Super Mario 3D All-Stars – is it Worth it?
iSo I’ll be honest with you here, I was one of the people very on the fence about this whole 3D Mario collection. On the one hand, I love each of the games that come with it, but on the other, I don’t know why they didn’t include Mario Galaxy 2.
It would have been the perfect collection. I know Nintendo didn’t forget about it. They very well may have something up their sleeve in the future with the game, but to me, it looks like they’re stingy.
On the one hand, I think the game is an excellent value, giving you three of arguably the best 3D platformers ever to be made for just the price of one game. Then, on the other hand, the game only gets a limited run from September to April. That feels more like I’m being manipulated into getting the game now because I know I won’t get it later.
That’s why I’m making this in the first place. I caved after months of fighting and decided to pick Super Mario 3D All-Stars up. Mostly because I knew it was almost too late and partly because it had been forever since I last played Galaxy.
So I decided to take a look at this collection and see if it’s worth it. To see if you should hurry up and grab a copy before it’s gone. You only have until the end of next month. I wanted to see if it’s worth picking up, not only for new players but for returning ones, as I am.
What’s in the Collection?
As you might guess from the name “3D All-Stars,” this is a collection of Mario’s 3D adventures. Unfortunately, it does not include all of his 3D adventures. Again, Mario Galaxy 2 not being bundled with this collection, I think, really hurt it overall. Unless Nintendo fixes that somehow, it will be an ever-present blight on this game’s history.
Still, as Nintendo did, let’s act like it never existed. This bundle includes over a decade of Mario’s life. You get the original 3D platforming classic Mario 64, the slightly controversial Mario Sunshine originally on the Gamecube, and Wii’s out of this world adventure Mario Galaxy.
Each of these games is accessible from an efficient, albeit a bit boring, menu when you launch the game. There are a few nice additions besides that. You can now play each game in multiple different languages, which I thought was quite cool, and you can also listen to the entire soundtracks from each of the platformers.
So it’s good if you’re one of those people who listen to music on their Switch. I still think that’s odd, but Nintendo seems to like the idea, and I’m sure some of you exist. In my opinion, I would have liked physical versions of the soundtracks bundled with the physical release, maybe for a bit more money if they’d like. I guess that would make it an even better value, but come on, Mario’s big 35th will only happen once.
Their special 25th-anniversary game did something like that, and I enjoyed it. Still, something that deters people from pirating, even if it’s not incredibly convenient, is always appreciated regardless.
Besides that, there isn’t all that much new. It’s mostly just the games themselves. The only real thing I can mention before we get into that is how much I enjoyed the loading times. It feels super snappy to play. Each game has a menu that quickly takes you out of the game, and it’s incredibly easy to start another one just like that. It just feels really, really nice to switch between each game. And that’s kind of important. Especially for me. I played these games practically alongside each other.
It’s certainly nicer than if I would play these on the Wii and have to swap Sunshine and Galaxy’s discs in and out while putting the virtual console on in between. The convenience of it is really nice, what can we say? That’s part of the reason I bought this collection. I don’t want to break out older systems to play these classics.
But are they worth playing?
I’ll talk a little about that. I’m not going to give an in-depth review about every single game; that would take far too long. However, since I never discussed these games on the site, I will talk about each in a fair bit of detail. If you’re just curious whether I think the collection is worth it or not, click here.
If you care about hearing my opinions, thank you, that means a lot. Let’s get started.
Oh, Mario 64. What is there to say about you that hasn’t been said already? released in 1996, Mario 64 was the quintessential 3D platformer and 3D game, really, when it came out. While it can feel a tad janky a times, I’m looking at you lakitu, it has still held up fairly well and is the game that inspired all 3D games after it. Mario 64 is the reason we have 3D games in the way we do.
The success and impact of Mario 64 in the gaming world cannot be understated. It was, is, and always will be one of the most important games of all time, just like its predecessor back on the NES.
How is the game to play now? For better or worse, it just feels like Mario 64.
The premise of the game is a simple one. Blah, blah Peach was kidnapped by Bowser or something, blah, blah, blah, Mario saves her. It’s the plot of every Mario game ever, practically. The game takes you to 15 different courses, as well as some bonus levels, all totaling 120 stars you can collect throughout your adventure.
Or if that sounds like too many, it only takes 70 to beat the game.
To do this, you have to control Mario, drag his blocky rump to each course, and grab the stars one by one. Now you may have heard horror stories about how Mario controls in this game, and I’m here to tell you that they’re half right and half wrong.
Firstly, Mario’s basic moveset, jumping, punching, that kind of stuff, feels pretty good. I was surprised how easy Mario feels to control; I don’t remember that. Still, I have played the game since I was young, so enjoyment may vary for a new player.
Everything about Mario’s moveset is fun. I feel like he’s really springy and can do whatever I want him to do. Similar, but not to the same degree, as Mario Oddessey. It all feels really nice. I have a blast jumping and diving through the game. But that’s where my praise stops.
You see, having a 3D platformer adds a whole bunch of new challenges, one of the main ones being the camera. You know, how the player sees the world around them. Not having a fixed camera means you need to have a responsive one to compensate. The issue is, Mario 64 has an abysmal camera. I really cannot tell you how much I dislike it. It’s really so bad.
I forgive Nintendo as it was their first attempt at something like this, but that camera is so awful by today’s standards. It only has a couple of angles it can be set to. It gets stuck into walls more times than it spends out of them. Trying to turn the camera quickly is a literal nightmare, and you will die because of that. So many deaths in the game will happen because you can’t see what you’re doing.
You know how I praised Mario’s mobility? Take it back, really. How well Mario controls means squat if I can’t tell him where to go. Mario may be able to backflip and jump his way to where I tell him, but if I can’t see where he’s supposed to go, more times than not, I’ll send him somersaulting to his demise.
This is mostly a problem in later courses where the whole thing takes place above a pit of death, but it’s still very annoying when one mistake that’s not even your fault causes you to lose progress, even if it doesn’t result in a death.
Again, don’t hold it against the game too much. You do get used to it, but people can get used to all sorts of messed up things. We’re very adaptable creatures, but that doesn’t make it right.
As far as how the game controls on new hardware, it feels quite nice. I’ll be honest, for as much as I think the N64 controller’s design is an affront to every god, I actually like it a lot for Mario 64. It feels fantastic for that specific game. This is actually my very first time not playing on an N64. I didn’t hate it; I’ll say that.
I messed around with both a wired controller and the Joy-Cons. Both felt great. It’s a little awkward controlling the camera since they were originally built for buttons instead of control sticks, but the camera was bad anyway. It doesn’t make it feel any worse.
I still prefer the N64 controller, but for those who like modern hardware more, it works. Once you get used to the controls, you have to start collecting those stars to beat the game.
Mario 64 has a good bit of variety in each of its courses. There are desert levels, lava levels, snow levels, water levels, and various other ones to explore. The level of creativity on each seems to vary. I believe each one provides some fun to the player in one way or another, but there are certain levels where I feel like they’re just trying to pad the game out.
Take, for instance, how there are two snow worlds and water worlds. While they each feature their own themes, it is a shame to see the same concept explored multiple times like that. My other issue is just how you get some of the stars.
In a game with 120, I don’t expect each to be perfect, but Mario 64 has quite a few bad ones. Many more than I remembered. Some you get just for talking to Toad in the castle. Some have you do the same thing twice for arbitrary reasons.
One course, Tick Tock Clock, an old favorite of mine, has pretty awful stars. The whole thing is basically a tall cylinder that you have to climb. The various stars are placed on different parts of that cylinder. Why I say it’s bad is how you’re forced to climb the same thing multiple times.
If you’ve made it to the star up top, you just have to keep climbing the beginning sections to get the next star and then repeat. I saw the level with a whole new set of eyes, and I’m not as fond of it anymore.
There’s also the 100 coin star in each course, which is a classic in Mario at this point, so I don’t want to call it padding. Still, there are certain courses where you just barely have enough coins to complete your goal. That means you can potentially waste time.
For me, as someone who has played this game for well over a decade of my life, one of my favorite parts of this game is the glitches and exploits. I’ve picked up on many ways to skip certain parts or perform maneuvers to bypass certain areas. The game is janky, and that jankiness lets me have fun with it. I like the jank, what can I say?
One of the biggest things Nintendo changed is getting rid of arguably the most well-known glitch in videogame history. You can no longer backwards long jump in the game. I’m incredibly disappointed with them for that decision.
This game is largely unchanged from the other versions of it. There’s no added content, and many things are the exact same. Yet, they went specifically into the code to remove this glitch because they didn’t want it there. That’s borderline a felony in my mind, and I’m not at all happy with that.
One kind of good thing that they did change, though, is the visuals. This game has much cleaner looking graphics than it originally had. However, it still uses the same textures, just less blurry ones. This means the game actually ends up looking worse at times because I can notice how bad some aspects of it look when everything’s clearer.
I also notice how bad the draw distance is at times, as you can see above. Mario has looked better. Why didn’t you go into the code and change that one, Nintendo? Jokes aside, Mario 64 is still a fun time, but I do hesitate to say that 3D All-Stars is the best way to experience it.
If you happen to have an N64 lying around, I’d recommend using that, even if you don’t get as high resolution when you play. You get slightly better controls, visuals that don’t seem out of place, and all the jank that you love.
Mario Sunshine, the Gamecube’s good old 2002 controversial classic. Opinions on this game seem to vary greatly. You’re either part of the “I love it” club or the “it’s a nightmare to play” club. I used to be partial to one of them, but lately, my opinions have changed.
There’s actually a bit more in the story department this time. Rather than Peach getting kidnapped, she takes Mario on vacation to Isle Defino, a beachy paradise full of the Pianta people.
Things take a turn for the worse when someone who looks like Mario covers the Isle in a strange goop. So the Pianta’s throw Mario in the slammer and make him clean up “his” mess before he can leave.
Why they can’t tell a fleshy human being from a paint monster that is vaguely the same shape as Mario, I don’t know. That probably opens up a bigger debate about Pianta’s thinking all humans look the same that I will not get into right now. Oh, yeah, Peach also gets kidnapped again.
The way Mario cleans Isle Defino is with a glorified watering can named F.L.U.D.D – the Flash Liquidizer Ultra Dousing Device. This is where people seem pretty torn.
Mario Sunshine is a weird game. I don’t think people will dispute that. It does many things the series has never tried before, and some work, some don’t. FLUDD is very much you love it or hate it again. Unlike many Mario games, pretty much all his mobility comes from FLUDD and its various abilities.
For instance, Mario has access to a water jetpack, a water rocket, and a water turbo in addition to his normal arsenal. FLUDD is so important, Nintendo even made levels in the game where you can’t use it. It’s such an important aspect that there are challenges that specifically take FLUDD away. You begin to feel naked just using Mario.
I, for one, love FLUDD. I think overall, it feels great to control, and I love the level of mobility it gives Mario. If you get good enough, you can do all kinds of crazy things. You can even jetpack quickly to save yourself from falling or do a quick rocket. You can once again abuse glitches to do practically whatever you want. There’s a lot of fun to be had.
I also find Mario’s default moveset quite fun, but mostly when combined with FLUDD. I love the new spin jump, and I think the dive being buffed was a good call. It makes movement feel much snappier in this game. Mario feels like he can fly around like crazy if you’re good enough at controlling him. Notice that last part I said?
A lot of people are bad at controlling Mario in this game. They say he feels really awkward. I’ve played the game since I was a small child so I don’t get that; however, when replaying it, I began to understand, if only a little.
You see, when you play a game for literal years, you get good at it. It feels as natural to control as anything else, but like the camera in Mario 64, you may just be used to it. As I was playing each of these games, I switched controllers every so often to see how each one felt. Want to hear something interesting?
I’ve never had problems with the controls, but when I suddenly started using something other than the Gamecube controller I grew up with, it started to feel weird. I was messing up things I never did before, and I even pressed the wrong button a few times. The whole thing didn’t feel as enjoyable, and I didn’t have the skill with Mario that I was used to.
After a while, I got used to it, but it never felt quite right. I kept making mistakes. That makes me think the game may be a bit hard to learn for newcomers after all. I may have just been trained over the years so it never felt as difficult.
This game feeling hard is another problem people have with it. I’ll agree there. I think it’s one of the harder Mario games, and, while it’s not entirely related, one of the least fun to play.
There are certain stars (well, shine sprites in this game) that are just infamous. They are feared by everyone who has played this game. The pachinko shine, yeah, that one’s just bad. I don’t even think it works properly. Mario’s momentum is all over the place, and you will get game over several times for no good reason.
There’s also the one where you have to bring Yoshi all the way over to an island just to get a few chances at an already difficult shine. What about the glitchy, unfair, watermelon one. Yeah, you know the one.
Do you get my point?
This game has a lot of ridiculous things you need to do. The game feels difficult, and that’s half because the game is hard and half because it just feels janky. I can point to many shines I don’t like just because the camera does something weird that kills you, or it’s boring, or some other stupid thing happens that’s out of the player’s control. A lot of things feel unforgiving in this game.
This is probably one of the least fun Mario game to play. There are tons of fun glitches you can use to make the game easier, but I shouldn’t give points to the game because it’s a glitchy mess that, if played a certain way, is funner than it was intended to be.
It’s also one of the only Mario games I’d recommend you not 100% I feel stronger about that every time I play it. Every level has 30 blue coins, plus there’s some more spread around. Every 10 is a shine. That means that out of 120 shines, 24 of them are from blue coins. I hate those things.
You would never get them without a guide, and they’re just a grind when you do have one. It’s also padding galore! That’s almost a third of the games shines locked behind a tedious collect-a-thon. It’s awful. I will never defend that part of the game. It’s the reason I don’t like replaying Sunshine as much as the others.
This is a shame because many of the levels in this game are quite fun. In the variety department, Mario Sunshine far outshines (haha) Mario 64. There’s a busy harbor, an amusement park, a hotel, the inside of a volcano! Creativity is at an all-time high in this game.
Mario Sunshine very much went with quality over quantity. There are fewer levels than in 64, but each one is bigger and better than what was present in that game. The world is also much better fleshed out, having each area exist in Isle Defino as oppose to being in some painting world.
Each area can be seen from various points on the map. It gives this feeling of the world being a living, breathing place and is something I love to see in games. It’s a level of detail you don’t need but will always score points with me.
Visually, the entire game looks quite good—definitely one of the better-looking games on the Gamecube. However, I will say that 3D All-Stars doesn’t look as good at certain parts in my mind. The whole game has this heat filter if you look far enough away. The background gets all wavy to show it’s supposed to be hot at Isle Defino.
In All-Stars, that filter was dialed up to the point I almost get nauseous looking at it for too long. It’s worse in certain areas than others, but it did bother me in a way the original never did.
Ultimately, Sunshine is good to play on Switch, but barely anything is changed from the original once again. You just get some new controls (or you can use the Gamecube controller if you want), some better visuals, and higher resolution. I have a feeling you may be noticing a trend here.
Mario Galaxy may be the more controversial game in the lineup purely from the fact its sequel failed to get a spot. But we aren’t taking about that anymore. Mario Galaxy was 2007’s out of this world adventure on the Wii. Perhaps Mario’s weirdest expedition yet, at least tied with Sunshine, if nothing else.
Can you guess the plot of this adventure? That’s right, Bowser kidnaps Peach, and Mario has to save her. What’s the difference? Everything’s in SPACE!
This time, instead of jumping from painting or island location, Mario now flys through space and enters different galaxies to collect the 120 stars.
By far, this is the most unique thing the Super Mario series has ever tried, at least in the main games. Everything about the gameplay now changes. Mario’s typical moveset is still there, but things work differently because of how the game is structured.
The theme of the whole game is gravity. Mario’s adventure will send him to many galaxies with many small planets for him to orbit. This means you’ll be traversing the worlds sideways, upside down, in any way you can imagine. This makes for very interesting level design that will have you slingshotting yourself from one planet to another.
This design choice really gave Nintendo the freedom to make some crazy worlds. When it comes to creativity, this game takes the cake. While Sunshine went for having less, but bigger levels, Galaxy went for dozens of smaller ones. This is a decision I like a lot. It means that no area outstays its welcome.
Oh, I’m getting sick of this water galaxy. Good thing I can shoot over to this food-themed one! The game just has tons of different locations. You’re always moving around. It keeps things fun and fresh. I think it’s a great choice.
I think Galaxy does many things right. It feels very different than either of the other games in the collection, but it still feels great in its own way. The biggest issue I have with the game is Mario himself.
He’s not nearly as mobile in this game like the others. Mario’s dive is missing, and as a whole, Mario feels more sluggish. He does gain the spin in this game that can be used to attack or gain extra height in the air, but even that kills his momentum, making him, again, slow.
Mario in Galaxy really lacks forward momentum of any kind. He can get good air but can’t move forward fast. This, mixed with the level design being hopping from planet to planet, makes the whole experience slower. Some will like it more, but I’m not the biggest fan, honestly.
Most people praise Mario Oddessy because of Mario’s incredible mobility, but none of that exists in Galaxy. Something that does change it up is the various abilities Mario gets. The spring below is one of many.
These power-ups range from Boo Mario to Bee Mario to old favorites like Fire Mario. This helps break the tedium with Mario’s slow movement, but they’re only used in certain stars. The stars this time around are all pretty solid. Many of them are fun, and I don’t get bored because there are so many different levels to explore.
Then you have something I simultaneously love and hate about this game, that’s the bosses. There’s a ton of bosses in this game, like at least a dozen or so. Each one fights entirely different from the other and is just a blast to go against. The problem is, the actual boss levels at the end of the worlds are so bad.
World 2, 4, and 6, AND the final boss, is all just the same bowser fight with little differences. That’s even worse than Mario 64, where you fight him three times. World 1’s boss is pretty good. World 3’s is a joke. World 5’s is a reskin of one of the first bosses in the game. When replaying this, I was actually shocked when the star showed up. I thought there was more. No, there isn’t.
Mario Galaxy has so much variety in it, even in their bosses, yet the actually big baddies are all just horrible. Seriously, world 1’s is the only worthwhile fight. I don’t understand this. It’s like Nintendo kind of gave up. Like they made all these bosses before figuring out where they would go and just tossed them anywhere. I’m convinced world 5’s was a last-second decision.
In terms of padding, besides the bosses, Mario Galaxy isn’t too bad. There are comet levels, which are basically replaying the same star with either a time limit, one health, or something similar. There aren’t many of these, and I’ll take them over blue coins any day.
Another big aspect of the game is star bits. These are a second collectible you find throughout the worlds that can be used to grant access to more levels. It gives you a real incentive to collect the collectibles, which I always appreciate, and far too many games lack. These star bits can also double as a weapon when shot with what used to be the sensor bar on the Wii, but it’s generally not helpful. Still, it’s an option.
Mario Galaxy was on the Wii, so you can expect it to have the Wii’s gimmicks, i.e., motion controls and the pointer that “worked” with the sensor bar. Here’s the great thing, Mario Galaxy got the most improvement of any game in this collection purely because these two things were altered.
Now, I don’t hate motion controls. I think they’re gimmicky, but I find them fun for certain things. Still, I believe you should have the option not to use them. On the Wii, you had to shake the Wiimote to get Mario to spin. Now, you can shake the Joy-Con, or press a button. That makes the game feel wonderful to play.
However, your controller options are more limited this time because of how the new pointer works. It now works by moving the controller your using around. This means it gets thrown out of wack a lot, but because you just need to press a button to center it, it makes the whole thing feel miles better than the sensor bar ever did.
I would recommend using the Joy-Cons not attached to any controller, just in your hands. This basically makes Mario Galaxy play just like on the Wii if you could spin with the press of a button and didn’t have to deal with the sensor bar and all the nonsense that came with it. It makes the game feel great.
Visually, I don’t notice much difference. Galaxy on the Wii looked good. So does this. But I would recommend this version of the game purely for the fact it controls like a dream compared to how it felt on the Wii.
So Should You Buy It?
I’m going to leave you with a big old “that depends.” It depends on what experiences you’ve had with the series up to this point. I’ll share why I bought it, and maybe that could help you.
To give you some background, I’ve played each of these three games many, many times. Except for Galaxy. I have less experience with that. Still, I’ve played each at least three times. I also have access to these games whenever I want. I own an N64, a Wii, and a Gamecube. All I have to do is go dig through my closet for a bit.
So why would I buy them? Two main reasons. One, I wanted convenience. I keep my Switch out at all times, and I wanted to be able to play these classics without going through much trouble. And second, it was a limited time thing. Yeah, I caved. I did. I admit it.
Nintendo seems to like the limited-time games as of late. The original Fire Emblem on Switch is the same. It concerns me that they’re doing this, but it works; it really does. That’s why I bought it.
You basically have to ask yourself what would make you buy these games. If you have never played even a single game on this list, I’d say just buy the collection. It’s more than worth it for one new experience. If you are a returning player that wants a new experience with a classic, don’t buy it.
Nintendo really did not change much, and the things they did change in some cases hurt the experience. Besides making things look slightly better and possibly run better, the best they did was make Mario Galaxy funner to play. Nothing in the actual games is different. I just can’t recommend you buy it if you’re hoping for something new. You won’t find it.
If you’re like me and just don’t feel like breaking a system out for a single game, then buy it. The collection does just what it’s supposed to: give you an easy, convenient way to play each of these games.
Whether you think 3D All-Stars is worth it or not ultimately comes down to what you expect from the game. If you expect the bare minimum and take the game entirely at face value, you’ll likely be happy. If you go into it thinking it will be more than a collection, you’ll be disappointed.
Ultimately, it’s up to you. You got until the end of March. Figure out what you want from the game and decide what’s right for you. Just keep your expectations in check. That’s important for everything in life, not only this game.
Thank you very much for reading
What do you think about 3D All-Stars? What improvements do you think could have been made to transform these classics into something even better?