The mainline 3D Mario games have been consistently excellent since the first game on the Nintendo 64. While they all are more explorative than the traditional 2D games, they also defined 3D platforming and continue to set standards for what a platformer should be. Super Mario 3D All-Stars, which collects the first three 3D Mario games, marks Super Mario Bros.’ 35th anniversary since the title first released on the Famicom/NES. These are great games and have been cleaned up a bit from the original releases, but this is still a rather bare-bones collection. So, are these games worth your hard-earned money?
The collection of games includes Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine, and Super Mario Galaxy. There’s also the full soundtracks from each of the games included in digital form and nicely presented. No achievements, galleries, or mini-games are present though which is kind of a letdown. It would have been great to have some artwork to look through or even some developer commentary.
In terms of the games, Super Mario 3D All-Stars optimized all three games for the Switch. Although it’s worth pointing out that Super Mario 64 doesn’t support wide-screen. Super Mario Sunshine, in particular, looks great, which might be down to a higher resolution. All three games are exceptional, especially if you enjoy 3D adventure-platformers. It took me around 15 hours to finish each game, although I only collected the minimum amount of stars/shines to get to the end of the story. To collect everything in all the games would probably take 80+ hours.
Three top quality 3D platformers
It was great playing Super Mario 64 again, a game I hadn’t played since the N64 era… and it still holds up today. The platforming and jumping feel precise, maybe even more precise than in the other two games. The game is set in Princess Peach’s Castle and the goal is to collect stars in order to open doors and progress deeper into the castle. Seventy stars are required to beat the game but there are 120 in all. What stands out is how fun and creative the puzzles and platforming are to acquire these stars. I personally always found Banjo-Kazooie on the Nintendo 64 boring because it wasn’t fun to run, jump, and figure out how to get the collectibles. That isn’t the case here.
Miyamoto-san and his team have mastered 3D physics in their first attempt. The level of control the player has over Mario is precise and you never will feel like you’ve died a ‘cheap’ death because of lack of control. In many ways, Super Mario 64 is the best game in the trilogy. While Sunshine is more story-driven, with a funny, whimsical tale – Super Mario 64 is pure platforming escapism. It’s one of the best games ever made.
Super Mario Sunshine released on the Nintendo GameCube in 2003 and looks really crisp and fluid on the Switch. Playing it again made me realize how fun it is to play (even though this game is often criticized in comparison to other 3D Mario games). The F.L.U.D.D innovation helps Mario to glide through the air and the jumping is as precise as in its predecessor. The locals of Isle Delfino are really humorous, in what they say and also their mannerisms. This game is more story-focused than the other two in the collection. Overall, I actually enjoyed Super Mario Sunshine the most.
Super Mario Galaxy originally released in 2007 on the Nintendo Wii to critical acclaim. The novel feature of Galaxy is that the platforming mainly occurs on spherical planetoids which have meant the developers have been able to express new and innovative ideas. Similarly to the other games in the collection, the platforming is precise, and you rarely will find yourself dying cheaply (although this isn’t the perfect port since there are no pointer controls when playing in handheld mode). Galaxy is more similar to Mario 64 than Sunshine in terms of progression – there’s barely a story to speak of. Despite this, this is one of the best games of its generation and is an exceptional experience.
Overall, Super Mario 3D All-Stars is a must-buy, even if you’ve already played the games before. Having three of the best games of all time on one cartridge, and on a handheld, is a good incentive. I think the best game out of the three is Super Mario 64. But, Sunshine is highly underrated and you might end up having more fun with that game. It’s a shame more wasn’t added in terms of bonus content, but this is still a great set of games. Let’s hope Nintendo does something similar with the Zelda anniversary next year!
- Precise platforming in all three games
- Updated graphics
- Includes soundtracks of all three games
- More extras, like artwork, would have been nice
- More effort could have gone into updating the games