Super Mario RPG Guide – Tips for the early game

Kick off your adventures in Super Mario RPG on the right foot.
super mario rpg

Super Mario RPG has officially arrived on Nintendo Switch, bringing the original Super Nintendo game into the modern era with fresh graphics, and some new mechanics. Whether you’re a returning player or a fresh newbie, there’s plenty you should know about this remake – from the best combat tactics, to how to find every hidden treasure in the game.

You can certainly head off on your own and have a perfectly fun time exploring its many hidden corners, but if you’re looking to kickstart your journey in Super Mario RPG on the right foot, backed by some spoiler-free knowledge about what’s to come, read on.

Read: Super Mario RPG Review – Wish upon a classic star

Pay attention to enemy animation cycles

super mario rpg battles
Screenshot: GamesHub

Super Mario RPG isn’t your average turn-based adventure game. While it includes the basics of this familiar combat type, it also features real-time elements – you’re able to dodge attacks, and increase the damage and spread of your own attacks as long as you press a button at exactly the right moment. It’s a demanding system, and it’s difficult to grasp at first – but the quicker you learn it, the easier your time with Super Mario RPG will be.

To kick off your adventure, you should spend time analysing your combat options, and specifically watching enemy animation cycles. Each enemy has a specific cadence to their attack, usually telegraphed by sound cues. You’ll want to watch for their movements, and time your defence at just the right moment (marked by an [!] exclamation) to ensure minimal (or no) damage.

While it’s difficult to consistently predict enemy movement, familiarity with individual creatures, attack patterns, and battle music will help you to time your defence just right.

Likewise, you’ll need to do the same for your attacks. Each of your main heroes has a chance to inflict more damage by clicking the attack button at just the right time. This changes with every weapon you equip, so you’ll need to learn your cues, and when to attack, to maximise your potential on the battlefield.

Note enemy strengths and weaknesses

As you travel further into Super Mario RPG, you’ll note your attack power waxing and waning. This is because each enemy has their own individual strengths and weaknesses – and it’s up to you to figure them out.

If your attacks do nothing, try for specials. If that won’t do, try swapping out your combatants. If none of that works, you might be fighting an undead creature – in which case, it’s pertinent to know the undead can only be defeated by special attacks. If that’s not the case, you might just need to stick to your guns and continue chipping away at an enemy’s health until they’re down.

Mario, Geno, and Bowser are the perfect combo

super mario rpg
Image: Nintendo

In Super Mario RPG, you’ll unlock a number of companions to take with you on your journey – but you might like to hold out on purchasing special equipment and upgrades until you unlock the best combination of combatants: Mario, Bowser, and Geno. All three are heavy hitters that dole out high damage, and they’re great against a range of enemy types.

You can certainly put other party members in your main crew, but you’ll find their attack strength pales in comparison. You can save on healing items by putting Peach in your crew – but given you’ll typically have ample stock, you can also get away with maximising your attack output, and healing with items instead.

Save your Triple Moves for major bosses

As you nail quick-time attacks and blocks, you’ll build up a special gauge that can eventually be activated to launch Triple Moves – where everyone in your party comes together for a high-powered attack. You can activate these Triple Moves at any time, but you’ll want to keep them handy for boss fights, rather than wasting them on smaller enemies.

If you think you’ve got enough time to build up the gauge before a boss approaches, you can certainly unleash it early – but in a pinch, Triple Moves are best used against main bosses with ample health.

Normal difficulty is the best option

super mario rpg difficulty
Screenshot: GamesHub

The original Super Mario RPG was a fairly difficult game, and as such, the new version adds in an easier mode – but you might like to avoid this. The balance is very well done at first, and you’ll struggle with early-game bosses in a way that feels rewarding. But as you defeat more enemies and grow in strength, the game starts to feel a little bit too easy. While the hardest boss in the game – Culex – will still cause a lot of trouble (although he is optional), you’ll likely find the final few story bosses are a bit too breezy.

For the most balanced experience, play on normal mode.

Equip one party member with the Signal Ring

Early on in Super Mario RPG, you’ll be given a special item called the Signal Ring, which makes a noise and gives you a visual clue as to when you’re entering a room with hidden treasure. This hidden treasure can be basic – a mushroom, a flower tab – but you can also nab rare goodies by finding and opening these chests.

With the Signal Ring, you’ll always be aware of when hidden treasures are present, and eventually – by running and jumping through the air – you’ll stumble across them, revealing special goodies.

Visit each town shop for new equipment

Every time you enter a new town, you should check for fresh equipment in the item shops. Occasionally, you’ll find strong new armour and weapons, both of which will aid you in battle by increasing your defence and attack scores.

As enemy difficulty ramps up in each new location, you’ll want to be constantly upgrading your equipment, and then taking the time to learn the new timing and patterns of your individual attacks.

If you’re stuck, have a chat

boshi super mario rpg
Screenshot: GamesHub

At certain points in the Super Mario RPG narrative, you may get stuck. A flag will appear floating on your stage location, but you won’t know how to advance the story or keep the action humming. If this ever happens, the most likely solution to your conundrum will be chatting to everyone in the flagged village for clues. Typically, at least one citizen will have a line of dialogue or request you’ve missed, and once you’ve discovered it, you’ll be able to move on.

In our particular playthrough of Super Mario RPG, this happened twice, so we’ll give you some hints as to where you might get stuck.

First, if you need to talk to the Toad Sage and he won’t give you the right dialogue to advance, know that there’s something you need to purchase for him first, before he’ll lead you in the right direction. Second, there may be another person (or two people) you’ll need to chat to in Nimbus Land to continue your journey. Keep this in mind as you travel.

Pace yourself

Finally, a smaller word of advice. Super Mario RPG is a delightful adventure at every turn, but you can easily fly through the story and miss all its quirks. This is a game you’ll want to spend time with, discovering each of its charms in turn. To that end, it’s best to pace yourself as you travel, and take the time to stop, smell the roses, and chat to the citizens of each land.

While many of them are non-essential to the game’s main quest, they usually have a fun bit of dialogue to share, with each tiny joke and tidbit adding fun and silliness to the main adventure. With such a dark plot and grim enemies along the way, having a bit of comic relief helps to ease the tension.

Super Mario RPG : Standard - Nintendo Switch [Digital Code]
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Super Mario RPG launches for Nintendo Switch on 17 November 2023. Check out the GamesHub review.

Leah J. Williams is a gaming and entertainment journalist who's spent years writing about the games industry, her love for The Sims 2 on Nintendo DS and every piece of weird history she knows. You can find her tweeting @legenette most days.