Medium: Cartridge / Digital
I think 2D Mario will always be *my* iconic Mario experience, considering I grew up on the old NES and SNES releases, but for a very large group of fans, when they think about Super Mario, it?s likely they?re a bit more nostalgic for Super Mario 64. And for good reason! It?s basically the prototype for all modern day Super Mario games, and sort of set the standard for 3D platformers to begin with. It also, despite some camera control issues, holds up surprisingly well today, as seen in Nintendo?s latest compilation release for the Switch, Super Mario: 3D All-Stars.
This set of three games packages together Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine, and the first Super Mario Galaxy on one cartridge, with each game making it?s Switch debut. Would it be better to have Super Mario Galaxy 2? Sure! Is Super Mario Sunshine kind of the dud in this collection? You betcha. But even a substandard Super Mario game manages to be pretty solid, and if you?ve ever enjoyed any of these titles when they originally released, then you?re also going to enjoy them on the Switch.
I jumped back into Super Mario 64 first, and was happy to find that the first game in this collection is still a blast to play through. The camera is and always has been, an absolute pain, but it also didn?t manage to damper my enjoyment that much. It runs like a charm on Switch, looks pretty good rendered in HD, and the soundtrack is still one of my favorite video game soundtracks of all time. The controls move over to the Switch Joy-con?s or Pro Controller just fine, and to me it feels just a smidge bit better playing the game on the standard controller than the old N64 controller.
Super Mario Sunshine, likewise, benefits from a standard controller layout over the GameCube, and from another pass at HD quality visuals. Honestly, Sunshine looks really good to me here, I was kind of surprised by how well it pops visually. The cutscenes don?t fair as well, noticeable only because Sunshine relies on them pretty frequently, but outside of that, it?s a really good looking GameCube port. I think it?s a little exhausting to complain about Super Mario Sunshine as a good or bad game at this point, I like most of the ideas, but find the execution with the FLUDD controls to still be frustrating more often than not, which is certainly not the newest of takes. It?s a divisive game for Mario fans and will remain so until the end of time I suspect.
Super Mario Galaxy, on the other hand, is certainly a contender for the best Mario game that isn?t Super Mario Galaxy 2. This was also the one that I was most curious about considering the Wii control set-up, but the port to the Switch works pretty well. If you?re not using a Joy-con, motion controls will still factor in with a Pro Controller, but if you?re in handheld mode or on a lite, you?ll be using the touch screen to tap around on things that would normally require a little shake or cursor point. It?s pretty easy to get used to overall, and with some slight adjustment, you?ll have no real trouble with this set-up. Like Super Mario Sunshine, the visuals also look really good here,
For additional content, Nintendo has included all three game soundtracks, accessible via the main menu. Songs will play at random while on the main menu, or you can run through each tracklist manually and select the song you want to hear. It?s a nice feature, but it also helps to highlight my number one issue which is the lack of additional content for this collection. When you think of publishers or developers celebrating their history with certain anniversary milestones, I don?t think it?s out of the realm of possibility that they would do so with a re-release that also comes packed with a little extra material for fans. Unfortunately, you?ll get none of that here. Each game has a small blurb about the game and when it released, but no additional items like concept art, original instruction booklets digitized, or anything beyond the soundtracks. There has to be an absolute treasure trove of this stuff stored away in a Nintendo closet somewhere, surely, and it?s a shame that we can?t see a bit of it (officially at least).
So while yes, these are three games that Mario fans around the globe will likely love, it?s also a little hard to wholeheartedly suggest rushing out to pick up this collection simply because it feels like a barebones kind of thing, especially for a franchise and anniversary milestone that deserves better. The ports are well done, the emulation feels spot on to me, and it?s fun to go back and revisit all three of these games. But I don?t think it?s unfair to expect a little more from Nintendo as the owner and caretaker of these historic titles, and would hope that we see big improvements on that front for future collections.
Note: Nintendo provided us with a Super Mario: 3D All-Stars code for review purposes.