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Super Mario 3D All-Stars

Posted by GG Goblin On September - 17 - 2020

It’s-a Me, 3D Mario, Mario, Mario.

 
While we live in a generation of remakes and re-releases, especially on the Nintendo Switch console, sometimes games reappear for a reason that seems more palatable than just to pull in some more cash. Mario, Nintendo’s plumbing mascot, is celebrating 35 years of gaming goodness, and as part of the celebrations, Nintendo are releasing a bundle of the plumber’s three greatest 3D outings. The availability of this collection may only have a limited time release as part of this celebratory period, which is a bit disappointing, but to simply be given the opportunity to have these three iconic 3D platformers in one package will prove too much to resist for most Nintendo fans. Let’s take a look.

 


 
Super Mario 3D All-Stars bundles together Super Mario 64 (which was originally launched on the N64 platform back in 1997), Super Mario Sunshine (from the Gamecube in 2002) and Super Mario Galaxy (a Wii game from 2007). To say that each of these games represented the best of 3D platforming at the time of their release would not be stretching the truth, which each title also progressing the platforming genre, and video games in general. While many would suggest that Super Mario Galaxy 2 should have also been included in this bundle as an example of the greatest Mario 3D platformers of all time, the collection as it stands covers three previous platforms and three very different titles, which is okay in my book.

 
Super Mario 64 is perhaps the most important title in the bundle, in that it was one of the first video games to bring 3D movement to an open 3D environment. By today’s standards the game looks and plays like a relic from the far past, which I suppose it is, but at the time of launch it was simply amazing to watch and play. I remember a group of us sitting around the N64 and taking turns to try it out, with each of us lamenting how difficult it seemed to control after having nothing but 2D platforming up to that point.

 


 
Presented in 4:3 format with the obligatory borders, Super Mario 64 runs at 30fps and looks pretty good considering its age. The visuals have obviously had a small amount of upgrading, with the fonts used for the UI and the sprites all being given a smoothing over to make them look less jagged for modern players. The upgrades don’t run through the entire game though, and some areas of the backgrounds can seem much less impressive when viewed close up.

 
However, playing the game is as much joy as it ever was. The 3D world gave Mario access to a selection of moves that had never been seen before, and while at the time jumping onto a enemy in 3D could have proved something to get used to, modern gamers will have no problems exploring the excellent variety of areas and finding all of the secrets. The controls on the Switch work how they should, although players will likely find that the camera doesn’t always play nice, but this is something that veterans of the game will remember well. Super Mario 64 is a game that all Mario fans should play, and now they can.

 
Super Mario Sunshine was mind-blowing when it launched as something very different from everything that came before. While Mario’s day job, being a hero for the Mushroom Kingdom, would see him exploring a wide variety of different environments, Sunshine sent Mario on holiday to a tropical resort. This obviously meant that the environments were much less varied, but they were all bright and colourful, giving the player something interesting to look at. They were also much busier than previous games, and so the change to a widescreen display and 1080p is welcome. Sunshine runs at the same 30fps as Super Mario 64, but the jump in technology between the two titles leaves Sunshine looking far superior.

 


 
Aside from the setting, the big difference with Super Mario Sunshine came from the inclusion of a water-blasting backpack, something which Mario has to use to clean graffiti from the property in the resort. Being Mario though, the water cannon can also be used for attacking enemies and even provide some jumping aid, although fans of Mario’s usual jumping ability will find the occasional section of the game where the backpack cannot be used.

 
Moving the controls over from the excellent Gamecube controller to the Switch could have proved a problem, especially considering the analogue triggers that were used to control the flow of the water. However, differing flows of water were never really essential to the actual gameplay, and so the move to Switch works absolutely fine. It is only the returning players that will notice the difference.

 
Then there is Super Mario Galaxy, the most recent of the games available here, and so the most good looking. With 1080p visuals and running at 60fps, Mario’s jaunt from one little, fun-packed planet to the next has never looked so good. Galaxy managed to pack in the gimmicks with so many different ideas for the gameplay that players would discover something new with alarming regularity, and then perhaps never see the gimmick again. It is a masterclass in game design. Or at least it was when the game launched. Super Mario Galaxy still feels groundbreaking, but to a lesser degree as other games have taken the ideas that made Galaxy so unique.

 


 
Being a Wii title, Galaxy made copious use of motion controls with the Wiimote. Moving over to the Switch, those motion controls still exist as players make use of the less precise Joy-Cons or Pro Controller to move around the cursor. It works perfectly well for the most part, and can be reset with a simple press of a button. There is also the touchscreen available for moving the cursor, which also works great but does then rely on the player moving away from the buttons. Moving the spin attack to a face button rather than having to wave the Switch like a lunatic was a good idea, and one even returning players will appreciate.

 
There you have it, three great 3D Mario games presented in one bundle, all looking better than they ever have before, and all perfectly playable with the Switch’s controls. But this is an anniversary bundle, so surely there must be some extras thrown in to sweeten the deal. Well, the three soundtracks for the games have been included and can be listened to if the player wishes, which is nice. However, that is pretty much it. Some concept art, a gallery, maybe some developer videos, would have been nice. Some extra content would have been lovely. But no, just the soundtracks. Even the menu is pretty bare bones. As an anniversary package, there could have been a touch of flair added.

 
Nintendo couldn’t really go wrong with a bundle of these three ground-breaking games. Each game has been ported over to work as well as is possible on the Switch, and they all look better than they ever have before. While some extra bells and whistles would have been nice, those new to any of these games will be in for a real treat, and the veterans will get that welcome hit of nostalgia. A worthy bundle for all Nintendo fans, but especially for those that enjoy a 3D platformer. It will only be around until next March, so get it while it’s hot.

 

 ★★★★★★★★★☆ 



 

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