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  • Writer's pictureRobert "Bob" Bagby

Review - Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars (2023)

The original Super Mario RPG was released in 1996, twenty-seven years ago. During that time, we have gone through 5 console generations and 10 versions of the Windows operating system, and the size of games has ballooned from megabytes to gigabytes. Yet with all that time, Super Mario RPG is worth playing now more than ever. Let’s cover how and why this remake takes the design principles set forth in the original and expands on them further to fit a new gaming audience.

Super Mario RPG is a turn-based role-playing game with a fairly basic but enjoyable story. You start playing as Mario, off to rescue Princess Peach again from the evil clutches of Bowser. Just when you think you won, a giant sword crashes through Star Road, destroying it, and keeps going straight into Bowser’s Castle. This flings all 3 characters across the map, and it’s your job as Mario to set things right.

After about the halfway point of the story, you get a full party with two extras of Mario, Peach, Bowser, Geno, and Mallow. The last two characters, being original to this story, are only referenced in other games but never playable themselves. Outside of Mario himself, who is your basic “good guy,” everyone here is characterized quite nicely. Peach is kind but is a bit mischievous, and Bowser is a complete goofball who puts up a tough act. Geno is the stoic, serious member of the party, and Mallow is on his own journey of growth and is following Mario to help the world as he does so.

This game is very beginner-friendly without dipping into the dreaded “baby’s first RPG” territory, such as Final Fantasy: Mythic Quest did. It avoids turn-based games “mash A to win” problem by keeping a low max level and using an active time battle system. If you are about to be hit, you can hit A to block and take less damage or, if timed perfectly, in some cases, take no damage at all. The opposite is true; every time you are about to land a hit, you can press A to do more damage, and it even works for healing spells.

There are a few new features gameplay-wise. One is that you can swap out party members now mid-battle, so if you need to pull double duty on healers, you can swap in Peach and Mallow, who both have healing spells to hurry up and heal the party in a turn so you don’t get wiped out by a bosses screen nuke of a special attack. The other big one is the Triple Move attacks. In the bottom left corner is a circle that fills up with every successful timed action; when it reaches 100 percent after unlocking this feature, you have a very powerful move that is different based on what 3 members are in your party. Notice I said move and not attack because not all of them are offensive. For example, if you have Mario, Mallow, and Peach in your party, you get a move that heals your party and even revives anyone who was downed.

But talk about the mechanics is for naught if a game's presentation doesn’t help prop it up. This is where the remake really shines. The original game was impressive graphically for its time since it was an isometric 3D game on the Super Nintendo, but this looks amazing on the Switch. The higher resolution models that are on display actually cleared up some confusion I had as a kid on what exactly was going on with some of the boss enemies that were a bit more fantastical. For example, I could not tell if Claymorton was the pogo-sword or the thing on top of it growing up, and now, I am ninety percent sure it's the little dude on top that is talking to me and not the pogo-sword. But my lifelong confusion about that one character design aside, The game looks great. It has a certain shine to the character models that reminds me of playing with action figures as a kid, and that aesthetic carries over to the world that they are inhabiting, whether it be Castles, sewers, an island, a pirate ship, or even a city on the clouds.

Super Mario RPG is a great RPG that was designed for a younger demographic but can still be enjoyed casually by even the most hardcore RPG players. If you or a loved one is interested in trying out the genre, I highly suggest this as a good starting point.

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1 Comment

wade ratke
wade ratke
Jun 11

You, as Mario, are tasked with putting things back in order after this causes all three characters to be scattered around the map. geometry dash

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