Super Mario RPG Review
Gateway games are key to the preservation and enhancement of the video game industry. They are games that get people into a genre, but rather than dumping half a million ideas and concepts, they focus on a few key things. Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars is a gateway RPG that has been adored by fans for decades.
With the latest relaunch of the game on Nintendo Switch, Nintendo is not only bringing back one of the best RPG games ever, but creating a perfect getaway RPG game for kids, mine included!
Light on Features…
When I call Super Mario RPG a gateway game, I say that with all the love in the world. Think back to some of the RPG games you’ve played in recent memory, or even some classic RPGs from your childhood. Most of them include complex stories with upgrade trees, dozens (hundreds?) of items to wear and use, and so much more.
They are fun, yes, but complex. I’m not about to sit my 9 year old down to play Xenoblade Chronicles – he’d be overwhelmed in 30 seconds! But Super Mario RPG? This is a game built for everyone, regardless of age.
With this fresh 2023 release, it begins with different difficulty modes. I always opt to play games in the easiest mode possible, although I decided against it for this play through. I love Super Mario RPG so much, and wanted to play it as faithfully to the original as possible. For my 9 year old, however, setting him up with the easiest settings made the entire journey so enjoyable for him, and now he’s asking about which RPG he should play next.
Super Mario RPG includes features that all RPGs have, but tones them down and simplifies them for all audiences, while keep the entire game enjoyable for all. There are upgrades Mario and friends can get, but they are limited to one (generally) one item and/or weapon per town, and a choice of 3 additional character improvements when leveling up, on top of standard stat improvements.
Even the item list is pretty limited, revolving mostly around mushrooms for healing, flower pots for replenishing Flower Points, and a few other odds and ends. Other RPGs have exhaustive lists of items to craft and use – not here, and I love it. Every now and then you need to play and RPG that brings things back to the basics. For me, Super Mario RPG is that game in 2023.
…But Heavy on Fun Too!
All of this doesn’t reduce the fun I had playing Super Mario RPG. I have played and finished it before, so the story wasn’t shocking. That being said, I never found the story enthralling to begin with, but my son was awed by it. “I get to have Bowser on my team?!” was one of many shocking discoveries he made while playing, and honestly, it warmed my Nintendo loving heart!
What I do enjoy, however, is the gameplay loop. Grinding for levels in Super Mario RPG never feels overly tiresome, as only a minimal amount of grinding is required to beat the game (if you attack most enemies on sight as you progress).
What makes this re-release so much more enjoyable however are the host of upgrades Nintendo has brought to the table. The obvious are graphically and audibly, both receiving massive improvements. The new cutscenes included throughout the adventure made the game feel a bit more fresh than I was expecting, and they were phenomenally done. The animation used on those cutscenes was top notch. If nothing else, this game proves how well Nintendo can remaster a game.
I also appreciate that Nintendo understands they are releasing a game in 2023, so the new additions to the gameplay give a small breath of fresh air that keeps you wondering what else they may have added. Most of these additions come within battle sequences, and while they make aspects of the game a bit easier overall, they are cool mechanics we’ve come to expect from RPG games.
Most notably, I enjoy the plethora of team attacks that can now be used. Whenever you successfully parry and incoming attack, or do a good job timing your attacks on enemies, you not only get a counter that will go up as you continuously do these things, but you will also fill a meter that will allow you to either get something cool (not always) from Toad, or perform a team attack.
Team attacks are wonderfully animated and can deal a good amount of damage to enemies and bosses alike – they also change depending on who you have in your party, which I thought was a neat touch.
Overall, the quality here from Nintendo is almost completely on par with what you would expect. There are a few frame rate drops in certain areas (mostly those with water), and while these are surprising since the rest of the game runs at a very steady 60 frames, I feel like we can forgive a few hiccup in a game that is almost perfect.
I’ve said this many times before, but once again we are seeing Nintendo and its publishing partners at their best. Nintendo demands a certain level of quality on its titles, and although this is a game we’ve all seen before, it still feels so fresh. Only Nintendo can resell us something we may have purchased already, but tweak it enough to let us know they really care. A lot of love went into this remake, and it shows. Whether you’ve played Super Mario RPG before or not, we highly recommend playing it now in 2023. It is what all remakes should inspire to be.