Super Mario RPG review:  A timeless game remade

A slow love affair
end credits photo in super mario rpg remake
Screenshot by Dot Esports

It feels like every company in the world lately is remaking older games for a newer audience.

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Nintendo has been at the forefront of this revolution, leading the charge in the Switch era. We have had the charming remake of Link’s Awakening, the curious retelling of Let’s Go Pikachu and Eevee, and most of the Nintendo’s Wii U library reintroduced as “Deluxe” titles for the Switch, from Mario Kart 8 to Pikmin 3. 

Even with all these retellings and remasters, the release of Super Mario RPG, a remake of Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars for SNES, was something I never anticipated. It is a niche game with a cult following, but not something I expected to get the remaster treatment.

Going into Super Mario RPG, I was cautiously optimistic. I loved it as a child, but what would the game be like now, and how much would Nintendo change nearly 27 years later? 

Very little, apparently. But that doesn’t make it a bad thing.

Seeing through rose-tinted glasses

mario's house in super mario rpg remake
Mario’s Home | Screenshot by Dot Esports.

Super Mario RPG is what happens when a Square Enix 90s RPG game meets the world of Mario. As Mario, your task is—once again—to save the princess, but this time not against Bowser, but a sentient otherworldly sword. Throughout your journey, you’ll encounter a cast of characters, both friends and foes, to team up with and take on the bigger evil.

Instead of the platforming action Mario fans have grown accustomed to, you alternatively take part in time-based battles. In these battles, you must choose attacks and spells to deplete an enemy’s life bar to gain that critical XP to level up.

By leveling up, you gain access to powerful new moves, increase your stats, and gain the tools to go to higher-level areas to face off against those level’s bosses. This is a rinse-and-repeat cycle as you make your way through the story until you are strong enough to take on the final boss.

What stood out to me during my 10+ hour playthrough was just how much of the remake was the original game with a new coat of paint. The world and structure of its towns are nearly identical to the original, the story and character reveals are the same, and even the placement of some hidden items remains unchanged. Everything is where it should be, making it easy for those who played the original to speedrun the entire experience.

These similarities meant I was able to use muscle memory alone to get through the majority of the Super Mario RPG with relative ease. 

It’s also nice to see some of the most bizarre parts of the original game in this remake. You can still one-hit Exor with Geno Whirl if you still remember how to, and Mario’s ridiculous (almost) infinite Super Jump is still there, if not a tad more challenging to pull off. So it’s clear the devs recognized most of what fans loved in the original game and included it for newer players to experience for the first time.

Change can be a good thing

map in super mario 64
The Map | Screenshot by Dot Esports.

While there are plenty of similarities with the original Super Mario RPG, there are also a lot of changes and new additions that may throw OG players off at times.

Dialogue differs quite a bit in some areas, with Mallow’s hilarious Bruce Lee reference in the Forest Maze gutted, and Exor’s mouth changed from a Neosquid to a plain old mouth. While these may not seem like significant things to point out, for most fans of the original game, these were parts that created comedy gold for us back in the ‘90s. Their removal is likely due to copyright infringement or to avoid a lawsuit by mentioning a deceased celebrity name, but it feels wrong not to see it in the Switch remake.

On the up side, there’s an entirely new secret boss to find, gorgeous cutscenes added, and new super moves to introduce characters and reward players for experimenting with team combinations.

So, while I originally thought the idea of this game being a 1:1 remake was a bad thing, the more I played, the more I realized how much love has been given to the remake and why some sacrifices have had to be made.

Closing Curtain

level up choice in super mario rpg remake
Level Up! | Screenshot by Dot Esports.

Super Mario RPG is an interesting remake made with love and care that returning fans can enjoy and new fans can get engrossed in. 

As a returning player, it is amazing to see a lot of the core original game intact, with new mechanics added to shake things up a bit. The world feels more alive than ever, its charm remains intact—for the most part—and it is still an RPG with little grinding needed so long as you are skilled enough at the combat system.

It was both nostalgic and gratifying to replay Super Mario RPG again from a more mature perspective, and I can only imagine how much enjoyment a newer generation of fans will have playing it, especially with Europe getting a physical release for the first time after the SNES game was only released in America and Japan back in 1999.

It is pure joy, in a genre I hold dear, that should be experienced regardless of your history with it.

8
Super Mario RPG
Pros
  • New secrets and content will keep original fans engaged
  • Updated soundtrack, but option to use the original
  • The charm remains, just with a new coat of remastered paint
Cons
  • A slow start that may put new and returning players off
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Author
Adam Newell
If it has anything to do with Nintendo and Pokémon chances are you will see me talking about it, covering, and likely not sleeping while playing it.