Bottom line: The classic games have been ported over to the Nintendo Switch with upscaled graphics. The old controls feel clunky compared to modern gaming standards, but if you already love these games, this makes for a great purchase.
Three games in one purchase
The nostalgia is real
A lazy port
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It's hard not to wax rhapsodic while talking about Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine, or Super Mario Galaxy. Afterall, these games were each important to me at various points along my path from childhood to young adulthood. So, when I heard that they were all coming to Nintendo Switch in the Super Mario 3D All-Stars. collection, I almost lost my mind.
After spending several hours playing each of the three games, I've been able to collect my thoughts on the experience. In this review, I'm not going to say whether or not these games are good — that's already been established. This review will focus on how well the games were ported onto Nintendo Switch.
While Super Mario 3D All-Stars is definitely a nostalgic trip for many of us, I'm upset that there weren't more additions made to this relatively expensive collection.
Super Mario 3D All-Stars review What I like
Super Mario Galaxy gameplay.
If you played any of these games on the consoles that they originally came out on then you'll appreciate this collection.
The nostalgia is real Three classics in one package
|Title||Super Mario 3D All-Stars|
|Players||Up to 2|
|Availability||Until March 31, 2021 (while supplies last)|
Even though I hadn't played any of these games in a decent while, the muscle memory that I've built up by replaying them so many times over the years made it so the controls came back to me right away. I headed to all of the familiar secret locations that I'd learned years ago and quickly collected Stars and Shines. Some changes have been made here and there, but most of them are so minute that I'm sure the vast majority of people won't be able to recognize them. With that being the case, the games themselves are just as fun as they've ever been and there's no question in my mind that they are indeed worthy of your time.
Each game offers vibrant visuals and a wealth of fun locations for players to explore or rediscover. One thing I will say is that Super Mario 3D All-Stars serves up a big bowl of nostalgia and will best be enjoyed by those who already played one or more of these games.
Upscaled graphics Can read text much easier
From the minute I started playing, it became vastly apparent that the graphics had been smoothed out compared to how they were displayed on the original consoles. But the thing I find most important is that it's a whole lot easier to read text boxes without squinting at horrible pixelations. That's especially true for Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Sunshine.
Super Mario 3D All-Stars review What I don't like
I was really hoping I'd be able to add this to my own personal list of the best Nintendo Switch games. But, as much as I love these classic Mario titles, I'm rather disappointed in the Super Mario 3D All-Stars collection.
A lazy port More should have been done here
I couldn't help but compare this collection to the Spyro Reignited Trilogy, which is the perfect example of what Nintendo should have done with Super Mario 3D All-Stars. The Spyro Reignited Trilogy includes the three original Spyro games fully remastered in HD. This isn't just upscaled graphics, mind you, but upgraded models that bring the game up to speed with the visuals of current-gen consoles. On top of that, the developers upgraded each of the Spyro games' gameplay controls and camera controls so they worked perfectly with Nintendo Switch. They did all of this, and still the Spyro Reignited Trilogy had a launch price of only $40.
Super Mario 3D All-Stars just feels...lazy in comparison. Instead of recreating everything with new models, Nintendo merely smoothed out the polygons so the characters and settings look more crisp on modern displays. Hell, Super Mario 64 still has black bars on all sides of the screen instead of being adapted to modern TV lengths.
Additionally, the controls and especially the camera for each of these games still feel like I'm playing on Nintendo's older consoles — and man if they aren't clunky they sure are awkward (more on that to come).
With so little changes made, Nintendo still charges $60 for this collection. But since this is Nintendo we're talking about, they can definitely get away with it. It's a rather half-assed way to celebrate Super Mario Bros. 35th Anniversary. As it is, Super Mario 3D All-Stars is overpriced and underwhelming.
Dated controls Clunky and awkward for the Nintendo Switch era
These are really old games being 24 years old, 18 years old, and 13 years old, respectively. Thing is, if you haven't played them in a long while or you never played these older classics then the controls will likely prove frustrating to you.
The camera in Mario 64 only rotates by certain degrees like it did on the original console and has limitations, which makes it hard to get a good viewing angle for certain areas. In Mario 64 and Sunshine, pressing the right joystick up actually changes your view so you're seeing things from Mario's eyes. So you often accidentally change to this viewing angle while trying to adjust the camera during a tricky manuever. It's rather frustrating and can easily bring you to your death.
Now, I did appreciate that Mario Galaxy's spin attack can now be executed at the press of a button instead of forcing me to shake my controller like I had to on the Wii. However, while playing Mario Galaxy in handheld mode, I have to tap the screen every few seconds to gather Star Bits or interact with various menus. This both pulls me out of the game and leaves finger smudges all over the screen.
There are even instances where I have to use finger taps to get Mario to float into a Launch Star, but getting him to actually blast off is a tricky ordeal to do by finger swipe. On a happier note, I will say that Galaxy's setup definitely works a lot better when the Switch is docked to the TV or in tabletop mode, and you're using the Joy-Cons to control the Star Cursor instead of touching the Switch's display.
These awkward elements found in each of the three games could have been smoothed out if Nintendo had updated the controls and camera functions so that the games matched the standards that we've come to expect with Nintendo Switch games. As it is, we might as well just have received a simple port for these games instead of this fancy collection. But the worse crime of all is that these awkward controls make it difficult for new fans, who aren't familiar with the limitations of past consoles, to experience these classics.
Super Mario 3D All-Stars review Should you buy it?
Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine, and Super Mario Galaxy are each amazing games that hold a special place in my heart. It's nice being able to play them with upscaled graphics wherever I go. If you grew up with one or more of these games and feel the nostalgia pulling at you, then this is definitely a purchase you should consider.
However, I must say that Super Mario 3D All-Stars is a lazy port that barely does anything to improve the playing experience for the Nintendo Switch era. Those who haven't played these games before will find the controls clunky compared to what they've come to expect on the Switch. Considering how little was changed from the original games, this ported collection is also way overpriced.
Three classics in one game
Save Princess Peach from Bowser's clutches in three different classics: Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine, and Super Mario Galaxy.
Gaming aficionado Rebecca Spear is iMore's dedicated gaming editor with a focus on Nintendo Switch and iOS gaming. You’ll never catch her without her Switch or her iPad Air handy. If you’ve got a question about Pokémon, The Legend of Zelda, or just about any other Nintendo series check out her guides to help you out. Rebecca has written thousands of articles in the last six years including hundreds of extensive gaming guides, previews, and reviews for both Switch and Apple Arcade. She also loves checking out new gaming accessories like iPhone controllers and has her ear to the ground when it comes to covering the next big trend.