Super Mario 3D All-Stars Review

The original Super Mario All-Stars really made a mark on me. Beyond being a collection of some of greatest games ever made, Nintendo went the extra mile by updating the presentation of each game. It also included Lost Levels, which up until that point was never released outside of Japan. Sure, a case can be made that Nintendo should have left those alone. I, however, loved the fresh coat of paint.

Evoking the All-Stars moniker for Super Mario 3D All-Stars immediately makes me feel like there should be more to this compilation than just the games themselves. This time around, it feels like the package is a bit short on the extras. But does that really matter?

3D All-Stars contains a trio of formative Mario games: Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine, and Super Mario Galaxy. Certainly strong in its own right, but the glaring omission of Super Mario Galaxy 2 is nevertheless disappointing. Maybe we’ll see it in a Super Mario 3D All-Stars 2? I digress.

We still get the groundbreaking Super Mario 64. Having not played it since its initial release in 1996, it’s still an absolute blast to experience. Was really hoping that Nintendo would go the extra mile and clean this one up a bit more with at least 16:9 resolution or border options, but it’s essentially the Shindou edition with an Easter Egg on the title screen and some glitches removed. Aside from the speedrunning community, for whom those glitches fundamentally impact the way they play, it’s essentially the game you remember.

Super Mario Sunshine is…also present. Despite my disdain for it, it wouldn’t have been right to exclude Mario’s GameCube outing. Though its inclusion in 3D All-Stars has mostly reopened the wound it left on my psyche decades ago, it’s also given me the opportunity to appreciate some of its finer points, such as its great art direction and fantastic music. At the very least, the game now runs in widescreen and the HD bump makes it look even nicer.

One odd quirk about this compilation that is especially prevalent in Super Mario Sunshine is that all instances of inverted controls have been reversed. When it comes to aiming F.L.U.D.D., up is now up and down is down. I personally prefer it that way, but there’s no way to switch it back. Across the entire compilation, there are no options to control anything beyond what was present in the original games.

The biggest benefactor within this compilation is Super Mario Galaxy. Already a gorgeous game before the HD bump, it truly shines in HD widescreen. You are given the ability to spin attack with the Y button instead of waggling, which is a worthy addition. That said, pointer controls are still motion-based with either the Joy-Con controllers or the Pro Controller. Though I found it odd to point using a two-handed controller and found the act of re-centering the pointer to be annoying, it’s not the end of the world.

Besides the games, Nintendo also gives players the ability to listen to all three soundtracks. All three games have amazing music, so this is a nice touch. Not a particularly convenient way to consume this music, as the Switch isn’t the go-to music player for most. Nevertheless, it’s nice to have access to high-quality versions of these songs as part of this collection.

Could Nintendo have done more to make Super Mario 3D All-Stars a more “complete” package? Yes. It’s a shame that Super Mario Galaxy 2 got lost in space. A handful of system-level features such as the ability to select inverted controls would have been helpful. Also would have liked to have seen Super Mario 64 get a bit more of a graphical update, but that’s more a matter of personal preference.

Is Super Mario 3D All-Stars still a worthwhile compilation? Also yes. Being able to play Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Galaxy on a modern console in HD makes them accessible in a way that they haven’t been for quite some time. Whether you’re revisiting these classics or trying them out for the first time, this is a great way to do so without the hassle of playing on old hardware. Super Mario Sunshine is easily the worst of the bunch, but its historical significance to the franchise justifies its inclusion. If you want it – and aren’t grossed out enough by Nintendo’s shady limited release strategy for it -, make sure to grab it before its removed from stores on March 31st, 2021.

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