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Super Mario 3D All-Stars (Switch) Review

by John Rairdin, Neal Ronaghan, and Jordan Rudek - September 16, 2020, 9:00 am EDT
Total comments: 8


The stars are all here!

Super Mario 3D All-Stars is the first time Nintendo has released a collection of 3D Mario titles. While its naming convention follows in the footsteps of its SNES predecessor, Super Mario All-Stars, it lacks the obvious visual overhaul that made that collection stand out. This isn’t to say it is without its upgrades however, not the least of which is portability for two of these games for the first time. The question is, are these upgrades enough, and do these games still hold up all these years later?

Super Mario 64 by Neal Ronaghan

The phrase “if it ain't broke, don't fix it” comes to mind often when playing Super Mario 64. I’ve spent a lot of time since the original release in 1996 playing and thinking about this landmark achievement in video games. I was there back for Super Mario 64 DS, and I’ve picked it up on every Virtual Console it came to. For a long time, I always thought it was sublime perfection. After playing through it on the Switch in Super Mario 3D All-Stars, some of the shine has worn off, but dollars to doughnuts Super Mario 64 is still an immensely enjoyable game, almost as much so now as it was more than 20 years ago.

First off, Mario 64 might have the best glow-up in this collection. It’s not an overwhelmingly different upgrade, but it’s effective at nailing the ideal of looking not like it was, but how you remember it. Textures are improved. Text retains the charming font but looks cleaner and crisper. Sure, it’s not in widescreen, but it runs beautifully and looks as sharp as a Nintendo 64 game can look without more wholesale and widespread changes. In a perfect world, seeing Super Mario 64 be more intricately upgraded would be awesome, but, like I said to start this: It ain’t broke, so it didn’t need fixing.

The first handful of levels are still incredible. Bob-omb Battlefield and Whomp’s Fortress are incredible starting points. The variety on display through the ice, fire, and water worlds early on is great. A lot of the star challenges are clever and fun. Exploring the castle still has a charm to it, especially with the fantastic soundtrack. However, replaying it today leaves me with a few sour notes. Mostly, a number of late-game stages are rough. Tall Tall Mountain and Rainbow Ride are some of the worst offenders to me. Tall Tall Mountain is basically just several stars requiring you go up the mountain in almost the same fashion several times. Rainbow Ride is still whimsical and novel, but the structure of the level can get repetitive and punishing. It’s not all bad: a lot of the levels with dynamic changes like Tick Tock Clock and Tiny-Huge Island are still wildly enjoyable, but the farther the game went, the more frustrations I had.

Through it all, Super Mario 64 is still a great game, even in 2020. It’s almost impossible to separate the game from the importance and legacy, but whether you look at Mario’s 3D debut as a historical relic or a timeless masterpiece, it’s still a game worth revisiting today and Nintendo has never released a better version of it until Super Mario 3D All-Stars.

Super Mario Sunshine by John Rairdin

Super Mario 3D All-Stars represents the first official re-release of Super Mario Sunshine, likely the most oft debated title in the 3D Mario lineage. Of the three games included in this collection, Sunshine sees the most obvious visual improvements. Some of its underlying issues are still present, but on the whole, it's damn good to be back on Isle Delfino.

Apart from the obvious boost to HD that every game in the collection receives, Super Mario Sunshine is unique in that it gets brand new widescreen support. The hud has also been reformatted to fit this display and of course cleaned up for HD displays. Text and other 2D elements have also received an overhaul, but unlike Super Mario 64, all in game textures appear to be as they were at initial release. With that in mind I was absolutely baffled by just how good Super Mario Sunshine still looks. Remember that undulating, tropical, ocean water? Well it still looks incredible today. Apart from the occasional low resolution texture on the environment, Sunshine holds up remarkably well.

Super Mario Sunshine is largely built around usinging FLUDD, your water spewing backpack, to deftly navigate and clean up the environment. At the outset, FLUDD can act both as a water cannon and as a jetpack, enhancing Mario’s movement capabilities. The one major concern I had going into Super Mario Sunshine on Switch was how the GameCube’s analogue triggers would be mapped to the digital triggers of the Switch. On GameCube, a partial press of the right trigger would allow mario to spray water while moving. A full click would cause him to lock in place allowing the left stick to be used to aim the water spray instead. The solution for Switch however is simple and works perfectly. Clicking R reads as a full trigger click, while ZR registers as a partial press. It is quick, easy, and arguably works better than the original.

Outside of that, Super Mario Sunshine is largely unchanged. This is still the most difficult of all the 3D Mario’s, and that remains true here. Most of that is by design, but it's worth noting that the occasionally strange physics of the original are wholly intact in this release. This doesn’t quite feel like other 3D Mario titles, and while it's not too hard to get used to, new players should be ready for a bit of a learning curve. That being said, I had just as much, if not more, fun playing it again on Switch, as I did on Gamecube. Without a doubt, Super Mario 3D All-Stars is the definitive way to experience this tropical adventure.

Super Mario Galaxy by Jordan Rudek

Super Mario Galaxy makes the space jump from Wii to Switch as part of the Super Mario 3D All-Stars collection, and the HD visuals and portability of Nintendo’s latest console make for a warm welcome to both new players and those familiar with the game. Galaxy mostly does away with the larger, contained spaces of its predecessors, 64 and Sunshine, and instead sees Mario launching from one planetoid to the next that each contain more minute platforming and exploration challenges. For the most part, the result of this design shift is that collecting stars (60 to roll credits, 121 in all), feels more like a test of endurance rather than a measure of running and jumping skill. The use of gravity and upside-down visual perspectives are stretched to their limit, which certainly adds to the challenge but also the repetition. That said, the typical Mario charm and whimsy are on full display, with a magnificent soundtrack and vibrant visuals to match.

On Switch, the Wii’s pointer controls have been replaced with motion controls in docked mode and touch controls in handheld mode. What this means is that if you’re using a Pro Controller, you can press R to bring up a star cursor that allows you to make menu selections and collect star bits by moving the controller or a Joy-Con. A Joy-Con can also be given to a second player for use in Co-Star mode, where a friend can help you gather up star bits and even give Mario extra height on his jump. When playing portably, you can only move and activate the star cursor on the touchscreen. While none of these options hinder the experience overall, they do feel a little inelegant compared to the original Wii controls, but considering that the game was obviously designed with those in mind, the Switch version still works just fine.

Discussion of controls aside, Super Mario Galaxy has aged incredibly well. The focused gameplay and memorable presentation combine to create an excellent platforming adventure that feels both very different from 64, Sunshine, and Odyssey but also quite similar at the same time. The Comet Observatory hubworld grants quick access to all of the galaxies Mario can visit, but it also provides flavor in the form of Rosalina’s storybook chapters, Captain Toad, and even letters from Luigi guiding you to his next hiding spot. Even though the power-ups generally aren’t as interesting as in other Mario titles, the objectives in each stage make up for that. One of the most captivating elements of Super Mario Galaxy is how the galaxies change when you re-enter them in pursuit of a new star, and it’s this variety and variability that helps the game feel fresh every time you take a giant leap for Mario-kind.

Super Mario 3D All-Stars is by no means a complete overhaul, nor is it as simple as a port. It’s not as straightforward as Super Mario 64’s virtual console release, or Super Mario Galaxy on Wii U, as the entries in this collection are indeed updates to the original games. Each game seems to have been treated as its own challenge, with different improvements and changes being put into each. Updated, sharper textures for Super Mario 64, widescreen support for Super Mario Sunshine, and diverse new control options for Super Mario Galaxy, each bring welcome additions to their respective games. While yes, the updates are restrained somewhat in their ambition, the end result is undeniable. Even if some elements show their age, this is without a doubt, the best, and most versatile release these three classic 3D platformers have ever received.


  • Enhanced textures in Mario 64
  • New control options for Mario Galaxy
  • Resolution upgrades across the board
  • Three amazing games that have aged surprisingly well
  • Widescreen support for Mario Sunshine
  • Old bugs still remain
  • Some elements haven't aged as well as others
  • Upgrades are largely surface level


RasSeptember 16, 2020

Importantly, the controls in Sunshine have been deinverted. They did not make it an option, however, so if you like the original controls, it’s your turn to be annoyed like the rest of us have for 18 years.

Mr. BungleSeptember 16, 2020

Does Sunshine support the use of the Gamecube controller through the Smash adapter?

Spak-SpangSeptember 16, 2020

Mr. Bungle I don't think it does at this point, but who knows it might get a patch. 

I am really torn about this game.  I love Super Mario 64, it is in my top favorite games.  But I have beaten it countless times on Nintendo 64 and on Wii VC.  I really wanted to true remake, but I respect this release was about preserving history and celebrating Mario not a new game. 

I also get why Nintendo may never revisit and remaster Super Mario 64...the game is brilliant but it is also a game filled with limitations of the time.  But I think they could easily remaster Super Mario 64 and add some content to the games.  Add levels, and add new stars to each level.  All this would make for an awesome game...but that isn't what a celebration package should be about. 

MythtendoSeptember 19, 2020

It seems Nintendo doesn't want people to get the physical copy of the game. It's not available at Walmart in stores or online (I work at a major Walmart, and we never even got it in stock). When you try to order it from GameStop, it's not available in stores. Target seems to have it, but many other places don't. I know it's a limited release, but they seem to not want people to buy it at all.

AdrockSeptember 20, 2020

Quote from: Mythtendo

I know it's a limited release, but they seem to not want people to buy it at all.

Nintendo does. As far as availability, it really depends on who/what you want to blame here.
COVID-19 for affecting supply chains and deliveries.
Nintendo for announcing a Mario compilation of all things (including the first time Super Mario Sunshine is available outside of GameCube) would be a limited release thus driving scalpers out of the shadows looking for pay dirt.
Scalpers for buying as many available copies as retailers would allow (I doubt anyone is limiting this; they just want the sale).
My Amazon pre-order just shipped on Saturday for a Monday delivery (I got a $10 off preorder guarantee so I’m not complaining). I just checked eBay, and Super Mario 3D All-Stars is going for anywhere from $9 to $30 above MSRP. That nonsense is only going to get worse once the game is out of print next year.

steveyYesterday at 11:20 am

Quote from: Mythtendo

It seems Nintendo doesn't want people to get the physical copy of the game. It's not available at Walmart in stores or online (I work at a major Walmart, and we never even got it in stock). When you try to order it from GameStop, it's not available in stores. Target seems to have it, but many other places don't. I know it's a limited release, but they seem to not want people to buy it at all.

Weird, I saw $49.94 price tags for it at my local Walmart on Wednesday so they must be expecting to get it in eventually. My Amazon preorder still hasn't shipped yet (but they lowered the price to match Walmart so I'm not mad). Nintendo probably didn't have much (if any) stockpile inventory before the announcement went out.

All signs point to the bundle being a last minute decision to go ahead or outright cancel it. I'm glad they went forward with it if for no other reason than it forces them to go the extra mile when they inevitably release 'Galaxy 1&2 Remastered' and 'Sunshine 64 Remastered' whenever we arrive in a post-covid world.

SheckyYesterday at 11:22 pm

Well, I got my one copy at Walmart, they had just opened the box up and had a ton (this past Friday).  Target had 20+ copies.

Should I have bought them all instead of just 1, I dunno, seems like there will be a lot of copies floating around out there.  I think the eBay sales are just panic buying or fake sales.

The Walmart clerk seemed certain they would be worth gold later, so maybe he'll buy them all.

SheckyYesterday at 11:25 pm

Quote from: Ras

Importantly, the controls in Sunshine have been deinverted. They did not make it an option, however, so if you like the original controls, it’s your turn to be annoyed like the rest of us have for 18 years.

What is with Nintendo and NOT providing that option?  I was going to pick up Luigi's Mansion until I found out it was plagued by the same issue.

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Game Profile

Super Mario 3D All-Stars Box Art

Genre Action
Developer Nintendo
Players1 - 2

Worldwide Releases

na: Super Mario 3D All-Stars
Release Sep 18, 2020
jpn: Super Mario 3D Collection
Release Sep 18, 2020
RatingAll Ages
eu: Super Mario 3D All-Stars
Release Sep 18, 2020
aus: Super Mario 3D All-Stars
Release Sep 18, 2020
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