Super Mario RPG preview - timing is key

Mario, Mallow and Geno pulling off a Triple Move in Super Mario RPG.
(Image credit: Nintendo)

If there’s one thing that classic turn-based role-playing games (RPGs) can be guilty of, it’s repetitive, unengaging combat. As much as I love the genre, playing an RPG with constant encounters and a battle system limited to selecting moves from a menu can, admittedly, get boring. However, these aren’t issues that players will have to worry about in Nintendo’s upcoming Switch remake of Super Mario RPG.

In fact, these aren’t problems that the original 1996 game, Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars, ever struggled with. With the option to scooch past enemies in the overworld to avoid encounters entirely, and a battle system that rewards players for timing their button presses when landing or receiving hits (to deal more damage or take less of it), the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) game deftly avoided two common, major pitfalls of the genre. 

In the 2023 remake, simply titled Super Mario RPG, those combat mechanics are back, and are - literally - better than ever. Soon after you jump into the shiny, revamped RPG, you’ll be introduced (or re-introduced, if you’re a veteran player) to the concept of slamming down the ‘A’ button right before Mario or his buddies connect with their foes, and immediately before their adversaries hit them back.

Even without any improvements, this feature would be fantastic for all the same reasons it was 27 years ago - though it’s not an absolute requirement to play the game, you have something to concentrate on beyond instructing your party on what to do, making each battle more involved and engrossing. However, the remake has also added further incentives to make the most of this feature.

New and improved

Mario and Mallow in a battle in Super Mario RPG.

(Image credit: Nintendo / Future)

For instance, take the action gauge which sits in the corner of the battle screen. Each time one of your party members lands a successfully timed button press, the gauge will increase, bit by bit. At first, filling this all the way up will grant access to a Toad Assist, which will hand out a random buff to your party. Once you have a full team of three, though, the real fun begins, as you’ll gain access to powerful Triple Moves. 

As well as a visually stunning cutscene (that, for obvious reasons, looks worlds apart from anything that the original SNES version could ever produce), Triple Moves are incredibly effective for dispatching even the hardiest of foes, making fights against bosses and special enemies (randomly powered-up foes that can be found out in the wild) much smoother. Beyond speeding up your fights, these moves also just look really cool, and it’s always satisfying to pull one off when it matters most.

Furthermore, perfectly timing your button presses on attacks unleashes additional damage on every other foe on the field, even if you’re only targeting one. If you play tactically, you can take out a full lineup of enemies by focusing only on a couple of them and letting the extra, widespread damage do the heavy lifting. Even in the early stages of the game, I’ve found that this is ideal for taking out foes fast to gain XP, and, when you’re faced with one strong foe and a bunch of smaller ones, you don’t necessarily need to worry about slowing down to deal with the small fry.

I’m still in the early stages of Super Mario RPG, but I’m excited to see what other tweaks have been made to improve on the classic RPG experience. However, even these early changes and enhancements look incredibly promising, hinting at the game’s potential to be a huge hit with nostalgic fans and new players alike.

Super Mario RPG is one of this year’s most exciting upcoming Switch games, but if you want some recommendations for games to play right now, you can check out our list of the best Nintendo Switch games.

Catherine Lewis
News Writer, TechRadar Gaming

Catherine is a News Writer for TechRadar Gaming. Armed with a journalism degree from The University of Sheffield, she was sucked into the games media industry after spending far too much time on her university newspaper writing about Pokémon and cool indie games, and realising that was a very cool job, actually. She previously spent 19 months working at GAMINGbible as a full-time journalist. She loves all things Nintendo, and will never stop talking about Xenoblade Chronicles.