Super Mario RPG Review! (SNES) The Game Collection!


Welcome back to The Game Collection! I am SuperDerek and Super Mario RPG is a game
that I’ve known about for years but for some reason, I’ve just never gotten around
to playing it. This came up during one of my live Q&A streams,
and since then it’s been weighing on me. So let’s take a look at one of the strangest
decisions Nintendo has ever made, and why it paid off. I am SuperDerek, and this is Super Mario RPG! In March of 1996, Nintendo released Super
Mario RPG in Japan, and then in the United States only 2 months later. What was this game? Is it Super Mario? Or is it an RPG? It was developed by Squaresoft, and published
by Nintendo of America. It was an odd mashup of contrasting ideas
we wouldn’t see the likes of again until the Kingdom Hearts series years later, but
I’ve already talked about those games in another series. Super Mario RPG was the lovechild of Square
and Nintendo. Square was having trouble replicating their
success in Western markets, and Miayamoto was interested in seeing Mario realized in
an RPG world. And with Square being the undisputed king
of RPGs at the time, and Mario’s market domination, it was a match made in heaven. Super Mario RPG begins the way most Mario
games do. Princess Toadstool was captured by Bowser,
and it’s up to Mario to save her! But just moments into the game, as Mario rescues
Peach, and a giant sword crashes down into Bowser’s Castle, flinging our far-flung
heroes, flying far into atmosphere and far from the fortress, now festooned with a fancy
fencing falchion. Mario soon learns that this was the work of
the Smithy Gang, who, in the process also destroyed Star Road, preventing any new wishes
from being granted. Making matters worse, the Smithy gang is also
terrorizing towns all over the world! Now Mario will have to collect the 7 stars
to restore Star Road and restore peace to the land. Along the way, Mario makes some new friends
who join him on his quest including Mallow, the young cloud boy who thinks he’s a tadpole,
and Geno, the action figure and crowd-pleaser who comes from afar to lend Mario a helping
hand. Also accompanying Mario on his journey are
none other than Bowser, the King of the Koopa Troop, and Princess Peach Toadstool. The story of Super Mario RPG is very simple
and easy to follow. I’ve already told you 70% of what there
is to know, and you can probably infer the rest. This isn’t the kind of game where spoilers
are going to matter for most people. The story was written with the intention of
appealing to Western audiences of the 90s and in that regard, they were very successful. Super Mario RPG may be one of the best RPGs
for beginners out there, even to this day. But not just because the plot was easy to
follow. The writing in Super Mario RPG is very funny. It may in fact be one of the first few RPGs
to help establish the quirky funny RPG sub-genre, along with Earthbound. The character interactions between Mario and
Bowser in particular, are both endearing and funny to read. I enjoyed the portrayal of Bowser attempting
to keep up appearances around Mario and Peach, but also secretly having a good heart. Some of the characters were pretty two-dimensional
overall, such as Mallow, but again I think this was intentional to keep the overall experience
a simple and straightforward one. Besides the funny story and familiar characters,
Nintendo and Square implemented some new gameplay mechanics that further helped hook American
audiences: Timed button presses during combat that could significantly increase the damage
dealt to enemies, and severely reduce damage received from attacks. The mechanic actually reminded me of my time
with Shadow Hearts, except the visual cues when to press the buttons aren’t quite so
easy to spot, so it takes some guessing and hoping that you figure out the right timing
for some of the attacks. For Spells and such though, you can find out
the bonus timing from the skill description, which was pretty handy! Super Mario RPG wasn’t a terribly difficult
game, but you’ll probably want to make sure you have a low-latency way to play the game
or things could get much more difficult. Outside of combat there is some light platforming
here and there, but the truth of the matter is that it’s not very good, because isometric
visuals do not lend themselves well to precise jumping. And if you need further proof of that, taka
a look at exhibit B: Landstalker on Sega Genesis. But luckily Super Mario RPG did not make platforming
a central focus, so it was only a mild annoyance from time to time. The remainder of the game consist of some
other mini-games, including swimming down a waterfall to collect coins, collecting coins
jumping on barrels, and racing with a Yoshi. And that was also a little bit of a nightmare,
but I think I figured out the trick: The instructions the game gives are a little
vague, but you’re supposed to alternate pressing a and b buttons with the beat of
the music. But what they don’t tell you is that you
have to hold down the A and B buttons in order to keep moving forward. So tap the buttons less like this… and instead
press them more like this to the beat of the music. Also, this game will still absolutely require
a low-latency display. The world presented in Super Mario RPG is
bright, beautiful, and isometric. This style of world kind of reminds me of
the worlds shown off in Breath of Fire III and IV, but without any camera controls to
be found for obvious reasons. The towns are nice and bright, but most towns
look pretty similar to the next. However, dungeons are far more creative and
distinct from one another. The game’s use of isometry is perhaps one
of its most visually distinctive features, but that’s only part of the unique look
that’s become so familiar to us today. The graphics were also partially inspired
by those in Donkey Kong Country, which used Silicon Graphics workstations to render 3D
models of Donkey Kong and company. That very same Silicon Graphics workstation
was given to the Super Mario RPG team with which to render the sprites of the heroes,
enemies, and more throughout the game. Using pre-rendered polygonal sprites in an
isometric world may be one of the most ambitious uses of the Super Nintendo hardware, falling
just short of maybe games using the Super FX chip. The large and unique looking pre-rendered
sprites are expressive and put to fantastic use throughout the game, particularly as Mario
explains complex stories through pantomime, lampooning the silent protagonist trope that
this game adopted. Not to be outdone by the visuals of Super
Mario RPG, Yoko Shimomura who had previously worked for Capcom on and Breath of Fire went
to work composing music for Super Mario RPG. She now considers her time working on Super
Mario RPG a turning point in her career, and for good reason. She would go on to work on the Kingdom Hearts
games, as well as future Mario RPGs. The music included in Super Mario RPG is as
immediately recognizable and iconic as the visuals within Super Mario RPG, so much so
that as I played through the game for the first time, I recognized almost every single
song from older YouTube videos I watched long ago. The music matches the mood and themes of Super
Mario RPGs aesthetic to the T, it’s fun, upbeat, and quirky. Fun, upbeat, and quirky. Those are I think the best 3 adjectives to
describe not only the music, but Super Mario RPG as a whole. Sometimes I approach games like this, games
with a reputation, with some amount of apprehension. By now most everybody already has an opinion
about the game, and sometimes too much hype can kill an experience. But despite Super Mario RPG having a reputation
that precedes it, I don’t think that it was in fact overhyped at all. Some people claim that it’s one of the best
RPGs on the Super Nintendo. And while that’s definitely a tall order,
I can say that I agree. It IS one of the best RPGs on the system. It’s also short and sweet. It doesn’t overstay its welcome. Super Mario RPG is one of those experiences
where every moment you spend playing is spent experiencing something new in the game. And perhaps all of these reasons are why Super
Mario RPG went on to out-sell every other Squaresoft RPG on the Super Nintendo. And perhaps the success of Super Mario RPG
is what helped prepare Western audiences for the incoming wave of Amazing RPGs that we
were about to experience on the upcoming Sony PlayStation. Would Final Fantasy VII have sold so incredibly
well without Super Mario RPG as a warmup? That’s a question we’ll never know the
answer to. But we’re at the end of the review and there
is one final question that I can answer for you. And that’s that Super Mario RPG absolutely
earned itself a spot in The Game Collection!

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

About Author

39 Comments
  1. Dan Goodfellow

    My first ever RPG!

  2. Duncan Bowie

    You never forget your first.

  3. Bruce Wayne

    Looking forward to this one Super Derek. 👍

  4. The East Texas Kryptonian Jason Glen Olds

    Favorite game of all time pretty much

  5. Gametourny 4ever

    I am looking forward to seeing if you got the Super Suit. 😂

  6. Jazzadrin

    An absolute classic. Beat this back when I was like 10. A decade and a half later when I replayed I stopped at the bootleg Power Rangers. Need to pop it back in again soon.

    Derek, please get together with Johnny Millenium for another great RPG chat video, love that video so much

  7. Wolfgang Büttel

    awsome RPG. Played it a lot.
    I'm looking forward for No one lives in heaven. Promising 16 bit RPG in this year.

  8. Mobius08

    Oh sweet, a review of the first RPG I ever played, premiering ON MY BIRTHDAY??
    Derek, you shouldn't have!
    ✧(>o<)ノ✧

  9. Awat Khalid

    i wish we get a remake for the switch

  10. Speak Quickly

    So this is a pre-notification notification? How does that work? Are you doing the review live at 10 AM? Anyway, I know you're going to love Super Mario RPG.

  11. Lalena Dee

    I love that you give a little history in your reviews!

  12. Richard Hartness

    The filters… THE FILTERS!

  13. TheMetalHeadbangger

    if i wanted some kind of streaming service for it would be for old school rpgs like this one

  14. redstratus97

    The very first RPG game I played was this game. If it wasn’t for this I wouldn’t have played FFVII which is the game that really got me into RPGs.

  15. Zero Foxtrot

    This was the first RPG I ever played as a kid. I remember having to call my mom in a lot to help read certain lines I was so young lol.

  16. Monotaku9

    Why is he like jerking off the game in the intro? Great video anyway ^^

  17. DrLevelUp

    Great review as always!

  18. Japanimation Man

    I never beat this game. I think I lost interest because of the CGI sprites. I'v always hated that Donkey Kong Country look no matter where I see it. Mortal Kombat, the Vectorman games… It all looks like garbage to me. But the game itself is pretty good from what I remember, so I'll probably push through it someday.

    I am surprised it outsold FF6 and Chrono Trigger, though. I was familiar with those games despite never owning a SNES as a kid, but Super Mario RPG is something I never even knew existed until long after I had beaten FF7. Probably not until after the Play Station 2 was out. So it certainly wasn't a part of my decision to play FF7, but other people might feel differently.

    I'm also loving the display shelves back there. I never knew the PS2 Suikoden games looked so nice in a row like that. I guess I'll have to track them down boxed when I get around to them.

  19. Joe Hosier

    "would final fantasy 7 have sold as well in the west had super Mario RPG not been a warm up act?"
    Ya know somethin dude? I never thought of that before.

  20. Donald Ripkin

    HOW DOES THIS CHANNEL NOT HAVE 1 MIL SUBS?!?!? Love the content, the editing, the history, gameplay footage, and everything else! Hands down the best retro RPG review channel on YT imho.

  21. Mike Sweet

    What makes me want to play this more than a Paper Mario game is the combat looks more JRPG-like. The Paper Mario combat feels so repetitive and boring to me. Every encounter feels the same and there's no real variation as to what you should or need to do to enemies.

  22. Suite Life of Dio Brando

    Mario rpg is a good entry point for the jrpg genre.

  23. Proto Dad

    Back when Square was focused on gameplay, way more than graphics. Maybe, do Paper Mario tTYD next?

  24. Eric Davies

    Great Review! I got this game along with the Players Guide way back in the day back for my 11th Birthday that year. Such a good game.

  25. Feelin' DanDy

    It was the commercials that sold FF7 lol

  26. Karsten

    This was one of my favorite games from the snes. I played through and beat this as a kid. Another great video Derek

  27. Red Mage 87

    Once again, Derek, you have knocked it out of the park.😀

  28. Hungry Goriya

    I really need to sit down and finish this one day. Thanks for that reminder! It was also fantastic getting to see you play through some of this live on stream as well! Wonderful video, as always.

  29. Micaiah the Otaku Gamer [HybridAngelZero]

    I absolutely love love LOVE this game, and I'm so glad you finally covered it.
    A fascinating thing I've noticed is how this game is basically a design blueprint for a lot of what we see in Final Fantasy VII.
    As a matter of fact, there's almost a clean game design evolutionary throughline from Final Fantasy VI, to Chrono Trigger, to Mario RPG to Final Fantasy VII

  30. Amplify Magic

    Loved this game in the 90’s and that’s why I would love to see Geno in Smash.

  31. Jack Prime

    Awesome and refreshing.

  32. Cosmic Crown

    As someone in the middle of playing both SMRPG and FF7 for the first time, I think it's interesting how both of them have minigames thrown in at different points as you progress through the story. I wonder if there was any overlap in their development teams.

  33. xxnike629xx

    When I had the SNES, this was by my favorite game. I must've spent countless hours trying to figure out all the secret like those invisible chests and beating the option bosses likes Jinx and Culex. Finding all the Frog Coins was a struggle too.

  34. EdreesesPieces

    I'm so glad the hype didn't kill it for you. Having played this game as a kid, it's hard to imagine what it would be like playing it for the first time after 25 years of hype settled in. Great job with the review!

  35. Vega G

    I remember playing this as a kid and couldn't get past the octupus you fight in the ship because my nintendo stopped working. I wasn't able to beat it until years later when I was in high school. I liked how you can find other nintendo characters in the game and the secret boss you can fight.

  36. Jo Gr

    i tried several times to get into the game but it never clicked and I always stopped after playing it for about 5h…
    For me Paper Mario 1 and 2 was far more appealing

  37. James Games

    These reviews get better and better – love this !!!

    You think you might try DarkKefka's Armageddon v9 ?????

    That is the way to play after experiencing this game

  38. Core Games

    Low latency? I don't think you know how to do yoshi's race. It's timed to the music. That footage doesn't look like you are doing it right.

  39. 7th AngelAD

    I just got around to playing this game this year!
    I loved the crisp sprites and refreshing battle system; but I was most delighted by the presence of a beloved familiar track during the Culex battle 😏

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *