Super Mario RPG review: kid-friendly remake dulls cult class…

In Super Mario RPG, Mario, Mallow, and Bowser are sitting in a clown car.

super mario rpg

MSRP $60.00

“Super Mario RPG isn’t necessarily better than the 1996 version, but at least it’s a more approachable experience for kids.”


  • same great base game

  • delightful new cinematics

  • excellent music

  • more accessible combat


  • miss new voices

  • archaic platforming

  • Easy, to a fault

Video game box art can tell a story. Compare Super Nintendo Packages for Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars Along with the Nintendo Switch case for its new remake. The former features an iconic image, in which Mario, Bowser and Peach stand in front of a drab castle. It’s a moody image that prepares players for a more heroic, mature Mario adventure. box art for switch super mario rpg Paints a very different picture. That dangerous palace in which the sword had pierced is gone. As the story’s heroes, shown in their colorful cartoon makeover forms, stand in front of a flat white background, darkness turns into light.

Although you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, the change in imagery appropriately sets the stage for what’s inside Nintendo’s new remake. super mario rpg A friendlier version of the 1996 cult classic, as if to introduce the younger generation to it more easily without jarring them too much. The visuals are brighter, the time-based combat is more silly, and even its hardest setting is an easy cakewalk. It’s a unique cult classic that has been lightly adapted into a modern children’s game, but a bit of the original’s personality is lost in the process.

There is an empty white space where a glorious palace once stood.

an enduring classic

super mario rpg It may look and sound new, but beneath its shiny hood lies a 1:1 remake of the 1996 classic. What starts out as another basic battle against Bowser soon takes a turn as a giant sword pierces the reptile’s castle. With a terrifying new threat looming, Mario sets out on a kingdom-traveling adventure to collect seven star pieces, join up with new allies, and defeat the nefarious Smithy. It’s as lavish and whimsical as a good Disney movie, and it still feels as creative as ever in 2023.

Mario, Mallow, Bowser and Xeno stare off-screen in Super Mario RPG.

It’s a credit to SquareSoft’s original vision for a turn-based RPG, which led to some of the wildest bold changes for the Mario series at the time. Third-party studios took a lot of creative liberties in imagining what the world of Mario looked like outside the scope of the 2D Mushroom Kingdom scenario that players were accustomed to. It gave rise to memorable locations like Star Hill, and brought us fan-favorite characters like Geno. The remake faithfully upholds every decision. From Yoshi’s race on Yoster Isle to his beanstalk-scaling journey to the clouds, not a second of the original story has been lost.

Any changes made to it only enhance the classic rather than rewrite its history. New animated cutscenes bring the original release’s ambitious, but technically limited story sequences to their logical cartoon conclusions, giving extra life to one of Mario’s most eclectic casts. When I first meet Mallow, it’s in a lovely slapstick sequence that perfectly embodies the bloated boy as a clumsy cutie. Geno’s transformation from doll to real boy is particularly magical here, turning a simple SNES scene into something pulled straight from Pinocchio.

super mario rpg It stands as an important reminder that outside-the-box thinking can produce some of our most timeless works.

This is a particularly opportune moment to revisit this story and look at the parts that make it still an enduring classic. The remake is launching right behind super mario bros wonder, an excellent evolution to the classic series that combines nostalgic 2D platforming with a vibrant creative freshness that makes the series feel brand new again. Original super mario rpg The 1090s had a similar effect, turning the characters fans knew and loved into an entirely foreign experience. As Wonder set out to do, this opened up a world of possibilities for the series that would lead to unforgettable adventures Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door And Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story,

If nothing else, the 2023 version super mario rpg It stands as an important reminder that outside-the-box thinking can produce some of our most timeless works.

a new coat of paint

While the main adventure is unplayable, it’s the new version’s inconsistent refresh that will leave fans debating whether the Switch release is an improvement. Its few shake-ups are handled skillfully. For example, the newly re-recorded soundtrack brings Super Nintendo compositions to life with stunning orchestration that does them justice. brass track And that makes me a booster! Here’s a great upgrade that wouldn’t look out of place in a jazzy movie score. A toggle that lets players switch between old and new music only emphasizes how impressive the recording is while preserving the original tunes.

The 2023 version is definitely a Nintendo product.

On the other hand, the visual overhaul brings a little stress. The remake removes the chunky pixels and dark color palette of the SNES version in favor of smoother cartoon visuals that bring the Switch game more in line with modern Mario releases. It’s still a unique style that keeps the original art direction in mind, with miniature characters exploring places like diorama-like toys on a playset, but it’s a major tonal shift from the original. The specific mood has been paved over in favor of lighter, Disney-esque visuals that soften scary boss designs like the metallic Yaridovich.

This isn’t an inherently negative change, as the Switch version takes the whimsy inherent in the SNES adventure to create a more palatable family game. Classic minigames like the coin-collecting trip down the River Midas are completely transformed into a Disneyland ride, as Mario snakes around colorfully lit rivers as if he’s sailing in a miniature world. It’s simply a more homogenous take that grinds out the SNES version’s memorable muses – and its attitude in the process. The 1996 release looked and felt like a SquareSoft production; The 2023 version is definitely a Nintendo product.

Mario climbs colorful beanstalks in Super Mario RPG.

That stylistic change will be an opportunity for fans to debate the adventure outside, but the visual overhaul also creates some tension on screen. Although super mario rpg It seems like it’s completely part of a remake, but that’s not entirely the case. It’s very close to an HD remaster, barely changing the old game under the smooth art. This becomes immediately apparent when characters pantomime lines in cutscenes, as the Switch release does not include the refreshed voices. Mario doesn’t even get a “Wahoo”. This worked for the limited Super Nintendo releases, but here it feels oddly empty.

The modern look also makes other older parts of the underlying game look more attractive than usual. The original release included some rough platforming sections due to the SNES controller’s D-pad. They haven’t been adjusted much in the remake – even with the joystick they still feel stiff and unforgiving. It is difficult to judge distance when jumping between beanstalks or jumping off the back of paratroopers to climb a mountain. At such moments the adventure may seem a little strange, like watching a colored version of a black-and-white movie. Flaws become even brighter.

keep it kid friendly

The most significant change here comes in the form of combat changes. like the original, super mario rpg Uses an engaging combat system where players can boost attacks or deflect incoming damage with precise timing. It is a more active approach to turn-based combat that encourages players to learn the nuances of each weapon they equip and the enemy they face. The remake makes that idea even more user-friendly by clearly indicating the exact time of each action with an exclamation point. This still requires split-second response times, but it makes the system feel more forgiving without overwhelming it.

Fulfilling that time is also more obviously beneficial. Create perfect action combos that give stat buffs to Mario and his companions while the chain is still running. They also create a brand new special gauge, which activates a flashy triple attack depending on which three party members are currently out of action (if party members are downed, this move becomes an easier Toad instead). Becomes an aid). Special abilities come with their own exciting, animated cinematics that make them feel as special as Final Fantasy boundary breaking.

In Super Mario RPG, Mario and his crew battle Koopas.

All of those changes are great additions that make the battle cycle feel less difficult, but they come with side effects. Every change makes the adventure a little easier – and the base game’s difficulty hasn’t been over-balanced to match. Boss battles, like Axum Rangers, which were once a challenge, have now become simple. My only game over came in the early hours of my adventure when I only had two party members. Otherwise, I found myself frustrated by the same bosses who once frustrated me in a matter of minutes.

The ease of play also makes other systems trivial. There is no need to use elemental attack items, as any boss can be easily eliminated with standard attacks. The classic “Where’s Yoshi?” The minigame, which sometimes lets players gamble for double experience or coins, is a fairly easy game to guess. I never failed to win it during my entire playthrough, which turns the system from a stressful gamble to an exhausting bonus. My inventory was filled with healing items, as my health and magic points regularly refreshed automatically between major encounters. It was so easy that I had to double-check if I’d accidentally enabled the easy Breezy mode.

I hesitate to call super mario rpg An improvement over the 1996 version.

If the cartoon overhaul hasn’t already made it clear, the lack of difficulty reinforces the remake’s mission statement: making a cult classic family-friendly. As a remake, it is comparable pokemon brilliant diamond And shining pearl, with their cute chibi visuals and simple battles. It’s a perfectly logical change, especially as the series is welcoming younger fans than ever before super mario bros movie, The Switch release doubles as both a charming cartoon and an accessible gateway into the genre. This will likely be many kids’ first RPG and I can’t think of a friendlier introduction.

Although I appreciate it, I hesitate to call super mario rpg An improvement over the 1996 version. It’s still the same crazy adventure that I’ll never tire of playing, but it loses some of what made the original special, between changes that go too far and not far enough. I imagine many players will stick to the original in future replays, opting to immerse themselves in its dense pixels and dark landscapes. I can still see those images clearly when I close my eyes, that mysterious box art beckoning me to go back to my Super Nintendo. The Switch remake is a safe way to visit that ominous world in daylight, but I’m eager to return to that dark sky above the sword-pierced castle.

super mario rpg Testing was done on a Nintendo Switch OLED in handheld mode and on a TCL 6-Series R635 when docked.

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