“I am matter... I am antimatter... I can see your past... I can see your future... I consume time... And I will consume you!”
Culex is an optional hidden boss who appears in Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars. Alongside the Crystals, Culex is an even more powerful boss than the main story's antagonist, Smithy. His alignment and motives differ drastically between the Japanese and English versions.
Before or during the events of Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars, Culex comes to reside in a cross-dimensional region found behind a sealed door in Monstro Town, a village of reformed monsters located in Land's End. Despite waiting in a dimensional rift, Culex's next-door neighbors can still hear him talking to himself through the walls. According to one of his neighbors, a Piranha Plant, Culex is "always mumbling about Crystal-this and an Evil-that."
The Piranha Plant neighbor of Culex provides a clue to opening the sealed door, reporting to Mario about Culex's obsession with Crystals, and then hypothesizing: "Isn't a “Crystal” some kind of a shiny rock...or something? I know I've seen those somewhere!" This is hints to the Shiny Stone, a crystal-like object that can be acquired in Moleville. To retrieve a Shiny Stone, Mario first must buy the Fireworks from a male mole in Moleville for five hundred coins, then trade the Fireworks for a Shiny Stone from a young mole girl in the same town.
With a Shiny Stone in his possession, the immovable door begins to react with it, eventually dispelling the magical seal. The door can now be opened, allowing access to the dimensional vortex. After Mario enters it, Culex greets the visitor and explains his story. He then challenges Mario to a battle, which he can either accept or refuse. If Mario refuses, Culex drifts away and Mario will appear outside the door, but can return as he desires at any time. If Mario accepts the challenge, the battle begins.
In battle, Culex is aided by four seemingly sentient Crystals – the Earth Crystal, the Fire Crystal, the Water Crystal, and the Wind Crystal. Each Crystal has command over potent magic attacks aligned with their elemental power. Culex himself is a powerful warrior with 4,096 HP, the most of any encounter in the game besides the second match with Smithy. The group as a whole has 12,396 HP, which exceeds both of Smithy's phases combined. All four Crystals can be defeated independently before targeting Culex, but if Culex falls, any remaining Crystals shatter one by one on their next turn.
If Mario's party is victorious against Culex and the Crystals, he will reward Mario with the Quartz Charm, a special accessory that boosts attack and defense by 50% and also prevents instant death. Culex then leaves Mario's dimension as Mario is transported back to Monstro Town. The door to Culex's dimensional rift will have vanished, leaving a solid rock wall in its place. The Piranha Plant next door thinks "our neighbor moved away." Culex is later mentioned by Dr. Topper when he quizzes Mario at Bowser's Keep. He asks Mario what Jinx, Goomba, and Culex all have in common. The correct answer is: "They live in Monstro Town."
In the Japanese version, Culex claims to be a timeless overlord made of pure evil. As a two-dimensional being, he is perplexed at the foreign three-dimensional forms of Mario's party, so he demands a fight to grasp the power of creation. Upon defeat, he recognizes the party's legendary positive energy, and he and his pocket dimension are aimlessly vanquished to parts unknown until the day he finally gains the solidity of the third dimension. In the English version, Culex's dialog and backstory are completely rewritten: he is said to be a "Dark Knight of Vanda" sent by the Dark Mage. He has nobler mannerisms, and attempts to leave Mario's company on good terms.
Allusions to Final Fantasy
Culex stands out in the game Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars for being an allusion to the conventions of the Final Fantasy series.
Culex has two different sets of game sprites, one for the overworld and a much larger one for battle, resembling the enemy design in the 2D Final Fantasy titles. Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars enemies (except for Valentina, Shelly, Jonathan Jones and Magikoopa), on the other hand, have the same sprite for both the overworld and for battles. In the style of early Final Fantasy games, all enemies and bosses are rendered as static pieces of two-dimensional character artwork, lacking any kind of animation. Similarly, in battle Culex is rendered as a two-dimensional image that does not change when attacking or being attacked, unlike the sprites of all other enemies in Super Mario RPG, which can go through complex animations when attacking, being attacked, and walking in place. This discrepancy with the game's art style is alluded to more clearly in the Japanese version.
The four Crystals used by Culex in battle are also important reoccurring artifacts from the Final Fantasy series, appearing in many entries in the series with different functions in each. All four Crystals featured in the battle are from the original Final Fantasy for the Nintendo Entertainment System, although they did not gain their unique coloration until much later in the series. This connection is heightened by the Japanese name of the Quartz Charm, which is the Crystal Charm.
Moreover, the three music tracks associated with Culex are covers of three music tracks from the Final Fantasy series. His battle music is a cover of the boss battle theme from Final Fantasy IV (initially Final Fantasy II in North America), the music that plays when he is defeated is a cover of the victory music present throughout the Final Fantasy series, and the ending conversation is a cover of the Final Fantasy main theme.
In the English version, Culex's name is the Latin word for mosquito, which is a subtle reference to the main antagonist of Final Fantasy IV, Golbez, whose name is derived from a type of fly.
Names in other languages