I just realized after reading a few guides online that I could have finished Exor off with one Geno Whirl! Aaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhh!!!!!
For anyone who's still around reading these, thank you for staying till the end, and for not spoiling me about that part, or any others!
I also remembered that I asked this question at the start of the game:
I wonder, is [Exor] the sword itself the Smithy Gang, or is the sword like a gatekeeper or messenger of the actual Smithy Gang?
It turns out my second guess was sort of right! Exor's literally both a gate for Smithy's troops to enter the Mushroom Kingdom, and a gatekeeper to Smithy's dimension!
Now back to the action...
Left, left, straight, right is the way to get to those secret treasures in the Forest Maze...
I also pick up some treasures from Surprise Blocks along the way...
In the middle of my Surprise Block search, I fight more battles, involving Buzzers and an Amanita...
After saving, we now go into the actual maze!
Hmmm, this isn't right...I'm not going in the right direction...
I check a map of the maze to check my bearings...
...after trying again, I make it!
Now I have Mario sink into the log to see what's there...
I use up a syrup and toss out a few items before getting the loot!
One Frog Coin, three Mushrooms, and a Flower are what we get!
I head back...
On the way back, I get another Frog Coin from a Surprise Block, and a KeroKero Cola from another!
I save at Nimbus Land, since I'm heading to Barrel Volcano next...
I search a map online for the Barrel Volcano, and look through it. The only things that I missed here are Frog Coins...
And I use up one of the KeroKero Colas here...
While a bunch of Pyrospheres chase me, I get the Frog Coin from the lava! Poor Mario, though...
For the next area, I make it to the other side, head into the tunnel, and go back to use the lava to bounce Mario up to the ledge where the next Frog Coin is!
I save at the midpoint and continue onwards.
After countless battles in the volcano, I rest at Hinopio's and exit out!
On the way out, Mario, Bowser, and Mallow level up!
My god, there's a lot of steps to jump up to!
Next stop: Monstro Town!
Super Mario RPG - Part 81a: Culex, Take Two
Let's see if I have the strength to face Culex once more, or at least, survive him longer!
The game doesn't recognize that I didn't take on Culex last time, and the intro with Culex, Dark Knight of Vanda, begins again...
Culex: "You will enter combat against me?"
Culex repeats his monologue, and round two with Culex is on!
I have the party strike the Fire Crystal first!
But, the crystals are a bit too quick and too strong for us!
They're even a bit too much for Bowser, as he's KO'd!
Culex unleashes Shredder, I'm thinking that this spell dispels our bonus buffs!
I have Mario resurrect Bowser!
I have Peach heal the party.
Now both Mario and Bowser are down!
And after using up one turn reviving Mario, the party's finished!
Super Mario RPG - Part 81b: Jinx, Take One
I decide to face off against Jinx in his dojo.
Yes, I do!
Jinx: "All right, let's see what you're capable of."
Now the fight begins against Jinx!
Jinx does a Triple Kick, bowling Mario back!
I use all of the party's brute force against Jinx! He's amazed at our skill!
The battle ends!
Jinx: "I guess I underestimated you. You pack quite a punch! But don't let it go to your head, because I let you have that round. Let's have a rematch."
Knowing that Jinx is holding back, I challenge him for the second time, but just this once...
The second round against Jinx begins!
Jinx Triple Kicks and Quicksilvers Bowser!
Jinx has gotten a bit stronger than in the first round...
I keep my guard up this time!
Now Jinx Valors Up!
Jinx's next attack is Jinxing Peach with a flurry of combos!
After one more attack from Mario, Jinx praises us once more, stopping the fight!
Jinx: "Still haven't had enough? It isn't often that I have someone this competitive to spar with! All right, this match will be the one that counts, since I'm putting my reputation on the line!"
I leave Jinx's dojo, and save outside.
If I'm not strong enough to beat Culex yet, then I feel that I'm not ready for Jinx's third (and I'm guessing, final) round!