Nintendo does something special with every single 3D Super Mario game. They keep their games consistent. Consistent in quality and fun. Consistent in art and music. Heck, it's even consistent in the way that every single Mario game does something brand new. If there was ever a bunch of games that needed a collection, it's these. With the series turning 35 and the world at a standstill, it's the perfect time to go back and celebrate Super Mario's lineage with 3D All-Stars. It's not going to reinvent the wheel or rework mechanics and offer brand new models—these are ports, but hey, this is still the best, definitive way to play Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine, and Super Mario Galaxy.
How is Super Mario 64's Port?
Super Mario 64 is one of the first video games I ever played. As such, I have a huge soft spot for this marvelous platformer. It's an undeniable fact that Super Mario 64 revolutionized the genre—one could say it even established it and set the standard for future games. To this day, I believe that Super Mario 64 is the best early 3D platformer ever made, and coming back to it has been a blast.
The port for Super Mario 64 is pretty standard, so there's not a lot of bells and whistles. The controls have been tuned to work on the Switch's Joy-Cons as well as the excellent Pro Controller. Of the two, I prefer to use the Pro Controller, as is the case with most games I play on the system. It feels completely natural to use the Pro Controller to play Super Mario 64—it feels like the game was made for this controller, not for the absolutely awkward Nintendo 64 gamepad.
Along with controller support is an increased resolution. It's not 1080p, so whether you're playing the Nintendo Switch in docked or handheld, Super Mario 64 does not fit the entire screen. It's way less noticeable if you have a larger TV or monitor. Playing handheld, you're much more likely to wish for some extra space. Despite my gripes about the lower resolution, the visuals look extremely crisp and the port runs buttery smooth. The image is perfectly clear and the colors remain vibrant. For Super Mario 64's age, I'd still say it aged well—except for the camera, which remains as finicky and frustrating as ever.
How is Super Mario Sunshine's Port?
Super Mario Sunshine, to me, is the black sheep of the bunch. There is voiced dialogue, the very unfamiliar setting of Isle Delfino, and F.L.U.D.D., the device Mario uses to suck up water and defeat sludged-up enemies. Despite its differences from Super Mario 64 and the games the followed after this GameCube title, it's a lot of fun to rediscover my least-played Super Mario game to date.
Unlike Super Mario 64, this game runs in 1080p and utilizes the entire screen. The visuals have held up quite nicely thanks to the increased resolution, and as such, you get the same effect as Super Mario 64. It's much clearer and more colorful. Frankly, it's amazing how a game nearly two decades old looks this good. Moreover, it plays just as well as any modern title. The platforming with F.L.U.D.D. adds a new dynamic to Mario's signature moves. Although F.L.U.D.D. seems completely foreign, Mario's partnership with this talking—err—robot thing is a match made in heaven.
The altered controls definitely make Super Mario Sunshine play well. The camera isn't inverted, which is more in-line with modern controls and feels easy to use. I mostly played this on the Pro Controller as well, and aiming F.L.U.D.D. and maneuvering Mario felt completely natural. The same feeling transfers over when you're on the Joy-Cons. Unfortunately, these control schemes don't utilize analog triggers—this is a feature that was in the original, which made use of the GameCube controller. The buttons for Super Mario Sunshine are mapped in such a way (mostly thanks to triggers and shoulder buttons) that it's easy to forget that this was a feature in the original; as such, players shouldn't have a problem learning how to play, or replay, Super Mario Sunshine.
This particular port also utilizes the GameCube controller if you have an adapter (so does Super Mario 64, but why do that when you have other options?). It's a disappointment that the original controls don't transition over, so the analog triggers aren't used in the port. Furthermore, you can't ground pound with the GameCube because of the changes made to accommodate the Joy-Cons and Pro Controller. So essentially, the GameCube controller is useless. One other disappointment was that, at times, I noticed the frames to drop. Super Mario Sunshine runs at 30 FPS, so when frames lower, it's easy to see.
How is Super Mario Galaxy's Port?
We've finally arrived at the king of 3D platformers: the Super Mario Galaxy series. It's a game so good, they made a sequel—with Mario games, that just doesn't happen. The planets you explore are all so unique and varied. The platforming feels familiar, but with the added inclusion of space and the gravitational pull of various planets, it's just so whimsical and fun. Let's not forget that Super Mario Galaxy's soundtrack is this triumphant, grand symphony of wonder and beauty. It's such a shame that Nintendo didn't include Super Mario Galaxy 2, but I would love the chance to replay a port of it as quality as this.
Indeed, this version of Super Mario Galaxy is the definitive one. Nevermind the fact that motion controls were used in the original. The new schemes are absolutely perfect, and dare I say better, than the original. The Nintendo Switch Pro Controller uses its gyroscope to control the pointer on the screen—this pointer was, of course, used to collect and shoot star bits and interact with various other elements. The Joy-Cons detached also function with a gyroscope, so you can feel like you're playing with the Wii Remote and Nunchuck. These control better than the original, since you aren't reliant on the lackluster motion sensor this time around.
Furthermore, you can reset the position of your cursor by pressing the shoulder button, so if your gyroscope gets messed up, resetting it is instant. The transition from the Wii to the Switch is absolutely seamless. You can also play Super Mario Galaxy in handheld. Collecting and shooting star bits is done by using your finger. This method isn't preferable for me since you have to take your hand off the left Joy-Con, which limits your mobility. Also, you get smudges on your screen, which is less than ideal.
Besides the controls, the visuals are on par with other modern Nintendo Switch games. Running at 60 FPS, going from Super Mario Sunshine to Super Mario Galaxy is night and day. I said this about the previous title, but now I'll say it about this one: it's shocking how good an old game looks. The art direction in Super Mario Galaxy is the best in the series, and you get to experience it in its full glory with Super Mario 3D All-Stars.
Super Mario 3D All-Stars | Final Thoughts
This isn't a collection that looked to reinvent the wheel or offer a completely new experience. It's just a collection of games to celebrate how far the Super Mario series has come. Each of the games in this bundle is absolute hits. They're hallmarks of the genre that just do platforming better than just about every other game out there. They look great, run smoothly, and play very well with the new controls. The added touches of including all three soundtracks and the near-seamless transition from being able to play one game to the other make this the definitive way to play, even if the Super Mario 64 port has a lower resolution than I'd like and that the Super Mario Sunshine port is a little flawed. I'm just happy to be able to play these games where they belong and relive these monolithic titles.
TechRaptor reviewed Super Mario 3D All-Stars on Nintendo Switch using a copy purchased by the reviewer.
- All Three Games Look Spectacular
- New Controls Work Well
- Soundtracks and Seamless Transition Between Titles
- 64's Lower Resolution
- Sunshine's GameCube Controller scheme and FPS Dips