There is a scene at the beginning Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars where Mario, alongside his new friend Mallow, a “frog” who looks like a cloud of cotton candy wearing pants, tracks down a thief. Toad, loyal servant of the Mushroom Kingdom, reports a sighting, then scoffs when asked why he didn’t stop the thief himself: “Because I forgot my bazooka at home!” Sheesh.
It would be a throwaway line (Toad’s big gun never materializes) if it didn’t set the tone so effectively for the playful, sometimes completely disjointed, experience of Super Mario RPG-a rare case of a much-loved but never-remade game that Nintendo is finally bringing to Switch almost 30 years after its initial release. Today, the game remains wonderfully unchanged and incredibly funny, a testament to how special it was then and still is today in the era of Nintendo’s mainstream achievements.
When Super Mario RPG Arriving on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System in 1996, the franchise’s blueprint was pretty much set: 2D side-scrolling, power-ups, platforming. Mario RPG broke that mold by introducing an isometric 3D art style and turn-based encounters. Players teamed up with Peach, Bowser, and two original characters to fight a threat bigger than a kidnapped princess. A then-unprecedented collaboration between Nintendo and Final Fantasy creator Square (which later became Square Enix), the game would inspire the much-loved Paper Mario series.
THE To change version of Mario RPG keeps the original game intact with some quality of life updates, like a new, simpler mode, team attacks, updated visuals, and a modern soundtrack (although you can enable the old music if you prefer). Mario is on his usual mission to save Peach from Bowser’s loving clutches when a giant, talking sword crashes through the castle and sends all three flying. With the world order disrupted, Mario searches for seven stars to defeat the evil Smithy and his pointy minions.
Unlike other Mario games, the task is not always that simple. Mario RPG is full of wacky side quests (collecting beetles, supercharging Yoshis, hunting ghost flags) and weird mini-games that add to the gameplay. One of the title’s best, absolutely absurd sequences involves Mario chasing Peach – who is strapped to the back of her captor, a bearded weirdo named Booster – uphill, dodging barrels and minions as she rushes into a chapel to escape. marry against her will. It’s not just that the only way to save her is to sneak into the chapel where everyone trying to get married has been brutally kicked out, find her discarded wedding paraphernalia, and fight an evil cake; it’s overall weird for a Mario game of its era. Even today, such a slapstick plot is unimaginable given that the stars involved are closely guarded by their creator.
Nintendo is careful with its brand, especially when it comes to its mustachioed plumber. Mario’s strength it’s his sympathy; when the company brought him to big screen this year, they did it with a lot of personal involvement and star power. The film exists in a carefully constructed reality of what Mario will or will not do.
Super Mario RPG, where Peach’s tears are licked from her face (“salty!”) and Mario can overstay his welcome and hole up in a hotel suite, sometimes feels like a fever dream of a game, or some sort of unlicensed homebrew. It’s hard to find anything else comparable in the forty-year-old history of plumber games. Even as a hotel squatter, Mario maintains his integrity. The manager forces Mario to become a hunter until he can cover his expenses. Where else can Nintendo teach you the value of an honest day’s work?