SUPER MARIO 3D ALL-STARS
By Mark "Demius" Bronneberg on September 24, 2020
Mario has been Nintendo's mascot since the old days. He originated from the Donkey Kong arcade game and was called Jumpman at that time. Mario is the most famous computer games character of all time, but how did a chubby Italian plumber get so famous? For the people who did not grow up with these games, 3D All Stars is a great way to get introduced to Mario's rich history. 2020 is Mario's 35th anniversary. Therefore Nintendo decided to upgrade the original All Stars (originally released in '93 on Super Nintendo featuring Mario Bros 1, 2, 3 and the Lost Levels) into a 3D version to celebrate this momentous occasion. Super Mario 3D All Stars contains Super Mario 64 (originally released in '97 on Nintendo 64), Super Mario Sunshine (originally released in '02 on Nintendo GameCube) and Super Mario Galaxy (originally released in '07 on Nintendo Wii). Like any good retro collector, I got all the original copies for these games (And no, I did not forget about Super Mario Galaxy 2. Shame on you Nintendo). They also included all the soundtracks.
So who is Mario? Well, Mario is an Italian mobster who hides behind his 'plumber identity' during daytime. At night he goes jumping on people's head, killing turtles, throwing baby penguins off cliffs, using a super soaker to wet random people just minding their own business and shooting stars at innocent bystanders... No, no; I'm just kidding! He's the guy that has to save the princess over and over again! That's it? Well... basically, yeah. You see, Mario games do not have an original story, most of time the bad guy (Bowser or one of his minions) kidnaps Princess Peach and Mario goes off to save her. This is fine, you play these games for the fun and at times intense platforming gameplay and in the platform genre Mario has always been the game to beat.
Super Mario 64
This was a launch game for the Nintendo 64, never has a transition to a new generation of consoles made such a big leap. Super Mario World or Yoshi's Island were awesome 2D platforms. But the jump to 3D was huge! Back in 1997, this was one of those genre-defining games. Replaying this game makes me feel all nostalgic. Princess Peaches castle with garden area counts as the overworld map, where you find magical paintings which transport you into different game-worlds to find 'Power Stars'. The port is really clean; There is no widescreen support, the camera is as clunky and dangerous as it was in 1997 and the extra's the Nintendo DS port had (multiplayer) are missing.
Some people call this a 'lazy port'. I disagree, since the point for 3D All Stars is a trip down memory lane and it does just that, with all of the game's original "flaws". Newcomers might be turned off by the graphics, but if you give this game a chance there is a lot there for you to enjoy. This game has a million different ways to get to each star. There are a thousand trick jumps and shortcuts on YouTube. It doesn't hold your hand like most 3D platformers and you really need to find your own way to the goal. For returning fans, I would like to offer the advice to give the game another go. Once you get used to the controls and muscle memory kicks back in, it's just as enjoyable as it used to be. Since it was a hell of a long time ago since I last played Super Mario 64, I really couldn't remember all the levels too well so re-playing it was a blast.
Super Mario Sunshine
Or like my 3-years-old calls it: 'firefighter Mario'. Sunshine was the main Mario game for the Nintendo GameCube. It is not as critically acclaimed as the other two Mario games in the 3D All Stars package, but it is a great game altogether. In Sunshine, Bowser does not (initially) kidnap Peach. The gang is going on a summer vacation to Delfino island and find out an imposter is spraying graffiti all over the island. This imposter looks like Mario, so Mario is picked up by the police and sentenced to clean up the island. Luckily, he gets FLUDD (Flash Liquidizer Ultra Dousing Device) created by the same mad scientist who you encounter in the Luigi's Mansion series. This device lets him spray water around or use the water as a jetpack and other variations on that theme.
Super Mario Sunshine might not be the best Mario game out there, but is sure the most unique one thanks to the 'tropical island setting' and FLUDD. My kids love to watch me play this game. The camera is better than Super Mario 64, since you got free control of it. The only downside is it does tend to get stuck behind buildings and stuff from time to time. The graphics are decent, water animation was ahead of its time back in '02, but it does have its rough edges. The developers tried to give the game a summer 'hot' look, which I did not find all too pleasant to look at on a higher resolution. The game looks a lot better handheld than it does on the big screen. I loved replaying this gem, the gameplay is super original for a Mario game and my kids adore it. So, all in all, Mario Sunshine is a great starting point for new Mario fans.
Super Mario Galaxy
This game is, simply put, one of the best games ever created! I mean, come on; Mario Galaxy 1 and 2 still sit at spots 6 and 7 of Metacritic's best games of all times. They have been adored since their release, and this port really shows why. Playing trough Galaxy on my Nintendo Switch was just as special as it was on the Wii back in 2007. Heck, playing this game and realizing it's already 13 years old is amazing. They did a great job porting it to the Switch and upping the graphics. It runs in HD and looks amazing, handheld and on the big screen. The motion controls work really well on Nintendo Switch as well. I liked the motion controls better with a pro-controller in hand than playing the game in handheld mode. The thing that made this game even more special is the music. This was the first Mario game to include a fully orchestrated soundtrack. I still have the special CD that was released by Nintendo as a Nintendo-points bonus back in the day.
Story-wise, it's more of the same: Bowser kidnaps princess peach (can somebody please give the girl a self-defense lesson or two?) after he steals all the Power Stars which enable him to travel through space. Mario meets Rosalina (space princess) who helps him travel through space. What makes Galaxy unique is that gravity is a new gameplay element. You can run around tiny planets and jump between them. This really adds another dimension to platforming. These cool planets have really original designs, like a planet that looks like a pokéball and even opens after you unlock a screw. I sincerely believe Super Mario Galaxy alone already justifies the €60 price tag for this 3D All-Stars collection. It's an amazing game that holds up tremendously well in modern times. To be honest, I did not feel too much difference between this and playing Super Mario Odyssey.
The only real issue I have with this collection is the fact that Nintendo somehow forgot to include Super Mario Galaxy 2 in this awesome package. Now, I know we can't always get what we want, but that would've really completed the 3D Mario classics set. Maybe, just maybe, seeing as how they already ported the basics of a galaxy game for this collection, we can expect an individual release of Galaxy 2 somewhere in the foreseeable future. Here's me hoping! Super Mario 3D All Stars is a magical experience. It makes you feel nostalgic in every way. Mario 64 is 'speedrunners' heaven, Super Mario Sunshine is ideal to play with little kids and Super Mario Galaxy is one of the best games ever made. What a way to celebrate Mario's 35th anniversary!
SUPER MARIO 3D ALL-STARS
September 18, 2020