From the Super Mario Wiki
When Mario arrives, arrows are being fired at the town (they are being fired by Bowyer from the forest, but nobody knows this). These arrows contain a toxin that paralyzes anyone unfortunate enough to be struck by one, and any inhabitants outside of a house have been frozen in place.
Mario later finds the Rose Town inn. The little Toad boy Gaz convinces his mom, who runs the inn, to let Mario play dolls with him. However, while they are playing around, Gaz activates the Geno doll's Star Shot, which fires bullets that knock out Mario. During the night, the star spirit ♥♪!? possesses the Geno doll to go out and retrieve a Star Piece from the Forest Maze. In the morning, after Mario wakes up, Gaz claims to have witnessed this occur. Having heard this, Mario and Mallow head into the Forest Maze.
After defeating Bowyer, the town's inhabitants that are frozen return to normal.
The Toads of Rose Town all have striped mushroom caps with a large circle directly on top, making them appear as targets.
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