Super Mario RPG Switch remake review: An honest one!

The magic of Super Mario RPG begins with its rich characterisations
The image shows the Super Mario RPG. — Nintendo
The image shows the Super Mario RPG. — Nintendo

I've discussed my lukewarm feelings about the Mario franchise in the past. Although I've dabbled in various 2D and 3D titles, such as this year's standout Super Mario Bros. Wonder, I've always leaned toward games that offer compelling narratives. However, I've often heard that Mario's RPG spin-offs delve deeper into character development, sparking my curiosity.

Thus, my excitement soared when Nintendo announced a Switch remake of the 1996 SNES classic Super Mario RPG, the plumber's first foray into role-playing, particularly intriguing for me as a devoted Final Fantasy fan, considering its development roots with SquareSoft, now Square Enix.

Let me preface by saying I entered the 2023 version of Super Mario RPG with a bucket-load of expectations. Thankfully, ArtePiazza, the team behind several 3DS Dragon Quest remakes, pulled off a commendable feat in bringing Super Mario RPG to the Switch. Consequently, I now grasp why this game receives such adoration. I'd comfortably label it as my favourite Mario game thus far.

The magic of Super Mario RPG begins with its rich characterisations. While the central storyline follows the familiar "save the world" trope, requiring Mario and friends to retrieve the seven Star Road pieces to thwart the menacing Smithy Gang, it's the subtle storytelling nuances, now beautifully revitalised with a modern twist, that truly elevate Super Mario RPG. The game skillfully capitalises on Mario's silent protagonist status for comedic effect, like when the Mushroom Kingdom's king inquires about the missing Princess Peach, prompting our hero to hilariously reenact the intro scene, transforming his character model into Bowser.

There's an endearing charm in witnessing Mario express emotions through comical actions, making him feel more like a fleshed-out character rather than a mere silent avatar.

This delightful slapstick vibe extends throughout the entire cast, including original characters like Mallow, a weather-controlling cloud boy, and Geno, a possessed doll. However, the added allure lies in recruiting series staples Peach and Bowser, adding their own delightful dynamic to the mix.

Traditionally, my admiration for Mario games stemmed from their clever level designs and sporadic quirks, rather than their writing. Super Mario RPG, however, pleasantly surprised me in this aspect. Simultaneously, the game felt like a comforting throwback due to its resemblance to traditional RPGs like Final Fantasy.

Despite these familiar RPG mechanics, Super Mario RPG possesses its own distinctive combat twist, influencing later Mario spin-offs. The game introduces a clever timing mechanic using the select button, enhancing attack power while reducing incoming damage when timed correctly.

It is important to note that Super Mario RPG simplifies certain mechanics. The game's decision to feature streamlined RPG mechanics aligns well with Mario's broader, family-friendly appeal. It maintains a beautiful simplicity, ageing gracefully and welcoming players of all ages.

The well-paced 20-hour campaign feels refreshing in an era of sprawling 60-hour RPGs. Undoubtedly, a game brimming with personality and creativity demands to be experienced. Super Mario RPG is a must-play for all Switch owners, whether newcomers to the remake or veterans of the SNES classic.