In an unexpected retro revival move, Nintendo recently announced the official launch of a physical game manual for the beloved 1996 SNES title Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars. Available exclusively in Japan, this full-color printed guide offers a wonderful blast from the past for fans of the Mario role-playing game classic.
In this in-depth article, we’ll explore Nintendo’s surprise decision to produce new Super Mario RPG manuals over 25 years after its initial release including:
- The legacy and acclaim of Super Mario RPG
- Overview of the physical game manual and details
- Appeal to collectors and retro gaming enthusiasts
- Possible motives behind Nintendo’s move
- Wider importance of physical media in the digital age
- Reactions and discussions sparked among fans
- Impact on the value and costs of original copies
- Desires expressed for more physical re-releases
- What this signals about Nintendo’s future plans
For gamers who grew up with cartridges and instruction booklets, the tangible return of this beloved game is a welcome nostalgia trip. Let’s take a closer look at the enduring magic of Super Mario RPG and the ripples of Nintendo revisiting a classic.
The Groundbreaking Legacy of Super Mario RPG
First, to understand the excitement around physical Super Mario RPG guides, we must appreciate the game’s significance. Developed by Squaresoft (now Square Enix) in partnership with Nintendo, Super Mario RPG released in 1996 for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System.
The game was revolutionary by blending Mario’s trademark platforming with role-playing game mechanics like turn-based battles, equipment management, and magical abilities. It was praised for its:
- Engaging story with humor and heart
- Immersive world packed with secrets
- Charming music composed by Yoko Shimomura
- Clever timing-based action commands in battles
- Unique blend of styles from both Nintendo and Square
With colorful graphics, quirky characters, fun dialogue, and accessibility for all ages, Super Mario RPG grew into a beloved classic that helped define Nintendo’s golden era. While light on explicit story for a RPG, its world building and gameplay proved incredibly influential.
Now out of print physically, original Super Mario RPG cartridges remain coveted collector’s items. Against this backdrop, Nintendo’s throwback physical manual release landed as a welcome surprise.
Overview of the Physical Game Manual Details
Nintendo’s newly produced Super Mario RPG manual faithfully recreates the original included with its 1996 launch. The full-color printed guide spans 48 pages and includes:
- Character bios and histories for each party member
- Descriptions of enemies and NPCs like Yoshi and Toad
- Gameplay tutorial covering battle mechanics and timed hits
- Overviews of magical abilities and equipment
- Map of the Mushroom Kingdom and other areas
- Spell lists with MP costs for each character
- Item catalog with prices and descriptions
- Early concept sketches and enemy art
While the content itself is unchanged from the original manual, Nintendo refreshed the formatting and layout. This gives the classic guide a clean, sharp look consistent with modern game manuals. Printed on glossy paper with vibrant colors, the pages look and feel authentically retro.
For Western fans, a translated English version has not yet been announced. But this high-quality reprint will satisfy collectors as both a play companion and a museum-worthy game artifact.
Why Now? Appeal to Collectors and Retro Gamers
Nintendo announcing physical reproduction of a decades old manual decades after a game’s release is an unexpected move. But it ties into larger gaming trends:
The Retro Gaming Boom
Classic gaming popularity is surging, with original cartridges and merchandise commanding soaring prices. Releasing desirable throwbacks caters perfectly to this exploding hobby.
Increased Collector Demand
As retro gaming prices climb ever higher, collectors desire affordable reissues of rare merchandise. This manual finally enables owning an authentic guide without spending hundreds on originals.
Super Mario RPG remains widely beloved despite its age. This release lets new and existing fans finally obtain a true piece of gaming history.
Nintendo understands retro brand goodwill converts to future hype and sales. Releasing standalone memorabilia generates positive publicity.
While surprising on the surface, reproducing beloved gaming relics aligns smartly with larger collector and nostalgia market trends.
Celebrating the Value of Physical Media
In addition to retro appeal, many fans on social media tied the manual to larger discussions around preserving physical media.
“Such a great throwback to when games had real manuals.”
“Digital can never replace the memories of reading the manuals on the car ride home.”
“Awesome to see Nintendo still making physical stuff like this in 2023.”
“Kids today have no idea how much manuals increased immersion.”
“Hope this inspires publishers to invest more in physical extras again.”
“Digital may be convenient, but physical has more heart.”
The enthusiasm highlights how physical art, guides, and feelies enriched gaming experiences in ways new generations may overlook. Nintendo releasing the Super Mario RPG manual after decades reminds fans why game preservation matters.
Impact on Original Manual Values
Given the skyrocketing prices of retro Nintendo collectibles, how does the reissued manual affect values of original print copies?
Loose Original Print Values
The reprint likely decreases prices for loose original manuals lacking wider context. These may dip from $60-100 down to $30-50.
Complete in Box (CIB) Copies
Since original manuals remain essential for CIB collectors seeking fully intact sets, CIB values are unlikely to drop significantly. Authenticity still commands premiums.
Graded Gem Mint Copies
Sealed graded originals in pristine condition remain coveted by high-end collectors. These auction prices should remain largely unaffected.
Original manuals may see a short-term dip but likely rebound and continue appreciating over the long run based on collector tendencies for OG versions.
While not replacing true originals, the reprint provides a more accessible alternative that could soften prices on lower-end copies. But nostalgia retention will keep elite original manuals desirable.
Desires for More Physical Re-Releases
Beyond celebrating a beloved game, the warm response shows demand for even more physical retro merch. Fans expressed hopes for reissues of items like:
- Zelda, Metroid, and Castlevania manuals
- Detailed printed guides for SNES and N64 games
- Game & Watch systems with classic Nintendo games
- Iconic cartridges and boxes for games like Mario 64
- Chronicles books compiling game concept art
- Soundtrack CDs on vinyl records for vintage Nintendo music
- Replica peripherals and controllers across generations
The success of retro merch at stores like GameStop demonstrates appetite for tangibly engaging with nostalgic games versus digital-only re-releases. Nintendo would be wise to explore more physical throwbacks beyond this one-off.
What This Signals for Nintendo’s Retro Plans
Does the surprise manual re-launch suggest Nintendo is planning to dive deeper into its retro catalog? Clues point to potential:
Testing Small Scale Revivals
Reissuing a single manual lets Nintendo evaluate larger production of heritage items.
Strong sales and social buzz can demonstrate viability of doing more physical retro content.
Fill Gaps for Collectors
High prices for old manuals suggest demand Nintendo can meet by supplying affordable reprints.
Driving Brand Interest
Reviving classic games, even through ancillary content, fuels new interest from younger generations.
Preparing for Virtual Console on Switch?
Manual reissues could build excitement for re-releasing retro games digitally on Switch Online.
While far from definitive proof, the thoughtful throwback at least implies Nintendo sees untapped value in looking backwards. More retro may emerge to complement Nintendo’s ever-evolving future.
For Super Mario RPG fans, Nintendo’s surprise physical game manual re-release is a wonderful blast from the past. It provides both a collectible piece of history and a practical play guide at an affordable price point.
More broadly, the warm response shows public desire for more physical media and merchandise reviving beloved retro Nintendo games. While originals retain premium appeal for collectors, official reissues can make experiencing gaming history tangible for new generations.
Ultimately, the manual symbolizes how fond nostalgia endures across decades. With this small but meaningful throwback, Nintendo may have cracked open doors to even wider retro possibilities if fan fervor continues.
The future marches forward, but so does the past. By honoring its lineage in creative ways, Nintendo can enrich both older players through memory and younger players through discovery.