Super Mario RPG (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Sandy Kirchner-Wilson 28.11.2023

Review for Super Mario RPG on Nintendo Switch

Mario RPG has been a firm fan favourite for a long time and this is in large part due to its characters and story. Unsurprisingly, everything is here in this faithful recreation. When the game was released on SNES back in 1996, it was assumed the unique title was trapped on that platform but Nintendo has consistently offered ways to access this adventure across its family of consoles. With the release of Nintendo Switch Online SNES games people expected that was how Mario RPG would make its eventual Switch debut but no, Nintendo has 'pulled a blinder' and gone all Resident Evil Remake with a full remake: Super Mario RPG: Remake. However, does it hold up?

Super Mario RPG: Remake has an excellent story with a very well-written and comedic script. This remake sees many key story elements playing out as cutscenes, which look great and also bring an element of nostalgia for PS1 RPG titles, while the rest is played out in slapstick animations in the gameplay area. These are extremely faithful to the original game's storytelling style. Amazingly, every event from the original release has been brought over to this remake, from Princess Peach's kidnapping by Bowser at the beginning to creating music at the tadpole pond. The story also benefits from Mario being mute and relying on visual communication for his replies, making for a lot of interesting exchanges. It has a host of colourful side and background characters, some of whom are exclusive to the title, including Mallow and Geno who have long been thrust at Masahiro Sakurai as characters for Super Smash Bros. The unique cast and setting really set this apart from other forays into the Mario world and highlight what a fantastic collaboration Square Enix and Nintendo are capable of. The original even laid the groundwork for future RPG titles such as Mario and Luigi: Superstar Saga and the Paper Mario series.

Screenshot for Super Mario RPG on Nintendo Switch

Gameplay takes place in two or three key ways. Battles allow the player to fight in a turn-based final fantasy reminiscent style. Map / travelling consists of players guiding Mario and friends through different locales. Finally, minigames offer a variety of challenges to change up the gameplay flow. These are all pretty much unchanged from their original forms with the main improvement being the game running at a silky smooth 60fps. The turn-based battling is a fun experience augmented by some reaction-based button pressing. Every attack has a button input, either a single press, a mash or a combination, that will significantly increase the attack power. Defending uses a well-timed button press to reduce damage. It's a fun back and forth that really gives what is an otherwise simple system some nuance. Bosses are also a huge element. All of them have great personalities, contribute to the story and sometimes have gimmick-based battles. It's amazing just how well the combat holds up after so many years.

Screenshot for Super Mario RPG on Nintendo Switch

Exploring the world of Mario RPG is a joy, too. This is where the story has most of its most iconic conversations and music while also showing off some fantastic atmosphere and visuals. In fact, these environments are fantastic, highly detailed recreations of the original setting that benefit from some extra tweaks. For example, the original game had a black void around each game screen but in this remake the levels are stitched together in a more natural way and the void is filled with background elements, making the world feel more solid. However, buildings retain the void in the background! Characters and towns are now looking great and retain all of their original charm. Back on the subject of the exploration, many areas of the game have interesting mechanics that lend that 'Mario-feeling' to the zones. There is platforming, moving platforms and other traversal methods such as swimming. It's incredible what they squeezed into that original title and it's all here and feeling great.

Minigames are also back in force, offering nice diversions from the core gameplay loop. Want to slide down a waterfall or compose some music? Why not do both? As Mario and friends progress through the world they will frequently encounter minigame content that drastically shakes up the gameplay. Most of these are a lot of fun, especially the falls! It really helps keep the game fresh and interesting over its 12 to 14 hour length without being frustrating.

Screenshot for Super Mario RPG on Nintendo Switch

Having already mentioned presentation on and off during the rest of the review, it would be remiss to not go over it one more time. Cutscenes are beautiful; they have smooth animation and a fun style while somehow being reminiscent of PS1 Final Fantasy cutscenes. The only issue with the cutscenes is that Mario and pals seem to have no neck and it really distracts more than it should, especially given the quality of the 3D models. The in-game visuals follow suite with excellent 3D models and a lighting design that looks amazing, almost like playing through physical dioramas. It's genuinely surprising that the backgrounds are not pre-rendered given the style they ooze.

Musically the game is beautiful, as well. All of Yoko Shimomura's original music has been reimagined and some titles have also been dramatically extended. The new samples and orchestration offer up some amazing emotional highs when the story is at its climax. Characters are still unvoiced which is a shame but as with Mario's muteness it really doesn't detract much.

Finally, the only real down points are that the game can stutter sometimes and hitting the right timing for attacks and defending can be difficult to begin with. It takes time to develop a feeling for the timing.

Screenshot for Super Mario RPG on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

9/10
Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

At its heart Super Mario RPG: Remake is a hilarious, beautiful and excellently written 12 to 14 hour RPG experience. Its beautiful music and art style just ooze a unique charm that most Mario games can only dream of. It would be amazing to see a new collab with Square Enix coming from this but as that is definitely a pipedream (pun intended), what we have here is an absolute highlight of 2023.

Developer

ArtePiazza

Publisher

Nintendo

Genre

Turn Based RPG

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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