It’s finally here. After years of waiting and months of rumors, Super Mario 3D All-Stars has arrived.
The moment Nintendo announced the surprise release of not one, not two, but three of the greatest 3D platformers of all time, and Mario titles no less, in one package, was a surreal moment.
It felt both amazing, especially due to how close the announcement came to the compilation’s release, but also a bit less eventful than anticipated. Partly due to the ongoing worldwide pandemic in the backdrop that seems to suck the air out of every conversation, but also due to the fan reception which quickly went from celebratory and joyful to disappointed and despondent.
Many voiced great dissatisfaction with the game’s $60 price tag, feeling it was a rip-off in comparison to other game compilations like the Spyro: Reignited Trilogy which initially retailed for a mere $40.
The fact that none of the games in Super Mario 3D All-Stars were remastered from the ground up like Spyro’s trilogy just added insult to injury. Then there was the fact that Nintendo chose to give the game limited availability status, which means players can only purchase the title between now and the end of March 2021. And that goes for both physical and digital copies of the game.
There were a myriad of other complaints as well, but it would take up too much time to list them all. Suffice it to say, the release of Super Mario 3D All-Stars, which should have been a historic and happy moment in gaming, was quickly reduced to yet another sore spot of 2020. Right or wrong, for better or worse, that’s what happened.
And I have to address that because, while I can see the point of many of the detractors – and let’s acknowledge they do have a point – I also must make my position clear: I absolutely adore Super Mario 3D All-Stars. Now, I appreciate those voicing their complaints because that’s how progress is made and Nintendo should be held to high standards.
But. Now that I’ve given you permission to complain, please give me permission to praise. And Nintendo does deserve praise here, as this is a very rare move for them to make and one that needs to be encouraged. I want more releases like this.
I want to be able to own physical copies of classic Nintendo titles that can run on modern Nintendo hardware, preferably in compilation formats where I can play all of the titles from one cartridge.
At any rate, you’re probably wondering how the three titles included in the bundle (Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine, and Super Mario Galaxy) hold up. And the answer is: incredibly well.
I’ll start with what I think is good: while not remastered, all three of the games play in HD and they all look gorgeous with the updated resolution. Mario 64 hums along nicely in 720p, while Sunshine and Galaxy usually pull off 1080p in docked mode (720p in handheld mode).
I played Sunshine on its native home on the GameCube this summer, and I can unreservedly endorse the HD output available here. Galaxy too. The fuzziness is gone and they both look so much crisper and cleaner in HD. In-game texts and icons have been polished up, and I’m not sure I can ever go back to the foggy text of yesteryear.
The polygonal Mario in his 64 debut has also noticeably improved with the HD treatment, although the newer resolution does highlight some of the game’s less polished textures and backgrounds that actually benefitted from the original release’s lower resolution. Still, I’m glad to see all of the games showcased in their natural forms with a clearer lens.
And on that topic, I am happy the games weren’t totally remastered for this collection. 3D All-Stars has faithfully preserved the games I grew up not only for me but for an entirely new resolution.
This feels like the best way to accurately portray the origins of modern gaming and the progress it has made over the years. It’s honestly incredible to see how the franchise evolved in 3D as you switch from one title to the next.
As far as controls are concerned, Mario 64‘s and Galaxy‘s feel pretty much the same. Galaxy even managed to implement motion controls much like the Wii’s, although admittedly the Joy Cons aren’t as accurate at collecting Star Bits as the WiiMotes were. Galaxy also supports touch controls in handheld mode.
Sunshine‘s controls have changed the most. Veteran players will likely realize that FLUDD’s controls are no longer inverted. Now up is up and down is down. But honestly, it doesn’t take long to get used to. And newcomers shouldn’t have any problems at all.
Overall, each of the games here look, feel, and sound fantastic.
The only downsides are that it would’ve been nice if all of the games could have been in widescreen. Sunshine and Galaxy both received widescreen treatments, while 64 is left out in that regard. Sunshine‘s cutscenes also feel like they could’ve been touched up a smidge more.
Also, Nintendo has removed Charles Martinet’s “So long King Bowser!” line during battles and replaced it with his “Bye Bye” audio clip from Mario’s DS games. While I understand why they did this, to avoid any confusion or controversy associated with the original line, it still rubbed me the wrong way as I never had any confusion about what Mario was saying and I grew up with that classic performance. Seeing as how the games were so well-preserved otherwise, that felt like an unnecessary edit.
But these are all extremely minor gripes. And having all of these games together in one package more than makes up for any of the downsides. I believe that all my praise for the original titles, from their soundtracks (which are all included in this pack as well), to their gameplay mechanics, to their unbridled creativity – all of that praise also applies here. But it applies here in triple doses. Triple doses that you can play portably no less!
At this point, you already know whether or not Super Mario 3D All-Stars and the way its release or its presentation are a dealbreaker for you. But for me, this collection is the way I am going to experience these games from now on and how I will introduce them to my daughter.
Individually, these are all stellar chapters in Mario’s long history that spans 35 years and counting. Combined, they’re even better.
Super Mario 3D All-Stars for Nintendo Switch – Score: 10/10
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