Super Mario RPG Remake Preview - Cricket Pie never looked so good

The original release of Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars back in 1996 was truly something special. Its surprising pairing of Nintendo's cast of instantly recognizable characters with the storytelling and gameplay of Square's roleplaying greats resulted in an unforgettable classic. I loved this game as a kid and have fond memories of exploring its then-unique interpretation of the Mushroom Kingdom.

When the new Super Mario RPG remake got announced a few short months ago, I eagerly stocked up on my favorite '90s snacks in anticipation of experiencing the Legend of the Seven Stars again. Having now experienced a first slice of the final game, I can comfortably say that this remake nails the feeling of the original.

Quickly after starting up the game for the first time, I was impressed with how much it felt like the original - if the original had 3D graphics and an orchestral soundtrack, that is. From a visual standpoint, the jump into the third dimension has been handled well, with environments, creatures, and characters I've seen so far all looking remarkably faithful to their 16-bit counterparts.

The look and designs are distinct and all their own; you won't confuse the squat and compact Mario here with the Mario presented in the recently released Super Mario Bros. Wonder. The different towns and enemies that have only ever been seen in the original Super Mario RPG look like I remember them looking 27 years ago, only less blurry.

On the music side of things, these new tracks have been just as toe-tapping, stuck-in-your-head-inducing, and catchy as ever. With each new area I unlock, I'm always excited to hear what subtle new melodies and qualities the new tracks will have.

I can't wait to hear the tracks for Star Hill or Booster's Tower later in the game! For the purists out there, you can take comfort in the fact that at any time, you can switch the music back to their original 16-bit renditions - which also still hold up incredibly well.

The part of Super Mario RPG that seems to have gotten the most additions is its combat. At its core, the combat largely feels the same with its timed button presses and the various gimmicks special moves have to power them up, but infused in the old systems are new modern conveniences to help players.

Additional information is presented now to players to help teach them the proper timing for attacks, which is handy. Now, if you time attacks well enough, not only will you do more damage, but your basic attacks can also hit all enemies on the screen as well - though only for a fraction of the typical damage you dish out. Hitting enemies with their particular weaknesses will also cause a large "WEAKNESS" popup to appear, which really helped me keep track of what attacks to use.

Perfectly timed attacks and guards additionally will fill a new special action gauge found in the lower left of the combat screen. This bar, when filled, will allow you to perform Limit Break-esque special Triple Moves with your party members. These attacks are presented with impressive-looking pre-rendered videos that reminded me a lot of Square's glorious summon attacks.

Each trio appears to have its own Triple Move, too, making me excited to recruit the rest of the party! If a character is knocked out (unless it's Mario) or you have less than three characters in your party, this gauge will instead summon Toad, which will provide you a special bonus or buff.

My first impressions of Super Mario RPG have left me excited to see more, regardless of the fact that I know where the story is heading. You can really see and hear the care that the development team has put into this remake, and so far, it's paying off. It really feels like it has managed to capture Super Mario RPG essence. I can't wait to see what other surprises this remake has instore for me.