Part 14: Barrel Volcano

Main Walkthrough

In order to reach Super Mario RPG's final areas you'll need to pay a visit to Nimbus Land's king and queen, then to the local bus stop, in the northwest of the city. Once you've spoken to the king and queen of the country they will order the bus repaired, and it will carry you over to Bowser's Keep. This will connect the world map in a big loop, as well, allowing you to walk from Nimbus Land to the Mushroom Kingdom without having to go all the way around again.

Bowser's Keep


  • Big Bertha - 350 HP - Weak to Lightning
  • Forkies - 350 HP
  • Gu Goomba - 132 HP
  • Malakoopa - 95 HP - Weak to Lightning
  • Star Cruster - 72 HP - Weak to Ice
  • Terra Cotta - 180 HP
  • Tub-O-Troopa - 500 HP - Weak to Lightning
The first thing to note about Bowser's Keep is the enemy selection. Three of the most common enemies - the Terra Cottas, the Gu Goombas, and the Malakoopas - are still nominally loyal to / terrified of Bowser, and if you have Bowser in your party when fighting these foes they will run away. If you want to speed through this area, putting Bowser in your party is a good idea. (If you're looking to farm experience, on the other hand... perhaps not.)

The first few areas of Bowser's Keep are straightforward corridors filled with enemies. Fight your way northeast until you reach a darkened room. The fights will continue, though if you keep your eye on your left as you continue northeast you'll find a little side passage behind a Hammer Bros. statue. Back here is a chest that will fully restore your health.

Once the lights come back on you'll find a save block, and standing by it is none other than Croco. He seems to be done with thieving for the moment, and will act as an item vendor. You'll encounter Croco again later, and he'll have better items for sale, so unless you're desperate for defense (and didn't buy these same pieces of armor in Barrel Volcano) you may want to skip Croco for the moment. If you check the western corner of this chamber you'll find a small, mostly-hidden exit to another room, where chests containing Coins and a full heal await.

Beyond Croco's room you'll find a hallway with six numbered doors. This is where the otherwise straightforward keep gets a little interesting.

The Six Doors

In order to progress through Bowser's Keep you need to complete a series of mini-trials. There are six to choose from, and their contents are randomized. There's no telling where you'll wind up when you go through one of the doors. You need to pass through four of these six doors to reach the final sections of Bowser's Keep.

The trials you face are split into three different types of courses - action, battle, and puzzle - and there are two of each type of course. Completing a door will earn you a prize, all of which are worth getting. You can only complete four of the six courses during your first trip through Bowser's Keep, though if you come back through the dungeon after defeating its final boss you can try the six doors again and get the other two prize. 

Action Courses

The two action courses in Bowser's Keep each consist of three rooms full of obstacles to overcome. You'll need to put your platforming skills to the test to get through the rooms. Fail ten times during any of the three rooms - usually by falling in lava - and you'll be shot back to the six doors. Hitting lava will also reduce your total coin count.

The first action course consists of the following rooms, and will earn you the Sonic Cymbal for Mallow if completed:
  • The first room consists of a series of rising and falling platforms. You need to hop from platform to platform to reach the other end. Pretty simple. If you stay on the final platform as it rises to its highest point in the air you can jump to an overhanging ledge, which will take you southwest. At the end is a chest containing a Kerokero Cola.
  • The second room contains an iron ball and two roaming Bob-ombs, as well as a number of ledges you can't normally reach. In order to get to greater heights you'll need to hop onto the iron ball and ride it around. The iron ball's controls are the opposite of what you'd normally expect, so if you want to travel northeast you'll need to press the down and left buttons. If you run into a Bob-omb it will blow up, forcing you to start over. You can use the ball to get at the exit, a bunch of coins, and chests containing a Pick Me Up, a Max Mushroom, a Rock Candy, and two Flowers. Note that you can jump from the final chest to the exit without needing to get back on the ball.
  • The third room contains another lava pit, as well as two platforms that rotate around each other. You'll need to hop onto the platforms and use them to slowly navigate from one end of the room to the other. The chests floating in this room contain a Royal Syrup, a Fire Bomb, a Pick Me Up, a Kerokero Cola, and two Flowers.

The second action course consists of the following rooms, and will earn you the Super Slap for Toadstool if completed:
  • The first room consists of invisible platforms over lava. There are three Terrapins wandering the course, and when they take actions the platforms will become visible for a moment. You need to use your fleeting knowledge of the terrain to make your way to the northeast. The chests floating in this room contain an Ice Bomb, a Fright Bomb, Royal Syrup, and a Rock Candy. There are also some coins floating in the air, but they're not worth trying to get.
  • The second room consists of a series of floating platforms that move on set tracks. You need to move from platform to platform to reach the other end of the room. The platforms stop moving whenever Mario jumps, giving you a moment to reach other platforms. If you try to walk from platform to platform Mario will often wobble rather than fall off, making this approach a bit safer than outright jumping. The chests in this room contain a Max Mushroom, a Red Essence, a Flower, and a Fire Bomb.
  • The third room is a Donkey Kong-style barrel-tossing course. You start at the bottom, and an ape at the top will hurl barrels down ramps towards you. Get hit by a barrel and you'll have to start over. The barrels travel on the inside and outside of the ramps, so there's no true safe spot - you just have to remain alert and jump in time. If you hear the ape roar above it means that a barrel will come flying down the side of the course rather than following the path, so watch your step. Reach the ape to end the course. (Personal note: I loathe this room. Be prepared for pain if you want that Super Slap.)

Battle Courses

The two battle courses in Bowser's Keep are straightforward hallways filled with enemies. You'll need to defeat three hallways' worth of enemies in each course to reach the end. Unlike normal exploration in Super Mario RPG, there's no avoiding these fights. You'll potentially run into the following enemies:

  • Alley Rat - 105 HP
  • Amanita - 52 HP - Weak to Fire
  • Armored Ant - 230 HP - Weak to Ice
  • Bahamutt - 500 HP - Weak to Ice
  • Big Bertha - 350 HP - Weak to Lightning
  • Bloober - 130 HP - Weak to Fire, Lightning
  • Chained Kong - 355 HP - Weak to Ice
  • Chester - 1,200 HP - Weak to Jump
  • Chewy - 90 HP
  • Chow - 80 HP
  • Forkies - 350 HP
  • Geckit - 100 HP - Weak to Ice
  • Glum Reaper - 180 HP - Weak to Pure Water
  • Greaper - 148 HP - Weak to Lightning, Pure Water
  • Gu Goomba - 132 HP
  • Lakitu - 124 HP
  • Magmus - 50 HP - Weak to Ice
  • Malakoopa - 95 HP - Weak to Lightning
  • Mr. Kipper - 133 HP - Weak to Fire, Lightning
  • Muckle - 320 HP - Weak to Fire
  • Oerlikon - 85 HP - Weak to Ice
  • Orbison - 30 HP - Weak to Jump
  • Pulsar - 69 HP - Weak to Fire
  • Pyrosphere - 167 HP - Weak to Ice
  • Rob-omb - 42 HP - Weak to Jump, Fire
  • Sackit - 152 HP
  • Shaman - 150 HP
  • Shy Away - 140 HP - Weak to Ice
  • Sling Shy - 120 HP
  • Star Cruster - 72 HP - Weak to Ice
  • Stinger - 65 HP
  • Terra Cotta - 180 HP
  • The Big Boo - 66 HP - Weak to Pure Water
  • Tub-O-Troopa - 500 HP - Weak to Lightning
  • Vomer - ? HP - Weak to Special Moves, Pure Water
  • Zeostar - 90 HP - Weak to Fire, Lightning

    Completing one of the battle courses (it starts off with Gu Goombas) will earn you the Star Gun for Geno. Completing the other battle course (which starts off with Terra Cottas) will earn you the Drill Claw for Bowser. 

    Puzzle Courses

    The two puzzle courses in Bowser's Keep are emceed by Dr. Topper, a Hammer Bro. with a penchant for quizzes. Each course consists of three rooms, and you'll need to complete a different puzzle in each one. Getting through all three rooms will earn you a Rock Candy, regardless of the course. 

    The first course consists of the following puzzles:
    • In the first room you'll be challenged to a coin-collecting game by Dr. Topper. The two of you will take turns smacking a box of coins, with the task of forcing the other person to take the 21st coin in the box. You can take up to four coins per turn. The easiest way to defeat Topper here is to get up to 15 coins left, watch how many Topper takes on his next turn, then punch the box until there are 20 and end your turn (press the A button). This will force Topper to take the final coin.
    • In the second room you'll need to play Magic Buttons with Dr. Topper. You'll find a grid of 16 buttons, and you'll need to push down all of the buttons. Pushing a button reverses any nearby buttons, so you'll be juggling button presses the whole time. The least-fiddly way to do this is to take the buttons in clumps of four and work your way around the edges of the room. You can do this in four button presses by hitting the buttons that aren't in the corners. 
    • In the third room you'll need to play Ball Solitaire. In this one you need to kick iron balls around and slowly eliminate all of the balls until there is only one left. You can only kick a ball over an adjacent ball, so if there are no adjacent balls before you're down to one ball you'll lose. So long as you avoid 'stranding' any of the balls off by themselves this puzzle isn't so bad.

    The second course consists of the following puzzles:
    • In the first room you'll need to answer a series of multiple-choice quiz questions. They all pertain to the game up to this point in some way. Answering a question correctly will raise Mario's platform a bit, and answering incorrectly will lower it. You get five seconds to answer each question, and you'll need to raise the platform eight total times to advance. There are enough potential questions that we'll discuss them in another section of the guide.
    • In the second room you'll need to count barrels. Dr. Topper will give you ten seconds to inspect a heap of barrels, then he'll turn the lights out and you'll need to make a guess. Choose correctly and you'll need to do it again with a much larger batch of barrels, within twenty seconds. The barrels you need to count include those hidden by the quasi-3D layout of the room, so even if you can't see a barrel you'll need to extrapolate based on the number of barrels high and wide the pile appears to be. (If you have trouble with this, take advantage of modern technology and snap a picture of the barrels with your phone before they disappear.)
    • In the third room you'll be introduced to four racers - Boo, Goo, Bones, and Kipp - who held a triathlon. You need to determine the order in which they finished based on what they tell you. Once you've listened to their stories you need to speak to them in order of first place to last place, then speak to Dr. Topper to end the quiz. Who says what is randomized each time, but what they say dictates who came where:
      • First place mentions outriding one of the other competitors on their bike
      • Second fell into fourth place during cycling
      • Third placed the same in swimming and cycling
      • Fourth came in third for swimming
    Complete four of the six courses above and, after finishing the fourth course, you'll be dropped into a small room with a save block. Guess what comes next!


    • 1,600 (Magikoopa)
    • 325 (Jinx Clone)
    • 500 (King Bomb)
    • 500 (Bahamutt)
    • Fire, Jump (King Bomb)
    • Ice (Bahamutt)
    That you, Kamek...? Probably. One of Bowser's minions who has been brainwashed by Smithy, Magikoopa needs to be knocked back to his senses. Fortunately, this isn't too difficult. Magikoopa uses the following attacks:
    • Blast, a single-target spell
    • Willy Wisp, a single-target spell
    • Bolt, a single-target Lightning spell
    • Water Blast, a spell targeting the whole party
    • Solidify, an Ice spell targeting the whole party
    • Flame Wall, a Fire spell targeting the whole party
    In addition to Magikoopa's spells he can summon up help in the form of Jinx Clones, Bahamutts, and King Bombs. You'll need to beat up the helper before you can target Magikoopa again. All are potentially dangerous, though by the time you get this deep into Bowser's Keep none of them are a huge deal. As long as Toadstool is around to heal your party you can use Mario and another physical bruiser to smack Magikoopa around until he gives up.

    Defeat Magikoopa and he'll go back to being a loyal minion of Bowser, restoring your team to full health whenever you speak to him. The magician will also conjure up an everlasting coin box that will remain in this room, and you can smack it for coins all day long, if you like. This will come in handy if you enter the door on the left, as Croco is inside, and he's the game's final equipment vendor. Croco is carrying the best armor you can buy. (Not find, buy. There's better stuff hidden elsewhere.)

    Save your game, then take the door on the right from Magikoopa's room. The final action area in Bowser's Keep is a gauntlet of Thwomps and incoming Bullet Bills. A bit harrowing, but not a big deal if you time your running. At the far end you'll find a familiar room with a few chandeliers, and a new challenge awaits.


    HP: 2,000 HP

    One of Smithy's few 'honourable' goons, Boomer is a samurai with a color-coated twist to his combat. Boomer can use the following attacks:
    • A normal melee slice
    • Skewer, a single-target melee strike
    • Shaker, a OHKO melee strike that can be blocked
    • Blast, a single-target magic attack
    • Storm, a single-target magic attack
    • Blizzard, an Ice spell against your entire party
    Boomer spends the battle changing the color of his armor, which also changes his weak point. While Shaker is red he'll be vulnerable to Special Moves, and while he is blue he'll be vulnerable to normal attacks. The twist is that Boomer will automatically counter either weakness with his Shaker attack, which can OHKO its target if you don't use a proper Timed Hit (and even then, it may still reduce that character's HP to one). Wait until you see the white of Boomer's sword before you hit the button for a proper defense. Despite this tactic Boomer is pretty weak, as far as bosses go, and can be taken down with a flurry of normal attacks.

    Defeat Boomer and you'll be treated to a tragic / silly little cut scene. Don't let your guard down, however...


    • 1,800 (Exor)
    • 500 (Right Eye)
    • 300 (Left Eye)
    • 800 (Neosquid)
    Weakness: Jump, Fire (Eyes)

    Surprise! Yep, after staring at it on the title screen all this time you finally get to battle the giant sword sticking out of Bowser's Keep. Exor consists of four different body parts, and they work together to put your party down. Exor's body parts do the following:
    • Exor (the flaming eyes on the hilt of the sword) doesn't use any attacks, but it is your primary target.
    • The Right Eye uses a variety of elemental attacks (Bolt, Mega Drain, Flame Stone, Dark Star, etc.) to damage one or more members of your party.
    • The Left Eye uses status ailments to mess up your party, and can Mute, Poison, and Scarecrow your party members.
    • The Neosquid (Exor's mouth) also uses a variety of painful elemental attacks (Corona, Static E!, Flame Wall, Water Blast) to damage your party, as well as Carni-Kiss to inflict physical damage and Lulla-Bye to put a party member to sleep.
    The trick to this fight is disabling Exor's protection of itself. The Exor you need to target to end the battle is protected by the sword's eyes, and so long as you take pot shots at the Exor target without first knocking out an eye you'll do no damage. The eyes both come back to life once they're knocked out, but neither has a ton of health and can often be taken out by Mario's moves alone.

    Your first priority here is to wipe out the Neosquid. It doesn't have a ton of HP, uses the deadliest array of attacks out of the lot, and takes a while to regenerate once defeated. With the mouth gone Exor's worst attacks will be wiped away for several rounds. Next, smack one of the eyes (Left Eye has less health and uses status ailments, so I recommend it) until it goes swirly. This will disable Exor's protection and give you a few rounds to attack the hilt. Repeat the process, healing as needed, until Exor runs out of health and you end the fight.

    Take down Exor and the sword will suck the party into its mouth. This will ferry you to Smithy's Factory, the final mandatory area in Super Mario RPG. Use the springboard near the entrance if you have unfinished business in the rest of the world, as the game only gets harder from here, and you should exploit every advantage you can get.

    Main Walkthrough