To no one’s surprise, Super Mario 3D All-Stars has hit me with an unadulterated dose of nostalgia. It has also landed when I needed it most, but perhaps that speaks more to the exhausting year that the world has continued to collectively endure. Nintendo’s moustachioed icon has never failed to raise a smile, and this three-in-one game collection has offered a welcome distraction to revisit the portly plumber’s genre-defining adventures.
Take Super Mario 64, for example. The Nintendo 64 launch title had once served as my introduction to the primary-coloured world of the Mushroom Kingdom. Seeing Mario heroically leap out of a Warp Pipe and instantly feeling the freedom that I had playfully running and triple jumping outside of Peach’s castle for the first time is a memory that I will never forget.
It was the Nintendo 64 controller’s analog Control Stick that allowed Mario’s 3D debut to become such a groundbreaking achievement. Whether stomping on Goombas in Bob-omb Battlefield, surfing on a Koopa Shell, donning a Wing Cap and taking to the skies or swinging Bowser by his tail, it quickly proved to be an industry game-changer. None of that magic has been lost to time, nor in porting such an iconic game to Nintendo Switch.
With the Lakitu Bros. reporting live on your efforts to rescue Princess Peach, this unforgettable adventure sees you courageously leap into enchanted paintings to recover the Power Stars that Bowser has stolen. It’s a game that everyone must beat once (if not multiple times) in their lives and the portable home console now offers the best way to experience it, even if it still lacks widescreen support. That is when you can stop yourself from stretching the moustachioed mascot’s face on the start screen…
Super Mario Sunshine came out some five years later. After arriving on Isle Delfino to enjoy a relaxing tropical vacation, Mario is accused of polluting the island and told to clean up the mess that he has left behind. Setting out to clear his name, the Italian must work out who the true culprit is while working to recover the Shine Sprites. With the plumber’s ground-based movement established, Nintendo looked for other ways to differentiate how players could control their moustachioed icon in a 3D space.
That ultimately came in a new multi-purpose water pack called F.L.U.D.D., which stands for the somewhat wordy Flash Liquidizer Ultra Dousing Device. With four different Nozzles to equip – Squirt, Hover, Rocket and Turbo – the device lets you spray water to defeat enemies, unleash high-powered water jets to blast Mario into the sky or race through the world with a super-high-speed dash. It’s also needed to wash away graffiti, icky goop and oil, with the game underpinned with an environmentally-friendly message that’s even more relevant now than it was back in 2002.
The game’s arrival on Nintendo Switch is the first time that I have managed to commit to playing it through from start to finish. I can see why it remains so divisive with the moustachioed hero’s fanbase, offering frequent flashes of brilliance and playful creativity only to come unstuck in moments of imprecision and frustrating gameplay demands. The portable home console undoubtedly presents the best way to put Super Mario Sunshine through its paces, but there’s certainly more that Nintendo could have taken this opportunity to address.
Super Mario Galaxy is more than worth the price of admission, even if I can’t quite believe that it has been 13 years since it was released on Wii. After Bowser interrupts the Star Festival to lift Peach’s castle into outer space, Mario is flung into orbit only to be rescued by Rosalina and her Lumas aboard the Comet Observatory. Setting out to recover Power Stars to boost the Comet Observatory’s capabilities, it’s rightly revered as one of the plumber’s greatest ever outings.
It’s just as remarkable now as it was back then. Soaring and leaping between miniature planets that each have their own gravitational pull delivered an experience that was unlike any other at the time. That undeniable thrill saw the game become a firm fan-favourite, and, despite that same slow start, replaying it on Nintendo Switch has only reaffirmed how sensational Mario’s galaxy-hopping adventure truly is.
This already unbeatable adventure is sent even further into the stratosphere thanks to the game’s increased resolution and widescreen support, with broadened button input letting you hit the Y Button to attack rather than having to flick your chosen controller every few seconds. That being said, motion control is still needed to collect Star Bits with both the Joy-Con and Nintendo Switch Pro Controller thankfully having accurate tracking. In Handheld mode, Super Mario Galaxy forces you to use touchscreen input rather than movement, and, at least from my experience, this can’t be changed unless you sync your Joy-Con or a Pro Controller to play.
It’s a shame that Super Mario 3D All-Stars doesn’t celebrate the history of each game, though. Nintendo could have upended their archive to compile official artwork, concept art and other secrets from their development that remain locked away. What we’re left with is a giant party popper with a lack of confetti inside it. It’s hard not to come away feeling disappointed at the missed opportunity, as great as it is to have the games themselves on Nintendo Switch.
Nintendo has gone as far as to include an in-game music player, presenting the chance for you to listen to each game’s soundtrack. There are 175 tracks across the three games, but you’re limited to either selecting a specific track or listening to them in order. You can’t even shuffle an individual soundtrack or put Dire Dire Docks on repeat, which seems like a tragic oversight.
Super Mario 3D All-Stars gathers three iconic games in one star-studded collection on Nintendo Switch. The chance to experience these grand adventures at home or on the move is nothing short of a triumph, but many will be left disappointed that more wasn’t done to deliver improvements beneath the otherwise sharper surface.
Version Tested: Nintendo Switch
Review copy provided by Nintendo