Super Mario RPG, the remake of Square Enix’s 1996 2D pixel art classic, will be out on Nintendo Switch on November 17. The charming-looking turn-based game sees Mario and Peach join forces with the dastardly Bowser to stop a mechanical creature named Smithy from destroying the Mushroom Kingdom. Going off some early previews, Super Mario RPG (see on Amazon) is sounding like a promising remake that will give the classic SNES adventure a graphical and mechanical glow-up.
We’ve gathered highlights from some early hands-on previews and overall, folks seem in love with the game’s improved graphics, streamlined gameplay, and the wacky energy the remake preserves from the original’s off-kilter adventure.
Here’s what else the previews are saying:
Destructoid: ‘a faithful remake with subtle improvements’
Destructoid’s preview of Super Mario RPG praised the remake for its attention to detail recreating the subtle mannerisms that gave the original game’s cutesy 3D models personality.
That’s not to say that the only alterations are quality of life related. There are also cute visual touches that, while seemingly small at a glance, added a lot to my experience. Mario and his companions now have fun little idle animations while they wait for their turn in battle, which appropriately reflect their personalities. For example, you might see Mario take a couple practice swings while he waits for his turn.
Digital Trends: ‘halfway between a remaster and remake’
Digital Trends said the remake’s quality-of-life improvements free the game from some of the original’s worst mechanical headaches.
In general, Super Mario RPG seems much easier than its predecessor so far—and that’s not a bad thing. It’s mostly thanks to little changes like these that cut away some tedium. Autosaving, for instance, makes it so I’m no longer set back very far after a death. It’s also easier to fix up my party on the fly between battles with a more organized mini menu that groups items together (no more scrolling through 10 mushrooms to find syrup) and a quick ability menu that lets me use Mallow’s healing rain outside of battle.
IGN: ‘recreates a classic while breathing new life into its combat’
IGN was impressed by how refreshingly challenging Super Mario RPG’s streamlined combat turned out.
Timing your attacks and blocks has also been made more important, even against pushover enemies who could be cleared in a single AOE smash. That’s because Super Mario RPG keeps track of how many successfully timed presses you’ve completed in a row, even between fights. I loved seeing how high I could get that number, and you’re rewarded the better you do with small buffs and a slowly charging Gauge meter.
GamesRadar: ‘might just make the SNES classic obsolete’
Dunno about obsoleting an absolute classic, but GamesRadar said Super Mario RPG goes above and beyond improving the original’s graphics.
The most immediately impressive thing about the remake is, of course, the new visual treatment. In general, SNES-era graphics have aged better than pretty much any other retro look, but even I have to admit that’s not really true for Super Mario RPG. The original’s style of pre-rendered CGI sprites looked just fine on ‘90s CRT televisions, but–as with Donkey Kong Country–looks more like a collection of over-compressed .jpeg files when blown up on modern, high-resolution screens. The remake does a genuinely fantastic job of expanding the visual style of the original into something far more robust and detailed.
Nintendo Life: ‘retains that level of excellence that we experienced in ‘96’
Nintendo Life said the game is possibly one of “the most faithful remake[s]” it’s ever played and was particularly tickled by how funny its characters are.
Super Mario RPG is really, really silly. Mario communicates through gestures and re-enacts events to hilarious effect, and NPCs interact with him as though he’s a celebrity, tricking him into jumping and freaking out when he’s talking to them. That lighthearted tone also carries through into the pacing: you’ll go from a town to a dungeon to a short minigame within minutes, and every single aspect of the game feels daft or fun. Rolling down the river on a barrel is surprisingly challenging, it turns out. But we were grinning from ear to ear all the time.
VG247: ‘hyper-faithful, perhaps to a fault’
VG247 wrote that the game makes “subtle, not sweeping” changes that bring the classic RPG to a modern audience.
It’s the same, but just cleaner, sharper. Modern. The same is true of the soundtrack, which sees Yoko Shimomura return to remaster and rearrange one of her most iconic works. The dialogue still has a 90s flair, too, even though it’s a fresh translation. There’s a silly edginess that is very much of that era, and I love it.
Video Games Chronicle: ‘a staunchly faithful recreation of the original’
A warning from Video Games Chronicle: They think that Super Mario RPG will reignite online debates over which Mario RPG is the greatest of all time. Uh oh.
But despite looking lightyears beyond the technical limitations of the original, Switch’s Mario RPG feels exactly how fans will remember it. For the most part, that’s great; the scenarios and characters here are as entertaining and memorable as ever, and deliver an adventure that’s arguably still stronger than any of the Paper Mario games released in the decades since.
And that’s the word on Nintendo’s Mario role-playing remake so far. Super Mario RPG will be available on Nintendo Switch on November 17.