The Super Mario Bros. series has seen plenty of games throughout its 35th years’ old history, and Super Mario 3D All-Stars aims to bring some of the best 3D ones to the Nintendo Switch. To celebrate the 35th anniversary of Super Mario Bros., Nintendo has released this 3D All-Stars collection offering Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine, and Super Mario Galaxy. All three games run at a higher resolution than their original release but don’t offer much in terms of bonus content.
Super Mario 3D All-Stars is a curious release. It will be available for a limited time at both digital and retail. It is a full-priced game that offers a port of three classic 3D Super Mario games, but is that enough to warrant paying the high price? If you are a die-hard fan of the Super Mario series, then yes. It can be said without a doubt that this collection is pretty good once we get over the strange omission of Super Mario Galaxy 2. Aside from that, on a technical level, some blemishes make it far from a perfect collection.
Super Mario 64 led the charge on the Nintendo 64 ushering into a new 3D platforming revolution. It was an incredibly ambitious 3D platformer with a scale of exploration and gameplay that was never seen before in another game. Even though it launched more than two decades ago, the game still holds up well, at least when it comes to the gameplay. Some flaws are visible now thanks to the increased visual fidelity, like the camera controls are not that smooth, and the textures look quite dated. Putting it aside, it is still fun to play and represents the origins of the Super Mario Bros. series in full 3D.
One of the major disappointment with the port on the Nintendo Switch is that it feels too barebones. The textures could have received some minor facelift to make them stand out better, or the character models could have been updated with a higher polygon count, but instead, this is a rather simple port that, according to some reports, basically emulates the Nintendo 64 version with customizations added on top of it. It also runs at 30 FPS compared to the 60 FPS in Super Mario Galaxy or Super Mario Odyssey, and after experiencing them both, it was baffling to see why Nintendo decided against it.
The visual upgrade appears to be mostly limited to an increase in resolution, but sadly there is no widescreen available for this port. As a result, the game runs with black bars covering the corners and while it looks fine, a better field-of-view would have helped with some of the tricky platforming segments. I was able to control Mario fine however the camera was a tricky pony and it takes some time to get used to the two different camera modes.
This brings me to the second game in the collection: Super Mario Sunshine. This is the one Super Mario 3D game that needed a visual overhaul the most. It has dated terrible on the Nintendo GameCube, however with a higher resolution, this one appears to hold up rather well. It is not a looker by any means, and I was not a fan of the art style featured in this game. The visuals are the least of its problems though, as Super Mario Sunshine is one of the trickiest games when it comes to controlling Mario. Thanks to the focus on using the F.L.U.D.D, it can be frustrating to engage in combat. The game badly needed some quality-of-life improvements for the F.L.U.D.D but sadly this doesn’t appear to be the case for this port.
Another disappointment is the frame rate that appears to run at 30 FPS. If the controls weren’t bad, this frame rate wouldn’t prove to be a major problem. However, combined with the tricky controls that make it feel like we are controlling Mario on ice, the lack of 60 FPS hurts the most here. It is the game that has benefited the most from the visual upgrade but still held back due to the lower frame rate.
Lastly, there is Super Mario Galaxy – one of the finest games released on the Nintendo Wii. It was followed up by an even better sequel which sadly doesn’t make the cut for this collection. This is one of the most polished games out of the collection on the Nintendo Switch that not only runs at 60 FPS but also benefits from an increase in the resolution. Since the original game used motion controls, they are presented with the optional choice of using the JoyCon or the Gyro Aiming to control the pointer. This is a necessary part of the experience so playing it on the big screen with a pro controller is less optimal than playing it in handheld mode, or with the JoyCon controller.
Super Mario Galaxy has held up amazingly well. It has aged like a fine wine. The game looks super clean on the Nintendo Switch and even better than Super Mario 3D World on the Nintendo Wii U. It is also a lot of fun to play, letting Mario smash through various planets with a carefully designed structure. Needless to say, it is one of the best games out of the whole collection, but that doesn’t diminish the importance of Super Mario 64 or Sunshine, both are equally as fun to play aside from their lower frame rate.