Now that we have covered the original versions of the three games included in this new collection, it is now time to delve into the Switch ports of these three games as a cohesive unit. Super Mario 3D All-Stars was first announced at the beginning of September 2020 and was released mere weeks afterwards. The reception around this collection is decidedly mixed, with many gamers confused about the “limited release” it is getting until March 31st, 2021 as well as the lack of a proper remaster when compared to game collections that have released on other consoles.
Let’s go ahead and break this down game-by-game first before getting into the nitty-gritty of everything surrounding this game’s release.
This is still a beloved game so many years later, but it is starting to show its age a bit. While the graphics are certainly updated to take advantage of the power offered by the Switch, the lack of a proper widescreen aspect ratio definitely makes it difficult for modern gamers. The camera has always been cited as a big hurdle to enjoying this game, and it certainly shows when you map the original C-button configuration to a second joystick on the Switch controller.
For someone like me, who has completed Super Mario 64 on every system it has been released as well as the superior port on the Nintendo DS, getting back into this game is extremely easy. For those who know it backwards-and-forwards, this is a straightforward, no-frills port of a game that you already enjoy. For gamers who have not played the original, though? It pains me to say it, but it might not necessarily be worth the time for them to try to understand it. It has aged in a similar way to a lot of those early 3D platformers from the Nintendo 64 and original PlayStation, so I can’t blame someone who finds the camera too finicky or the repetitive nature of the gameplay to be bland or uninteresting.
If you have enjoyed previous Mario games and want to see one of the foundational titles that have fundamentally shaped how 3D Mario games play, this is certainly a worthwhile port; however, if you have no love or familiarity with it, it may be nothing more than a mere novelty to you. Good for a few levels, but probably not something a lot of modern gamers will invest in.
In my opinion, this is the game that has been done the dirtiest in this collection. Super Mario Sunshine’s control scheme relied heavily on the analog triggers that the GameCube controller had, which is not easily replicated on the Switch’s various controllers. Instead of being able to adjust how hard you press the trigger to change how you spray the water, you now have to hold a button while pressing the R trigger to adjust your spray. A small change like this greatly changes how you interact with the game, causing me no end of confusion as I’m trying to figure out this new control scheme while simultaneously taking part in more fast-paced action. It simply doesn’t work well.
The unfortunate thing is that – at the time of this writing – there is no way to use GameCube controllers properly with this game. Supoort for the GameCube Controller Adaptor would be absolutely perfect for this collection and it is a HUGE oversight that Nintendo did not add in that type of support with this port. It is one of the those mind-boggling decisions by Nintendo that seems to make zero sense.
I would also add that I just did not find the visual style as appealing as it used to be. I don’t know if it is just the way I perceive the game, but it feels like the colors are oversatured during some parts of the game while being super muted during other parts. Perhaps it just looks different because I’m used to seeing this game on an old CRT, but I don’t recall the Switch port of Super Mario 64 being this up-and-down with its graphical output. Maybe I’m just crazy, but something about Super Mario Sunshine just feels off, which is a real shame.
Thankfully, it looks like Super Mario Galaxy is being praised by many fans as the best port of the collection. And rightfully so, because it looks beautiful presented in HD. Traveling to the different galaxies is a spectacle to behold, whether you’re playing on your Switch portably or using the dock to play it on your HDTV.
The only slight drawback is the game’s infrastructural reliance on motion controls and the Wii user interface. Sometimes you forget that you are playing a game that was originally on the Wii, but then a message will pop up displayed with those giant icons that ask you to use the pointer to select an option. This can be a bit annoying and off-putting, especially if you weren’t a fan of that older user interface, but it is forgiveable for such a great game being made available to a new generation of Mario fans.
This collection is a tricky product to review. On the one hand, I have so much nostalgia for all three of these game. The fact that they are now available in a portable, modern fashion is fantastic, and will certainly help to get more fans who loved Super Mario Odyssey and want more Mario. On the other hand, the entire presentation of this collection just feels cheap, like a soulless cash-in.
When you boot up the game, it instantly brings you to a quick menu where you can select one of the games to play. You also have access to the soundtracks and can play them on your Switch whenever you have a hankering to listen to old Mario tunes. And… that’s it. There are no other extras on this collection. No art galleries or concept sketches or interviews or anything. It feels like the most bare-bones of releases. I understand that production was probably difficult given the current world situation and the COVID-19 pandemic; yet, with how much this collection was rumored back in 2019 and early 2020, it feels like this is probably the product that they were planning on the entire time. And that’s just disappointing.
Would I suggest that someone buy this at full price? Honestly, no, I don’t. While the individual games are certainly worth more than $60 altogether, it is hard to recommend a product that feels like it was slapped together so quickly. If you are a huge fan of all three games, you will certainly enjoy it, although you may get frustrated at some of the changes to gameplay that you will have to overcome with your previous muscle memory. But for new or curious fans, I would honestly not recommend paying full price on this collection if you do not already have a strong attachment to the games.
It is tough to say that, especially since it will not continue to be sold after March 31st, 2021, so you may want to grab it purely as a collector’s item. But as a good gaming experience? You might be better off just grabbing the old systems and playing them as they were originally intended. And that is just a sad thing to say as we are celebrating the 35th anniversary of such a beloved gaming icon. Even “The Year of Luigi” did better than this.