Super Mario RPG Switch Review
Remakes aren’t always about improving on an old game. Sometimes you just need to bring that game to a whole new audience. Super Mario RPG for the Nintendo Switch bears a strong resemblance to the original, so much so that it almost feels redundant. And yet! I had a blast playing through this quirky classic for the 14th time. The writing is snappy, the gameplay is polished, and the soundtrack is gorgeous. Not to mention the graphics, which feel modern yet familiar at the same time. Thankfully, the game is still exactly as weird as I remember.
The original release, Legend of The Seven Stars, was a co-pro between Nintendo and Square Enix (or Squaresoft at the time). Up to this point, Mario was strictly in the running and jumping business. Now he had equipment to deal with, hit points to manage, and a new perspective to navigate. Now, the new version on the Switch has even more additions. For example, there’s a fresh batch of cutscenes to flesh out the narrative. Suddenly things like Exor’s arrival, Mallow’s introduction, and the stars themselves feel more epic. Other than that, the story is just as you remember it. That is, full of curious characters, weird weapons, and unique locales.
Giant Living Swords and Such
To be fair, none of this feels weird now. We’ve been watching Mario do wild nonsense for almost 30 years now. But back in 1996, all of this was new. Cloud people, weaponized frying pans, living swords, and statue polishing were fresh new ideas for the franchise. There’s more, of course. I won’t lay it all out in too much detail, but returning players will be pleasantly surprised. The writing holds up pretty well, especially Bowser’s scenes. His role in the story is downright refreshing compared to other games in the series. On the flip side, there have been a few slight changes to the dialogue. Fewer lines are screamed at you in text. But also, some sections have been slightly expanded. Unless you’re a hardcore fan, you likely won’t even notice.
Visually, Super Mario RPG feels like a perfect upgrade. The original vibe has been perfectly preserved, while the new graphics feel properly modern. The cutscenes add some extra spice, though they also highlight the weird proportions of the characters. Mario and company are squished, chibi versions of their usual selves. Bowser doesn’t look that weird, but Mario and Peach are downright adorable. Meanwhile the music sounds amazing. You can switch between the old and the new soundtracks. I think. I never switched once, since the new music sounds so awesome. Like the visuals, you’re treated to a crisp orchestral upgrade that delights at every turn. But how does it play?
Fighting Feels Better Than Ever
Combat in Super Mario RPG feels snappy and smooth. Smoother animations mean different timed hit rhythms, but you get used to it quickly. Timed hits can also hit every enemy on-screen, which is an awesome bonus. Better still are the triple attacks. Since each three-character combination gives you a different move, you’re encouraged to experiment. I was motivated to regularly change my party makeup for the first time ever. Plus, you can change your party layout mid-battle. These two simple fixes made every fight more engaging and dynamic.
Aside from the differences I’ve already described, Super Mario RPG is just as you remember it. For better or for worse, you won’t encounter too many surprises during your playthrough. This is honestly what I was hoping for with this game. Over the years, I’ve gotten very familiar with Legend of The Seven Stars. I can burn through the whole game in a single sitting, if I have no other plans that day. But there’s something terribly satisfying about this experience. I’m happy the new version preserves this aspect of the game. Not every RPG needs to be a 50-hour slog, you know?
Short and Sweet
That said, I do have a couple of tiny grievances. For one thing, combat controls have changed. It used to be that certain buttons were in charge of certain functions. B for defense, Y for special moves, A for attack, and X for items. Now, you access those options with the same buttons, but navigate the menu with A. It sounds like a tiny change. I sound like a lunatic for complaining about it. But if you’ve played the original game, this will be a clumsy hurdle to overcome. That first hour will be a mess of incorrect inputs and false starts. After that it’s smooth sailing, however. It’s a tiny problem in the grand scheme of things, but still one worthy of note. Also, the game still feels easy to me. But I know it inside and out, so I can’t be objective about that.
Super Mario RPG is so faithful to the original that calling it a remake feels disingenuous. The game is more of a top-to-bottom remaster. Every scrap of it had been re-built, polished, and reborn for the modern era. The visuals, the music, and the controls all feel crisp and clean. The writing holds up quite well. And there are a few pleasant surprises for fans of the original release. Since I’m so familiar with the game, I wish there was more new content, but I’m at peace with this. It’s better that the game be preserved for a new audience. But whether this is your first time playing or your fifteenth, you’re gonna love Super Mario RPG for the Switch.
***A Nintendo Switch code was provided by the publisher***
- Looks and sounds great
- New combat mechanics
- Combat is snappy and smooth
- Gameplay still pretty easy
- Some dialogue is less charged
- Combat controls more generic