If you’re looking for a new job in this crazy world we’re living in, how about getting into plumping? You can learn an honest trade and make good money! You might even go on wild and crazy adventures if you find a secret warp zone while working on a drain. That’s the rags-to-riches story of Mario, in any case, and we all know how big that guy is these days. He’s already got one certified blockbuster on the latest Nintendo console with Super Mario Odyssey, but that wasn’t enough.
The mustachioed mascot is so big he’s got another collection of some of his classic (polygonal) games showing up on the ever-popular Nintendo Switch with Super Mario 3D All-Stars. Better snag a copy before it’s gone.
Let’s talk about the elephant in the room here: you’re not going to be able to buy this game forever, at least according to Nintendo. Come sometime next year it’s going to be discontinued and that’ll be that. Really, this is likely enough to encourage many potential buyers to pick it up and check it out, but what will they get for their money? Super Mario 3D All-Stars is a collection of the Nintendo 64’s Super Mario 64 (1996), the GameCube’s Super Mario Sunshine (2002) and the Wii’s Super Mario Galaxy (2007).
It’s a solid collection of some of the plumber’s greatest hits, particularly since the latter two have never been collected or ported. Each game’s accessible via a slick menu screen and has its own collection of save slots so nobody has to get their files erased when they feel like playing.
Who hasn’t heard of Super Mario 64? Who hasn’t played it? More than perhaps any other game, the modern era of video gaming can likely be traced back to Super Mario 64 and what it did for movement and gameplay in a 3D space. This adventure still holds up today, though if you were hoping for some graphical improvements you’re likely going to be disappointed as this Mario 64 is about as classic as it gets. The new characters and features added in Super Mario 64 DS aren’t available, for the record, though some slight control improvements including using the right analog stick to control the camera are much appreciated.
Super Mario Sunshine is something of a black sheep when it comes to the series. Released for the GameCube without ever being re-released before this collection, Sunshine has become quite the pain in the tuchus to find and play; the GameCube’s tiny and fragile minidiscs aren’t known for their longevity, after all. If you wanted to play Sunshine before now you’d have to manage to dig up a copy and a GameCube or Wii to play it on, including the associated controller.
When you did, you’d find that Sunshine isn’t much like other Mario games. Sure, it’s still about platforming, exploration and collecting goodies, but now you’ve got a new pal to help you out: FLUDD, a water pump that allows you to turn H20 into…H2Whoa. Rad, dude. Using FLUDD, you can spray enemies to defeat them, spray the ground to float, spray to blast yourself around the map and so on. Sunshine’s all about learning to use FLUDD to the utmost to explore the world and solve problems. The Switch version looks moderately better save for the odd glitch here and there, but, well, you’re playing Sunshine at all; the ready availability of this game is the real perk here. The Switch’s controls are also well-suited for Sunshine and it’s pretty easy to spray what you want to spray.
Super Mario Galaxy is one of two Wii entries in the series. Back in the day it was absolutely fantastic, and today it’s…well, pretty much still fantastic. The original version relied quite a bit on the Wiimote’s waggle controls, which to some extent are available if you’re playing with Joy-Cons. On the other hand, Pro Controller users can now use their buttons and gyro to emulate Galaxy’s spin move and pointer controls. This ends up being surprisingly workable once you’ve gotten the hang of it.
As for Galaxy itself, what’s to say? It’s one of the best examples of Mario in the entire series. Exploring Galaxy’s, um, galaxies, essentially collections of spherical planetoid platforms with their own little challenges, is remarkably satisfying even today. Whether or not you’ve played it before, Super Mario Galaxy is probably the highlight of this collection, and the generally improved graphics on the Switch version make this the definitive way to experience the game.
Speaking of that, one glaring omission in this collection is Super Mario Galaxy 2. It was one of the last great games for the Wii and isn’t especially easy to find these days, so the fact that it’s not here is a little disappointing, especially given how well Galaxy plays on the Switch. Given the limited release frame for this game in both digital and physical versions, one assumes that eventually the collection will be split up and sold individually. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Galaxy 2 sold separately as well in that event.
Bizarre limited release frame aside, Super Mario 3D All-Stars is a solid collection of classic games that’s well worth your time and money. If you don’t come in with strange expectations like a full-on remake of each game, you’re going to have a great time. If you do have expectations like that, well, uh…good luck! This won’t be the last of Mario’s Switch re-releases, with the Wii U’s Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury due early next year. So if you want in now, you should probably buy a copy anyway before they become prohibitively rare and expensive. Investing with Mario is mamma mia!