It was the rumored collection that seemed too good to be true. “You mean to tell me Nintendo will put 3 classic 3D Mario games together for Switch?” I mean, come on, it still sounds too good to be true. Yet here we are. In celebration of the Super Mario Bros. 35th Anniversary, Nintendo gave us Super Mario 3D All-Stars. It takes Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine and Super Mario Galaxy and puts them together in a nice, “upgraded” package to play on Switch. While it’s a nice collection, it’s easy to see some barebones extras that went into the collection. That said, Super Mario 3D All-Stars is without a doubt a MUST buy for Switch owners.
Let’s start off with a bit of clarity. In this review, I’m reviewing the collection itself and how well the games have made the transition to Switch. I’m not reviewing the individual titles themselves. Two of these Mario games are widely considered to be the some of the greatest video games ever made (Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Galaxy, specifically), while Super Mario Sunshine is a very divisive game. It would sort of be unfair to review these games and say, “Yep, Mario 64 is still a 10/10.” I’m also not going to review these games in the eyes of 1996, 2002, and 2007. It’s 2020, let’s review how this collection turned out.
First, Super Mario 3D All-Stars is a fantastic collection of great Mario games. Like I mentioned above, two of the included games are widely considered to be some of the greatest video games ever made. Mario 64 is also widely considered to be one of the most influential video games ever made. Let’s not talk badly though about Mario Sunshine. While it isn’t brought up in conversation to the same levels of Mario 64 and Galaxy, Sunshine is a good platformer that tried experimenting with the Mario formula. It’s also notable that Sunshine is included because it has never been re-released. Ever. If you didn’t play it on GameCube back in the day or just never owned a GameCube, then you’d never have any opportunity to play Sunshine. Which is really a shame because although Sunshine is rough around the edges, it’s really a fun game.
Next up, how the games actually look and play on Switch. To put it plainly, Super Mario 3D All- Stars is the BEST way to play these games. All the games on original hardware show their age. On Super Mario 3D All-Stars, every game has been touched up. Mario 64 has been updated with higher resolution textures and upgraded to run at 720p. Both Mario Sunshine and Mario Galaxy have been upgraded in a similar way, except they are upgraded to run at 1080p. Galaxy looks absolutely beautiful in 1080p and could easily fool you into thinking it is much newer than it actually is.
Mario Sunshine is the game that surprised me the most, with the upgrades really helping the title out. The upgraded resolution to 1080p really helped take the game’s island aesthetics and make them pop. Blurry textures and character details are cleaned up and look great. The best thing to happen to Sunshine is the improved frame rate. Sunshine had the tendency to slow down really badly at certain parts (hotel Manta Ray, anyone?). Yet in Mario 3D All-Stars, this issue seems to have gone away, and the game runs great. Sunshine still suffers from the design “jank” it had back in 2002; it was famously rushed in the end of development in order to meet its August 2002 deadline. Occasionally, this “jank” will cause you to clip through objects, the ground, and wooden bridges. It’s not a broken game, and you can easily get around this problem. Just know that it’s got some rough edges you have to deal with.
The only issue I have with Super Mario 3D All-Stars is that for a collection celebrating Mario’s 35th Anniversary, it’s very barebones on its “celebration.” The collection includes the soundtracks for all three games, which is fantastic because all three games have great music. The problem is that, well, that’s it. It doesn’t dive deep into the creation of these games, give behind the scenes looks at marketing material (like we’ve seen in the Mega Man Legacy Collection) or anything like that. You get three games, three soundtracks. Which is a shame considering the 25th Anniversary Collection on Wii came with a music CD, a book full of design documents of Super Mario’s creation, and awesome packaging. Mario 3D All-Stars just feels…good enough. Even stranger is Nintendo’s marketing for this collection. It’s on sale until March 31st, 2021, and then it’s gone. Nintendo said it’s a limited time buy, both physically and digitally. Before people get too upset, Nintendo said that last time with the mentioned above 25th Anniversary Collection. Then Nintendo changed their minds, and you could buy the game like normal.
To be fair though, I don’t know why you would want to wait on this collection. It takes some of the greatest 3D Mario games, makes some improvements and puts them together in a MUST have collection for any Switch owner. Do yourself a favor, don’t wait on this. It’s a fantastic way to celebrate 35 years of Super Mario!
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Release Date: 18th September 2020
Gaming Respawn’s copy of Super Mario 3D All-Stars was provided by the publisher.