A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Super Mario 3D All-Stars is a collection of action/adventure games exclusively for the Nintendo Switch. The game is actually a set of three classic games from the Super Mario franchise, which is one of the most recognizable game franchises on the planet. Playing through this collection could get people interested in playing some of the other Mario games, and they'd have a large number to choose from. Controls are pretty easy to get a hang of, especially because the game packs tutorials to ease you through learning your moves and when to use them. The trick, of course, is having the timing to use the right skill at the right moment to successfully navigate through the hazards presented to you in each level. There isn't any objectionable content in the games. While players will frequently stomp on the heads of creatures, spin into them, or toss fireballs at them, no blood or gore is shown, and the cartoonish nature of the gameplay limits the impact of the violence.
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What's it about?
SUPER MARIO 3D ALL-STARS is the latest installment in the long-running and world-famous Super Mario franchise, but there's a bit of a twist here. This isn't a new adventure for Mario, Peach, and the rest of the Mushroom Kingdom. Instead, this is a collection of three classic adventures ported over to the Nintendo Switch to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the series. The first game, Super Mario 64, was the first in the franchise to feature open-world exploration, as players explored Princess Peach's castle in an attempt to free her from Bowser's clutches. In Super Mario Sunshine, Mario and Peach head off for a vacation to Isle Delfino, only to discover that the resort has been polluted by a mysterious shadowy figure that looks exactly like the mustachioed hero. Finally, in Super Mario Galaxy, the popular plumber takes to the stars to stop Bowser's newest scheme to conquer the universe. All of the titles have been updated and optimized to take advantage of the Switch's higher resolution in handheld or TV mode, as well a music player that includes 175 tracks from the three games. But players will have to act quickly if they want to explore these three games again: After March 31, 2021, this collection will disappear from stores and the Nintendo eStore, as well.
Is it any good?
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.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about consumerism. Since Super Mario 3D All-Stars is the latest installment in a massively popular franchise, do you think its release automatically promotes other games in the series? Does it feel like you're being enticed to purchase games that were previously released on other systems, or is this a good way to play games you may have missed?
What makes someone a hero? Is it taking a stand against something that's wrong or helping others in need? Or are there other heroic qualities that stand out to you?
- Platforms: Nintendo Switch
- Price: $59.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Nintendo
- Release date: September 18, 2020
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Princesses, Fairies, Mermaids, and More, Adventures, Space and Aliens
- ESRB rating: E for Mild Cartoon Violence
- Award: Common Sense Selection
- Last updated: June 10, 2021
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.