Super Mario RPG Review | Lives Up To The Legend

94
Story
10
Gameplay
9
Visuals
9
Audio
9
Value for Money
10
Price:
$ 60
Clear Time:
5 Hours
Super Mario RPG is a hit of concentrated nostalgia delivered directly to your veins in glorious 3D. This game is a true remake among remakes, as it was able to capture the charm that the original game had while implementing small but smart combat updates that streamlined an already amazing gameplay loop. This remake certainly had big shoes to fill, following up on a game of mythic proportions that was carried by its dedicated fanbase through nearly three decades. After all is said and done, I can confidently say that Super Mario RPG Remake lives up to the legend.

Super Mario RPG is a remake of the SNES classic, Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars, and Nintendo's latest addition to the ever-growing Mario franchise. Read our review to see what it did well, what it didn't do well, and if it's worth buying.

Super Mario RPG Review Overview

Super Mario RPG Pros & Cons

Pros Cons
Checkmark Modern Look for Classic Characters
Checkmark Revamped Combat System
Checkmark Plenty of Quality-of-Life Changes
Checkmark The Early Game is A Slog
Checkmark Action Command Timing is Too Unforgiving

Super Mario RPG Overall - 94/100

Super Mario RPG is a hit of concentrated nostalgia delivered directly to your veins in glorious 3D. This game is a true remake among remakes, as it was able to capture the charm that the original game had while implementing small but smart combat updates that streamlined an already amazing gameplay loop. This remake certainly had big shoes to fill, following up on a game of mythic proportions that was carried by its dedicated fanbase through nearly three decades. After all is said and done, I can confidently say that Super Mario RPG Remake lives up to the legend.

Super Mario RPG Story - 10/10

Super Mario RPG’s main story is exactly like the original’s: weird, wacky, and chock-full of fun moments. As is befitting a game that was originally worked on by Squaresoft, the plot is equal parts convoluted and fantastical, blending the diverse worlds of the Mushroom Kingdom with the alien threat of the Smithy Gang. There’s never a dull moment in this game, as every nook and cranny is filled to the brim with witty dialogue and wacky sidequests from the most outlandish characters. I hope you’re up for a wild ride because you’re gonna get one.

Super Mario RPG Gameplay - 9/10

Super Mario RPG is a masterclass in revamping dated combat systems for the modern gamer. Nintendo understood which parts of the original game’s combat system worked and kept them for the remake while adding in minor gameplay improvements to keep things fresh. New features like Perfect Action Commands and Triple Moves spearheaded these innovations, although the latter could have been implemented better. Apart from this minor hiccup, Super Mario RPG’s gameplay is as memorable as the original’s.

Super Mario RPG Visuals - 9/10

Super Mario RPG's 3D graphics are a far cry from the original SNES game's pixelated aesthetics and it's everything I've ever hoped for. The character designs look crisp and the stylized "chibi" look makes even the mainstay members of Mario's crew distinct from their appearances in other games. The game's stage design is gorgeous, sporting the same isometric angle that the original had and an overhauled overworld map. New 3D cutscenes and cinematics have also been added to the remake, adding more value to its already impressive lineup of visual feasts. If it weren't for the visual clutter that fills the screen constantly, this game would've gotten a perfect score for its visuals.

Super Mario RPG Audio - 9/10

Super Mario RPG’s soundtrack is an impeccable homage to the original game’s musical score, featuring remade versions of our favorite tracks. Though the game does not feature any voice acting, it still manages to convey the emotion and intensity of each scene, world, and boss fight through its music. As a special treat for older fans, the remake allows you to switch between the old and new versions of each track. Talk about breathing in that nostalgia!

Super Mario RPG Value for Money - 10/10

While the game's nostalgia factor alone could justify its value, it goes beyond that by delivering enjoyable gameplay, appealing aesthetics, and remarkable music. Beyond a Mushroom Kingdom-spanning story mode, the game also offers engaging minigames and a challenging Boss Rematch mode to test your RPG skills. You’ll undoubtedly spend countless hours trying to beat the game’s secret boss as well, so the game’s middling price of $60 is more than acceptable.

Super Mario RPG Review: Lives Up to The Legend

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I’ll just be upfront and say that this remake had MASSIVE shoes to fill. Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars was a titan among titans during the SNES era of gaming and for good reason. It was the first RPG game in the Mario franchise and was universally adored by fans for its memorable story and fun gameplay. A lot of nostalgia was riding on this remake from the get-go; a setup that usually spelled danger for any remake of a well-loved classic. I am happy to report, however, that despite the mythical proportions of the legacy it had to uphold, Super Mario RPG Remake managed to live up to the legend of the original.

A lot of this was owed to the remake’s faithfulness to the source material. Remakes nowadays tend to either be slap-job HD remasters or complete overhauls, two extremes that forgo what made the original memorable. Warcraft III: Reforged and Dungeon Keeper Mobile comes to mind. What makes Super Mario RPG Remake so good is that it straddles a delicate balance between old and new by keeping what made the original great and adding minor improvements on top.
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Most obvious among these improvements is the remake’s 3D overhaul, breathing new life into the Legend of the Seven Stars. While series mainstays like Mario, Peach, and Bowser have had 3D models for some time now, characters unique to the setting like Geno and Mallow have never looked this good. The remake also introduced numerous new cutscenes, enhancing the presentation of the story and the overall aesthetic value of the game.

Plenty of these new improvements were implemented within the remake’s combat system. Among them were the Triple Moves, Perfect Action Commands, and Chain Counts. Triple Moves acted as a much-needed mix-up of the normal formula that let players unleash powerful effects that depended on their team composition. Perfect Action Commands and Chain Counts incentivized precise timing, rewarding players with field-wide attacks and ally buffs, respectively.
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Other new features include a "Breezy Mode" that lowers the game’s difficulty, a toggle between retro and modern music, and an option to replay previous boss fights at a higher difficulty. These additions, along with the updated graphics, carefully blend modern elements into the classic game, preserving the original spirit while propelling the remake into the future.

Evidently, despite how the saying usually goes, legends could be made and Nintendo just made it twice.

Pros of Super Mario RPG

Things Super Mario RPG Got Right
Checkmark Modern Look for Classic Characters
Checkmark Revamped Combat System
Checkmark Plenty of Quality-of-Life Changes

Modern Look for Classic Characters

One simply cannot ignore how good these characters look in glorious 3D. While I’m sure many of the game’s older fans might prefer the old CRT TV look, it’s about time that some of these characters got a visual update. I'm excited about Geno and Mallow in particular, but notable members of the Smithy Gang like Yaridovich and Bowyer were nice to see as well.

Of course, Mario and his crew have had 3D models for over a decade now, but their looks are stylized in this game, looking more like chibi versions of their usual models. Overall, Super Mario RPG Remake put a fresh coat of paint over our favorite classic Mario characters and I’m all for it.

Revamped Combat System

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The best combat systems are the ones that are simple to understand, but difficult to master. The original Super Mario RPG: Legend of The Seven Stars had a combat system that was exactly that. With its Action Commands, careful skill balancing, and secret mechanics, it managed to draw in new players with its simplicity and wow long-time players with its surprising depth.

The Super Mario RPG Remake took this recipe for a good combat system and added some pizzazz in the mix, building on the strong foundations it was given and somehow improving on perfection. The Action Command gave way to Perfect Action Commands in the remake, which then gave way to Chain Counts, Action Gauges, and Triple Moves down the line. This resulted in a compact, easy-to-understand bundle of game features that comprised the remake’s revamped combat system.
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To go more in-depth with each of those features, let’s discuss them briefly and see what part they play in the remake’s revamped combat loop. Perfect Action Commands are just Action Commands executed within a tighter time frame. Pressing certain buttons at certain times will reward you with more damage and an area of effect. Chain Counts form from succeeding Action Commands, eventually activating unique buffs for each party member.

Lastly, we have Triple Moves, which can only be executed when the Action Gauge is full. The Action Gauge fills with every successful Action Command and is maintained between encounters. Triple Moves have differing, but equally powerful effects that depend on your team’s composition.
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Although easily the flashiest addition to the combat system, Triple Moves were not implemented as well as they could have been. The Action Gauge is available right at the start but Triple Moves aren’t. That comes later, when you gain Geno as your third party member nearly 5 hours into the game. Many fights before that point are manageable, but some are downright tedious.

All in all, apart from a minor issue of late implementation, the game’s revamped combat system is a nice blend of past mechanics and new innovations.

Plenty of Quality-of-Life Changes

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Quality-of-life was nonexistent in the original Super Mario RPG: Legend of The Seven Stars, likely due to the hardware limitations of the SNES console. The game only had one difficulty setting and a whole cavalcade of well-known glitches and exploits that the speedrunning community eventually utilized. The Super Mario RPG Remake ironed out a lot of these "kinks in the code", as it were, and streamlined the game to the point of it being accessible to even the newest players.
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"Breezy Mode" is a game mode unique to the remake that lowers the game’s overall difficulty and is accessible at all times. Famously exploitable glitches like the Mack Skip have been patched out (much to the disappointment of the speedrunning community) and the iconic Skill Swap is nowhere to be found. Simply put, the game is easier now than ever before, but only if you want it to be.

Smaller conveniences like fast travel, autosave, and sleeker menu designs round out the rough edges of that the previous game had.

Cons of Super Mario RPG

Things That Super Mario RPG Can Improve
Checkmark The Early Game is A Slog
Checkmark Action Command Timing is Too Unforgiving

The Early Game is A Slog

You don’t get a starting party in Super Mario RPG because that’s not how the story starts. For a good while, you simply play as Mario, fighting Goombas, Parakoopas, and Hammer Bros until you stumble into Mallow in the Mushroom Kingdom. After that, it’ll be an even longer while before you get your next party member, Geno, in the Forest Maze area. Then, and only then, will you get access to a proper Triple Move, as you can only use a randomized move called "Toad Support" until that happens.

You lack serious firepower for the first quarter of the game, which could be tedious for some, especially for a couple of boss fights that could have really used them. Breezy Mode is always an option, of course, but where’s the fun in that? I really feel like they could have implemented Triple Moves better and much earlier in the game. It’s unlikely to be changed as its implementation is heavily linked to the game’s story, so if you’re having some trouble, it’s probably best you just take Breezy Mode for a spin.

Action Command Timing is Too Unforgiving

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We were warned by the trailers and gameplay overviews that the timing for Action Commands and Perfect Action Commands would be tight, but I never imagined it’d be this unforgiving. That’s right, you need to get those button presses nigh frame-perfect if you wanna get that sweet area attack to pop off. This is arguably a skill issue on my end and better players are more likely to get it right every time, but this also poses a problem for newbies as they’d have a more challenging time.

Breezy Mode is a potential way to deal with this, but it only lowers the HP of enemies and the level-up thresholds, not the input window for Action Commands. Of course, you’re less likely to need Perfect Action Commands if the game’s easier, but the point remains. There’s not much a player can do about this except get good.

Is Super Mario RPG Worth It?

It’s Absolutely Worth It, Especially If You’re A Mario Fan

It took them nearly three decades, but Nintendo finally followed up their gem of a SNES game with a remake, and oh boy is it a good one. Everyone’s hype during this game’s announcement was well-founded and you’d be remiss as a Mario fan to not get this game immediately. $60 is a modest price to pay to be a part of Mario's history, and you won’t even regret it. This game is absolutely jam-packed with things to do, including a complex story to get lost in, countless minigames to play, and hours upon hours of boss fight rematches. That’s not even factoring in the nostalgia you’d be swimming in once you boot up your Switch.

I cannot recommend this game enough. Get yourself a copy and experience the unbridled joy of your first, or yet another, Super Mario RPG playthrough.

Platform Price
Switch IconNintendo Store $59.99

Super Mario RPG Overview & Premise

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Super Mario RPG’s story revolves around the invasion and subsequent conquest of the Mushroom Kingdom and surrounding areas at the hands of the Smithy Gang. Their incursion destroyed the Star Road, preventing all wishes in the world from coming true. It is up to you, Super Mario, to gather your greatest allies (and Bowser) and head out on an epic quest to gather the seven Star Pieces and fix the Star Road.

Will all our wishes remain unanswered, or will the Star Road shine once again? Find out now in Super Mario RPG.

Super Mario RPG FAQ

Does The Super Mario RPG Remake Still Have Culex?

Yes. Culex, the secret end-game boss from the original Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars, reprises his role in the remake. Both his classic pixelated form and his new 3D form can be encountered in the game.

What Pre-Order Bonuses Are Available for Super Mario RPG?

Super Mario RPG comes with different pre-order bonuses depending on the retailer or online store you pre-ordered from. For a comprehensive list of Super Mario RPG pre-order bonuses and where to get them, you may refer to our handy pre-order guide article.

Super Mario RPG Product Information

Title SUPER MARIO RPG
Release Date November 17, 2023
Developer Nintendo
Supported Platforms Nintendo Switch
Genre Roleplaying Game
Number of Players 1
ESRB Rating E (Everyone)
Official Website N/A
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