We share our thoughts about Nintendo's and Square's iconic and beloved RPG now that it has been upgraded and remade to suit the Switch platform.
"Seeing as how Nintendo's remakes and remasters have mostly been discreet in terms of changes in scope, we've enjoyed the way Super Mario RPG has been shaped from the switch, from the get-go. This remake goes beyond Ocarina of Time 3D or Metroid Prime Remastered, as it's more along the lines of what Mercury Steam did with Metroid 2, or closer to the treatment Link's Awakening got a few years ago. This means that the then beautiful pre-rendered 2D sprites with a 3D vibe is now replaced by full polygon-based environments and characters. At the same time, the fact that the new game remains true to the original's isometric perspective and constrained stages allowed the devs more resources to make both elements incredibly crisp and detailed, at least when you compare Super Mario RPG with any other Mario or RPG on the system, which normally are more open-ended and hence visually limited. That being said, every single friend, foe, town or dungeon has been rendered after the original designs, as a result maintaining a look from the 90s that, interestingly, feels nostalgic for the veterans and somehow fresh to the newcomers who are more used to seeing modern Mario designs everywhere. In other words, to us, Super Mario RPG looks like putting on screen and in-game the very CGI graphics we dreamed of as a teenager, and we saw the printed ads and TV commercials from that era. It's a shorter, chubbier, no-voice Mario, a doll-like Princess Toadstool Peach and the classic designs for most of the enemies, together with the touch square added with Smithy's army of weapon-inspired foes, and with additions such as Geno and Mallow, which, if a bit off-putting at first, feel right at home after a while. Likewise, it's a game to understand the roots of the two branches Mario RPGs sprout after the Square debacle, Intelligent Systems' Paper Mario and AlphaDream's Mario & Luigi. Not only can you see their basic combat system defined with time-pressive buttons for greater effect at how it deals with items and powers, but also the comedy style the series would follow going forward. It was a childish premise at first sight, with the whiny cloud-shaped Mallow and the wish-granting storyline, but it introduced some of the hilarious anime-like banter and sharper comments both branches kept developing down the line. So, as a remake, it's mostly about the audio-visual side of things. The aforementioned 3D graphics render some of the most whimsical and unique Mario environments, including Haunted Forest and Very Peculiar Tower, while Yoko Shimomura's recognisable tunes receive the orchestra version they deserved. This doesn't prevent tracks such as the main combat music from going from catchy to boringly repetitive, and it could have used a few new tracks for added variety."
"We also missed a tad more difficulty. It is an accessible RPG for all ages, perhaps one of the best My First RPG despite its age, but unless you avoid a lot of encounters, you'll be clearly overpowered most of the time and beat almost every boss on the first attempt. Other additions such as the ability to swap one of the three lined-up characters during combat with any of the other two reserves from the party is really nice, not because it makes it even easier, but because it makes pretty basic combat a notch more strategic when you keep elementary weaknesses and the new triple move in mind."
"When it was all said and done, and after 12 to 15 hours of playtime, we felt pretty good about Super Mario RPG as both finally getting to play the original adventure in full and enjoying one of the finest remakes Nintendo has ever published. It feels a bit silly and dull in both terms of storytelling and combat every now and then, but not so much when you put it into its context, and even if it has a special 90s charm to it, a big part of the community will relate to."
"It is also a kind, friendly RPG for those who haven't enjoyed the genre as of yet, and even though it leans a bit too much to the easy side, it still maintains some of the more obscure, old-school, even archaic systems and secrets the original had. However, to us the most exciting prospect is that, after completing this game, Nintendo and Square slash Arte Piazza could keep exploring this series as it can definitely work in parallel to Intelligent Systems' Paper Mario. It just sets the stage for a Super Mario RPG 2."