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Super Mario RPG Review (Nintendo Switch)

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Super Mario RPG box art.

Super Mario RPG launched as a remake of the popular SNES title of the game name. The game features turn-based combat with timed input commands. The game takes place in the familiar work of Mario. You are tasked with saving the Mushroom Kingdom once again. This time, though, you will wander through several different lands to do so. Along the way, you take on a colorful array of enemies and even play some minigames to break up the flow. Not that the basics are out of the way, but we will be taking a closer look at Super Mario RPG below.

Comedy First

Peach ready to fight in Super Mario RPG.

Super Mario RPG has a very light tone at all times. The game starts with Princess Peach being kidnapped, again, by Bowser. Mario takes place, and the two get into a battle on top of some chandeliers, where Mario eventually prevails comically. Before he can save Peach, a giant sword with cartoon eyes named Exor crashes into Bowser's Castle. This leads Mario to start searching for Star Fragments to save Peach. Along the way, he begins to pick up companions. The first of which is Mallow, a Cloud who thinks he’s a tadpole.

Next is Geno, the mage of the group, and finally, you get both Bowser and Peach. As you can tell, this brings more elements of comedy as a major villain is tagging along. Many of the side characters are also quirky. You will encounter several NPCs with silly lines of dialogue, and even the characters in the story, like Frogfucious, are pretty comical. This game doesn’t have a deep or dark narrative. It is perfectly kid-friendly, with enough comedy also to win over kids at heart. Likewise, you won’t see any super complicated words or hard-to-understand sentences. Despite Square Enix initially being involved in the game’s development, many of the tones seen in their games are missing.

Blocking is Your Friend

A battle in Super Mario RPG.

The Main draw of the game is its turn-based battle system. The unique thing about it is that it relies heavily on reactions. By pressing A at the right moment when attacking, you can gain bonus damage. The same can be done when an enemy is attacking you. You can sometimes entirely negate a powerful attack, and for many fights, if you don’t, you’ll get a game over. Enemies also have different weaknesses, and some will even be resistant to certain types of attacks. This causes the player to constantly stay on their toes during battles.

Like in most RPGs, there are smaller enemies you can fight before the boss. Despite being a kid-friendly RPG, you have to grind them out in order to progress. It can be very easy to get your team wiped out when going in unprepared, and bosses usually have a trick, like putting your party to sleep, to make things especially difficult. If you aren’t properly leveled and haven’t figured out their weakness, then chances are high that you will be repeating the battle.

One early example of this is when you fight Mack. He is able to summon Shy Guys onto the field. If you try to fight them one by one, you will quickly fall. Mallow, however, has an attack called  Thunderbolt that can make quick work of them. In addition, hitting Mallow with Thunderbolt has a chance to stun him, giving you more of an opening for attacks. While a boss having unique tactics isn’t anything groundbreaking. It’s used in a fun way inside of Super Mario RPG.

There is also a large range of items you can bring into battle. These can help you heal or get the upper hand on enemies. Outside of battle, you can equip items such as weapons, armor, and badges. This is needed if you want to get more powerful attacks. The pins are a critical feature as they give you buffs, such as not being able to be put to sleep in the middle of battle. 

I never once felt bored in a battle or wished I could have a fast-forward button. Despite the turn-based gameplay, battles go by at just the right speed. The time-based reaction system is easy to pick up on, and there are plenty of moves for you to unlock as your party levels up. Additionally, you are given the freedom to choose which stats get a boost with each level you gain. I honestly expected the game to be less of a challenge for me, but the combat is just the right amount of difficulty. It's not so hard that kids will get stuck, but not so easy that a seasoned gamer can breeze through the game.

Minigame Mayhem

Super Mario RPG Characters

One thing I didn’t expect was the amount of minigames found in Super Mario RPG. Unlike most games, the minigames aren’t something you can skip. To progress in the game, you don’t have to play through them, but once. Don’t worry if you're bad at them like me. They don’t really keep score, so you can easily breeze through them while barely grabbing any coins. At the same time, I can’t say that these were my favorite parts of the game or that I went back for more. They weren’t unwelcome.

I had fun with some of the ones that involved less platforming, like the minecart racer in Moleville. On the other hand, some of the games where you had to avoid enemies or platforms to get up a cliff were a bit frustrating as the game didn’t always seem to want to work with me. If you do find these fun, though, there are several prizes you can unlock, along with optional minigames that are hidden around the world. All of them are a little different in playstyle, so expect to like some minigames more than others.

Regional Colors

Super Mario RPG world segment.

One of my favorite parts of this game is the regions and enemy designs in Super Mario RPG. The game is split into several different regions that you venture into using an old-styled world map. Each area is on the smaller side but part of a broader region. You start out in the Mushroom Kingdom and travel to different locations in a grand journey. Along the way, the environment around you and the enemies you face will change. You may find yourself in a town inhabited by friendly monsters or climbing up into the clouds using a beanstalk. There aren’t many puzzles in the game, but there is some light platforming to keep the areas more interesting.

Many of the classic Mario enemies return to the game along with new designs. You will find your boos, shy guys, and koopas here. Along with these, you will also be faced with more recent enemies like Ocolots. The game also features all-new bosses, with each one being even quirkier than the last. You start out by fighting a dinosaur and then eventually find yourself in a tussle with a cake. Despite the sometimes laughable designs, these bosses force players to take them seriously. The same goes for many of the enemies. While you wouldn’t think a shy guy on a pogo stick is deadly, it can quickly wipe out your party at the start of the game. The Mario series has always had a good balance of creating marketable enemies with friendly designs. These are no different. While I may not understand how an angry squid can be so powerful, I don’t end up taking them lightly.

There are tons of secrets hidden around the map for those who love to collect items. This helps to expand the amount of time you can stay in the world and gives players more reasons to stick around in each level. Even the NPCs that don’t do much have some fun dialogue that helps to flesh out the world a bit more. While there isn’t much profound lore, there’s just enough here to learn some fun facts about the world of Mario.

Should You Put On Your Plumber Cap?

Super Mario RPG Woods.

I never got to play Paper Mario, and honestly, I have been limited in exposure to early Nintendo games. With that said, I still enjoyed my time in Super Mario RPG. For gamers like me, who mostly play games with a more serious tone, it’s a nice break. You can step into this world, take in the humor, and laugh at yourself for being bested by an angry caterpillar. The difficulty is just right, and while it won’t have you walking away from the game, it will keep you on your toes. This makes it quite different from other Nintendo games like Pokemon that older gamers can easily breeze through.

In conclusion, Super Mario RPG is a colorful, comedic game with a great turn-based battle system. You won’t find yourself bored during battle, and you will get a few laughs out of the dialogue. If you enjoy side activities, especially minigames, then there is a lot to keep you playing for longer. The game even features some content after you’ve completed the main story that will test how well you do in challenging boss battles.

Super Mario RPG Review (Nintendo Switch)

Return to The Mushroom Kingdom

Super Mario RPG is a fun, comical adventure that takes you back into the world of Mario. Instead of jumping on goomba’s you will be fighting your way through turned-based battles to rid the land of an evil sword named Exor. The game keeps the battles fresh, the tones light, and gives you plenty of side content to sink your teeth into. If you love RPGs or are a Mario fan, then this is a must-buy.

Judson Holley is a writer that began his career as a ghostwriter. Returning to the mortal coil  to work among the living. With some of his favorite games being tactical FPS games such as Squad and the Arma series. Although this could not be further from the truth as he enjoys games with deep stories such as the Kingdom Hearts series as well as Jade Empire and The Knights of the Old Republic series. When not attending to his wife, Judson often tends to his cats. He also has a knack for music mainly composing for and playing piano.