Super Mario 3D All-Stars Review – The Trifecta of 3D Platformers

    Title: Super Mario 3D All-Stars
    Developer: Nintendo
    Release Date: September 18, 2020
    Reviewed On: Switch
    Publisher: Nintendo
    Genre: 3D Platformer

The Mario brothers have been in my life for as long as I can remember. Like many gamers, I’ve spent much of my time in one version or another of the Mushroom Kingdom. Even though the 2D world is where Mario found fame, the 3D titles make up some of my favorite experiences.

Now, on the 35th anniversary of the Super Mario series, Nintendo has released Super Mario 3D All-Stars. This collection brings together three of the greatest Mario games of all time: Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine, and Super Mario Galaxy. Each title was released on a different console and is now being brought to Switch. While it’s not really a debate as to whether these titles were good or not, I found myself most focused on seeing the quality of these ports that will be played for generations to come.

Game collections can be hit or miss. Some of these collections, such as 2015’s Rare Replay, give developers a chance to bring their older titles to new gamers fueled by the same love and passion shared by the fans. However, some releases can come across as far removed from what made these nostalgic games great through a lack of care that went into the port.

Super Mario 3D All-Stars sits somewhere between these two extremes. The collection totes three 3D Mario adventures, but it also contains full soundtracks for each of the titles that can be listened to even with the Switch’s screen turned off. While I’m sure this is ASMR for the more diehard Mario fans, this soundtrack mode seems a bit pointless when these tracks can easily be found online.

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When it comes to the collection itself, after making it past the title screen, players are met with a menu where they can choose which game they want to jump into. Each game is accompanied by some general information such as the day they released, the original console they were released on, and a short description of their stories. Additionally, each game can be played in several different languages. If you’ve been waiting for the chance to legally play Super Mario Sunshine in Italian on a North American system, this is your chance.

Outside of these little extras, each game in the collection has been preserved almost perfectly. I was able to hop into all three games and do everything exactly how I remembered with no real changes diluting my fun. The collection plays fantastically with JoyCons and feels even better with a Pro Controller.

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Performance and gameplay were persevered in handheld mode, a place that each of these games feels at home. Most levels in Super Mario 64, Sunshine, and Galaxy can be relatively short, making them perfect for car rides and breaks at work or school.

Super Mario Galaxy was the only game in the collection that I was worried about being ported to the Switch. If you happen to play the game in handheld mode or with anything other than detached JoyCons, I figured it would be impossible to emulate the feeling of holding a Wiimote and Nunchuck.

Even though the Wiimote is probably one of my least favorite controllers in gaming, Nintendo made Galaxy feel amazing using it. Since the game seemed to be based around the gimmick of pointing your Wiimote at the screen, I doubted its playability on a more standard control layout. Luckily, my doubts were proven wrong. Thanks to the Gyro sensor present in most Switch controllers, Galaxy’s motion-oriented star-cursor was easily controlled on screen with every Switch controller that I own. It even controls well in handheld mode, utilizing touch controls to make up for the lack of a Gyro sensor.

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When it comes to the games themselves, I don’t have to sell these titles; they are all must-plays for anyone who considers themselves fans of video games. Each game has been upscaled to beautiful HD quality, making the 3D All-Stars collection the best way to visually experience Mario’s 3D hits.

When it comes to the titles themselves, Super Mario 64 redefined what it meant to be a platformer in the modern era, making it worth playing for its place in history alone. Outside of some camera issues present in the original release, 64 plays wonderfully on the Switch. Even with some things tweaked slightly (looking at you, “so long, Bowser”), this port is still one of the best ways to experience a pivotal part of gaming history.

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Perhaps the best value in Super Mario 3D All-Stars is Super Mario Sunshine. Before the release of this collection, the only legal way to play Sunshine was on a GameCube. While this may sound easy enough, GameCube prices have been steadily climbing over the last few years, and a physical copy of Sunshine could cost you a pretty penny. Those simply wanting to play Sunshine without a hefty investment now have the chance to do so in a newly optimized way.

While I may not personally be a big fan of Sunshine, I can appreciate it. It has some fantastic visuals that still hold up today and an even better soundtrack that got stuck in my head more times than I’d like to admit. The F.L.U.D.D. makes Sunshine stick out from other games in the series, leading to a ton of fun puzzles and enemy encounters.

Super Mario Galaxy is, without a doubt, my favorite game in the 3D All-Stars collection. It has one of the most serene soundtracks in gaming and manages to make motion controls fun. I’d say that the 3D All-Stars collection is entirely worth the price for Galaxy alone, even though the absence of Super Mario Galaxy 2 is deafening.

Super Mario 3D All Stars 5 Super Mario 3D All-Stars is a collection of three of the most genre-defining releases in 3D platformer history. It brings these games together and makes them easily accessible to give gamers a chance to experience these titles for the first time or the hundredth. I’m left wishing that there was more included with the releases such as additional options or extras, but it’s undeniable that this is a must-play for Switch owners.

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Jake Yoder

Lover of all things gaming, anime, film and theatre. Shonen anime/manga enthusiast.