Super Mario 3D All-Stars was a surprise announcement in a Nintendo Direct that celebrated the 35th anniversary of the Super Mario Bros. series. It includes three 3D Mario games: Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine, and Super Mario Galaxy. It is mostly aimed to please the fans of the Super Mario Bros. franchise however there is no reason that it can’t be enjoyed by newcomers to the series as well.
Super Mario 64 is the oldest game in the collection that also had the honor of being the first 3D Super Mario game. Unfortunately, the version that is included in the collection misses out on the new content that was added to the Nintendo DS release. It is the original Nintendo 64 release that has been ported and without any quality-of-life changes to boot. It also runs at 30 FPS which is a shame considering most of the recent 3D Mario games target 60 FPS.
It was the first 3D Mario that focused on the formula of finding stars as collectibles to progress in the game. The lack of a visual upgrade here is disappointing, however, it is even worse if we take into account the resolution for this port. It runs at a sub-native HD resolution on the Nintendo Switch and there is no support for widescreen. This port is as simple as it gets, and the only thing fans can expect is to play through a functional Super Mario 64 port with an acceptable resolution at 30 FPS.
Super Mario 64 has plenty of dated textures and assets that show their age now. It could have done with minor cleanup and refinements but sadly this is not the case here. The low-polygon models stick out like a sore thumb but thankfully the gameplay is well-crafted and still controls well. Thanks to the gameplay, while Super Mario 64 might not be pleasing to look at, it does hold up well.
Super Mario Sunshine is the odd one out of the collection. This is one of the rare Mario games that wasn’t received well by most of the fans. However, despite the terrible art style and slightly confusing gameplay progression, the level design is top of the line in this game. There are a lot of challenging platforming segments but they are made a headache thanks to the way Mario moves in the game. The level design is great, especially when the player can move around using the F.L.U.D.D.
F.L.U.D.D is an important part of the gameplay mechanics in Super Mario Sunshine. Mario can hover in air by shooting water from F.L.U.D.D and also defeat his foes with it. It can act as a weapon while also helping Mario reach difficult to access locations. Sadly, 30 FPS makes a return here as well so the game doesn’t feel smooth to play unlike its successor, Super Mario Galaxy. However, one big problem with Super Mario Sunshine is how Mario controls in the game. The movements are hardly precise and if you are attempting to complete a difficult platforming course, it is quite easy to get frustrated due to the lack of proper feedback.
Unlike Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine runs at the native resolution of the Nintendo Switch in both docked and portable mode. As a result, the game looks clearer albeit with a rather dated art style. Nintendo has cleaned up the pre-rendered cinematics so they don’t look as bad as they did on the Nintendo GameCube, and the game is thankfully widescreen which greatly helps with some of the difficult jumps.
It is not an easy game either, especially for kids. It is natural to get lost in the world of Super Mario Sunshine due to the lack of clear objectives. The platforming is also made difficult due to the controls so if you are buying this collection for your kids, consider letting them play the other two games first because this one is surely going to lead to some frustrating moments.
The last game in the collection is Super Mario Galaxy. It is easily considered one of the best games for the Nintendo Wii. This one also holds up well, especially with both resolution and frame rate. There are no major downsides to playing this port aside from when using a Nintendo Switch Pro controller. This is because of the need for a pointer that is tied to the Gyro controls on the Pro Controller, but can be alleviated with a JoyCon controller for better accuracy and more authentic experience.
Super Mario Galaxy doesn’t need an introduction since it paved the way for future games like Super Mario 3D World and Odyssey. The game runs at 60 FPS and native 1080p on the Nintendo Switch, and despite the lack of anti-aliasing, the visuals look perfectly clean. I do think the lack of Super Mario Galaxy 2 is not a good outlook for this collection, and if it was included, this could become the ultimate 3D Mario collection. Another factor to consider here is the price point which is expensive at $60, or essentially a blockbuster launch game, despite being a collection of old games.
Super Mario 3D All-Stars Review (Switch)
Game Reviewed on: Switch
Game description: Play three classic games at home or on the go—all in one package on the Nintendo Switch™ system! Jump into paintings in Super Mario 64™, clean up paint-like goop in Super Mario Sunshine™, and fly from planet to planet in Super Mario Galaxy™.
Final Score - 8/10
Super Mario 3D All-Stars is disappointing on the technical front while offering an immense gameplay potential. For fans of Super Mario Bros., there is absolutely no reason to skip on this collection.