Mario jumping in front of Tabaret
Heeeere we go! Image: Dasser Kamran/Fulcrum
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A triple bite of nostalgia

In the face of lost jobs, political turmoil, and the ongoing pandemic, nostalgia has been a saving grace for many in 2020. 

People seem to be reverting back to their younger selves en masse: some have downloaded Disney+ simply to watch Lizzie McGuire reruns, while others have immersed themselves in the angsty My Chemical Romance or blink-182 of their adolescence. It’s a good time to rediscover the magic of our childhoods – a nice escape from the realities of… well… *gestures broadly*

Enter Super Mario 3D All-Stars for Switch, released on Friday, Sept. 18, available for purchase on the Nintendo Game Store. The bundle brings three beloved Mario games to a new generation: 1994’s Super Mario 64, 2002’s Super Mario Sunshine, and 2007’s Super Mario Galaxy. 

I had something of an advantage in reviewing this bundle: I am extremely familiar with Super Mario 64, mildly familiar with Super Mario Galaxy, but have never played Sunshine in my life allowing me to experience each possible demographics experience of gameplay.

Disappointingly (for me, at least), Super Mario 64 is in its original Gamecube version, rather than the remastered (and objectively better) edition made for Nintendo DS in 2004. Some audiences will appreciate this (likely those a few years older than me), but in playing the version available for Switch, I found myself sorely missing the features from the Super Mario 64 of my childhood – the one where you can play as Yoshi, Luigi, or Wario, with extra minigames and Easter Eggs to find within Princess Peach’s castle. 

Super Mario 64 for Switch is fine in terms of gameplay, as the controls have been translated well to the extra sensitivity of the newer console. However, the preserved bugs, square aspect ratio, and choppy graphics of the Nintendo 64 version of Super Mario 64 are a little weird on the high-resolution Switch, especially knowing a higher-quality version of the game already exists.

Super Mario Sunshine is this bundle’s saving grace. I had great fun exploring Delfino Island for the first time, even though the controls took some getting used to (especially as they’re not consistent from one game to the next, meaning there’s a gap between Super Mario 64 and Sunshine in terms of functionality). The camera function is admittedly also a little awkward, which is disappointing, given Nintendo’s storied history of video game camera development. The game looks great on the Switch, though, and the colours really pop on a larger screen. It’s a joyful game, one that somehow evoked that COVID-induced nostalgia in me even though I hadn’t played it before.

Galaxy falls somewhere between Super Mario 64 and Sunshine in terms of enjoyability. I didn’t love this game in the Nintendo Wii edition – the game mechanics have always felt a little awkward in my experience – but the graphics are gorgeous, and translate beautifully to either screen size of the Switch. There’s still an over-reliance on physical motion controls (remember frantically waving your Wii remote at the TV in middle school to get Mario to attack? Yeah, me too.), which, unfortunately, lessens the sheer prettiness of the game.
Overall, Super Mario 3D All-Stars is a safe release from Nintendo, one with frustratingly little innovation. People like nostalgia; Mario fanboys will buy it no matter what, and a slew of “meh” reviews across the Internet won’t change that.