The recent Super Mario-themed Nintendo Direct featured some excellent games and announcements, but the star of the show was easily Super Mario 3D All-Stars.
Its reveal marked a celebration of the 35th anniversary of the original Super Mario Bros NES Game, and has answered the prayers of Nintendo fans all over the world by bringing some of Mario’s best adventures to the handheld hybrid console, the Nintendo Switch.
Super Mario 3D All-Stars is a remastered compilation of Mario’s classic 3D outings, bringing together Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine and Super Mario Galaxy in one package.
Once you start the game you are taken to a minimal selection screen. The menu evokes the feeling of looking at a museum piece.
It features the original box art from all three games, separate soundtracks, a note of their original release dates, a blurb describing their plots and some in-game footage.
Super Mario 64
Super Mario 64 was released for the Nintendo 64 all the way back in 1997 and was a formative experience for many young gamers of the time, me included.
The grandaddy of 3D platforming games, Super Mario 64 got it right when so many others couldn’t successfully make the transition from 2D to 3D (I’m looking at you Sonic).
Everything about the truly iconic adventure is in place, with a grand open world for you to explore through magical paintings that transport you to themed worlds.
It even starts with the giant Mario face just like on the N64 and really took my back to those 64-bit days.
The authenticity of this version is accurate to a fault. It undoubtedly holds a lot of nostalgia for older players, but it could have also really benefited from a proper remake or more substantial remaster.
I had hoped this would be more like the Nintendo DS version of Mario 64, which includes more up to date character models and the ability to change characters, as well as some extra content.
While the controls are a little janky at times – as well as the camera control – this game still plays well, and this a standout N64 title remains the definition of classic.
Super Mario Sunshine
Super Mario Sunshine was released in 2002 for the GameCube, and saw the plumber return with better graphics, tighter controls and a new companion. While trying to get away from it all and enjoy a nice holiday on the island of Delfino, Mario is accused of a crime he didn’t commit and it’s up to him to catch the culprit, prove his innocence and clean up this tropical paradise.
Sunshine builds and improves upon the Mario 64 formula in every way. New companion F.L.U.D.D. is an incredibly versatile and fun tool for defeating enemies and platforming.
F.L.U.D.D. (or Flash Liquidizer Ultra Dousing Device) is a talking mechanical water jet pack/water cannon that gains new abilities that further add to your moves. These allow you to explore the island more easily.
The game’s theme of environmentalism is more relevant than ever, and cleaning up all the pollution left by a mysterious Mario-like foe has never been more fun.
It’s great to see Delfino evolve as you clean it up, with the sunlight coming back as you collect Shine Sprites.
Sunshine benefits the most from the graphical updates, with the 16:9 aspect, much improved textures and upped resolution making this remaster really shine.
This entry in the franchise deserves way more love than it gets. It is an underrated gem and does the impossible, following up from one of the most iconic games of all time and surpassing it.
Super Mario Galaxy
Can Mario’s adventures get any bigger or stranger?
That brings us to the most recent title in this collection, Super Mario Galaxy, originally released for the motion-controlled Nintendo Wii in 2007.
It follows the typical Mario plot: Princess Peach has been kidnapped….but this time in SPACE! Joking aside, the outer space setting looks stunning and features fun ways to mix up Mario formula while creating a less linear adventure.
The game feels epic due in part to the massive scale of levels, the orchestrated score and galactic setting.
Galaxy is the first time an orchestra was used in a Mario game and it fits the theme perfectly, flying through space to a beautiful soundtrack is a highlight.
New power-ups like Bee Mushroom, Boo Mushroom, Spring Mushroom and Red Star provide new ways to traverse these strange new worlds.
The spherical platforming takes getting used to but levels are self-contained planets. You can walk all the way around them, and each comes with their own gravity and puzzles.
You can even use the Joy-Con motion controls in place of the Wii Remote. The cursor feels a bit out of place at first, but it wouldn’t feel like an authentic remaster without its inclusion.
Using motion to trigger things like spin attacks is back and is reminiscent of Mario Odyssey…or should I say Odyssey is reminiscent of Galaxy? You can just use buttons if you don’t like motion controls.
Limited co-op is available with Co-Star mode, allowing a player to use a second Joy-Con to help by holding foes in place and launching Star Bits at them to help Mario on his journey. This isn’t the kind of multiplayer Mario experience I wanted but its inclusion was appreciated.
All three games look much sharper, with brighter colours than the originals due to being graphically updated and optimised.
Sunshine has had its aspect ratio changed to 16:9 wide to fit better on the Switch screen and modern TVs, but I was disappointed the same treatment hadn’t been given to SM 64.
Galaxy looks stunning and Sunshine looks great, but Mario 64 has aged the worst being the oldest game. The higher resolution and larger screen size also highlight the limitations of the time, with flatter looking textures.
The games run in the following enhanced resolutions:
- Super Mario 64 runs 960 x 720 in handheld and 960 x 720 in docked
- Super Mario Sunshine runs 1280 x 720 handheld and 1920 x 1080 docked
- Super Mario Galaxy is 720 x 1280 handheld and 1920 x 1080 docked
Super Mario Galaxy 2 was sadly missing from this collection, and although it’s remarkably similar to Galaxy its omission is disappointing.
I also hoped that the extra content that was in 2004’s Super Mario 64 DS version would make its way into this version of Mario 64, but it, unfortunately, wasn’t.
Some additional content would have been nice especially with the eldest title to give added incentive to play it again and to make this limited-edition package feel even more worthwhile.
My biggest issue with Super Mario 3D All-Stars is that it is only available for a limited time.
The game is available till March 2021, this includes the digital version as well as the physical editions and I’m not sure why Nintendo has done this.
The cynic in me says it’s to create a false sense of scarcity to drive sales, however, these games might be released in another format down the line, as individual releases or as part of Nintendo Switch Online.
Control schemes for all games have been updated for the Nintendo Switch, and all work well keeping Mario moving smoothly.
For fans of Super Mario and old school gamers, Super Mario 3D All-Stars is a no brainer, and if you’ve never played any of these games then this is a fantastic introduction to Mario’s earlier adventures.
The collection works well not just because it’s three classic games in one but because they are all just different enough from each other to make them fun and interesting. The bundle is well worth the asking price.
These are some of Mario’s best outings and all three titles hold up remarkably well. The package favours authentic recreations rather than adding new content or updating them too much, which will please most fans.
While all three games are not quite as sophisticated as Mario Odyssey they all share the fun mechanics, tight controls and enjoyable exploration that put Mario on top for 35 years and made him a gaming icon.
Super Mario 3D All-Stars is out September 18 as a physical game and digital download for £49.99 until March 2021
256 total views, 2 views today