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Super Mario RPG: why this cult video game from the 1990s remained, until now, unpublished in France

We no longer expected it.

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Super Mario RPG: why this cult video game from the 1990s remained, until now, unpublished in France

We no longer expected it. The Super Mario RPG video game, considered by old-timers as a classic among classics, was finally released in France this Friday, November 17, 2023, almost thirty years after its release! Initially sold on Super Nintendo, an emblematic console of the 16-bit era, Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars has just arrived on Nintendo Switch, in a version with a shortened and reworked title, especially from a technical point of view. Gone isometric 2D, and make way for a very cute 3D, worthy of Nintendo productions, which has not betrayed the origins of this hitherto unpublished title in Europe.

Because until now, Super Mario RPG has only been played by American and Japanese players, who were able to try it from the first half of 1996. An exclusivity already considered incomprehensible at the time by many Europeans, so that almost all international media agreed on its quality. Today, the American site specializing in video game news IGN ranks it as the 10th best Super Nintendo game, out of a sample of 100 titles. And in 2009, Official Nintendo magazine considered it the 34th best Nintendo game of all time.

Why did Mario RPG avoid Europe when it was released? First, because the game was initially developed by Square, now Square Enix, and behind several legendary video game sagas, such as Final Fantasy. Shortly after the release of this Super Mario opus, Square turned to Sony and its brand new Playstation. And at the time, the different international versions of each game were not released at the same time - some took months to produce, like those of Mario RPG, whose Japanese edition was released on March 9, 1996, when the The North American edition arrived on May 13, 1996.

But this is only part of the explanation. In reality, Super Mario RPG was far from the usual standards of European players. Super Mario RPG is, as its name suggests, a “Role Playing Game”. True institutions in Japan, but long shunned in Europe, these games have slow and strategic combat systems, and are, above all, particularly talkative. However, translating games from one language to another constituted, at the time, an immense cost for publishers and development studios. There are as many languages ​​in Europe as there are countries. Such translations were not considered profitable, with European audiences considered in the 1990s reluctant to spend their money on a role-playing game. It was also with the release of Final Fantasy VII on Playstation in 1997 that publishers finally considered the European market as viable for role-playing games, the Japanese game having experienced unprecedented success on the Old Continent. .

Another obstacle, television standards. If Japanese and American televisions broadcast at the same image frequency, i.e. 60 Hz, European televisions had the PAL (Phase Alternating Line) standard, with a frequency of “only” 50 Hz. Which implied different game cartridges from one market to another. Cartridges that obviously had to be made. Hence the marketing of Super Mario RPG in Europe 30 years after the rest of the world. Today, European players are more than ever fond of role-playing games, Mario games, and, above all, are no longer dependent on a standard specific to their continent.

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