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Super Mario RPG Review

Among Nintendo fans, there is one spin-off of the Mario series that they would most like to see return in some form: Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars. In the late summer days of the Nintendo Switch’s life, the big N is listening to fans’ prayers. Whether the new version of the beloved 1996 JRPG hits the mark, find out in our Super Mario RPG Review.

In Super Mario RPG, you go out with Mario to take on the Smithy Gang, a bunch of villains who have invaded the Mushroom Kingdom and are seeking world domination. Of course, the Italian plumber won’t let that happen, so he gathers a bunch of allies to put a stop to it.

Loving return

You do this with different characters than you are usually used to from Mario games. Luigi is nowhere to be seen and so you are introduced to a colorful cast of new characters. Among them are the lost Mellow and the heroic Geno who will be new to many, but add to the story as a fun addition.

With a cool story in which you have to thwart the big bad guy, you pass by numerous cheerful, and especially colorful, locations, after which you solve a problem of the population there in each area. The small mini-adventures help you progress in your quest for seven special stars to thwart the Smithy Gang’s plans. Along the way, you also discover more and more about Geno and Mellow, which often makes for cool moments in the story.

Only players who have played the original 1996 game will be familiar with the duo. After all, Super Mario RPG is a remake, and you’ll notice that especially if you’re familiar with the Mario & Luigi or Paper Mario series. After all, those two are both spiritual successors to Super Mario RPG and board on the mechanics from this game.

RPG with a twist

Indeed, Super Mario RPG plays like a turn-based RPG, where you get to take turns performing an action during battles. Attacking, defending or a combination attack; there are quite a few options. Special to the 1996 title was the clock-shaped meter that builds up by timing attacks well, after which (depending on your team’s setup) you can perform a combination attack that deals extra damage.

Super Mario RPG is, in fact, a turn-based RPG with a little twist. Indeed, you can add extra power to every action during combat by timing it well. For example, sometimes you may deal a second blow, while other times the attack simply deals extra damage to one or more enemies. For the remake, the latter has been added.

It’s a handy way for Nintendo to reward players extra for timing battles well, but the addition also exposes a problem. Those who become good at timing attacks can demolish enemies much faster this way. It is intended as a clever way to eliminate gridding from the game, something that was sometimes the case just under 30 years ago.

Shorter adventure

Now you only get too strong quickly. Indeed, in our quest for the seven stars, we finished the story after just under 12 hours, after which we were able to complete some side activities here and there. In 1996, the game took between 15 and 20 hours, so you’re done considerably faster now.

Retaining those side activities does ensure that you still have cool adventures to look forward to after the credits. Nintendo has remained tremendously faithful to the original with this remake, for which we can only commend the Japanese developer. For example, it is possible to turn on the original soundtrack from the menu.

We would have liked to have that option for the game’s graphic style as well, but the fact that it is missing is not a problem. After all, the new lick of paint looks great, while the updated animations also tastefully put a smile on your face. Especially when someone on your team levels up.

At bottom, then, Super Mario RPG is a strong remake from Nintendo. The game originally developed with Square is still a rock-solid RPG, and many of the innovations from the remake only make the game stronger. The colorful lick of paint, great music and beautiful animations do a lot for the game. Only simplifying the battles might have been a mistake, as it does make the game considerably shorter. Still, it's something we soon take for granted considering there are still some adventures to be had after the credits. And we are happy to do so with Mallow, Geno, Mario and the rest!
  • Cool story
  • Geno and Mallow are back
  • Faithful, tasteful remake
  • Improved graphics, music
  • Battles now too easy
Written by
Justin is a gaming journalist known for his coverage of the video game industry, with a focus on the business and labor practices of major video game companies. He is a contributing editor at Fragster and has written for a variety of other publications, including Wired and Polygon. He is known for his investigative reporting and his efforts to shed light on the often tumultuous inner workings of the video game industry.

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