FutureFive New Zealand - Consumer technology news & reviews from the future
Story image
Game review: Super Mario RPG (Nintendo Switch)
Tue, 28th Nov 2023

Historically, Super Mario games have been 2D platformers, as seen in the recently released Super Mario Wonder. However, there are 3D platform Mario games out in the wild, including the likes of Super Mario 64 and 2017’s Super Mario Odyssey.  

What some people may not know is that Super Mario was turned into a turn-based RPG back in 1996. The original game was called Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars, and it came out for the Super Nintendo. What’s interesting about this release is that it was developed by SquareSoft, who is the maker of the famous Final Fantasy games. 

Super Mario RPG has always been a fan favourite, but not many recent gamers would have had a chance to play it. Well, it’s now 2023, and a remake has been developed by AtrePiazza. This new remake is simply called Super Mario RPG, and it’s exclusively available right now for the Nintendo Switch console. 
I never owned a Super Nintendo console, so I never played the original Super Mario RPG. You don’t need to have played the original because this remake is accessible for beginners like me. If you are usually useless at turn-based RPGs, ArtePiazza has introduced a new easy mode to make the combat more forgiving to newbies to the genre. 

Probably the biggest change people will notice about this Super Mario RPG remake is that it now includes full 3D graphics. The character models have been modelled in 3D, and the environments have been somewhat overhauled as well. 

Another thing I admired about this remake is the all-new CGI-style cutscenes. These scenes look awesome as they resemble the quality of an animated movie from Hollywood. The only thing that’s really missing from this remake is full voice-overs. The game instead uses mute text boxes whenever one of the characters is speaking.

While the game may not have voice acting, it still retains the remake’s excellent soundtrack. You can listen to the original 1996 soundtrack, or you can change to the newly made arranged soundtrack too. It doesn’t matter which version you choose because the soundtrack as a whole is very awesome and memorable. It’s much better than most soundtracks from other games and movies I’ve listened to nowadays.

Super Mario RPG also includes a very interesting story for those who haven’t played the original game. The game starts off like a traditional Mario game because Princess Peach is kidnapped by Bowser, and Mario has to go to Bowser’s castle in order to save her.

To cut a story short, a living sword called Exor crashes into Bowser’s castle, and this causes all of the main characters to fly in different directions. The Mushroom Kingdom is then overrun by a new enemy called the Smithy Gang. This gang is hell-bent on world domination, and Mario, Peach, and even Bowser have to fight back to gain what is rightfully theirs again.  

In terms of gameplay, Super Mario RPG plays like a traditional turn-based RPG, but it includes some new features that make the combat feel more fun and satisfying. I usually don’t like playing turn-based RPGs because you normally have to just sit there and do nothing when the enemy attacks you. 

Super Mario RPG, however, uses a new feature that actually allows you to block attacks. If an enemy is attacking a party member, you can simply press the A button at the correct time to block their attacks and attain zero damage. This is a feature I hope gets used in other turn-based RPGs!

Another new feature of this remake is special “triple moves” that are performed by the three active members of your party. You can only do this when a special gauge is filled up to 100%, but it does a lot of damage if you save it for a hard boss fight. 

One helpful mechanic in Super Mario RPG is that every character will earn experience points even if they’re not in your active party. Mario is the only character that has to be active in your party at all times, but other characters can be reserves. Even if they’re not fighting, reserves still earn the same number of experience points as the other members of your party. 

Each character in your party also has their own special moves and unique weapon types. For example, Mario’s special abilities include jumping on opponents and shooting out fireballs. His iconic hammer from the original Donkey Kong game is also used as a powerful weapon. 

Bowser, on the other hand, can use his powerful claws to attack, but he can also swing his mace around. Players can also hit the A button again to attack two times to get extra hits on enemies as well. This was a helpful tactic that allowed me to defeat enemies as quickly as possible. 

Much like many other RPGs out there, you will need to level up constantly in order to stay competitive. If you don’t fight enough enemies, you may be under-levelled and too weak to defeat the end boss of each level. You will also need to save up on gold coins to spend on more powerful weapons and better armour. 

There aren’t any major flaws I can say about Super Mario RPG at this point. Some RPG fans might be disappointed about its game length because you can finish the main story in around 11 or so hours. This is far shorter than the 40 hours or more you may need to finish most mainline Final Fantasy games. 

Aside from a short length, I still had a ton of fun playing Super Mario RPG. The graphics are nice and colourful, plus the turn-based combat is surprisingly enjoyable. This game is worth picking up if you own a Nintendo Switch console. 
Verdict: 9.5/10