Super Mario 3D All-Stars

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Your childhood has returned with the launch of Super Mario 3D All-Stars, but are the ports worth picking up on the Switch. Check out our thoughts on Nintendo’s re-release!

After nearly a year’s worth of rumors, Nintendo has brought more classic Mario titles to the Nintendo Switch. Gamers have been clamoring for these, and now 3D All-Stars has brought three of Mario’s most beloved (3D) adventures together in one collection. Obviously, I had to get my hands on it.

I’m a big fan of video game remasters/remakes. There was once a period of time where I collected gaming stuff and had all the old consoles set up and ready to play. Retrogaming is a great passion of mine, but it just became too much to keep up with and I eventually sold it all off to free up space in the house.

My love for retrogaming remains, however, and as my kids get older, I appreciate any opportunity to be able to share my favorite titles with them in modern ways. In this way, Super Mario 3D All-Stars is absolutely successful. It presents the three included games (Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine, and Super Mario Galaxy) in a playable way that feels almost like you’re picking up the controller and playing it in its original form. I’m very glad for it, but this also brings some downsides.

To be honest, my memories of Super Mario 64 are hazy at best. I got my Nintendo 64 after it had already been out for a couple years, so I mostly played the games released at that time. It was Mario, however, so I know I played it off and on, but I can’t say it was high in my gaming “rotation.” Of course, this is where I decided to start.

Things...did not go well.

I can’t decide if I’m just always been terrible at this game, or it simply hasn’t aged well. I understand its impact on 3D gaming in general, but playing it today has been rough. I remember dabbling with the DS remake of the game and from my recollection it played much more like a “modern” platformer than this current version.

This is where the problem with 3D All-Stars being so accurate to the originals comes in. There have been no (noticeable) quality of life improvements made to the games. Instead, we’re left with the wonky camera controls and a decidedly “floaty” feel to the gameplay in 64. It’s turned fun platforming into a frustrating mess.

That certainly won’t be the case for other gamers, especially those who grew up with the game initially. For a player like me, however, who’s memories of the game have long-since faded (or wasn’t played much beforehand) it feels less like a blast from the past.

After dying and going back to the beginning of sections way more times than I feel comfortable with, I decided to fire up Super Mario Sunshine. This is a game that I missed out on entirely even though I had a GameCube when it launched. I remember watching my best friend play it a few times, but nothing about it stood out to me and I skipped it. This is one fans have been clamoring for, for a while, having been unplayable the last couple generations.

Thankfully, this collection has given me a chance to rectify that, and I’ve found myself LOVING this game. Seriously, I’m kind of kicking myself for missing out on it before, but very glad to be diving into it now.

The story setup is so different from the typical Mario games, with a darker hook (Mario gets thrown in jail) than I was expecting. Between the new people/creatures we meet and the addition of the water-gun mechanics, it feels uniquely different from any other Mario game, while still managing to hit all the right notes from the franchise.

It’s funny to me, however, that the parts of the game where I struggle most stem from the moments of pure platforming. There are levels where the evil-Mario steals your water pack thingy, leaving you to complete everything using your normal jumping skills. It’s pure Mario action, and somehow I’m sucking at them!

This isn’t a complaint, as the challenge in these are suitably fun (rather than frustrating with the 64 game). It’s more a testament to how well Sunshine manages to implement the all new gameplay mechanics. Without them, I’m suddenly lost and struggling. While it takes a bit of getting used to juggling the new control scheme (and inverted controls), Sunshine is a lot of fun and looks great in this collection.

Lastly, I tested out Super Mario Galaxy and am happy to confirm that it still whips an ungodly amount of ass. This game blew me away when it launched on the Wii and instantly became one of my all time favorite Mario titles. This is the first time I’ve really sat down with it since I initially beat it back in the day, and I was impressed at how well it holds up.

The ability to use the Joy-Con controls and play it almost the exact same way as we did on the Wii is neat, though I’m definitely glad to have the touch-screen options to go with instead. Galaxy still feels like a polished and sleek game and I’m trying to avoid it long enough to finish up Sunshine.

Here’s the thing, the games included in this bundle really only capture how well they’ve aged over the years. They look impressive, with smoothed out sprites and enough up-res to make them shiny on your modern TVs, but other than that...nothing’s really changed.

It’s hard to complain. After all, many of us have been waiting a long time for these games to be playable again in a modern (official) format. Plus we do get a nice extra with the inclusion of a music player mode that comes packed with 175 tunes from the games.

The lack of any real quality-of-life improvements, however, makes it feel less of an upgrade than what many of us were hoping for. At the very least it would have been to have some options to adjust. Considering these all come from drastically different controller schemes, the ability to manually adjust the buttons to your Switch controls would have been great.

Editor review

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Great Games With No Frills
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The bottom line on Super Mario 3D All-Stars is that it’s hard to say no to this collection. While it would have been nice to get a few more modern touches on these classic titles, there’s no denying the amount of fun I’m still having with it. Even working as direct (more or less) ports of these games, they look great and will definitely transport you to the past. If you have a Switch, these will definitely hold you over and make for fun time with you and your kids until the next main Mario game arrives.
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