Super Mario 3D All-Stars | Thoughts & Impressions | Switch - Japan-based Nintendo Podcasts, Videos & Reviews!


Friday, September 25, 2020

Super Mario 3D All-Stars | Thoughts & Impressions | Switch

by Danny Bivens

We break down all of the games in the collection. 
Super Mario 64

Mario 64 is one of those games that a whole slew of gamers love. A lot of us older gamers got to experience the game back in the day on the Nintendo 64, witnessing firsthand the revolution of 3D gaming right before our very eyes. With numerous re-releases over the years, there are definitely a lot of different ways for fans to play this game, but never in HD (officially at least!) - until now thanks to Super Mario 3D All-Stars on the Switch. There’s definitely a lot to like here with this version of the game, but it doesn’t come without some let downs.
Controls in Super Mario 64 on the Switch feel as good as ever. Movement is sharp, jumps are precise and everything just generally feels great. The camera system in the game, based on the C-buttons from the Nintendo 64 controller, typically get the job done, but definitely could have used a bit of an upgrade to TRULY transform Super Mario 64 into a modern game. That’s not to say that things are bad. Usually the camera angles that are available are more than enough to suffice. Still, it would have been nice to have more free control here, but this is likely a limitation of the emulation.

Visually, Super Mario 64 has never looked (officially) better. Several in game textures have been touched up and the HD coat of paint here makes this game from nearly two decades ago look pretty nice. The game also runs  at a smooth, constant 30 frames per second and rarely suffers from slowdown - I haven’t experienced any in my time with the game. There are some disappointing things here, though. Mario 64 only runs at 720p and only supports the 4:3 aspect ratio. I’m not going to try to defend this decision, especially when there are other N64 ports out on the Switch that support both 1080p, widescreen AND 60 frames per second in their games (Turok, Doom 64, Episode I Racer just to name a few). Sure, these are different companies using different methods to breath life back into these old games. It’s just Nintendo being Nintendo about things which can be frustrating as a fan. Let me end this negativity here by saying this - Mario 64 STILL does look nice here, but it just seems like a bit of a missed opportunity with the lack of enhancements.
I’ve mentioned this in my other videos about the games in Mario 3D All-Stars, but let’s take a trip down memory lane here for Mario 64. The game was originally released in Japan on June 23, 1996 followed by a North American release on September 29 and a European release on March 1, 1997. One thing that you may not know is that Super Mario 64 actually saw an updated release in Japan in July of 1997. Along with adding a few things from the English release of the game, this version is dubbed the Shindō Pak Taiō Version, or in other words, a Rumble Pak enhanced version of Mario 64. Actually, the version of the game used in Mario 3D All-Stars appears to be based on that version of the game - you can tell this from the title screen, which lists both the years 1996 and 1997.

Taking a look at the packaging, you can see that the original Japanese and North American versions feature similar cover art with the main difference being the white background of the Japanese version. The Japan only Rumble Pak version features different key art on the cover, with Bowser and Mario standing back to back. If you’re hunting for the rumble version, it can be had for pretty cheap inside of Japan - less than ¥1,000 for a complete boxed version. Of course, your milage may vary if you’re buying from outside of Japan, so good luck out there if you’re on the hunt.

Super Mario 64 in Super Mario 3D All-Stars is still a great game and a great way to play a true classic. While it would have been nice to have a few more bells and whistles added to the package, it just wasn’t in the cards. There’s fun to be had, but quite a bit left on the table.
Super Mario Galaxy

Super Mario Sunshine
When originally released on the GameCube, Super Mario Sunshine saw critical praise from many big name publications and websites. The game wasn’t seen as a revolution like its predecessor Mario 64, but rather and evolution of what made Mario 64 a good game. On the opposite end of the spectrum, there were some gamers and critics out there who panned the game for a variety of issues - the camera system, FLUDD being a gimmick, the game being the same old collectathon and so on. For me, it’s been so long that I don’t remember my exact feelings about the game at the time but I remember having fun with it. But what about the version that’s included in Super Mario 3D All-Stars?

Controls in Super Mario Sunshine here are pretty standard when it comes to Mario platformers. FLUDD of course brings a whole new element into the equation here. With this water filled back pack, Mario is able perform some additional moves that haven’t been found in other 3D Mario titles. FLUDD has a few different functions early on, and these are the ones that you will mainly be using - the Squirt Nozzle and the Hover Nozzle. If you’re played Sunshine before, you know what to expect here. For the Squirt mode, pressing R or ZR allows you to shoot water at enemies or goop lying around the island. ZR can be used while on the move, while the R usage allows Mario to stop in his tracks and take aim. The Hover Nozzle gives Mario the ability to hover in the air for a limited amount of time. Later on in the game, you are also introduced to the Rocket and Turbo Nozzles, which allow Mario to shoot high up into the air and boost around respectively. Things still feel pretty good here in the 3D All-Stars version of the game control-wise. Choosing to the correct nozzle can take some getting used to, but you’ll get it down after playing for a little while.
Camera control here is also pretty responsive and feels better than it did in the original. With Sunshine on the GameCube, the camera could not be changed from an inverted control scheme, which I’m personally not a fan of. In 3D All-Stars, this has been reversed, which is a welcome addition in my opinion. Still, there is no option to change this. For those of you that like inverted camera control, you will be a little disappointed.

From a visual standpoint, Super Mario Sunshine is now running at 1080p, 30 frames per second and has widescreen support. Overall, the HD facelift looks pretty good here. Even the opening cinematic for the game, which were severely compressed in the original GameCube release, look sharper and cleaner. While the visuals do look better overall, it will be hard not to notice the messy textures that the game still sports. You likely won’t spot them from afar, but when up close, you’ll see them. It’s kind of a shame that small details like this weren’t polished up a bit. On a similar note, I do find it kind of weird that the original GameCube X button icon was left in this version of the game. It’s not a big deal or anything, but it’s just odd.
In terms of framerate, I haven’t played through this version of the game to completion, but from what I have played up to this point, the experience has been pretty smooth. I can’t comment on other people’s experience of the game having a bad frame rate because I just haven’t seen it myself. That’s just something to keep in mind before picking up this compilation.

Just for a little history lesson, Super Mario Sunshine first released in Japan on the GameCube on July 19, 2002, with a North American release following on August 26 and then Europe and Australia getting the game in October of the same year. When it comes to tracking down this game on the Cube, things are a little bit on the expensive side as of the time of this recording. However, the Japanese version of the game remains affordable. Obviously, a drawback for many is the fact that the game is in Japanese, however the cutscenes retain the English that was found in the other versions. As for the Japanese packaging, it looks very similar to its western counterparts aside from the standard smaller Japanese GameCube packaging. Mario, equipped with FLUDD, is prominent in the middle of a circular logo in front of a large shine on the front of the package. The title is written in katakana in blue here, with an English title on below. This version of the game is probably the most affordable now. If you are actually IN Japan, you’ll be able to get the best deals - I got mine for a little over ¥1,000 ($10 USD) complete with the case, manual and cardboard sleeve. Happy hunting out there.

Super Mario Sunshine is one of those games that many people can’t seem to agree on. Some people love it, some people hate it, some people don’t care either way. That just boils down to personal preference. Still, when it comes to the 3D All-Stars version on the Switch, this is the only legitimate way to play the game on modern platforms. It’s an improvement over the original offering contemporary upgrades to the visuals and overall experience. It’s not perfect, but for now, it’s all we’ve got. And I personally don’t think that’s a bad thing.

Super Mario Galaxy
When Super Mario Galaxy released on the Wii back in November 2007, gamers were treated to a fantastic 3D platformer. While the Wii was full of titles that catered to a more casual, motion control loving crowd, Nintendo opted to make a full on Mario game that would appeal to not only the hardcore crowd, but also a more casual audience. I’m sure that many of you out there had some great memories of the game. Now, as part of Mario’s 35th anniversary, Galaxy is included in the Super Mario 3D All-Stars compilation, but how does it play and run on the Nintendo Switch?

Controls have been slightly reworked for this version of Mario Galaxy. In my time with the game so far, I’ve mainly played with the Pro Controller which works really well. In lieu of the Wii Remote pointer, you utilize the gyro in the controller to direct the on screen reticle where it needs to go. Even though this game is a modernized version of the Wii classic, the on screen reticle is used quite a bit - for gathering Star Bits, going through the star launchers and controlling a variety of menu options. Again, it feels pretty good here with the traditional gamepad. It should also be noted that the spin attack can be performed with the Y button - great for those of us who wanted a more tactile feel for controls.
Playing in handheld mode here feels good for the most part. While you are able to control Mario just fine with the attached Joy Con, all of the pointer controls are now relegated to the touch screen. It works perfectly fine, but having to put your finger all over the screen kind of gets in the way of the action. Purists and old school gamers might not like this as an option.

You are also able to play the game with split Joy Con, making the experience very similar to how it would have felt on the Wii. The biggest and most obvious difference here from the Pro Controller is that now you have the ability to utilize the Joy Con as a pointer. You can also simply shake the Joy Con for a Spin Attack. With the Spin Attack, though, you can also still do this by pressing Y. One other thing to note here is that you can only use this method of control while playing on the TV. You are unable to use the pointer when it Table Top Mode. Not a huge deal, but it’s something you should be aware of.
Visually, Super Mario Galaxy looks better than ever. While my capture of the game doesn’t show it here in the video, Galaxy runs at a locked 60 frames per second and runs at 1080p throughout the experience. I did notice that the opening cutscenes seemed to be running at a bit of a lower resolution, so perhaps that’s what was meant with the news that Galaxy runs “up to” 1080p. Back when Galaxy released, I remember being blown away by how good it looked and was surprised that the Wii could output such a beautiful looking game. Sure, some of it goes to the outstanding art direction of the game. When it boils down to it, this is currently the best way to play the game from a visual standpoint. Comparing the 3D All-Stars version to the original version on the Wii just shows how much the HD facelift has improved things.

Even though Super Mario Galaxy isn’t necessarily considered retro at this specific point in time, I thought it would still be a good time to take a look back at the original release of the game on the Wii. Of course, some of this information is already included on the Super Mario 3D All-Stars menus, but Galaxy was released in Japan on November 1, 2007 and then later in North America on November 12, with the European and Australian launches coming on November 16 and 29 respectively. The box art here remains the same across all regions - you have a playful Mario soaring through space with Luma at his side. You can see some of the planetoids in the background that are featured in the game. Even all these years later, it’s still a slick box art and really captures the aesthetics that the game was going for. These days, Galaxy is still relatively cheap on re-sale sites, and here in Japan, you can find it for around ¥1,000 (about $10 USD) with the package and manual. You’d better snap this up now while it’s cheap before the kids that grew up with Galaxy send the price through the stratosphere a few years down the line.
Galaxy plays and looks better than ever in 3D All-Stars. Even when the game was released all those years ago on the Wii in SD, it looked fantastic. With the HD bump, this feels like the version of Galaxy that Nintendo wanted to show us all along but the Wii just wasn’t powerful enough to deliver. Outside of some minor gripes with mandatory touch controls in handheld mode, Galaxy is fantastic here.

No comments: