Super Mario RPG originally released in the dying days of the Super Nintendo. It was a different Mario adventure than what the plumber had previously embarked on. It didn’t get a PAL release, which meant that Europe and Australia missed out on its initial run. Later releases to various Virtual Consoles as well as its inclusion on the Super NES Classic let us Aussies experience Mario’s first RPG title.
That was until June 2023 when Nintendo announced a remake of the beloved game. Fans wouldn’t have to wait long with it releasing on the 17th November. But how does this SNES classic fair with a fresh coat of paint? I’ve spent the last week with Super Mario RPG and have a good idea of the answer to that question.
Super Mario RPG’s Technicolor Dreamcoat
The first thing I will say is that the game looks and sounds amazing. Super Mario RPG was no slouch on the SNES, pushing that console to the limit, but the glow-up the Switch version has been given is nothing short of fantastic.
Character models impress with their smoothness just as much as the SNES release did for its time. Backgrounds pop and had me stopping to appreciate the artistry that’s gone into them. Every visual aspect has been upgraded, including the cutscenes. They have the feel of full motion video cutscenes but somehow still seem like they’re done in the in-game engine.
Most of the time the cutscenes are incredible, but a couple of times there was dialogue in them. The way the dialogue was presented was easily missed, with white text imposed over the visuals. It would have looked better if put in the game’s standard text box or even if the characters made a noise to indicate they were talking.
Music is another standout. Mario is not short of memorable tunes and the upgrade from the SNES soundtrack to the Switch is amazing. Every location has a tune fitting its environment. After completing the game, a sound player unlocks for players to listen to the tracks, along with being able to toggle between updated music and the original SNES songs.
Combat In Super Mario RPG
As Mario moves around the world, he’ll encounter enemies roaming the map. Coming into contact with them initiates combat. Mario and his friends take turns either attacking enemies or supporting each other. Super Mario RPG features an active style of combat. Button presses at the correct time boost damage or protect the player.
The more of these actions that can be performed in a row increase the combo counter. Higher combo numbers give a boost to stats to help Mario’s allies defeat their enemies. If an attack misses, or if the enemy performs an unblockable attack, the combo counter is not affected.
The variety of moves and weapons made combat fun. I would have liked a bit more variety in how combat commences. Turns are decided based off the speed stat of the character. I would have liked a way to get an advantage in combat by jumping on an enemy or sneaking up on them, to get an extra turn in combat.
Levelling seems a bit out of whack. Seeing the enemies before entering combat means you can avoid them altogether. I did this a lot in the middle of Super Mario RPG and found myself under levelled. It didn’t take long to catch up. But because I was paying attention and killing more enemies, I became over-levelled. The last two areas of the game (including the final boss fight) became trivial because of how powerful I was.
Super Mario RPG has a few side quests, but they are easy to miss. Like many NES and SNES era games, NPCs will give little hints as to the location of something but it’s up to the player to work out what to do.
From swimming down a waterfall to racing with Yoshis, there’s plenty to be done to earn that extra in-game swag. The issue with it for me was there was no real point in doing them when I was so over-levelled.
Super Mario RPG
Overall, Super Mario RPG is an enjoyable experience. The active combat elements combine with updated elements to make something truly worth playing. While the story is pretty basic, the writing of all the characters carry everything forward in a way that I want to know what happens to them.
Super Mario RPG is out now for the Nintendo Switch for AU$79.95.