Mario is the most iconic video game character of all time and one of the most lucrative franchises for The Big N. That being said it was only a matter of time before Nintendo cashed in and offered some of Mario’s best games on its current console, the Switch. Super Mario 3D All-Stars is a collection that includes: Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine, and Super Mario Galaxy. If you’re a Mario fan or of 3D platformers in general, you’ve most likely already played a couple of these games, if not all of them.
Unfortunately these games aren’t going to look much better or play any better than how you remember them. Super Mario 64 is probably the most notable offense here as it originally released back in 1996 for the Nintendo 64 as a launch title. The game is a testament to 3D platformers and helped define how 3D games would be developed for generations to come. However, today it’s not as cutting edge as it once was 24 years ago.
Nintendo didn’t do much to make the game accessible to 2020s audiences. It still looks pretty much exactly how I remembered it from when I rented it at Blockbuster back in the ‘90s. Don’t expect a new coat of paint like The Spiro Reignited Trilogy or the Crash Bandicoot N Sane Trilogy collections, which overhauled the visuals for modern consoles. The camera angle, although revolutionary back in the day, is just not good by today’s standards and was a constant source of death for me. The inability to rotate the camera and have it stay there is a constant source of frustration that only slightly subsides the longer you play.
This sort of inattention to detail seems to permeate throughout all of the collection’s games to varying degrees. Super Mario Sunshine, originally released for the GameCube in 2002, is a game I missed out on because I never owned the console so I was happy to jump into this game due to all the praise I’ve heard about it.
Super Mario Sunshine at least plays in 16:9 instead of 4:3, which it did on the GameCube, so it looks a little better on modern TVs. It’s not an HD remaster like other GameCube era games like Resident Evil 4 or The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker but it’s a nice, if not a bit lazy, touch up.
The controls were a bit wonky for me but it’s not too much to get used to. There are still a few glitches and bugs which have carried over from the original and there’s no option to invert the camera, which I’ve become accustomed to with modern games. I imagine some players who grew up playing this game in its original form will have difficulty this time around because Nintendo, for some strange reason, has changed the controls to non-inverted for this re-release. In this day and age there’s really no excuse to not include simple options like this to allow players to access the game how they choose.
Super Mario Galaxy is the last game in the collection and the best looking game here as it only released 13 years ago for the Wii. It’s still amazing after all these years and it looks great on my TV while using the Joy-Cons to simulate the Wii’s motion controls. Unfortunately it’s a bit unplayable in handheld mode because of the motion controls it relied on originally being a Wii title. Although the Switch Pro controller can be used for TV play, the game feels a bit off because you constantly have to move the star cursor around with the entire controller, whereas holding a Joy-Con in each hand emulates the Wii experience to a tee.
You can substitute the motion controls for the touchscreen if you’re playing in handheld mode, but that means you’re going to have one of your hands all over the screen making the experience a bit messy. With so many Switch owners preferring handheld play and the poor Switch Lite players, it makes me wonder if there wasn’t a better option Nintendo could have used to make Super Mario Galaxy a bit more accessible for all Switch users.
Along with the games Nintendo also included each game’s soundtrack, which is a nice addition but honestly seems a little short handed. This is Mario. Nintendo’s flagship character who’s carried the company for 35 years now and this collection is about as bare bones as it could possibly be. Gaming collections are not anything new and we’ve seen some really great ones throughout the years, but it’s disappointing to see video gaming’s most notable franchise be snuffed by its creators.
The collection doesn’t even include the full library of 3D Mario titles with questionable exclusions like Super Mario Galaxy 2 and Super Mario 3D Land which might have justified the $60 asking price. When Activision can release completely remastered and graphically enhanced collections of Crash and Spyro for a mere $40 and then Nintendo chooses to do the bare minimum for $20 more, it comes across as greedy and arrogant. Even Konami, a company that hasn’t exactly been in the good graces of many gamers as of late, managed to include design documents and cool behind the scenes information with its Castlevania Anniversary Collection and to see Nintendo phone this one in is just unfortunate and disappointing.
Despite all the issues, I still bought the game; that’s the power of nostalgia and that’s also the power of Mario. Even though it’s lackluster when compared to what others have done, these titles are genre defining games, which hold special places in our hearts. Even though I prefer Mario’s 2D adventures to his 3D ones, I still enjoy the games and I jumped at the thought of being able to dive back into the world of Super Mario 64, which I haven’t played since I was in elementary school.
In all honesty I can tell you that this is a lazy collection of some of the greatest games of all time and, yes, it’s irritating that it can’t be better but at the end of the day you’ve already made up your mind on whether or not you want to buy it. Nostalgia is a hell of a drug and Nintendo sure knows how to capitalize on that.
Super Mario 3D All-Stars Review
- Graphics - 6/106/10
- Sound - 8/108/10
- Gameplay - 7/107/10
- Lasting Appeal - 9/109/10
Final Thoughts: GOOD
Super Mario 3D All-Stars is a (lazy) collection of some of Mario’s best 3D ventures and some of the best video games ever made. Is it an obvious cash grab? Yes. Will you buy it? Probably.