Retro Reimagined: Super Mario RPG Remake Review

Author: Greg Lozano

Video game remakes tend to be a tricky subject. They reintroduce a new generation to the spark that ignited a particular franchise, but sometimes, they feel like a mere cash grab for companies. However, with a game like Super Mario RPG, lost to the ages for nearly 30 years, its remake is more than a dream come true.

Let me share a bit of my history with this game. Growing up as a fan of both Final Fantasy and Mario, the collaboration between my two favorite companies to create a Mario-style RPG was exhilarating. What made Super Mario RPG stand out back then was its fantasy-style storytelling, a departure from the basic ‘save the princess’ formula. For the first time, Mario and Bowser teamed up against a larger threat, accompanied by comical writing that remains timeless. The fusion of Mario and Final Fantasy elements was, and still is, a high point in my gaming life. I played this game yearly until it became inaccessible.

Then came 2023, and Nintendo re-introduced this gem. The remake, while sporting a new look, retains its original charm, enhanced with modern features. The transition from sprites to 3D models is done thoughtfully, preserving the essence of the original animations from 1996.

The combat system stays true to the original, with added tweaks. Timed hits now cause splash damage or can completely nullify incoming attacks. A combo meter increases party stats, adding strategic depth. Moreover, new team attacks offer powerful damage or healing options.

However, the remastered soundtrack doesn’t quite capture the magic of the original, despite the impressive animations. The option to switch to the 16-bit tracks is a saving grace, evoking a sense of nostalgia and excitement, especially with iconic tunes like the Forest Maze theme.

The remake also reminds us of the simplicity of gaming in the past. Although there’s criticism over the $60 price for a 15-hour game, it’s the replayability that counts. The addition of an expert boss battle mode after completion adds value, making it a game worth revisiting annually.

Super Mario RPG excels in bridging the gap between veteran and modern gamers. Its mini-games, bonuses, and overall experience make it a joy to play and share with a new generation. My rating: 4 out of 5.

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