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Fischer: A fountain of good games

Fischer: A fountain of good games
A side-by-side comparison of the fonts used in the SNES original and the Nintendo Switch remake of Super Mario RPG.
By Travis Fischer,

The nominees for this year’s The Game Awards are up and they really showcase what a stacked year it’s been for gaming.

After a few years of modest selections, no doubt partially due to COVID-19 related delays, gamers in 2023 have been eating well with titles like “Baldur’s Gate 3,” “Super Mario Bros. Wonder,” “Alan Wake II,” and “Marvel’s Spider-Man 2.”

Fischer: A fountain of good games
Travis Fischer

And, of course, the long awaited “The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom” finally saw the light of day this year as well.

Now, earlier this year a wrote about how I was in no rush to pick up the new Zelda game and while I did eventually buy it, and am thoroughly enjoying it, the greater point remains.

There is a lot of good stuff out there to play.

Which brings us to “Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars.”

Coming out late in the life of the Super Nintendo, Super Mario RPG is a rare gem of a game. A collaboration between Nintendo and Squaresoft, when Squaresoft was at the peak of their creative output, it is one of the standout RPGs of its time. Mechanically solid with a fun story and a good mix of popular Nintendo characters and original creations, it easily qualifies for any “Top 10 JRPGs of All Time” list worth reading.

Sadly, the relationship between Nintendo and Squaresoft soured going into 32-bit era of gaming. No sequel was ever developed and for years the game has languished as a relic of a bygone era, with neither company willing or able to capitalize on its persisting popularity.

Until now.

Out today, as I write this column, is a freshly developed Nintendo Switch remake of the beloved SNES classic.

Rebuilt with 3D graphics, an orchestrated soundtrack, modern quality of life features, and some new gameplay improvements, by all accounts the Super Mario RPG remake is everything a fan of the original could hope for.

Except for one thing…

Now, I’m going to warn you ahead of time that I am fully aware that this is the most absurdly petty and overly nitpicky complaint that a person could have about a game.

But I’m in no hurry to pick up the Super Mario RPG remake for one singular reason.

The font.

In spite of being an otherwise utterly faithful recreation of the classic game, the remake features as boring and bland a font for its text as you could come up with.

In the SNES original, text in the game was presented in a stylized arrangement of characters, invoking the image of a child’s handwriting on parchment or a chalkboard.

In the Nintendo Switch remake, it’s Arial Bold. Just bland, boring, Arial Bold.

It’s a small thing, but also not. After all, text matters a lot in a JRPG. Every menu item and every word of dialogue in the story uses text. It is an inescapable aspect of playing the game.

And yeah, I get it. Arial Bold is an easily legible font, making it a good choice if you’re prioritizing accessibility. But it’s just… so… boring.

Maybe it’s because my work involves a level of graphic design, but it’s a huge pet peeve of mine when a game uses a bland and soulless font. I have, on multiple occasions, gone out of my way to mod my PC games to feature more aesthetically pleasing text when the standard release is not up to snuff.

Sadly, I cannot do that on the Nintendo Switch, and that is enough to give me pause about dedicating my limited free time to what otherwise seems to be an exemplary game.

As noted, there are a lot of good games that came out this year. It’s already extremely difficult to figure out what I want to focus my attention on. I can afford to be as picky as I am petty.

Travis Fischer is a news writer for the Charles City Press and has so many other things to play before he can even think about Mario RPG.

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