The most famous plumber in the world turns 35 and Nintendo has decided to celebrate this anniversary with a series of events and new titles. Among these, Super Mario 3D All-Stars undoubtedly stands out, a collection that collects the legacy of Super Mario All-Stars for SNES and expands it with a new selection of games that draws directly from the best Mario released on Nintendo 64, GameCube and Wii .
Super Mario 3D All-Stars therefore offers us Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine and Super Mario Galaxy, all subjected to a cleaning and remastering job that does not in any way alter the original experiences and which is limited to updating the resolution of the three titles – now at least all in HD -, to the increase in texture definition and the introduction of 16: 9 support on Sunshine and Galaxy.
As this is a collection of great classics, the review will not focus on the games themselves, but rather on the work done by Nintendo and how this can improve their enjoyment today. So let's take a look at the main features of the three titles before moving on to the considerations.
- SUPER MARIO 64
- SUPER MARIO SUNSHINE
- SUPER MARIO GALAXY
Let's start with Super Mario 64, the only title in this collection to have already received a remake, although the latter has not been considered as a starting point. We are obviously talking about Super Mario 64 DS, released in 2005 on the Nintendo DS, and enriched with 30 new stars to conquer, a slightly revised plot – with the addition of many playable characters – and richer polygonal models than the original.
Nintendo has chosen to discard all advancements made with the DS version, which is why the collection includes a remastered version – now capable of reaching 960 x 720 pixel resolution (both docked and on the go) – which offers the same models. polygonal shapes of the original and textures in higher definition.
The only interventions that differentiate it particularly from the title released on Nintendo 64 concern the modification of some texts / tutorials – which now include the Switch keys – and in the high definition interface that shows us score, coins, remaining lives and life points . The latter has been standardized within all the titles of the collection and therefore represents a common point on which we will not return to in the other sections.
The graphic restyle work manages to greatly improve the glance compared to the original, however Nintendo has limited its interventions and has not applied the 16: 9 format to Mario 64 too (which is why it stops at 970 pixels wide. in each mode). The new graphic sector of the title puts us in front of a somewhat unsettling situation; the work of cleaning and increasing the definition of the textures is certainly successful, however this makes the low polygon count of the models and their intrinsic angularity even more evident.
It is difficult to expect better, given the conditions underlying the adaptation work (we talk about it in the considerations), therefore overall the title is still enjoyable and appreciable; it will only take you a few minutes of gameplay to get used to the retro style of Super Mario 64 and focus on the challenges offered by the king of 3D platformers.
From the point of view of the gameplay, the title has not aged by a single day and offers all the bases that have then been taken up and expanded in the following chapters. Super Mario 64 is a pure platform that has no age and also this edition for Switch confirms how the ideas of Shigeru Miyamoto – Mario's father – are always current: if you are looking for the definition of an immortal classic, this is the title that best embodies it .
Super Mario Sunshine is certainly the most anticipated title of the trio, as the last console it could be played on was Wii, as it was fully backwards compatible with the GameCube. Sunshine, in fact, has never been ported to Virtual Console even in the Wii U era, so its return in this collection is a precious opportunity to be able to recover it.
In this case, Nintendo has managed to increase the resolution of the title until it reaches the native FullHD in dock mode, while as regards the portable mode – therefore also with Switch Lite – it goes to 720p, also native in this case. Mario Sunshine is therefore the first title of the collection that uses every pixel at its disposal and the final result is undoubtedly very pleasant.
The target of the frame rate is set at 30 fps although not granitic, as it is possible to record some drops in the city of Delfinia, the main hub. This conversion does not take advantage of the Switch hardware to push towards 60 fps, always in the name of maximum fidelity to the original work, even if this is not completely maintained as regards the color palette, which is a little more lively and brilliant. compared to the GameCube version.
Among other differences we find the removal of support for analog backbones, completely absent on Switch (but that could be recovered via the official GC controller, which, however, ironically, is not natively supported by the game), so this means that there is no possibility to adjust the jet intensity of the SPLAC 3000, the jetpack / fire extinguisher on which the main mechanics of Sunshine are based.
Nintendo must have evaluated the lack of incisiveness of this element in the gameplay, therefore opting for its suppression in favor of a single and continuous jet. In practice, in fact, very little changes, since there are no game sessions in which the presence of the analog backbone could make a difference.
As for Mario 64, here too we find a complete restyle of the interface, even if in the case of Sunshine there are some references to the GameCube keys, a sign that the work done by Nintendo did not take place in depth on the game code. These are the main differences from the 2002 original; if you haven't had the opportunity to play it at the time, the Switch edition is undoubtedly the best way to fill this gap to take in hand a decidedly atypical Mario (what other chapter in the series begins with the plumber being thrown into a cell for vandalism ?!).
We then move on to Super Mario Galaxy, the most recent of the three titles in the collection and also the most current one, especially from a technical point of view. Galaxy, in fact, seems to resort to variable resolution to reach FullHD in dock mode and 720p in portable mode (Nintendo speaks of up to 1080p is up to 720p), while still ensuring a fixed frame rate of 60 fps.
The HD transposition of Super Mario Galaxy is undoubtedly the one that comes closest to current standards, even if there is one element in particular that reminds us of the nature of the title: the interface. Galaxy made extensive use of the motion sensors and IR pointer on the Wiimote controller, so all of the interactive text boxes are huge and easy to touch, but give a very retro feel. ' On the other hand, they are children of a generation in which the elements of the interface had to deal with the few PPE available, while today it could be possible to achieve the same result in a more elegant and less toy way.
However, this is not a real defect; as just said, but of a simple element that reminds us where the title in question comes from. In some contexts the game tries to mask its past (or its reliance on motion sensors) introducing the possibility of using keys instead of gestures; This is the case with Mario's main attack, which now doesn't necessarily require you to shake the controller or console (but you can still do it), since it's also assigned to the Y key. What isn't really functional is the mobile adaptation of one of Mario Galaxy's main mechanics: pointer management.
This is used to interact with the interface, to grab some items, to collect the star fragments and to shoot them at our enemies, so the pointer is involved in many actions within the game. Galaxy was born to be enjoyed on the TV and with a Wiimote in hand, however this peripheral no longer exists nowadays, but the right Joy-Con replaces it very well while you play with the Switch in dock mode (the Pro Controller also performs the same task to perfection).
The problem arises if you only own a Switch Lite or simply want to play on the go with the traditional model. In that case all the pointer interactions are replaced by the touch screen, which does not offer the same immediacy and breaks the action in a very annoying way.
In practice, if you want to use the pointer, you are forced to stop, touch the screen and return to the controls. This makes Galaxy much less enjoyable on the go, while on the TV you can access an experience virtually identical to what was possible on Wii. This is perhaps the only aspect critic among all the adaptations that have been made in this collection, as it prompts a compromise.
Net of this, Super Mario Galaxy is perhaps the most interesting game of the trio, as it approaches the saga by leveraging completely different themes and mechanics than its predecessors; one above all, the possibility of using gravity to our liking to change the trajectory of jumps and stunts.
The level design is also among the best of the series, thanks to small galaxies full of planets that vary from the classic glimpse of traditional level to real worlds-puzzles. In short, Galaxy confirms itself as a guarantee regarding the quality of the gameplay and continues to represent one of the highest points achieved by the saga in terms of artistic originality.
It is really complex to evaluate Super Mario 3D All-Stars objectively. On the one hand, in fact, we find many aspects that completely clash with the size of the operation: a collection of the main titles of the series, especially if proposed on the occasion of an important anniversary such as 35 years, should be presented to the public as a more cured and exclusive of what has not been done.
The proposed titles, in fact, are not portings, but they are in effect the original games played through emulators for Nintendo 64 and GameCube made by Nintendo, as emerged in the last few hours. Only Galaxy seems to have received a slightly different treatment – probably the same that was reserved for the version for Nvidia Shield available in China since 2018 -, since only part of the code seems to use the Wii emulator (in particular the one dedicated to rendering graphics. and audio). This may give us hope for the arrival of new N64, GameCube and Wii titles on Switch Online, but it is also the most significant indicator of the type of work done to celebrate 35 years of Super Mario.
In this speech, however, not only the fact of having proposed the original classics in an emulated and cleaned up version – with very few additions from a technical point of view – is included, but also the total absence of bonus contents (paradoxically the latest Paper Mario is very rich in special sketches and artwork to be unlocked) to celebrate this anniversary, with the exception of the music player that allows us to listen to the soundtrack of each title, accessible right away.
Even the packaging of the physical version does not at all let us intend to find ourselves in front of an exclusive and limited edition product; yes because, let's remember once again, this collection will no longer be available from March 31, 2021. In short, if we were to evaluate 3D All-Stars by tying it closely to the context in which it is proposed, it is difficult not to define the collection of titles as a lazy operation and not very ambitious.
However, Nintendo escapes the normal laws of the market and stopping to look at these aspects would mean having an equally limited vision of the thing. The choice to intervene minimally on the original titles is due to the desire to keep the gaming experience of each individual chapter as unaltered as possible, introducing only non-pervasive changes (greater image cleanliness and support for 16: 9 where it is possible) to the formulas conceived in 1997, 2002 and 2007. Even the absence of Galaxy 2 is out of place from the point of view of the contents, but it is consistent with the desire to propose the main exponents of each generation, without unbalancing the proposal in favor of Wii.
Super Mario 3D All-Stars therefore presents itself as the natural sequel to the All-Stars released on SNES (which you can play at no additional cost if you are a Nintendo Switch Online subscriber) and together with it it composes a real platform encyclopedia and the history of video games, or at least a very important chapter, the one signed by Nintendo.
From this point of view, the choice to leave the style of the games unchanged allows us to appreciate more the generational leap and the evolution of the mechanics, but also the points of contact that remain unchanged with the passage of time (although I think no one would have been offended if Nintendo had proposed 3 remakes with the Odyssey engine and, at the same time, the possibility of playing them in the original version as well).
The collection is also the most striking example of why the saga has been on the crest of the wave since its inception and why all the speeches that start with "oh no, yet another Mario"are wrong at the root. We are faced with three titles that express their own well-defined identity, all equipped with mechanics that make the game experience totally different between one and the other.
This is perhaps one of the few possibilities we have to be able to compare them directly, jumping freely from Mario 64 to Galaxy, then returning to Sunshine. This allows you to have a more complete overview than ever and shows everyone how the evolution of the series has never been accompanied by the recycling of ideas. Every Mario reinvents Mario – with more or less success – and that's enough to make the collection a valuable addition to your Switch library catalog.
From this point of view 3D All-Stars manages to do better than All-Stars, given that in that case the leveling of all Super Mario Bros. to the graphic standards of the SNES prevented us from making a comparison that also took into account the evolution of the series (however in that case the proposal was even richer, given the presence of bonuses such as Lost Levels).
In conclusion, net of all the negative aspects that we can look for in the ways in which this operation was performed, the level of the three proposed titles is unquestionably high and this is the perfect opportunity to have them all under one roof, especially if you have missed any over the years (in particular Sunshine, the hardest to recover).
Super Mario 3D All-Stars is therefore a real anthology of the Mario era in 3D, a volume that cannot be missing in your collection and that has the advantage of never getting old. Let's forget the aesthetic aspect for a moment and take the pad on Super Mario 64 in hand: I challenge you to come back here and describe it as an ancient and outdated game.
The double face of this collection therefore makes it impossible to assign a unique vote that can describe it in an exhaustive manner. From the point of view of the value of the individual contents, what we are offered deserves a 10 without ifs and buts, given that these are three pearls destined to remain shiny forever. If instead we look at how these pearls are offered to us, well in that case it is impossible to turn a blind eye to a job that borders on sufficiency and brings home a round 6. The choice of which vote to take into consideration is up to you.