Developed By: ArtePiazza Published By: Nintendo Categories: RPG Release Date: 11.17.23 Price: $59.99
Allow me to gush. The original Super Mario RPG on the Super Nintendo is by far and above my favorite video game of all time. My introduction to the JRPG genre, a quirky enough journey that let Mario spread his arms out a bit, and a game I swear I rented a dozen times as a kid. Knowing the staff would soon form the studio Luvdelic and the studios that branched off of that makes me falling for this game seem like destiny. Nintendo announcing a remake for the Switch as a dream come true, and having the game in my hands feels just like home.
I’m not going to start with “Mario RPGs are just different”, because I find that to frankly be hooey. Super Mario RPG is very much a standard JRPG in the ways you’d expect. Turn based, you choose weapons, armor, have attacks, spells, special moves. The one thing that may make it stand out is the button timing you can do turning turns. Want to attack harder? Hit A right at the perfect time! This works for defense too! Just guard at the right time and you’ll either take less or no damage at all. This is something that would be inherited into the Paper Mario and Mario and Luigi titles.
Mario RPGs, especially Super Mario RPG aren’t a breath of fresh air for RPGs, a lot of pretty wacky. It’s a breath of fresh air for Mario games. Yes, Mario has personality, all the characters do. But in 1996, especially right before 3D Mario games were a thing, this was a stark difference between the norm. Mario and crew are animated, they make mistakes, there’s a sense of humility. It’s not really that deep, but it’s something. You have to admit, it is pretty cool to be able to play as Bowser and Peach this early too.
If you’ve played any old school Squaresoft developed RPG (they made the original), you should probably know the gist of everything. Battles, maps, boss fights, story, story, story. Minigames! It’s a exercise in repetition trying to explain how RPGs work at this point, so I won’t. But if you see any tropes or cliches in those…you’re going to experience those too. As someone who enjoys all of this, it just fits in right snug into my mindspace.
Here comes the wall. How much do you find yourself liking or disliking isometric camera angles in games? Super Mario RPG was originally pre-rendered CG with the out in the corner camera. Luckily, while you can and will jump around the levels, you probably won’t need to be precise, so it’s fine. The real meat of the gameplay is in those battles anyway.
Super Mario RPG on Switch is for better or worse a faithful remake. If you played the original game on Super Nintendo, this is going to probably just feel exactly as it did. The improvements come mostly in the presentation. It’s fully 3D now, there are some wonderfully animated cutscenes during the game now too. The group attacks all have these kind of cutscenes as well. In addition to everything else, the music was redone…but if you don’t like it, you can always play with the original SNES chiptunes.
Other small changes include boss rematches, bestiaries, improvements to your attacks to make fights a tad easier, and a way to get that one collectable that was missable in the original. For sure this is the definitive way to play.
It feels so good to play this game again. Even better to have it remade and on a handheld like the Switch. Like I said before, it’s a dream come true and I’m so glad Nintendo and ArtePiazza made this happen. It definitely beats the game just being put on Nintendo Switch Online…which I suppose I would have been fine with too.