Our son enjoyed Super Mario Wonder so much that he wanted to try the next ‘new’ Mario game, the switch version of Super Mario RPG. However, he got bored with the JRPG elements. Since daddy loves RPGs, it fell upon me to play through the game.
Well, I do love RPGs. Tabletop RPGs are my true love but I have played the odd JRPG in my day. So playing Super Mario RPG wasn’t a painful experience.
Super Mario RPG started out life on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System back in 1996 and was developed by Square, the same company that created Final Fantasy. No, I didn’t know any of that when I started playing.
I have dabbled with the RPG side of Mario before with Paper Mario 64 and Paper Mario Origami King (please refer to the first paragraph about why) but apparently Super Mario RPG is where it got started.
And Super Mario RPG may be the shortest, simplest JRPG I have encountered. Heck, there are even some straight up platforming sequences. (That I did abysmally at) Super Mario RPG isn’t just built for folks who have never played an JRPG before. It’s built for folks who don’t have any interest in playing another one.
With that said, an RPG of any kind lives or dies by its story. You don’t play D&D for the minis or the dice. Well, you might but you’d be in the minority. You play it for the story.
And, yeah, Super Mario RPG’s story is a solid reason to play the game.
Even by 1996, the basic pattern of Super Mario games was established and worth poking fun at. And Super Mario RPG lovingly makes fun of how often Bowser kidnaps Peach and also has a lot of fun with the idea that Mario has been become famous for all of his heroics. The cutscenes depicting Mario as a heroic mime are hysterical.
Yes, the actual story involves a big bad who is mean enough that Bowser signs onto Team Mario (Having both Bowser and Peach as party members is a high point) and you do have to restore the cosmic balance. But the tone remains jovial rather than dire. Of course, world shattering threats are pretty routine for Mario, which the game cheerfully points out.
I played the game in easy breezy level and I also didn’t play clever. I fought everything to level up the party and constantly stocked up on mana potions so I could spam the biggest attacks. And that worked just fine. I may have missed some items but we got to see the story.
Super Mario RPG is pretty lowkey and pretty simple. It’s not Final Fanrasy with a Mario reskin. But we enjoyed it.