5 things to look for from this year's Super Mario RPG remake

After the shock has settled from Wednesday's Nintendo Direct, here are five things to look for from this year's Super Mario RPG remake.


Rumors started piling up over the first half of the week about what would be shown during this week's Nintendo Direct. Social media started buzzing about a remake of a Super Nintendo title, which had internet sleuths guessing. Few of them ever imagined it would be Super Mario RPG, Mario's first role-playing game and the one and only direct collaboration between Nintendo and SquareSoft (now Square Enix).

Nintendo shocked the gaming world on Wednesday with the reveal of an official Super Mario RPG remake that's set to arrive later this year on Nintendo Switch. As the resident Super Mario RPG enthusiast at Shacknews, I felt the need to weigh in on this topic. What, specifically, should players (whether they be fans of the original or younger people who have never seen this game before) be watching for when they pick this up?

Here are five quick things to look out for from this year's Super Mario RPG.

1. Potential secrets

Geno awakens in Super Mario RPG

Source: Nintendo

It goes without saying that a Super Mario RPG remake means that the original game is getting a brand new coat of paint. The visuals have been updated to fit in with modern 21st century games. Long-time players have expressed a curiosity to see, among many things, their favorite Easter eggs. That can include a sleeping Samus in the Mushroom Kingdom, a sleeping Link in Rose Town, or the Arwing and F-Zero race card models in Hinopio's shop, just to name a few examples.

As it turns out, as cool as those things are, there may be even more Easter eggs that have been hidden under people's noses for decades. Eagle-eyed viewers of Wednesday's trailer noticed that Booster's toy chest contained more than Mario dolls. It had a Stunt Race FX car!

Imagine some of the other hidden shoutouts that were muddled by the Super Nintendo's old-school graphics? There may have been other Easter eggs that were hidden right under people's noses. Super Mario RPG was not shy about giving generous nods to Nintendo's classic titles, so don't be surprised if players are doing some Leo DiCaprio fingerpoints when they spot a reference they never knew was there.

2. The updated visual style

Mallow falls down chasing Croco in Super Mario RPG

Source: Nintendo

Super Mario RPG's greatest improvement may also present one of its greatest challenges. There's no doubt that Super Mario RPG's visual style has aged noticeably in 27 years. A new art style is a plus. However, it also slightly takes away from what made the original game such a special achievement.

Look at the original Super Mario RPG from the perspective of somebody in 1996. The Super Nintendo was on its last legs. The Nintendo 64 was months away from release. Video gaming itself was about to undergo a massive transition into 3D. For Super Mario RPG to achieve those visuals on a 16-bit cartridge was nothing short of a technical feat. It's the sort of thing that, outside of rare occasions, much of today's gaming public takes for granted.

Sure, a Super Mario RPG designed for Nintendo Switch in 2023 will look good. That's not in question. But will it be as special an achievement? It's almost impossible.

With that said, I'm seeing some of these worlds in Wednesday's trailer and can't help but nod in excitement. The musical ride down Midas River, especially, looks majestic. The lighting effects used during the Yaridovich battle, the overhauled details of the Mushroom Kingdom itself, and the extra flair given to the game's attacks are still something that players can feel excited about.

To end this on an optimistic note, a few years ago, there was another game that many saw as perfection and couldn't imagine improving upon. That game was The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening. Through an imaginative new art style and a focus on not fixing what wasn't broken, Link's Awakening proved to be an excellent example of what remakes should be. Super Mario RPG can be that, too, by touching up what needs to be touched up and not adjusting anything that made the game so great in the first place.

3. The updated soundtrack

Yaridovich strikes in Super Mario RPG

Source: Nintendo

Super Mario RPG's soundtrack is among the greatest in video game history. It has inspired countless video game musicians for decades. It has been the subject of a multitude of remixes, like this incredible album from the folks at OC ReMix. For those who had never played a role-playing game before Super Mario RPG, this showed what an immersive soundtrack could mean to an epic story.

Who could possibly take on the Herculean task of reimagining Yoko Shimomura's incredible Super Mario RPG soundtrack? Who could remake the battle themes, the harrowing Bowser's Keep theme, the adventurous The Road is Full of Dangers, the menacing Weapons Factory, and so on? Who could be up for this task?

The answer, as it turns out, is Yoko Shimomura.

Yoko Shimomura's resume is unparalleled in the industry. Even with dozens upon dozens of all-time classic soundtracks under her belt, Super Mario RPG stands out as some of her greatest work. The challenge here is that unlike the original game's visuals, which may not be everybody's cup of tea in 2023, Super Mario RPG's soundtrack absolutely stands the test of time. To this day, as a whole, it holds up against any video game music collection. Is it even possible for Shimomura to improve on it?

It's going to be a pleasure to find out.

4. The voice acting... or lack thereof

Bowser grumbles in Super Mario RPG

Source: Nintendo

For anyone who viewed the trailer, here's a pop quiz. What didn't you hear throughout that two minutes? The answer is voices. Everyone was silent, including Mario, Peach, and Bowser. (Well, mostly Bowser. He grumbles as he did in the original game.)

That actually shows an important attention to detail. The original Super Mario RPG was one of the final major releases on the Super Nintendo. More than that, it was the final Mario game released before Charles Martinet changed the character forever with the addition of his voice. Since then, Mario, Peach, and Bowser have had their voices in nearly every Mario title in some fashion. Even later RPGs, like the Mario & Luigi series, had Martinet's familiar exclamations and Bowser's signature roars. One of the lone exceptions is the Paper Mario line of games.

Something important to note about Super Mario RPG is that the lack of voices isn't a shortcoming, it's a feature. Part of what makes that narrative resonate the way it does is that Mario is a heroic silent protagonist, much in a way that would define The Legend of Zelda's Link for generations to come. Mario wasn't a man of words. Throughout Super Mario RPG's story, he's revered as a legend. He's the world's ultimate hero to the point that many characters don't even believe he's real until they meet him themselves. None of that sense of wonder and awe is compromised by unnecessary dialogue.

Sometimes, it's ok to leave classic stories without voices. In many cases, they're better that way. For example, look at the Game Boy Advance remakes of the original Mario platformers. Are those games enhanced in any way by Martinet's voice samples? No, in fact, some would argue that they make those games worse. If Super Mario RPG goes in the direction of leaving voice acting out of the remake entirely, that's going to be a positive.

5. The aftermath

Collecting a Star Piece in Super Mario RPG

Source: Nintendo

Modern society is often in a perpetual state of wanting more. If certain people get what they want, they'll appreciate it for a moment and quickly focus on what they can get next. I'll fully admit that I'm in danger of falling into this trap because there's nothing I could have wanted more than this moment, the announcement of a Super Mario RPG remake. I am ecstatic that I get to share my favorite game with a new generation, and I am excited for them to experience the joy that I got playing this game 27 years ago.

Having said that, yes, I am wondering what could potentially come afterwards.

The reason is because of a 2022 MinnMax interview with original Super Mario RPG Co-Director Chihiro Fujioka, who had this to say about a potential sequel to Super Mario RPG 2:

"In my career, I've been involved in a lot of games and, you know, I would really like my final one to be another Mario RPG game, if possible."

As exciting as Wednesday's Super Mario RPG remake announcement was, there was a bittersweet taste to it. The reason is that Fujioka noted that he is not involved with the project. As exciting as it was to hear that Yoko Shimomura would return for the remake's soundtrack, learning that Fujioka would not be part of the remake's team left an opposing sense of sadness. It was under Fujioka's direction that Mario and the Mushroom Kingdom felt grander in scale than it ever had, and it would have been great to see him return to this world and these characters.

Having said that, what happens if Super Mario RPG overachieves on sales charts? Is this Nintendo and Square testing the waters to gauge interest in an eventual sequel? Could it be possible that the remake would be such a success that this story could continue?

If nothing else, it's hard not to root for the best outcome just for the possibility that Fujioka can end his career on his dream project. Selfishly, I root for Fujioka to return to Mario RPGs and have hoped for that day to come since AlphaDream went bankrupt.

As excited as I am to experience Super Mario RPG all over again this year and do so in a new way, I have to be honest. I'm already interested in what's next.

Super Mario RPG will release on Nintendo Switch on November 17, 2023.

Senior Editor

Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

From The Chatty
Hello, Meet Lola