Super Mario RPG reviews have gone live overnight. Based on the slew of 8/10 and 4-star scores, the general vibe is that it is a worthy, occasionally wobbly remake honouring a beloved oddball title from the SNES era. A collaboration between Nintendo and Square Enix (then Squaresoft), made at the height of Square’s powers, Super Mario RPG was thrilling and different. A turn-based RPG that featured all of Nintendo’s beloved characters, it left a lasting impact. The Paper Mario games as we know them today wouldn’t exist with Super Mario RPG paving the way.
I imagine there are a lot of Australian fans keen to finally buy a retail copy of Super Mario RPG, given that it has only ever been officially released here in digital form via Nintendo’s gone-but-not-forgotten Virtual Console. The game’s original localisation never extended to Oceania. Thus, most Aussies my age who have played it did so 20 years ago via emulators downloaded to high school computers.
As we always do with our review roundups, we’ll start with thoughts from the Australian contingent before moving onto the rest of the world. Let’s get into it.
Don’t forget: Our bargain guide rounding up the cheapest copies in Aus can be found right over here.
Right off the rip, it’s Player 2 with an A+ (which Metacritic interprets as a perfect 100): “Super Mario RPG is a delightful remake of an underappreciated classic that will thrill new and old fans alike. It’s filled with wonder, whimsy, and wit, and respects its origins while easily carving a new place in Nintendo’s current line-up.”
Stevivor is close behind with a 9.5 score, saying, “Super Mario RPG is made in reverence to the original, bringing it to a new audience while also reminding returning players what was so great about it in the first place.”
Press Start followed with a 9/10, saying, “Super Mario RPG is a strong remake of an already stellar game. It successfully focuses on improving the original in all the right places: a faster and snappier battle system, strong quality of life improvements and more difficult optional content. All of these improvements combine with the game’s already quirky charm to offer up an experience that easily eclipses the original. While it’s overly simplistic compared to other RPGs, that’s ostensibly the point. Super Mario RPG is an oddball piece of Nintendo’s history like no other, and that alone makes it worth experiencing.”
Checkpoint Gaming was only slightly more reserved in its praise, awarding it an 8/10: “Maintaining what made the original so special, Super Mario RPG provides a glow-up to an absolute classic RPG experience, with smart tweaks to combat bringing it firmly into the modern era. It’s an utterly charming experience that sucks you into its gorgeous, colourful world. Still, in sticking firmly to its roots, it just doesn’t provide the challenge or open-world gameplay to elevate it to the next level. If you’re keen on a breezy nostalgic RPG with simple yet satisfying combat, the iconic Italian in a red hat has you covered.”
GamesHub felt the jokes aged better than its design, awarding it 4 stars, saying, “While dated design means other parts of the tale don’t hold up quite as well as its biting comedy, Super Mario RPG remains a strong adventure with challenging combat, and plenty of unique quirks. By maintaining its spirit beneath a fresh lick of paint, Nintendo has created a welcome opportunity to experience or re-experience one of the most important games in Super Mario history.”
VOOKS agreed, filing a 4-star review of its own. “Super Mario RPG is a delightfully faithful remake — for better and for worse. It’s almost exactly the game it was 25 years ago, with some key improvements, adjustments, and feature additions to make it much more enjoyable for modern audiences. It’s not without its many frustrations – most of which stem from its SNES predecessor – but there’s no denying that what’s here is a wonderful experience from start to finish.”
Well Played agreed with the GamesHub assessment as well, saying “I’m ultimately glad Super Mario RPG exists. I’m even glad it exists as it is here, a pitch-perfect remake that drags one of the stranger bits of Nintendo’s history into the light, allowing new audiences the chance to experience it, new RPG players a welcoming and family-friendly gateway into the genre, and fans of the original a lovingly restored version on modern hardware. It’s good, very good even. For my gold coins, a romantic ideal would have made it great, smoothing some of the edges for modern audiences while sharpening others to give the game the same impact it would have had nearly 30 years ago. Super Mario RPG is beautiful, entertaining, reverent and a little too effortless.”
The rest of the world
Screen Rant liked the game a lot, awarding it four-and-a-half stars: “Super Mario RPG Switch fulfils most expected obligations and even surprises with a few new features, making it a predictable crowd-pleaser.”
Destructoid’s extremely long review eventually gives the game a 9/10: “Super Mario RPG is an all-time classic game that both RPG lovers and Mario fans alike owe it to themselves to play. This Switch remake brilliantly preserves the spirit of the original SNES game, with some great quality-of-life enhancements and a phenomenally redone soundtrack. Longtime fans looking for a more transformative remake may feel disappointed, but when the core game itself has aged this well, it doesn’t suffer in the ways a lesser title would. If you’ve never played Super Mario RPG, or if you simply want an excuse to revisit it, this remake is for you.”
Game Informer, by comparison, keeps its review short and sweet, awarding an 8.75 out of 10: “Much of what has changed about Super Mario RPG for the remake beyond the visuals is behind the scenes. The pace is brisker, and my hour count (even after beating the big optional boss) came in lower than the average playtime of the original. The game has been tweaked only slightly to add some new mechanics and make the adventure even more welcoming than it already was. The result is an experience that only shows its age slightly and rewards longtime fans and newcomers alike.”
Dexerto gave it 4 stars, saying, “A new lick of paint and some enhanced accessibility improvements bring the Super Mario RPG remake into the 21st century. While the game was already a great outing back in 1996, new players should have no problem jumping into Mario’s first RPG title, hopefully opening the door for next year’s Paper Mario remake and potentially more RPGs later down the line.”
VGC awarded it another 4 stars: “Switch’s Mario RPG feel like a love letter to the original game. Fans of the 1996 version will be delighted by the care that’s gone into recreating the SNES title scene-for-scene. For everyone else, this remains a charming RPG adventure well worth discovering.”
IGN was impressed, awarding an 8/10 and dropping the longest pull quote in a crowded field: “Super Mario RPG is considered a classic for a reason, and this wonderfully faithful remake makes it easy for anyone who missed it in the SNES era to see why. It’s unabashedly odd, reveling in the unexpected with writing that constantly had me bursting out laughing at jokes I’d heard a dozen times before. Its turn-based combat is fairly simple outside of its very clever boss fights, but it’s also ultra satisfying to keep your timing string going even when you’re plowing through pushovers. And while the updated graphics are equal parts pretty and sort of unambitious when it comes to interpreting the original’s style (with some unfortunate menu lag), the new takes on its excellent music are truly exceptional. Super Mario RPG already held up pretty well if you didn’t mind a bit of dust on its different systems, but now there’s no excuse not to see why Mario’s most unexpected adventure is still so beloved.”
Eurogamer, another 4 stars, and (mercifully) a one-sentence button: “The game that kicked off Mario’s RPG adventures retains its charm in this cheerful remake.”
Games Radar, another 4 stars: “Super Mario RPG is legendary for a reason, and that’s never been clearer than with this remake. It looks great and smartly evolves the original combat system to make it even more engaging. While the game can’t fully escape the limitations of ’90s JRPG storytelling, it still offers a zany quest well worth undertaking today.”
VG247, another 4 stars: “So, it’s a little on the easy side. But in the 90s, Mario RPG created a new generation of role-playing fans with a mix of whimsy, magic, and familiar characters that back then was incredibly uncommon. This remake retains all of that – all of the stuff that matters. At some point, I have to accept that us old’uns who remember it probably aren’t the primary audience for this remake – and that’s okay, too. It’s an easy recommendation, regardless.”
Gamespot gave it an 8/10, saying, “Super Mario RPG is one of the most interesting remasters I’ve ever had the pleasure of playing. Returning to 1996 and joining Mario and pals on this zany adventure that contributed greatly to my love of turn-based RPGs was a nostalgic joyride.”
Digital Trends’ 3.5 star review was less forgiving: “I hesitate to call Super Mario RPG an improvement over the 1996 version. It’s still the same whimsical adventure that I’ll never tire of playing, but it loses a bit of what made the original special amid a stack of tweaks that go both too far and not far enough. I imagine that a lot of players will stick to the original on future replays, opting to soak in its dense pixels and dark landscapes.”