When I discovered that there was a Square made JRPG about our legendary plumber Mario, I was disappointed.
How could I not know something this awesome was released?
Well 27 years later, Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars has been given a new coat of paint and is ready to surprise us once again. This time just as Super Mario RPG.
Super Mario RPG kicks off with Mario saving Peach from Bowser. They have an epic battle standing on chandeliers. Okay not epic, but still, a battle on chandeliers. Anyway, Exor, a giant sword, falls from the sky and destroys the Star Road, and our hero, Peach, and Bowser go flying in different directions. Mario wakes up above his bed handing on a hook and his journey begins.
The thing that boggles my mind the most is the tone of this game. It really is a Mario game and a Square JRPG in so many ways. The story feels very 90’s JRPG, with lots of talking to people, picking up the plot, and silly tropes. But then it has the Mario over the top silliness and humor, and somehow these two wind up smashing in a way that just works together.
Then there is the JRPG of it all. When you encounter enemies you jump onto a battlefield for a turn based battle. It isn’t overly complex, with attacking, blocking, and special abilities. It is a 90’s JRPG after all, but this simplicity is what makes it so fun and charming. There are a range of abilities for the different characters, but using the first one Mario has really helps make the point. Mario’s first ability is jump, where he runs up and jumps on the opponent. This really emphasizes how Super Mario Bros. this JRPG really is.
The overhaul and tweaks are what makes the game truly special.
The character designs sit somewhere between a modern Super Mario Bros. game and a chibi style. And in this way, the new art style really reflects the blending of worlds that Super Mario RPG is. I cannot emphasize how much this game is an absolute treat to look at, from the world design, to the characters to the enemies. It’s just bloody gorgeous.
Most importantly though is how it plays. As mentioned it is in every way a simple JRPG, but that isn’t a bad thing. Plenty of JRPG’s a rooted in simple gameplay, but that only enhances the joy of the world and story. Super Mario RPG really feels like a game that was first released this year. The whole thing plays so smoothly. ArtePiazza has really given this the treatment it deserves.
Super Mario RPG is an excellent game. Sure it’s gameplay is simple, but that makes the game so accessible to people who may not have played a JRPG before. And for the long time fans among us, sometimes I want the simplicity so I can turn my brain off and enjoy the fundamentals of a JRPG.
And here Super Mario RPG absolutely delivers.
Released: November 2023
Platforms reviewed: Nintendo Switch