Published on October 7th, 2020 | by Zorbz
REVIEW: Super Mario 3D All-Stars
Rumours were spreading for months before the announcement of Super Mario 3D All-stars with people thinking there would be some remakes of classic Mario titles in a collection for the Nintendo Switch, however what we got was a collection of Remasters instead of full blown remakes. Let’s dive in to what is on offer in this collection and if it is worth your time and money.
Concept: Normally we would start off talking a bit about the concept or story of the game being reviewed but everyone knows what Mario is all about and all the titles see you rescuing the princess, with a slight exception for Sunshine where Mario is tasked with community service to clean up the isle of Delfino…as well as saving the Princess.
What I wanted to talk about in this section instead is what is on offer in the collection. You have 3 classic 3D Mario titles from 3 different Nintendo consoles – Super Mario 64 from the Nintendo 64, Super Mario Sunshine from the Gamecube and finally Super Mario Galaxy from the Nintendo Wii (galaxy 2 is not included). You also have the 3 soundtracks from these games to listen to at your leisure.
From a presentation standpoint the bare minimum is on offer with no elaborate menus or extra goodies like artwork, development videos or anything of the like, instead all 3 titles and soundtracks are just side by side on the menu screen. It’s a bit of a shame no extra work was put in to spruce this up since it is meant to be a celebration of 35years of Mario, but alas not much love was shown here.
One benefit though I guess is it is super easy to jump into any of the games and boot back out to the menu to switch between them with ease. If you’re expecting anything more though from the presentation and extra goodies side, this isn’t going to wow you.
Graphics: Let’s go one by one with the titles and i’ll address what improvements have been made to each title on offer:
- Super Mario 64 – The oldest title in the collection is the one most people would want the most improvement on, so what has been changed, well not a lot and that’s ok. Mario 64 originally ran at 240p at 30frames, well really it was often in the 20 fps limit but as kids we didn’t know any better and thought this looked amazing, however try playing your original copy on original hardware on a 4K display and you’re gonna be mortified at how bad it looks. Visuals are washed out, blurry and so pixelated it’s basically unplayable on the OG 64, then came the virtual console on Wii and Wii U which offered a cleaner look outputting at 480P or 576P depending on your region, however the colours were still washed out compared to the original, this is where this new Switch version comes in.Visuals have now been upgraded to a full 720P output and locked at 30fps, which is strange it wasn’t bumped to 1080P 60fps, but honestly this version still pops on a 4K display with only slight aliasing which is unnoticeable on the portable mode having it look incredible and what’s better is the colour is beautiful as it was originally made to look without suffering the virtual console washed out look. You’ll also notice text and some of the textures have been cleaned up which don’t display as much of a blurry mess on modern displays.Sure it might not be a major improvement but try find a better way to play Mario 64 without the use of console mods and the like.
- Super Mario Sunshine – My Favourite entry in this collection looks absolutely stunning. The water effects still to this day are some of the best I have ever seen, even compared to modern gaming! Now I have that out of my system, this title has had the most visual improvements from the original resolution being 240P or 480/576P if you had the component cable running at 30fps to a now glorious 1080P running at 60fps. What’s even more so of an improvement is that the game now runs in a native wide screen mode and not a stretched image, so you can actually see more of the environment around you and is a very welcome addition. I will mention though there can be some slight slow down through out but it’s never enough to take you out of the experience.Visually the tropical islands of Sunshine really pop and sure some objects and environments lack detail but the effects and beautiful art design as well as the strong use of colour throughout make this entry a gorgeous enhancement.
- SuperMario Galaxy – Galaxy is the most recent title of the 3 and has the best visuals in from a hardware perspective, sporting some impressive textures/effects for it’s time. Wii games had never looked this good, however again still a game that could not natively run at 720p or above. So once again this has been upped to 1080p at 60fps and works a treat just like galaxy. One thing I did notice about sunshine though is it looks like the resolution can dip a bit so it may be using a dynamic resolution as the game is easily more taxing then sunshine. Still once again it looks great.
Gameplay: Nintendo first party titles are all about gameplay and how fun the experience is. They know how to tighten up controls so they feel precise and responsive and they create fun worlds to adventure through. These Mario titles are all 3D platformers by nature but they all have their own unique mechanics that differentiate themselves from each other.
Mario 64 revolutionized how a 3D platformer should control with smooth motion and the ability to wander wherever you wanted in a contained environment. As much as people hate the camera controls, they are still leaps and bounds over some of the competition for its time. Each world is like a little playground with mulitple missions to tackle to achieve Stars. Unlock a certain amount of stars and you can face bowser in that world and move onto the next. It’s simple but the subtle changes to some worlds for each mission was always a welcome addition that made finding secrets an absolute joy.
Super Mario Sunshine takes the same approach to tackling missions in an individual level with a 3D hub world just as Mario 64 does, with the exception of stars now being Shine Sprites. The major difference however is since Mario is framed at the start of the game he is tasked to clean up the island using F.L.U.D.D which is basically a water pack on his back that can shoot straight blasts of water to clear paths of poisonous paint or attack enemies and can be transformed into a jetpack, rocket or boost which adds new elements to platforming. This is by far my favourite title in this trilogy as it is the most unique and has some truly gruelling platforming levels where Fludd is taken away and you can only rely on pure skill to get through.
Mario Galaxy is a fan favourite of many but honestly I feel it’s my least favourite of the 3 as it is a little too straight forward even though the setup is similar to the previous two titles, however that being said it is still an amazing game. The unique mechanic here is that Mario is now in space and the environments can be anything from asteroids to fully fledged planets, most of which you can walk upside down and all around thanks to good ol gravity. It can be a bit disorientating at first but you get the hang of it doing platforming from the underside of the environment…mind blowing. My major gripe is that as this was a Wii title it still retains a lot of it’s motion controls but surprisingly the switch has better motion tech it seems so these motions I found to be more responsive then on the Wii itself but hey I would have loved a complete scrap of them altogether. Motion gaming needs to be laid to rest forever.
All in all these games aren’t a quick breeze in the park and although it is not a necessity to achieve all Stars and Shine Sprites in their respective games to complete the final boss, going back and tackling a complete 100% of these titles is no easy task. I encourage everyone to go for the full completion of each title cos if you were like myself you may not have as a kid.
Sound: Music in the Mario series has always been one of it’s strongest points. I can’t think of a Mario game where i don’t have a theme stuck in my head. Each one of these titles has truly iconic music that is absolutely catchy and will get stuck in your head for eternity, but it also has more moody/atmospheric music to fit certain worlds or environments such as the underwater worlds for example. No matter the level you’re in, the music just fits perfectly.
There’s a reason they’ve included each games soundtrack in this collection because the team are not only proud of them all but they know us the fans will appreciate being able to throw on some classic tunes at the press of a button.
Awesomeness: I thought over this and wondered what is the main draw of this collection and for me it’s not only the fact I get to play the best versions of these titles and all on the one system, but it’s the fact I get to play each of these fantastic games which are all amazing in their own right on a portable.
If you had told me 10 years ago i’d be able to play Mario Sunshine on a handheld i’d have thought you were crazy, but here we are and it’s glorious. The best thing too about portable mode is because of the smaller screen size compared to your TV is that each of the games look vibrant, sharp and overall phenominal. This is especially the case with Mario 64 as this is only running at 720p, so on a screen that hits a maximum resolution of 720P it looks ideal, but loses a bit of charm on a full 4k display.
Final Word: Of course I would be lying if I said I didn’t want a full graphical overhaul of the titles, particularly Mario 64, but in the end these games still have amazing art direction and what matters most is the gameplay is still as good as you’re going to get for any 3D platformers out on the market both past or present. I highly recommend this for newcomers or even fans who haven’t played these titles in years as you can’t go wrong with this amount of content on a single cart.
Out of 5 Bugs!