This collection of classic games is a must-have for any action/adventure fans of Nintendo's best-known hero. Super Mario 3D All-Stars gathers together three incredible 3D adventures from this wildly popular series from the Nintendo 64, GameCube, and Wii. Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine, and Super Mario Galaxy have been ported over to the Nintendo Switch and have been visually updated with HD resolution. That manages to smooth out some of the rougher edges on the older games, particularly Super Mario 64, which was visually revolutionary at the time but can be a bit more pixelated compared to the other titles in the set. That's not a knock on Super Mario 64 at all: It's still one of the most groundbreaking platformers ever made. Not only did it introduce open-world exploration and 3D characters to a 2D side-scrolling series, it added a ton of other elements that plenty of today's games now take for granted, like hub areas, a free-roaming camera, and nonlinear gameplay. Sure, the camera of Super Mario 64 is still its Achilles' heel, because it can sometimes get stuck on objects or throw players off as they move through environments when they need precise movement. But it set the stage for vastly improved play in the other games in the collection, such as Super Mario Sunshine's F.L.U.D.D. backpack that's used to hover over hazards and clear pollution from the environment. It all wraps up with Super Mario Galaxy, which featured new suits, new functionality for Mario's Spin moves to slingshot him around areas, and a co-op experience to help players collect stars for additional lives.
What's more, Nintendo decides to toss in 175 tracks from all three games in a music player, which allows gamers to listen to the songs with the screen off. It's hard to avoid getting a smile on your face when listening to these songs, especially if you have them playing as background music. Aside from this, there aren't any significant enhancements or extras for the games, but that's OK -- any one of these games being re-released on the Nintendo Switch would be worth the price of admission for Switch owners; adding in all three is an incredible value. But the collection does raise two minor, yet significant, issues. The first: Even though this is being released in celebration of the 35th anniversary of the franchise, it raises the question of when (or if) we'll see other collections of Nintendo games (Donkey Kong and Metroid easily come to mind, but there are plenty of others). The other is the limited availability window. It's a bit tricky to support having games be available only during a six-month release window, even if these are titles that were previously released. It creates artificial scarcity and limits the ability of people who are new to gaming to enjoy or appreciate these fantastic titles if they happen to get a Switch just after the release window lapses. Hopefully this is reconsidered, or revisited after March 31, 2021. But these issues aside, if you're a fan of Mario or of action/adventure games, you need to get Super Mario 3D All-Stars.