Nintendo released Super Mario 3D All-Stars, for Nintendo Switch, on September 18th, 2020. This compilation title features three Mario titles: Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine, and Super Mario Galaxy. Notably, the title and the concept both echo the SNES compilation title, Super Mario All-Stars, which featured the NES Super Mario Bros. titles.
Super Mario 3D All-Stars managed to upscale three Mario titles into HD. While they might not qualify as full remasters, these upscaled ports offer the same classic gameplay that you’ll likely remember from the 90s and 2000s. With that being said, if you have not played these titles, then I strongly suggest getting it.
Bear in mind I only recommend playing two of these games. Super Mario 64 is a defining classic that marked the standard for 3D gaming. Super Mario Galaxy is a top-tier quality adventure that excels in every single point. However, Super Mario Sunshine is, at best, middling, and I would strongly advise reading a review before deciding to jump in and try it. However, just for 64 and Galaxy alone, you’re definitely in for some of the best experiences ever.
Given that these are Mario titles, it goes without saying that all three involve Princess Peach getting kidnapped by Bowser. As such, Mario adventures out to rescue the princess once more. Each one has its own take on the story, however.
Super Mario 64 features Bowser abducting Peach in her own castle and taking away the Power Stars. Super Mario Sunshine involves Mario and Peach going on vacation before a shadowy fiend frames Mario for spreading toxic graffiti and later abducting Peach. Finally, Super Mario Galaxy has Bowser kidnapping Peach and taking her to his own empire at the center of the universe!
Each game has its charm and introduced new characters and left a lasting legacy on the Mario series. Super Mario Sunshine introduced Bowser’s son, Bowser Jr., as well as the Pianta and Noki races. Super Mario Galaxy introduced Princess Rosalina and the Lumas. Both Bowser Jr. and Rosalina have since debuted in the Super Smash Bros. series along with the stages from their respective games!
Super Mario 3D All-Stars features a visual upgrade to each released title. But more than that, it speaks echoes for Super Mario Galaxy’s 1080p upgrade. While I have seen the title played on the Dolphin emulator years ago, I cannot stress enough that Nintendo should have developed the Wii as an HD console. Super Mario Galaxy was an absolutely beautiful work of art, from its animations to its backgrounds, and still managed to impress even despite its home console’s limitations at the time.
I enjoyed the various sound effects of each game and I feel Mario games always have the most memorable jingles. All games feature memorable and catchy soundtracks that perfectly fit the theme of their respective worlds.
With that being said, all three Mario titles feature compositions by veteran Nintendo composer, Koji Kondo as well as Shinobu Nagata in Super Mario Sunshine. However, Kondo composed along with Mahito Yokota and the Mario Galaxy Orchestra in the Super Mario Galaxy soundtrack. Featuring a full orchestral soundtrack, Galaxy pushed the limits of both Nintendo and the Mario series to deliver an epic, unforgettable soundtrack.
All three titles feature glorious 3D platforming action. However, there’s something to say about all of them. For better or for worse, each one has something notable to offer.
Super Mario 64 was the first to feature full-on 3D platforming action. Granted, this means some of the movement and camera control is a bit stiff. I’m not fond of Tick Tock Clock at all. And I found several Stars to be annoying, like 100 Coins in Rainbow Ride or the work elevator in Hazy Maze Cave.
Super Mario Sunshine was the black sheep, however, While the controls felt smoother, Nintendo added the new FLUDD mechanic to wash away slime and give Mario new abilities. Unfortunately, the title fell flat on its face thanks to a terrible camera, poor physics on slopes, and numerous tedious stage designs. All of these culminated into Super Mario Sunshine becoming a less-than-stellar title that ended up much more frustrating than enjoyable.
Finally, Super Mario Galaxy offered a complete 180 from Sunshine. In doing so, Nintendo created a fantastic and polished adventure. Smooth controls, great controls, and new concepts featured Mario defying gravity in numerous stages. Galaxy’s creative stage designs went above-and-beyond anything Nintendo had accomplished since and created an enjoyable masterpiece that’s smooth and easy to control. Plus it offered a solid challenge for players of all skill levels.
First off, Super Mario 64 remains a defining classic 25 years after its release. It’s still an upper-level Mario title that brings forth some creative exploration elements. It’s funny to note how some elements, like riding Koopa Shells underwater, were only briefly touched on but never fully developed until Super Mario Galaxy. Even in spite of a few hazardous camera angles or the wall-jumping for Blue Coins to get 100 Coins in Rainbow Ride, Super Mario 64’s problems were few and far in between. I’d give it a 9/10 overall.
Super Mario Sunshine, unfortunately, created more despair than joy. The happy memories I had playing this at age 14-15 were clouded by the pretty visuals, easy controls, great music, and charming character design. Unfortunately, the Secret Stages aren’t just challenging but incredibly faulty as well. Whether you’re falling through platforms or the camera angle screws you over, they weren’t implemented with polish thanks to the title being rushed.
On the bright side, the open-world concept did give rise to an indeed stellar Mario title: Super Mario Odyssey. Unlike Odyssey, however, I have to give Super Mario Sunshine a 5/10. I wouldn’t play this title unless you were cautioned about what you were getting into first.
Finally, Super Mario Galaxy is a title I cannot say enough good things about. It’s such a beautiful little masterpiece that I remember how much fun I had with it in 2007 when it first came out. Whether you’re playing handheld or on TV, it controls surprisingly well. Even the motion controls for catching Star Bits aren’t a problem. While it might not be as easy as the Wii remote at first, on the bright side, you don’t have to worry about anything obscuring the sensor anymore either. Moreover, it’s just an inherently fun game.
I think my only real gripe with Galaxy is how they add Luigi after you beat the game with 120 Stars. You’re basically playing the exact same game again. Your only reward, once you collect all the stars, is honestly minimal and not really worth it. Unless you’re really eager to replay the game, I would say one run is enough to satisfy completion.
As much as I loved Galaxy, I honestly believe Galaxy 2 managed to surpass it in several ways. If I could, I would replace Sunshine and add Galaxy 2 to this collection instead. I give Galaxy a 10/10 for being one of the most enjoyable experiences that I forgot how much I loved 14 years later.
Keep in mind that Super Mario 3D All-Stars will only be available for retail and digital purchase until March 31st. However, don’t fret! You will almost certainly find used copies in GameStop as well as on eBay and other websites. After all, it’s not much different than what Nintendo used to do with promotional releases like The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and The Legend of Zelda Collection’s Edition for GameCube. While these promo titles should be available for as long as any other, it’s a shame Nintendo will discontinue them like some Disney Vault property instead.
These are great games well worth their place on the Switch and I would be remiss if I said to skip them just because you played them before. I would only say this if you already have the consoles to play these titles on and the handheld adaptability does not interest you. Otherwise, I recommend picking up Super Mario 3D All-Stars if you seek a quality title like Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Galaxy.
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