The 35th anniversary of Super Mario Bros. brought many announcements regarding the Mario series to fans all over the globe. Super Mario 3D All-Stars, a compilation of 3D Mario classics, was just one of them.
This review has been split into three parts:
- Super Mario 64
- Super Mario Sunshine
- Super Mario Galaxy
Super Mario 3D All-Stars includes classic Mario titles in one package for the price of $59.99. These games are Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine, and Super Mario Galaxy. Unfortunately, Super Mario Galaxy 2 didn’t make the jump and fell to exclusion, staying true to its 3-Game name marketing. In addition to the games, the bundle also includes their respective soundtracks for anyone interested in listening to the nostalgic tunes.
Upon loading up Super Mario 3D All-Stars, you’re able to choose between the three games to play or the soundtracks to listen to. After selecting a game, you can play it as usual and switch between them by going back to the main menu; this option is hidden away and there’s no indication of how to bring it up, but experimenting to figure out controls will quickly reveal it.
The bad news is, this bundle is a limited-time purchase. That means no further production of the game will be made and consumers will no longer be able to purchase it after March 31, 2021. On the bright side, the people who secured the purchase can still redownload their digital copy of the game as many times as they wish. Physical copies may be scarce at this point and can only be redistributed.
Switch Lite Support and Controller Compatibility
Super Mario Galaxy requires a separate controller to mimic the original Wii remote’s gyroscope controls. If you intend on playing it on the original Nintendo Switch, you’re ‘ah-good to go’. The Switch Lite does not come with a detachable controller and lacks motion control support, therefore a separate controller is necessary to play the stages or perform the actions that require the feature. The stages will be unplayable; however, aiming with it to shoot star bits is completely optional and does not drastically affect gameplay.
The Smash Bros. edition GameCube controller and the GameCube adapter won’t work with the games either, which may eliminate the nostalgic experience some may have wished for in Super Mario Sunshine. As the game was originally released on the GameCube, it would have only made sense to support it, but ended in a missed opportunity that would leave fans disheartened by the decision.
Super Mario 64
Super Mario 64 was originally released on the Nintendo 64 and was notable for being the first 3D Mario game in the series. The game has been re-released on the Nintendo Switch with upscaled graphics; however, that does not stop its age from showing. Regardless of that, it remains a joy to experience how this old-school 3D Mario game played and can bring nostalgia to those who have played one of its earlier releases.
As Mario, you’ll once again try to save Princess Peach from the clutches of Bowser. You’ll have to punch, kick, and jump your way to victory in the Mushroom Castle. Power Stars must be obtained from cleared levels to unlock doors and advance further. During your journey, you’ll also be able to interact with NPCs. If Mario doesn’t properly align with a sign or the smaller NPCs, their respective text will not trigger on interaction. This can make you assume the NPC doesn’t trigger any text or make you waste unnecessary time trying to perfectly align yourself with a sign.
Each room Mario enters has several levels waiting for him in an environment unique to its portal’s painting. A Power Star is awarded upon clearing each level, and acquiring specific amounts let you unlock additional rooms. The levels from a room may seem like a linear path, but this order can sometimes be broken when going off course. This makes it slightly easier to farm for Power Stars. And if you’re ever growing tired of a level, you have the power to exit at any time when located in a safe area.
The stages in Super Mario 64 aren’t difficult to finish; however, figuring out the objective of a level can sometimes prove to be a challenge. Those who have played a previous version of the game will likely have no trouble clearing levels, but newcomers might have a hard time with a handful of them. It’s easy to get lost in some of the levels while others may require recon. The many signs throughout the world do help with the basics, but it’s still easy to miss something crucial. In addition, the simplest of mistakes can lead to your downfall.
The game’s camera doesn’t make it easy either. It may have been tolerable when it originally released, but it demonstrates how much of a hindrance it can be when comparing it with modern games. There’s a limit to how many times you can rotate the angle of view and sometimes you’re even unable to get a clear picture of what’s in front of you. This becomes most troublesome when attempting to jump on a platform; all you can do is hope you don’t miss your destination and successfully land without falling to your demise.
The Super Mario games are known for their boss battles and even though Super Mario 64 is one of the older Mario games, it is far from lacking in this department. Right from the start, the game greatly proves this. Each boss has their own unique combat style. Bowser will challenge you multiple times, but not switching up his tactics. Each battle gets slightly tougher, but not too overwhelming that you can’t handle it with the first attempt.
Similar to the game’s stages, the boss battles you’ll fight will be easy for the most part. What can be difficult is figuring out some of their weaknesses, but exploiting them, on the other hand, will mostly be smooth sailing. There are some that can make it tricky, but with sufficient practice under your belt, they’re more than manageable.
The game has three major power-ups which can be unlocked with progression. Reaching the levels with their respective switches activates their item blocks throughout the world, making them materialize so their items are obtainable. These items can help you reach areas you couldn’t before so you can clear more levels. It’s entirely optional and does not prevent you from finishing the game, but opens up new ways to play and are essential for completionists.
This isn’t the first time Super Mario 64 made an appearance on a newer console. Although its Switch version doesn’t include the additional content seen in the Nintendo DS release, the nostalgia it elicits might make 3D All-Stars too good of an offer to pass up on. Those who played it in the past can aim to obtain all of the 120 Power Stars to hold their head high and proudly say they’ve 100% completed the game.
Super Mario Sunshine
Super Mario Sunshine was originally released on the GameCube back in 2002. Princess Peach and Mario decide to go on a vacation to kick back and relax, but their trip quickly turns into turmoil the moment Mario is framed. Mario must now clear his name and clean up the mess that the troublemaker has been spewing. To do this, he must make use of his talking water pack and nozzle named FLUDD.
The controls in the Nintendo Switch version of Super Mario Sunshine take a while to get used to. The Nozzle is unique to the game and requires precise aiming while standing still or in motion. The lack of motion controls and lock-on support makes aiming troublesome with a controller. It takes a while to grow accustomed to how everything works, but you should eventually feel more comfortable moving in areas where you were previously afraid of. A perfect example of this is when Mario has climbed a great distance and can fall with the tiniest of mistakes.
Older games were usually shipped with manuals explaining their controls. Super Mario Sunshine on the Nintendo Switch has a menu you can pull up showing both controls and actions. Missing this, which is likely, can make the game twice as difficult as it already is. It helps you master the different types of jumps Mario is capable of to make progressing through obstacles smoother.
Sometimes positioning Mario in the direction you desire will prove to be a challenge; this becomes more apparent during an underwater boss fight. When swimming underwater, its inverted y-axis controls do not help either. Some might be a fan of the added difficulty it poses, but the majority might see it as an inconvenience most of the time.
World progression in Super Mario Sunshine is nonlinear. You don’t have to complete all of the levels of the previous world to uncover the next. If you’re stuck on a particular level, you can always take a break and move on to another world’s levels instead of further building frustration up. Each world has 8 level episodes where each episode award a Shine Sprite, with the last being optional.
Super Mario Sunshine might be the toughest game you’ll play out of the three. Before a level begins, a short preview is shown informing you of where you must go. This added scene was what Super Mario 64 lacked, and even though it makes it easier in Sunshine, the game has its ways to complicate your easygoing life. Sometimes arriving at your destination won’t always reveal the mission at hand. You’ll then have to figure out what to do on your own. People who love a good puzzle will welcome this challenge with open arms.
Some of the levels sport raw difficulty. Regardless of whether you know the solution or not will be irrelevant. What will matter is how properly you execute your actions and overcome each obstacle in your way. These stages are all about trial and error where the ‘Game Over’ screen is burnt into your memory. Practice will become your new best friend and the determination to clear it will likely get higher with the more failed attempts. The absence of checkpoints makes it even tougher, so it’s back to the beginning with the simplest of mistakes that make you feel horrible inside.
The game’s age welcomes its own issues that you’ll also have to overcome. Movement in such an old game isn’t expected to be perfect; Mario can bounce off of a lower platform to the depths of whatever lies below, from a higher platform. These moments call for extreme caution and can be irritating, especially when you’ve progressed far enough. Thankfully, the more problematic issues aren’t as plentiful.
The bosses in Super Mario Sunshine won’t disappoint in quality or quantity. The first mucky plant boss you encounter may not leave the best of impressions, but they drastically improve afterward. You will come across the weaker foes multiple times, but not enough to hinder your experience in any way. Chasing the primary enemy multiple times can become repetitive, but the various areas help prevent the pursuit from getting tiresome.
Some of the bosses can be a puzzle in themselves where you need to figure out their weakness, but aren’t as difficult as some of the stages you may have to play. Prior knowledge may make it simpler, but some will challenge you on how efficiently you can execute that knowledge. Even if you dislike using your brain to figure out a strong foe’s weakness, fighting these bosses is still entertaining as it may not take as long as you’d think to learn their weakness and subdue them.
Outside of running around in Delfino Plaza and uncovering some of the secrets it holds, Super Mario Sunshine’s primary replay value comes from collecting the many Shine Sprites in the game. There should still be uncompleted levels you can tackle unless you tried to clear them all along the way. It also never hurts to free a Yoshi and do some exploring around the plaza, either.
Super Mario Galaxy
The game follows the tradition of Princess Peach getting kidnapped. Bowser has personally administered the deed and has decided to forcefully transport her to his new galaxy. It’s now up to Mario to rescue her with the support of a new character to the series, Rosalina. Borrowing one of Rosalina’s Lumas, Mario gains a new ability that allows him to spin jump. This newfound skill is the foundation of progression in the game.
In Super Mario Galaxy, you’ll control Mario to complete stages and collect gold stars. From the Comet Observatory (base/hub), you go to different domes consisting of galaxies. Galaxies usually contain one or several levels to clear, where each level gives a gold star upon completion. Collecting gold stars lets you unlock new galaxies, eventually opening up a non-linear route to play by. This expands your options to play the levels you prefer in order to advance with the game’s story.
Unlike Super Mario Sunshine, the stages in Super Mario Galaxy are more laidback with a drastically lower difficulty. The enjoyment comes from the cleverly designed stages which remain short and sweet, but with the inclusion of checkpoints in the instance of meeting an unfortunate end. You won’t have to start over from the beginning after peril, making it easier to clear the majority of stages the game throws at you. Additionally, lives are generously supplied; even if you decide not to make use of the various farming methods available, the Mail Toad will constantly have a letter for you containing 1-UPs.
Unique to Super Mario Galaxy are its gravity-based stages. These levels shake up the platforming gameplay Mario titles are known for and make it distinctive from others. Although impressive, not everyone will appreciate its gravity flipping mechanics. Mario will often be seen in inverted positions or heading to those directions. It will seem novel and exciting to most, but those who easily get headaches or nausea from such events may want to play at their own discretion.
The complexity of these levels may make the game seem difficult at first, but playing through them yourself will extinguish any such thought. The gravity itself makes it almost impossible to fall and not much thinking is necessary to clear a level. Rather than being difficult, these levels aim to charm you by taking 3D platforming to the next level. It wholly achieves its goal and can be found in full or in parts throughout the galaxies in the game.
Motion Control Stages
The gravity stages in Super Mario Galaxy aren’t the only levels that will leave you in awe. Even though it’s severely lacking, the game has stages dedicated to motion controls. You’ll have to use your controller to shift it in the direction you wish to take. The game introduces great ideas to make use of motion controls for these dedicated stages. One of these ideas is the return of surfing; there’s never a boring moment soaring through the sky-high waters knowing that every wrong turn could be your last.
These levels may be the toughest you’ll encounter in the game. Mistakes will be made, but each time you get knocked down, the determination to clear it becomes stronger. Practice will make moving through these levels smoother, but it’s not sufficient to prevent accidents. Taking it slow might even make things seem more difficult. Upon completion, you will either feel compelled to challenge yourself again to improve your performance or you won’t want to give it the time of day ever again.
Mario will often have to dive underwater and swim to accomplish the level’s goal. These underwater levels provide a challenge second only to the game’s dedicated motion control stages. What makes it so difficult is not the enemies or the obstacles in your path. It’s the tough controls you must learn to maneuver the underwater environments.
Without getting comfortable with the controls and mastering how to swim in the game, you’ll have a hard time getting around or completing the objectives. The y-axis is inverted and you must hit another button to dive lower. It sounds simple on paper, but feels much tougher in execution. You may frequently find yourself trying to get out of one spot or break a roundabout swimming loop.
Super Mario Sunshine lacked the famous items known and loved in the Mario universe; however, Super Mario Galaxy features a handful; some of which are no longer represented in recent releases. There is a fair share of items Mario can use to power up into various transformations and you’ll need them to progress through stages. Unlike the latest titles, the majority of these powerups are associated with a time limit for usage. This does not cause any negative impact on gameplay, but instead helps maintain its balance.
The Life Mushroom assists with lowering the minimal difficulty the game provides and can usually be found where some casual players may desperately need them. Although they cannot be stacked, they extend Mario’s maximum 3 lives by doubling it. Injuries that reset Mario back to his base 3 lives will permanently diminish the benefits the item brought.
There’s no shortage of boss battles in Super Mario Galaxy. Similar to clearing stages, defeating these bosses who stand in your way can be a walk in the park. These battles focus more on entertainment rather than difficulty. You likely won’t fight them over three times in one sitting. Their patterns are easy to learn, making it simple to overcome them.
The bosses who do reappear add on to their previous attack routine. The ones who make a single appearance are as impressive as some of the stages you’ll come across in the game. They leave a marvelous first impression with their line of attacks and movements. Not one boss battle will be left without getting imprinted on your mind.
Every once in a while, galaxies will experience a passing comet that opens up a new level and the opportunity to obtain another gold star. These levels are designed to be tougher than others, and each comet type has its own effect. These effects can cut Mario’s maximum health to a single hit, add a time frame to a level, speed up the enemies and obstacles in a level, or require you to compete against Cosmic Mario in a race.
There are several different types of Prankster Comets in the game and while they’re orbiting a neighboring galaxy, it forces you to choose the additional level. By sacrificing star bits you’ve acquired to a unique Luma, you can remove the troublesome comet from a galaxy’s orbit. This gives you the option to skip these levels and proceed with the regular stages.
Touch Screen Support and Gyro Controls
Super Mario Galaxy is the only game out of the three with touchscreen and gyroscope support. When playing in handheld or tabletop mode outside of levels, you can use the Switch’s touchscreen to select a saved data profile, choose a galaxy, and drag the galaxy selection map. Gyroscope support helps with the collection of star bits throughout levels in the game, as picking them up with Mario alone can be tedious.
A storybook mode exists where Rosalina will read chapters of her book to you and the Lumas. New chapters are unlocked the further you progress with the story of the game, and they can be revisited at any point. It’s an interesting addition that adds a minor distraction to the gameplay. Its charming backstory and soothing music are enough to put anyone to sleep at night.
Not only can you replay any level you’ve unlocked, but you can also unlock Luigi as a new playable character after finding all of the gold stars in the game. You’ll be able to experience the game once again but as Luigi who has his differences to Mario which go beyond their appearances. Two of the most noticeable examples of these differences are how Luigi moves much faster and jumps higher when compared to Mario.
The Nintendo Switch version of Super Mario 64 is slightly brighter with less blur to its Nintendo 64 counterpart. Sunshine isn’t noticeably different, but it does have slightly more detail than its Gamecube version. Between the three games in the bundle, Super Mario Galaxy undoubtfully has the best graphics, which isn’t surprising considering it’s the newest game out of the three. It does look prettier, especially in HD, but similar to the other games in the bundle, they don’t go a long way from looking only slightly better in comparison to their originals.
Super Mario 3D All-Stars brings three fantastic classics on a new console where people can relive the nostalgic moments of the past or experience the games anew. It’s a fantastic opportunity for those who didn’t have the chance to play these titles on their previous consoles, all for a price that isn’t too much to ask for. The games do show their age and haven’t received any major graphics upgrades, but despite their issues, the collection prevails as a pleasant experience to replay in 2020.
Super Mario 3D All-Stars gets an 8/10.