Super Mario RPG | Review | Switch - Japan-based Nintendo Podcasts, Videos & Reviews!


Saturday, January 20, 2024

Super Mario RPG | Review | Switch

The announcement of Super Mario RPG for the Nintendo Switch came out of nowhere and pleasantly surprised fans around the globe. Aside from a few re-releases on Wii and Wii U Virtual Consoles and SNES / SFC Classic, it didn’t seem like this was a candidate for any kind remake. And yet, here we are. Is this updated version of the classic enough to warrant a play through, or more importantly, a purchase? Well, in short, yes, but we’re here to tell you why in this review. We also have a few pieces of Japan exclusive merch that you will definitely want to check out. Let’s get into it. 

For those unfamiliar, Super Mario RPG starts things off with a very familiar course of events. Princess Peach is captured again and our rotund hero goes off to save the day. After a showdown with Bowser, things take a very different turn with the arrival of a giant Sword that crashes down into Bowser’s Keep and takes up residence there. Not only that, but it also breaks through something known as the Star Road, a special pathway that grants people’s wishes. In doing this, seven star fragments and our heroes (plus Bowser) are sent flying. It’s up to Mario to track these down by teaming up with the likes of Mallow, the “tadpole” that looks like a cloud, Geno, a mysterious magical doll, Bowser and Princess Peach. The game is full of witty dialogue and playful banter throughout the experience, making it a complete joy to play even all these years later.

I think this can go without saying, but just in case, Mario RPG is a turn based roleplaying game that allows for up to three party members to battle at a time. Actions are mapped to the face buttons with A being used for Attacks, X for Items, Y for Specials and B for “Other (Defense, Run Away, etc.).” One wrinkle that differs from many other RPGs is the ability to enhance attacks or defense with the press of the A button. If these Action Commands are timed correctly, Mario and his friends will deal out more damage or even be able to avoid enemy attacks completely. To enhance this even further, a newly implemented Chain System has also been put into place. Continuing to hit the Action Commands numerous times in a row will grant a variety of stat boosts. On top of the stat boosts, an Action Gauge is constantly being filled the more you chain your attacks. Once filled, a special Triple Move can be performed. This differs depending on what characters are in your party. These new features coupled with previous gameplay mechanics incentivize players to essentially play the game well. 
Battles are changed up every once in awhile with the introduction of "special enemies.” These look exactly like regular enemies but typically pack more of a punch offensively and have more HP. Downing these foes will net you a coveted Frog Coin. I really liked this addition to the game as you never quite know when, essentially, a mini-mini boss like this would will appear. 

Outside of battles, things are pretty simple. You control Mario with the joystick, jump with B and interact with signs or other characters with the press of A. A handful of mini-games are on offer as well. All in all, Super Mario RPG is a well rounded game that feels great and has a variety of things to do. 

Visuals, Audio & Performance
Super Mario RPG on the Switch features essentially a fresh coat of paint that brings the experience up to modern standards. Even with that said, the game still stays very true to its roots keeping the isometric view and the stubby Mario that many loved years ago. Environments are also very faithful but are fleshed out with even more detail. Lighting here looks great, and other details, such as fluttering curtains, smoothly spinning signs, footprints being left in sand and more add to the experience. Not only that, but the character animations draw off of the originals and yet are even more detailed than they could have ever been back on the Super Nintendo.The new cutscenes are a great addition here, too. Simply put, not only does this remake hit all of the nostalgia buttons for those that played the game in the past, it also is fantastic for any Mario fan.
The audio here has also seen a huge improvement in terms of quality with Yoko Shimomura returning and re-working the soundtrack. Additionally, if you want to jam out to the original soundtrack, you can change between the new and old music at any time in the options. This was something that could have been left out of the game, however including this was a great nod to fans and gaming purists. At the same time, the newly added music is absolutely awesome and you should not skip out on it. 
Although the game does look great, it does suffer from a few performance issues throughout the experience. It is a bit difficult to nail down what exactly causes this, but the slowdown is typically apparent in areas that have a lot of enemies or environmental assets. Thankfully, I did not find this to have any effect when in battles. With that being said, this is something that some will notice, but it doesn’t take too much away from the experience. 

Collector’s Corner - Japan Exclusives & Retro
Several bonus items were available to those that picked up the game physically in Japan. At the moment, I only own the game digitally, but I went ahead and picked up one of the more interesting pieces from some re-sellers after the fact. Electronic store Bic Camera was offering a special Famicom style box which is pretty faithful to the original Super Famicom release. Heck, even generally speaking, the artwork itself is definitely a call back to that Japanese release, featuring all of the main playable characters on a simple white background. This is very similar with the new box, as you can see in the snapshots. The back of the box reads, starting with the red text, “A slightly different adventure for Mario and his friends.” The black text reads, “A giant sword fell from the sky?! Mario and his pals confront the worldwide crisis.” / the world in chaos    
Additionally, Nintendo offered some manual for free at a variety of shops across the country. Unfortunately for me, all of the game stores nearby did not have these, but I managed to snag some for a few bucks online. These are a perfect addition for any Mario RPG loving fans out there. 
The recreation of this classic RPG hits on all levels. Fans of the original will find a more modern version of a game that they loved. New players will find an accessible RPG that is easy to pick up and play, not being too daunting or complicated. The attention to detail is great and captures everything that the original had and then some. Quality of life improvements also bring the game up to modern standards. While there are a few issues with performance, Super Mario RPG is a bite-sized RPG that is quite a bit of fun. Fans of the original or Mario fans in general should check this one out.

No comments: