Review: Super Mario RPG explained to parents

Super Mario RPG Featured Ecran Partage

What parents need to know

This is a remake of the game of the same title released in 1996, on the Super Nintendo.

The original story and mechanics of Super Mario RPG remain, but it is all adapted to new technologies. It is therefore still a turn-based role-playing game. Moreover, the visual signature resembles the more recent Mario Bros games, and the game offers a newly arranged soundtrack.

In Super Mario RPG, Mario’s adventures lead him to rescue the princess, to explore the Mushroom Kingdom, to retrieve the seven stars to repair the Star Road, and to defeat the Smithy Gang, a group of extra-dimensional invaders. If Mario is the main character of this adventure, Peach, Bowser, Mallow, and Geno are also playable characters.

This highly anticipated game is considered appropriate for players of all ages. We recommend it both to those nostalgic for retro Mario games and to people over 7 years old who just want to experience a good turn-based RPG.

Article written with the contribution of Chun Gagné Cliché.

The game was provided by the publisher for review purposes. It does not influence our opinion.

Details

Release date: 17 November 2023
Developer: ArtePiazza en 2023 / Square en 1996
Publisher: Nintendo
Available on: Nintendo Switch
Available format: Physical and digital
Version tested: Nintendo Switch

Game genre: Adventure, RPG, 2D, turn-based
Themes covered: Adventure, exploration, cooperation
Duration of a game: 1 hour
Duration of the main game/story: 10 hours
Total time to complete everything: 14 heures

Text languages: German, English, Simplified chinese, Traditional chinese, Korean, Spanish, French, Italian, Japanese,
Voice languages: No voice

Number of local players: 1

Level of experience required

Age 3+ 7+ 12+ 16+ 18+
Beginners
Intermediate
Experienced

Evaluation

There are no violent or scary scenes. The visual signature is colorful, and the mood is comical.

There is no explicit content.

There’s a lot of text in Super Mario RPG and the language level is positive and childish. You have to be able to read very well to understand everything.

Some enemies may make minor threats against characters.

Mario and his friends aim to save the Mushroom Kingdom and must collaborate together. However, the game does feature the scenario in which Princess Peach is kidnapped by Bowser, who wants to marry her, and saved by Mario. It is worth noting that the princess is not always in a vulnerable situation since she is one of the heroes who save the kingdom.

The movements are done in 2D and the fights are turn-based. The mechanic that requires pressing certain buttons at the right time to have an attack or defense bonus remains, but its use is optional.

You still need reflexes for combat and many mini-games and platforming phases where Mario has to jump on blocks.

Everything is included in the base game.

Local game modes

It’s a single-player game with just a single story mode.

Our opinion

Super Mario RPG made role-playing game history in 1996 when it was released because it was the first role-playing game with Mario, it was one of the first collaborations between Square and Nintendo, and it laid the foundation for the genre that was starting at the time.

27 years later, here he is with a great art direction! If there was one game in Nintendo’s catalog that needed a remake, it was this one! The graphics are sublime, cute! There are new effects of light, shadows, and waters. Everything fits together very well.

All the 2D models have been redone in 3D, everything is now animated in 3D.

The soundtrack has been re-orchestrated! All the tracks are beautiful and melodic. It’s a pleasure to discover or rediscover them. Note that you can switch to the soundtrack of the original game released on the Super Nintendo. This way you can hear the difference.

The game is divided into several phases:

  • explore with Mario in a variety of environments. He can run, interact with objects, and jump.
  • Fight with Mario and his friends who have joined your party at the time of the adventure.
  • Mini-games to traverse certain environments, such as driving a mine cart, or falling off a waterfall
  • jigsaw puzzles/jigsaw puzzle.

The fights are very rudimentary by today’s standards. Attack, special ability, use an item, defend or run away. When you launch an attack, pressing the “A” button at the moment of impact maximizes the damage. Same thing in defense, you can minimize the damage dealt by enemies by pressing A on impact. It’s a mechanic that requires you to stay alert constantly during combat and have reflexes. It’s also a source of frustration because the motives of attack between the allied and enemy sides are constantly changing, and some acts of attack and defense won’t go the way you want.

The biggest source of frustration comes from the puzzles and other riddles populating the game. They date back to the way games were designed at the time. For example, some puzzles depend on your knowledge of music theory. Others require you to jump around large rooms in order to find invisible chest blocks containing bonus items. Others require special timings to jump on enemies to uncover invisible blocks?!?!

Some explanations are also unclear, how to understand that you have to make the same move as a non-playable character to break down a door, while Mario doesn’t have an attack or charge movement in the exploration phases. Super Mario RPG is played with an FAQ/guide next to it like back in the day to avoid blocking hours on certain passages.

Items and special skills also don’t have icons next to descriptions to identify them more quickly. It’s just text.

The fights are very numerous and repetitive, and sometimes they yield very little in coins and experience despite the efforts we put into eliminating the enemies.

Unlike recent role-playing games, experience points are few and after 6 hours of play, all characters are only level 11! One of the advantages I find is that the adventure doesn’t last too long, about ten hours and can be completed by an adult with a busy schedule.

While Nintendo and ArtePiazza have done a fantastic job of bringing Super Mario RPG up to date, it’s still a game that’s 27 years old at the time of writing. So there are still dated, rudimentary mechanics that haven’t been retouched. This allows you to discover a part of the history of video games, which is well preserved. It can also be a good entry point for beginners in role-playing.

You know me, I’m used to nitpicking and criticizing everything, but Super Mario RPG is still a very good game, you’ll just have to get past its repetitiveness and its sources of friction to get to the end of the adventure.

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About Marc Shakour

Former video game programmer, columnist, teacher, competitor ... Marc has always been very familiar with the world and industry of video games. He decided to help neophytes about it, to discover new universes, worlds and fantastic creatures.

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