Mario All-Stars Review: Do these Nintendo classics stand the test of time?

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For Nintendo fans, the launch of Super Mario 64, Sunshine, and Galaxy may very well be the most exciting game news of the year. And now that the collection has been out and we’ve been able to dive in, we’ll be taking a look to see if this collection of classics have aged well enough to make it a must-have on Switch. Head below the fold for all of the details on Super Mario All-Stars in our review.

Our hands-on review of Super Mario All-Stars

Last month, Nintendo shocked fans by officially releasing three of the most iconic titles in its catalog on the Switch. Living up to its name, Super Mario 3D All-Stars packs three fan-favorite titles from the franchise into a single package. While more of emulations of the original than remasters, the collection plucks each title off their original systems and drops them right onto the Switch. 

Unlike other titles that Nintendo has brought to the Switch like Hyrule Warriors or Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker which have debuted as full remasters, Super Mario 3D All-Stars isn’t receiving as much love. The games are straight ports and come wrapped in a landing page that lets you cycle through the titles, while also listening to their in-game soundtracks.

There have been some improvements for the launch on Switch, including remapped controls, improved save state features, and adjusting for the hybrid nature of the console. The transition from N64, GameCube, and Wii works pretty well for the most part, even in handheld mode. The touchscreen does a solid job at filling in where motion controls are needed on Super Mario Galaxy.

However, there are some aspects of the transition from old consoles that don’t work quite as well. Easily the most jarring of these is seeing the Wii cursor controls and UI layout make an appearance on the Switch. The Joy-Cons work well to replace the Wi Remote, but it’s still strange to see an interface from 14 years ago on a modern-day console.

But now it’s onto actually looking at the games, starting with Super Mario 64.

Super Mario 64: The game that started it all

As the game that started it all in the world of 3D Mario, 64 brought a lot of new concepts to the table for the time. Sure the graphics have aged about as well as you’d expect, but the levels are still thoughtfully-designed and the controls feel extremely fluid, even by today’s standards. Aside from all the nostalgia, it’s a fun trip into the past that has enough apparent charm to warrant a playthrough in its own right, even for newcomers.

Super Mario Sunshine drops the ball

Next up, we have Super Mario Sunshine. And right off the bat, it’s pretty clear that this isn’t as polished of a title on the Switch as the other two. Don’t get me wrong, the visual improvements offer a more fleshed out game compared to what its predecessor offered, but the controls leave a lot to be desired. They feel way less precise than that of Mario 64 and take the experience down a few pegs. It’s unfortunate, but it seems like Super Mario Sunshine was lost in translation when making its jump over to the Switch in the All-Stars collection. 

Super Mario Galaxy steals the spotlight 

Nintendo really did save the best for last here with Super Mario Galaxy. It’s by far the most impressive of the three games and goes well beyond any form of nostalgia or desire to play the classics. Everything from the visuals and level design to gameplay and controls holds up extremely well on the Switch. It truly is an unrivaled experience in the Mario catalog that even Odyssey doesn’t come close to overshadowing.

I’m impressed by how well it has held up. I wasn’t expecting to be able to recommend playing this one without adhering an asterisk to the end of that praise. Regardless of if you look at it from the lens of an old game or new, it brings a lot to the table for first time and veteran Mario fans alike to enjoy. Enough so, that while completing the review, I found that Galaxy sold me on the entire Super Mario All-Stars collection as a whole.

Who’s Super Mario All-Stars for?

The big question here isn’t just whether Super Mario All-Stars is worth the cash, but who exactly the game is for. If you grew up playing all three of these titles, having them on the Switch will very likely be a must. There’s plenty of nostalgia to go around here, and the collection gives you a chance to replay some of the best games in Nintendo’s back catalog. They’re faithful ports of the original, flaws and all, and should give you a pretty similar experience to your first playthrough.

Or for those like me who haven’t already played these games extensively, the Super Mario All-Stars collection is a tougher sell for sure. Without nostalgia as a driving force, it’d be worth recommending Mario Odyssey, Breath of the Wild, and other titles that premiered on the Switch over the retro collection.

But if you’ve already filled out your Switch library and want to know if it’s worth $60, I’d ultimately settle on yes. Super Mario Galaxy tips the scales for the entire collection, with the other two titles included with Super Mario All-Stars being bonuses at that point. 

Final thoughts

When the collection was first announced, I wasn’t originally sold on it like a lot of other Nintendo fans were. But after diving in for the review, there’s plenty of value here on Super Mario All-Stars. I’d still recommend other titles over it for those building out their Switch library, but on its own, there’s easily $60 in value here.

Aside from each of the individual games, the only real gripes I have from this review is that I wish Nintendo had put more work into bringing the titles in Super Mario All-Stars to the Switch. Tweaking the interfaces to ditch the look of the original consoles would have gone a long way to give the collection some added polish. But even so, that’s only a small mark on an otherwise solid experience.

It’s a celebration of Mario’s legacy that Nintendo fans should experience in one way or another. While things could be more refined on the Switch, picking up Super Mario All-Stars is a much better option than dusting off all three of the old consoles. And when you consider that the collection will only be available for a limited time, it’s definitely worth picking up now before Nintendo pulls the plug.

Buy Super Mario All-Stars at Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy, and B&H

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