As the Nintendo Switch continues its healthy life we've received another update from Nintendo's past as Mario's premier outing in RPG fashion, Super Mario RPG, has released. With characters, we've never seen again like Mallow, and those we somehow never stopped hearing about like Geno how does Mario's first RPG adventure hold up in 2023?
Super Mario RPG begins like most Mario titles do, with some tragedy befalling Princess Peach and Mario running, jumping, and hammering his way to save her. Super Mario RPG immediately takes a turn as Bowser is kicked out of his own castle, Peach is flung across the mushroom kingdom, and strange sentient weapon creatures have taken over Bowser's castle.
It's now up to Mario to make his way around the map defeating the new invaders, picking up companions, rescuing Princess Peach, and the world.
Super Mario RPG has an exceptional list of crazy and colorful characters. Within your party, you have Mallow the frog(?), Geno, a doll brought to life by a star, Bowser, and Peach all filling in different classic RPG archetypes.
Enemies are all over the place. While you start with classic enemies like Goombas and Spikeys as you explore regions the enemies will be a blend of familiar foes with some honestly crazy designs. My favorite area for this was the sewer where you'd see cute and familiar Boos paired up with monstrous Hobgoblin enemies and menacing shadows.
The story certainly isn't a long one but hits on all of the highs of an RPG story, turns foes into friends, and has a final act that feels like it just keeps on going. Having never played the original, aside from starting it a few times, I absolutely flew through Super Mario RPG and it just left me wanting for more.
And 'more' is what I got as this remake has added in several post-game objectives including boss fight remakes with unique approaches to combat to push a player to strategize. It's a similar idea to Super Mario Wonder's Star World and the ideaology that 'Anyone can beat the game, but not everyone can master it"
Where Great Mario Combat Began...
Combat in Super Mario RPG is turn-based combat where Mario and two party members take on local enemies in each area. You won't just be selecting attacks and targets in Super Mario RPG but you'll get additional time button presses to deal extra damage, or even for a chance to avoid damage altogether.
The inability to remove Mario from your party is both a blessing and a curse, it allows Mario to shine as the protagonist he is but does mean you'll need to be tactfully swapping other members in and out, especially in the postgame.
The new Triple Attack mechanic allows you to charge up a bar and unleash an attack that will differ based on which three party members are active at a time. For many of these, the Triple Attack is just a way to deal a large amount of damage, I found myself mostly using the healing ability of Mario, Mallow, and Peach causing a full revive and heal across the whole party.
These Triple Attacks, accompanied by Auto-Saving between areas, are two additionals that come across as quality-of-life improvements but also feel like they've slightly unbalanced the game in favor of the player.
It's clear how this RPG combat was the progenitor of other Mario RPGs like Paper Mario and the Mario and Luigi series. It also makes it easy to see just how early Nintendo nailed this combat and I'm so glad it's still around in newer Mario RPG titles.
Different equipment for each of the characters does appear as you make your way through the game though it's all a linear upgrade path. As you reach the next town there will be upgraded gear for all of your characters provided you have the money to spend on it, and chances are you always will.
There is a lot more strategy to be had in the different accessories that you'll be attaching to your fighters. These items can give simple stat boosts, make you immune to certain status effects, or even alert you to the presence of a hidden chest.
As enemies employ different strategies having a healer who is immune to the Mushroom condition or being able to hit exceptionally harder than normal can mean a big difference in your chances to get through a fight.
Each character can only have one accessory at a time so it's simple strategizing, but something to always keep in your mind.
Super Mario RPG Review | Final Thoughts
While not the longest or the hardest RPG on the market Super Mario RPG is an excellent adventure, and a fantastic remake or a beloved title for many. Even for new players who have never experienced the original and are just trying to figure out who Geno is Super Mario RPG is a well worth having adventure.
For those who are playing but don't feel like there's quite enough of a challenge, I recommend looking forward to the post-game, while it's brief it does an incredible job of taking Super Mario RPG and its combat systems and pushing it to it's best form.
Super Mario RPG was Reviewed on Nintendo Switch, using a copy bought by the reviewer over the course of 14 hours of gameplay - all screenshots were taken during the process of the preview.
- Interactive RPG Combat
- Unique and Classic enemies
- Challenging end-game
- QoL features unbalance gameplay