Before Paper Mario and the other occasional Mario RPGs like Mario and Luigi: Dream Team, Super Mario RPG was the first attempt at putting the short, fat plumber into this genre. How did it fare? Well, as a Mario game that furthered the story, it worked well, being actually the first of this series in awhile (Donkey Kong Country having replaced the usual second one two years before) to really further the Super Mario series. It’s got a good story, colorful enemies, and of course, lots of jumping.
It also works as an RPG… but understand that there’s some incorporation of action into it. Not a huge amount of action, but those who play just RPGs because they can’t get comfortable enough with the controller, might find this game to take a little getting used to.
Plot: 8 out of 10
After the shortest rescue of Princess Peach ever, she, Mario, and Bowser are separated as a result of by an attack on Bowser’s castle. It’s been taken over by a group called The Smithy Gang. These baddies prove to be even more dangerous than Bowser was, so upon discovering each other, Mario and Bowser become fri… enemies of enemies. Peach, a star warrior named Geno, and a “tadpole” who looks more like a marshmallow kid named Mallow also join.
But what stands out to me is Bowser having to side with Mario. For the time being, anyway. Future games prove that this changed nothing between them.
Still, I can’t praise the story too much because this began the de-emphasis of Luigi. While Nintendo’s gotten much better about using him as of late, there was a time that Mario’s brother was forgotten. It started with this game.
Graphics: 10 out of 10
Simply put, this is the best-looking game on the Super Nintendo. A very successful attempt at a 3D atmosphere is made here. This is really the first time Mario and his supporting cast look as as realistic as they do in the promo art.
Sound: 9 out of 10
Squaresoft (now Square Enix) was once known for having the best music in video games. That probably never changed, but its godawful voice actors tainted that until the recent Final Fantasy XV. The music and environmental sounds here are very, very good. Square’s composers knew they were creating a soundtrack for a more cartoonish, humorous game than Final Fantasy and the music appropriately reflects that.
Gameplay: 8 out of 10
It’s not just generic RPG stuff, though generic RPG stuff is in the game. Walk around, talk to people, get attacked outside of town, fight with weapons, items, and magic).
What stands out is that hey actually incorporate Mario’s jump into this game. You can jump around to get to higher perches and travel on moving platforms.
Another bit of action put into the RPG genre is Timed Hits. You’re supposed to Push A right before a characters hits or is hit. the magic equivalent of this varies from spell to spell, but don’t worry. the spells that require something unusual for maximum impact tell you.
It’s nothing super-tricky, but again, these two twists can be a new thing for fans of this genre to adapt to.
Challenge: 9 out of 10
The biggest criticism of this game is that it’s too easy. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that the difficulty is underrated. It’s not particularly brutal, but the bosses can be quite a challenge if you don’t level up a lot. Additionally, this game has mini-games, perhaps a precursor to today’s sidequests, that make things more fun.
Overall: 9 out of 10
It may not be for everyone, but Super Mario RPG is a true classic in my opinion! Just be sure to expect to have to handle the controller.