As soon as I started the remake of Super Mario RPG, it felt like I was looking at an old photo album. Simultaneously, it felt like I was playing a brand new game. This is a rare feat. Not just for a game, but for any form of entertainment. The SNES original was a wonderful game so the foundation was solid for this Switch remake. Aside from the new coat of paint, a handful of new features were added to make this the definitive version. I would go as far to say that the SNES version is obsolete. Hot take? Nah, I speak the truth.
The game starts as many Mario games do: Peach has been kidnapped (AGAIN) by Bowser and Mario is on the scene. However, during the confrontation, a giant sword called Exor breaks through the Star Road and crashes into Boswer’s castle. Everyone gets flung in a different direction. Mario has been given a new task to find the seven star fragments. Otherwise, no one will be able to have their wishes granted. This simple story will have Mario recruiting allies old and new as he attempts to see what the deal is with this giant, animated sword. Solid writing with a humorous script will keep this story fresh. It makes for a great change of pace in comparison to other RPGs that are more serious. Most of the script remained unchanged, but new story moments obviously bring new story beats. Certain story events were giving fully animated FMVs. I hadn’t played the original since the late 90s but the writing never felt out of date.
All of the familiar locales and set pieces are back. You’ll be scaling Booster Tower, swimming in the sea, and hopping from cloud to cloud in Nimbus Land. Exploration requires using Mario’s jump. None of the jumps are challenging. Jumping adds a simple yet effective manner of exploring. The environments are well constructed, easy to navigate, and nothing is out of view unless it’s a secret. Speaking of which, hidden treasure blocks, passage ways and other bonuses are all over the place. A neat perk in this remaster is that you will receive the Signal Ring at the very beginning of the game. This helps with discovering hidden treasure chests. There are lots of hidden goodies to find for those that utilize Mario’s jump to the best of their ability.
Battles retain their simplicity. The turned-based format and the timed hits remained unchanged. Timing a button press or mashing a button or rotating the control pad means an increase in power of attacks and spells. When the enemy attacks, you will need to time a button press to mitigate damage. Battles received some nice upgrades. The biggest game changer is the ability to switch around characters (other than Mario) at will. Now, all characters get a chance to shine. Depending on who’s in the active party, your timed hits will provide subtle bonuses to defense, magic attack, etc. Finally, nailing your timed hits builds up a meter. Using this at 100% will unleash a triple attack. These will vary depending on who’s in the party. It’s a lot of fun seeing the different attacks because they’re flashy and effective. These additions don’t lower or raise the difficulty, either. Mario RPG is still on the simpler side other than some bonus battles and some post-game content. And yes, the “Lazy Shell trick” is still in full effect. However, the game never stops being fun.
The remixed music in is fantastic, but those that yearn for the original format can switch to it at will. Yoko Shimomura’s work (and the work of the other contributors) was properly touched up. The music is varied and songs will get stuck in your head after you turn off your console. Graphically, the shiny new style is quite the site to behold. The isometric, 3D world filled with original and returning Mario enemies, unique NPCs and creative environments look fantastic whether docked or on the TV. I recommend playing on a TV, of course.
I remember playing the original version of Super Mario RPG multiple times. Each file felt shorter than the last. This was after doing as much possible, too. This new version on the Switch is just as short. The clock said 15 hours went by after the credits rolled. However, post-game bosses exclusive to this version were added for those that want to challenge themselves. As usual, I doubt I’ll bother with any of it but I can appreciate this new stuff from afar. I can’t recommend this game enough, obviously. Fans of the original and unfamiliar players will devour every inch of it. It manages to outshine what was already a masterpiece on the Super Nintendo.
Overall, 9/10: The Super Mario RPG Remake is a faithful yet fresh remake of one of the most creative Super Nintendo RPGs.