Super Mario; the franchise, has meant so much to this industry as a whole. The mascot itself has become synonymous with revolutionary representation. From his humble beginnings as a carpenter that essentially replaced Popeye: The Sailor, after Nintendo had failed to obtain the licensing rights to use the spinach guzzling muscleman, Jumpman leapt on the scene with his twirled moustache, his charming enthusiasm, and fearless heroics in saving the damsel in distress. With Donkey Kong establishing two of its core franchise leaders for generations to come, the star attraction had been the little Italian hero, showing gusto against the gargantuan gorilla. The Japanese developer knew immediately, they had established something special and thus commenced an incredible legacy of astonishing adventures.
Super Mario All-Stars (Re-released with Super Mario World Included) encapsulated Mario’s existing library, and remastered his memorable escapades for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System; if you owned an SNES, there’s a good chance this came bundled with it. The pre-packaged bundle was the prime example of how the Mario series had paved the way, and inspired many a platforming franchise that had come after it. Of course, heading towards the next generation in gaming, Nintendo had their eye set on releasing the PlayStation (Yes, you are reading that correcty) with the Compact-Disc SNES Hybrid unit capable of entering the realm of 3D gaming, for the first time in the company’s history.
Without diving too deep into how history played out, the Nintendo 64 birthed an entirely new generation for Nintendo fans, while Sony had just entered the mainstream market, manufacturing the PlayStation. With that came the pre-conceived notion that fans were finally able to adventure through the Mushroom Kingdom, in 3D. Super Mario 64 laid the foundation that paved the way for many title’s on Nintendo’s fifth-generation unit, sharing its in-game engine with timeless classic such as The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Banjo-Kazooie, Star Fox 64, with Majora’s Mask lifting off Ocarina of Time’s framework and enhancing what remnants of coding may have been left within its predecessor’s data.
Leaping through the flowery fields of Peach’s courtyard, Triple Jumping to new heights, and of course BLJ’ing (Backwards Long Jump) through locked towers, fans were astonished by Mario’s fascinating feats that were impossible prior to “Project Reality’s” presence. Not only had Super Mario 64 inspired a new wave in gaming, but had cemented its legacy within its sequels that came after with core ideas placed within both Nintendo GameCube’s Super Mario Sunshine and Wii’s Super Mario Galaxy. While both sequels may demonstrate their own unique nuances in some respect, both Sunshine and Galaxy carry similar overlays in hub inspired territory’s that spawn their own subset areas as progress throughout each campaign. Super Mario 64 has carried heavy influence throughout its respective lifespan right up to the current generation of gaming.
Super Mario Galaxy stands the test of time, and will forever be regarded as one of, if not the greatest Super Mario adventure, ever created.
Bringing a triple threat of all time greats to the Nintendo Switch allows a new wave of gamers to experience the magic that enamoured gamers of a golden era of yesteryear. Super Mario Galaxy still holds up to this days as one of the best video games ever created. An adventure full of mystique and wonder, that oozes creativity and imagination, placing itself above its pre-sequential and arguably, its sequential brethren. The clout that this bundle alone carries is one of the essentials of the Nintendo Switch’s library for every owner; a must have. It displays the evolution in Campaign, Gameplay, and Presentation in over two decades of gaming development. This is Nintendo’s love letter to Mario fans around the world and despite minor issues I have with each title’s translation to the hybrid handheld-home console, it will be one I will treasure forever.
So, let’s highlight each title’s accolades and how they demonstrate themselves on their new home platform. It was highly suggested that Super Mario 64 was on its way to the Nintendo Switch, which had fans salivating at the prospect of revisiting their favourite 3D adventure, of all time. Super Mario 64 on Switch shows Nintendo’s devout love for their red capped, lizard swinging, star slinging hero, with a plethora of performance enhancements, and presentation upgrades to suit newcomers that may be unacquainted with the title’s original format. While it’s been said that Super Mario 64 had been a simple port to the Nintendo Switch, running natively off an “in-rom” emulator, that is not the case here. Nintendo have repurposed the title to not only optimise and cater for the Nintendo Switch’s UX, but have also up-res’ed the title to a pixel perfect 1080p HD display.
Many casuals may never notice the subtle differences between its source material to its elevated strides that better its embracing exposition, Super Mario 64 on Switch has become the best way to officially play the title. While this may not be its first foray on a portable platform, given the remastered NintendoDS release had seen a mixed reception due to its limited hardware incapable of properly propelling Mario in its intended representation. Super Mario 64’s ability to recover its charm is a feat many franchises aspire to accomplish, with charisma, flair, vibrancy and all round fluidity in such a dynamic illustration. It may dissuade some that were expecting the classic to be given the “remake” treatment, however the title bears such prevalent prestige that it scores a hall-pass for existing residuals.
Now, let’s not beat around the bush. Those who are in the know, are aware that Nintendo have modified various mechanics and removed certain features from the title, in this upgraded version. Speed-runners will have to live with the fact that they won’t be BLJ’ing through castle walls, nor skipping the endless staircase and for the “memes”, shedding the “So long, King Bowser” was quite obviously done for nefarious reasoning but has been met with some mixed criticism. While the intended mechanics remain faithful, this port is based on a revision made exclusive to the Japanese market and has become synonymous in the Mario 64 online gaming community. 1997’s “Shindou” Mario 64 had implemented Rumble Pak support for the title, but had recoded some of rubber band mechanics.
An interesting feature to what would have been an astonishing upgrade, was Nintendo’s idea of retaining the traditional 4:3 aspect ratio, knowing full well the title had the capability of demonstrating a 16:9 display. While questionable, Nintendo’s intent on keeping Super Mario 64’s esteemed foundation intact comes at a cost of either removing some fan favourite features, and keeping some less than desirable options. None-the-less, Super Mario 64 remains one of the greatest 3D adventures of all time. Sure its dated presentation and lacking aesthetics are illuminated quite clearly, but its innovative and creative output in level and map design, along with its timeless gameplay ages like a fine wine. Super Mario 64 holds up in 2020, as the prime example of humble beginnings for incredible feats that were yet foreseeable.
Super Mario Sunshine will forever be met with a mixed reception. To me, it will always have my undying admiration for trying something new, fresh and completely different. Its vibes alone make for a sensational experience, from the bopping melodies that commence from Delfino Plaza, right to its captivating cutscenes that enrich its campaign. Sure you could label it the dark horse of Mario’s illustrious 3D legacy, but Sunshine demonstrates flexible properties that its partnering titles lack. The addition of F.L.U.D.D. allowed developers to build upon Mario’s existing assets with the attachment’s characteristics and capabilities. Triple Jump-somersaulting and activating your water-pump jetpack to hover across unreachable locations, attacking enemies by dousing them in litres of liquid, and projecting Mario into the heavens allowed the title’s architecture to reach boundless expectations.
I absolutely adore the voice acting placed in this entry, as cheesy as some of its delivery may be. A rarity, and an uncommon occurrence within Nintendo first party games. Sure its narrative is somewhat convoluted; a plumber, who had the intention of going away on holiday, framed for a crime he did not commit and is sentenced to clean Isle Delfino’s Graffiti problem. While the title’s prime antagonist resembles our moustachioed merchant, I found it inconceivable that the quirky natives (Pianta’s), could not distinguish the noticeable differences between the shadowy fiend and our chummy champion. Albeit this commences the title’s zany premise, and takes Mario on an incredible journey throughout the island resort. Progression throughout the campaign is dependent on your collection of Shine Sprites, the source of life behind Isle Delfino’s great monument, the Shine Gate
In essence, they replicate similar purpose of Super Mario 64’s Power Star progression system. The more power stars unlocked within each level, the further along the narrative continues. While Power Stars were primarily scouted within portraits in the title’s predecessor, Shine Sprites are scattered across Isle Delfino, within levels, hidden within the plaza itself, and of course can be unlocked by completing certain side-quests. Primary areas are unlocked within the premises, through graffiti portals left by Shadow Mario, and are activated by saturating the imitated “M” signature. However you may find yourself stumped at some point during your gameplay, and that’s where our cute dino creature comes into play. Yoshi’s presence allows us to gobble an assortment of delectable exotic fruits, enabling him to spout citric acid eliminating obstructions that allow us to enter new areas.
Feeding our viridian pet with a set of dedicated edibles changes the reptile’s complexion, and cue’s the player in on which version of the acid may eliminate a delegated roadblock. A difference highlighted here – also in use of F.L.U.D.D.’s default nozzle – is inverted controls have been reversed. Due to the omission of Analogue triggers on the Nintendo Switch, developers mapped out bumpers and triggers accordingly to suit players with a run-and-approach, by holding down “ZR”, while aim-lock has been designated to the “R” button. The left analogue stick will move in its intended 360° motion, however it may throw some players off without the traditional inverted controllers. It may take some time to get used to, but it’s honestly a non-issue.
While the title still runs at a locked 30fps, its marvelous re-res to 1080p boasts a bountiful improvement, displaying a gorgeous, vibrant overworld by the bay. Unlike the aforementioned predecessor, Nintendo granted their faithful with an extended look at the surrounding world with Sunshine’s first foray in 16:9. A stark difference between the Nintendo GameCube’s 480p resolution, and the Nintendo Switch’s Full HD output will tell you that once again, Nintendo have not simply ported the title over but have taken the time to remaster textures and UI to accommodate its new wave of players experiencing this joyous adventure for the first time. So strap on you pressure hose, throw on your Hawaiian shirt, splash on some Ray-Bans, then slip, slop and slap your way through one of Mario’s most diverse adventure’s yet.
Super Mario Galaxy, is the greatest 3D Mario title of all time. Period. I could end it there, but I’ll elaborate if I could indulge you for a few paragraphs. I may embellish a little given my everlasting love for this title, as it deserves an obscene amount of gilding. From its early beginnings as a simple tech demo, Super Mario Galaxy broke the mould and proceeded to deliver its most ambitious gameplay design to date, taking our crimson capped superhero beyond our earthly hemisphere. While our favourite plumber’s previous 3D title’s may have given players territorial freedom to roam in traditional platforming manner, Nintendo decided to take it up a notch and have players scope 360° spherical landscapes. While much of its core gameplay loop stays the same, the title deviates its framework from equilateral areas to multiple planets for Mario to traverse through.
In what will be the bundle’s most visible upgrade, Super Mario Galaxy runs as smooth as silk boasting a beautiful 1080p/60fps at its intended 16:9 aspect ratio. Textures are visibly redesigned and enhanced, while models have been slightly tweaked to officially label this revision a true remaster. While the Galaxy’s narrative reverts back to the well renowned ‘damsel in distress’ storyline, Bowser kidnaps Princess Peach after Mario receives an official invite to her castle, in hopes of gazing at the magical Star Festival that had been occurring that night. The King Koopa infiltrates the Kingdom’s courtyard with his furious flurry of airships, bombarding the land with cannon fodder while deploying his minion Kamek, to destroy the Kingdom and all earthly matter. In hopes of finally eliminating the plumber, Mario wakes on a mysterious planet inhabited by furry creatures that beg for his help.
Formally introduced to Rosalina, the Mother of all Luma’s – star shaped creatures that inhabit this universe – she asks for Mario’s help in defeating a foreboding foe that has spread darkness upon their world. Of course, she is referring to Bowser’s attempt in overruling the Galaxy. This sets Mario off on his cosmic chase to track down the evil Emperor, before he causes an anomaly of astronomic proportions and potentially destroys all matter. Power Stars make their return to the title, giving life to the game’s hub world known as “The Observatory”. Here you will find a subset of worlds containing respective levels that Mario may visit on multiple occasions, similar to his previous 3D adventures. Again, collecting Stars will progress your campaign unlocking new levels within each area. The similarities are drawn from Mario 64 in this feat, as you may unlock certain areas at your own leisure, deviating itself from the linear approach Sunshine demonstrated.
With Super Mario Galaxy’s initial release on the Nintendo Wii, its intent in purpose was to integrate the revolutionary Wii remote gyro-controls, accompanied with the infrared sensor bar for an enriching gameplay experience. Using the layered movement gave players the ability to waggle their remote or attached nunchuck, performing a spin attack ala Crash Bandicoot for simple enemy opposition, defence or heightened exploration. With Nintendo Switch’s joy-con controllers entailing far advanced technology, this feat was easily attainable but begged the question, how would players gather star bits without a pointer? Nintendo accomplished what I deemed unimaginable, with the ability to simply calibrate your pointer by pressing “R” on your right joy-con, and simply moving your pointer just as you were using a regular Wii Remote. It’s precision is fascinating.
Now here’s where the one blemish in this almost perfect port lies; handheld mode. Wanting to experience the title on the Nintendo Switch Mini, I cracked out the handheld exclusive version of the console just to take a quick peek at Nintendo’s optimal efforts within its core physical mechanics, and how it translated to a fixed unit. While omitting the waggle for simply pressing down on “Y” is a welcome addition, forcing players to collect levitating star bits by tapping on the Switch’s touch screen is quite intrusive. There are sequences where players need to avoid oncoming enemies and collect as many bits as possible. However I found it to be quite the challenge, almost an obstruction in its poorly optimised control scheme for handheld users. The title is playable in this format, but remains unideal.
Never the less, Super Mario Galaxy provides newcomers a way to experience this all time great. It holds itself in high esteem and provides timeless qualities that continue to inspire an entirely new wave of gaming today. Taking charge of Mario, in an out-of-this-world adventure, blasting off on an epic quest, traversing multiple planets within the Milky Way, and feeding tasty star bits to our plushy Luminaries, encourage and captivates us with this motivational masterpiece. It may be over a decade old, but Nintendo’s repurpose of Galaxy has proven it to be an inspirational time capsule for many who may have forgotten how good this game truly is. Emphasis on IS, not WAS. Super Mario Galaxy stands the test of time, and will forever be regarded as one of, if not the greatest Super Mario adventure, ever created.
Super Mario 3D All-Stars - Nintendo
Super Mario 64
Super Mario Sunshine
Super Mario Galaxy
Super Mario 3D All-Stars is a 2020 compilation of platform games for the Nintendo Switch. It commemorates the 35th anniversary of Nintendo’s Super Mario franchise, with high-definition ports of Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine, and Super Mario Galaxy.