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Super Mario RPG Review: A Timeless Classic Reimagined

  • Engaging combat system
  • Accessible to new and novice RPG players
  • Rich visual and audio remastering
  • Limited new content
  • Some battles can toe the line of being tedious

A Switch code for "Super Mario RPG" was provided to SVG for this review. The game is available now on Nintendo Switch.

"Super Mario RPG," the legendary title from the SNES era, has been reborn with a striking 3D visual overhaul that breathes new life into its colorful world. The transition from charming 2D sprites to vibrant 3D models is a bold move that mostly pays off, offering a fresh perspective to the game's quirky universe. The addition of new CG cutscenes is a delightful touch, enhancing key story moments and making the characters' personalities shine brighter.


The audio experience in the game is nothing short of a treat. Yoko Shimomura's remastered soundtrack is a highlight, brilliantly preserving the whimsy and wonder of the original compositions. The option to switch between the nostalgic SNES tracks and the updated versions on the fly is a thoughtful nod to long-time fans, ensuring the game's soundscape appeals to both old-school gamers and newcomers alike. It's a great feeling to be able to play this revamped version while nostalgic melodies flood your ears.

A familiar yet fresh combat dance

At its core, "Super Mario RPG" remains true to its roots, offering a delightful mix of classic "Mario" elements and RPG mechanics. The game retains its signature running and jumping gameplay, seamlessly blending it with turn-based battles that align with the genre. The timing-based attack system, a standout feature of the original game, returns with even more finesse, requiring players to execute button presses with precision. This system, a blend of action and strategy, elevates the combat experience, making it more than just selecting options from a menu. It's this interactive element that keeps every encounter exciting and engaging, while still keeping in line with nostalgia.


The game introduces an easier difficulty setting, perfect for younger or novice RPG players, ensuring the game is accessible without diluting the challenge for veterans. The addition of the Action Gauge and Triple Moves, reminiscent of "Chrono Trigger," offers an additional strategic layer to battles, encouraging players to master the timing mechanics to unleash powerful combo attacks.

Mustaches and mysteries

"Super Mario RPG" shines in its storytelling, blending humor and adventure in a way that's rare for the genre. The silent protagonist, Mario, becomes a canvas for comedy, his mime-like antics conveying stories and emotions in a way words simply couldn't. The narrative, while straightforward, is filled with charm and personality, driven by a colorful cast that includes the much-loved Geno and Mallow.


The writing is particularly well done. It's light-hearted yet engaging, suitable for all ages but with enough wit to keep older players amused. The array of villains, from the goofy Smithy Gang to other bizarre adversaries, adds to the game's unique flavor, creating a world that's both fantastical and grounded in the zany logic of the Mario universe. And, of course, the beloved fan-favorite characters of Mallow and Geno make their triumphant return, helping Mario on his adventure with weather-based attacks and other special abilities.

Variety is the spice of the Mushroom Kingdom

Throughout the campaign, "Super Mario RPG" constantly surprises with its variety. From mini-games that test your reflexes to puzzles that challenge your wits, the game never feels monotonous. Remember racing Yoshis or navigating a mine cart maze? They're back and as enjoyable as ever. Each activity uses the game's core mechanics in novel ways, rewarding players with coins, items, or just good old-fashioned fun and nostalgia.


In terms of post-game content, the remake introduces some challenging battles that will test even the most seasoned players. This additional content, while not groundbreaking, adds a layer of replayability and extends the game's lifespan, ensuring that even after the main story concludes, there's still plenty to come back for — whether that means becoming a master of the different mini-games and snagging even more gold coins, or taking on one of the bosses again in a rematch.

RPG lite: Perfect for young gamers

One of the remake's strengths is its accessibility. The addition of Breezy Mode, which simplifies battles, makes it an excellent entry point into the RPG genre for younger players or those who don't typically play other RPG titles. This mode allows novice gamers to enjoy the story and adventure without getting bogged down by challenging gameplay — making it even more accessible than it originally was. However, for those who master the timing and combat mechanics, the game offers enough depth and challenge to be satisfying.


The game strikes a balance between being educational — when it comes to RPG mechanics — as well as entertaining. It subtly teaches strategic thinking and timing, essential skills for more complex RPGs, while ensuring the journey is fun and engaging. This balance makes "Super Mario RPG" an ideal introductory RPG for younger audiences, who can enjoy the adventure without feeling overwhelmed.

A near-perfect score for Mario's revamped RPG adventure

"Super Mario RPG" is a faithful remake that skillfully brings a classic into the modern era. While it largely retains the gameplay and story of the original, the visual upgrades, remastered soundtrack, and added gameplay tweaks enhance the overall experience. Its accessibility makes it a great starting point for younger players entering the RPG genre, while the depth and variety keep it engaging for seasoned gamers.


However, the game isn't without its shortcomings. The transition to 3D, while mostly successful, loses some of the original's sprite-based charm, and the platforming elements can be frustrating due to outdated controls. Moreover, while the game is packed with variety, some may find the lack of significant new content or story elements to be a missed opportunity. If that's the case, though, "Super Mario Bros. Wonder" is more than enough to scratch that itch.

Overall, "Super Mario RPG" scores a solid 9 out of 10. It shows how a classic can be revitalized for a new generation without losing the magic that made it special in the first place. Whether you're a long-time fan or a newcomer to the world of Mario and RPGs, this game is sure to offer a delightful and memorable experience.