‘Super Mario 3D All-Stars’ contains multiple masterpieces in a messy bundle

By Brennan Atkins, Arts & Features Editor

“Super Mario 3D All-Stars” is a 2020 collection of some of the best 3D-platforming titles of all time, featuring “Super Mario 64,” “Super Mario Sunshine,” and “Super Mario Galaxy.” Nintendo released the compilation in part of a celebration marking 35 years since the franchise’s inception with “Super Mario Bros.” for the Nintendo Entertainment System.

When the trailer was released in September, Nintendo fans couldn’t believe their eyes when titles from decades past were announced to be coming to the Nintendo Switch – old fans were excited at the prospect of playing their favorite games on the go, and new fans could finally play games that are not easily accessible.

“Super Mario 64,” which was initially released in 1996, is arguably one of the most impactful games throughout all of video game history. The game revolutionized what could be done with 3D space through Mario’s expressive movement, as well as the impressive physics engine.

Mass, momentum, and inertia are all things players of 3D platformers are used to by now, and while “Super Mario 64” wasn’t the first 3D platformer, it represents a definitive turning point in how games were designed – how physics can translate into satisfying gameplay.

Unlike the other two games in the collection, “Super Mario 64” runs at 720p at 30fps. While this game is undeniably good, this felt extremely lackluster. The game runs marginally better, with enhanced visuals, but this only exposes some of the flaws the game originally had.

The only huge difference in this title is that there is an inherent rumble feature implemented, and while new players may find no issue with this, experienced players may find themselves uncomfortable with the new controls.

The announcement that “Super Mario Sunshine” was finally getting rereleased was a fever dream for some, as the game never received any sort of remaster or port. Eighteen long years went by, with many speculating that “Sunshine” was a forgotten, experimental release, only to be met with 1080p, 30fps gameplay of the beloved plumber on a vacation adventure.

Simply put, this is one of the greatest GameCube titles to ever be released, and its inclusion in the collection is more than welcome.

This game throws everything you know about Mario games out the window.

Mushroom Kingdom? Nope, we’re on the beautiful Isle Delfino!

Running and jumping to traverse obstacles placed around the world? Let’s give Mario a jetpack to get around that!

To this day, “Sunshine” stands out like a sore thumb among the rest of the 3D platformers in the franchise, but that’s what gives it such a strong identity. Once again, it’s hard to say this game isn’t close to a “perfect game.”

“Super Mario Galaxy,” initially released in 2007 for the Nintendo Wii, was a game that really pushed the Mario formula to its limit – if “Sunshine” sticks out like a sore thumb, then “Galaxy” stands out like a neon green cast after breaking your arm.

Right off the bat, players are going to notice that the game doesn’t follow the rules of its 3D predecessors. The camera is a lot more restrained, and you follow a somewhat linear route to the end of each level. This makes the game feel a lot less like an open exploration, but a showcase of what Nintendo was able to accomplish.

This game is strikingly gorgeous in terms of color and graphics, and the music accompanying the pre-rendered cutscenes is simply beautiful.

The game didn’t see a whole lot of graphical improvement from its original counterpart, and if anything, the changes to the controls came off as distracting and downright confusing.

Just because these amazing games are in a collection together, doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s worth it.

Consider a title like the “Mega Man X Legacy Collection” for the Nintendo Switch. The compilation comes with eight games, concept art, pictures of different toys being released during the time, accessibility options, and whole new modes for the player to enjoy – all this for $40.

The only form of “bonus” content apparent in “Super Mario 3D All-Stars” are simply the game’s original soundtracks, which comes across as borderline lazy when asking for $60. As of 2020, buying all the physical versions of these games would cost roughly $140, and that’s assuming somebody owns every console to play it on. Considering this, $60 is a fairly low price for anyone who has never played these games, but if you’ve ever played a single title, it slowly becomes less of a “deal,” and more like Nintendo forcing us to buy the same things over and over.

What you see is exactly what you get.