my all-time favorite game of all time," pro Smash Bros. player Jestise "MVD" Negron told Shacknews. "Geno has since then been one of if not my favorite characters of all time, I remember beating the game and sobbing into the arms of my cousin after Geno left at the conclusion. To put it succinctly, Geno is still being talked about because the nostalgia behind him is so strong that we crazy fans are still wanting more of him after 25 years. He's a piece of the kid in us that's alive after all these years."

"I think part of what makes Geno so great is the game he's from!" Christina "Chia" Korsak added. "Mario RPG was such an incredibly unique title that symbolized both Mario's initial foray into the RPG genre and also the relationship between Nintendo and SquareSoft in the 16-bit era before SquareSoft jumped to the PlayStation. It was unique, fun, and is no stranger to many best-of lists. While the title introduced multiple new characters, Geno stood out among them all with unique abilities, a cool backstory, and a great visual design."

Beyond the Smash Bros. players and pros, the love for Geno even extends to series director Masahiro Sakurai himself. Sakurai once had aspirations of making Geno a playable character in Nintendo's long-running fighting game. In an April 2016 issue of Japanese publication Nintendo Dream, Sakurai said in an interview (translated via EventHubs), "Geno was actually a character I wanted to include as a fighter. He has a gun for an arm, and just seems like he'd fit absolutely perfectly into Smash. I was hoping I'd be able to put him in as far back as Super Smash Bros. Brawl, but unfortunately, that never ended up materializing."

As noted, Square still holds the rights to Geno, which has made the effort to bring him to Super Smash Bros. messy. However, Sakurai has acknowledged the character's popularity on numerous occasions, including the aforementioned Nintendo Dream interview. While he hasn't been able to directly bring the character to the Nintendo fighter, he has added Geno-themed Mii Fighter options to both Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate in order to allow fans to make their own Geno.

There have been popular characters who have emerged from Mario RPGs in the decades since Legend of the Seven Stars was first released. However, none have had the staying power of Geno, who fans still love and adore just as strongly 25 years later. There's no reason to believe he'll ever grace a Nintendo game again. Super Smash Bros. fans still hope to see him in an official capacity. Even though he wouldn't be featured in a future game, Geno was such a formative force in people's childhoods that Smash fans want to see him honored with an official character slot. As the DLC Fighters Pass begins to wind down, fans still hope to see their greatest wish come true.

There is so much that is memorable about Super Mario RPG, whether it's Geno, the unlikely alliance between Mario and Bowser, the worlds and the characters, or just the way Nintendo and Square changed the way that turn-based JRPGs were made. A sequel seemed like a no-brainer, but it was sadly not meant to be. Come back tomorrow, as we close the book on Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars and behold the legacy that it left behind for both Nintendo and Square. In the meantime, be sure to catch up with the rest of our feature and check out Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 of Super Mario RPG Turns 25.

Senior Editor

Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

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