We analyze the compilation of Super Mario 64, Sunshine and Galaxy for Nintendo Switch. Quality games, lazy compilation.
Mario celebrates 35 years. And it was an open secret that Nintendo was preparing a compilation for Switch with some of the most legendary games of the plumber. The lack of a major event such as E3 and the impact of the Coronavirus on the company’s day-to-day activities meant that an announcement surely planned for before summer ended up coming to the fore a little over a week ago and nothing for its release in sight . Super Mario 64, Sunshine and Galaxy in the 3D All-Stars, following in the wake of the legendary Super Nintendo compilation. It happens like with Messi and Barça. The quality of the former is not disputed, but by itself it cannot hold a pack that is not up to par.
Because the first thing that stands out is the what and how. On the one hand, we find a pack that surely forgets its best representative (if we forget the historical component of Mario 64). Super Mario Galaxy 2 is an absence that is difficult to understand. Because it is a masterpiece. Because the compilation does not come after a job of remodeling and improving the games that has been a great job, and because if we talk about the star 3D games, your best player can never be missing. It is also surprising how: a compilation at 60 euros and for a limited time, until March 2021 both in physical and digital. A movement that pushes you to buy it now and that prevents you from thinking, in any case, about a future reduction in its price. It’s now or never. And at that price.
One of the recurring debates in a criticism of a video game is to talk about what it brings and not what it could be. And the answer is yes, but if the objective is a 3D tribute to Mario, the absence is notorious. And the treatment of the games, could be improved. Another debate on the table is whether the classics should be retouched and if everything should be a remake. Surely the answer is no to the latter, but if current technology allows small changes that adapt the experience to the new console, in this case, Switch, it is not negligible. Maybe Mario 64 with Oddyssey graphics is not necessary, but a 16: 9 scaling would not have been bad, for example.
Because in the end, the feeling is that the games have not been treated as their legacy deserves and as the possibilities of the Nintendo Switch allow. And it has a bittersweet point. Because Mario 64 is still a historic game in the industry. And because Galaxy is plain and simple a masterpiece. And between those two waters navigates 3D All-Stars: between the genius of its games and its presence on Switch, as one who serves in bulk.
Super Mario 64, living history of the video game
To talk about Super Mario 64 is to talk about the living history of the video game. From a title that opened wide the doors of the 3D worlds on the console and marked the way forward. More than 24 years have passed since his departure. And it remains a masterpiece ahead of its time. Finishing one of those games we grew up with again serves to realize how high I was already aiming in the mid-nineties. A title in which exploration and adventure took on a new meaning over the non-stop jumps, also present. Also demanding. It’s easy for memory with Mario 64 to go to Bob-omb Battlefield, Cool, Cool Mountain or even Boo’s haunted house. But the reality is that the game hid much more than those iconic places.
Challenges like Lethal Lava Land, varied races, gambling monkeys, or the two faces of Tiny – Huge Island, a world in which we had to be big or small according to each moment, were the other part of a masterful painting. With its great virtues and defects. Some of them in a control that today could still give us some scare in jumps and narrow corridors, others in certain uninspired stars, especially the aquatic ones (Dire, Dire Docks, for example).
Mario 64’s way of making us interact with our surroundings is part of the time it came out, but it still works. In addition, it has a component that Sunshine does not offer (Galaxy does, to a lesser extent) and that is the possibility of freely exploring and scratching a star not foreseen in the script. That freedom is still a value 24 years later.
Playing Super Mario 64 today is realizing that we are facing a masterful test bench. A title designed to exploit the benefits of the Nintendo 64 controller. That so revolutionary of running or walking according to the pressure of the stick. To calculate and calibrate the different types of jumps. And to explore freely. In general, except for some control problems and especially a camera that could have been improved with current technology (that continues to have ‘stops’ and leaves us sold, it could have been revised without tarnishing the original work), the title is still just as essential . You can see the weight of time, but it maintains the essence that made it great. In this version, unfortunately, we find that it can only be played at 4: 3 resolution (another incomprehensible decision) and that it arrives in English. It may be a minor detail, because there is not much text, but in a game that is to read the title of the star and deduce what to do, a translation that if it was in the Nintendo DS version would have been appreciated.
Super Mario Sunshine, time is not wasted
Sunshine has always been a game with a mixed reception. Not in evaluations, since his average marks were high, but in the feelings of the Mario fan. We are not a few who always saw it below expectations in a 3D Mario, and more after Super Mario 64, but time passed and many of us thought that perhaps we had it frowned upon. In fact, his return and his presence in the compilation was a prominent element. Get back that game to revalue it. Time, unfortunately, is not wasted. And the reality is that Sunshine is surely the one that has worsened the worst of the three because deep down, being a very good title, it was already the least powerful of all.
The title is a constant ups and downs in the gaming experience, and the way to trust the main mechanics to ACUAC, the gadget that Mario finds at the beginning of his vacation and that will help him to end the evil Dark Mario, ends up weighing down the overall experience . Throughout our game until we reached the minimum 70 suns to be able to face the final boss, we saw more clearly the great problems of Sunshine, already present at the time. A debatable level design, with a certainly frustrating trial and error in several moments (as in the Espresso Port) due to problems such as a camera that decides to rotate minimally at the right time to make us fail the jump, as well as too much filling with suns in the form of red coins, blue coins and repeating bosses.
Sunshine can be seen to have wanted to reach 120 soles because Mario 64 had them, and that takes its toll. As it happens, too, a much more linear development in the search for suns than its predecessor. Although everything written sounds overwhelming, the reality is that the game also has bright lines. The phases without the ACUAC are a challenge and the best of the title. It was something that some of us had as our main memory, and that is reinforced here. Certain boss fights are also of interest, such as the giant squid. But when you face him for the third time … The freshness of which he shows in many moments is diluted in too many others. And so you navigate in Sunshine. Between the frustration for the phases in the high beams and constructions of Puerto Espresso with much more convincing and rewarding climbs like the ones we did in Cala del Sole.
A version, by the way, that looks in high definition and at 16: 9, with a treatment of the water that continues to surprise even today, but that adds framerate drops to the camera problems when we chase Dark Mario around the city, and the lack of some mechanics present in the original game. In it, with the Gamecube controller, we could calibrate the water power that we launched with the trigger, something that is not allowed with the Switch controls.
Galaxy, a waste of imagination
And we come to the jewel in the crown of the 3D All-Star collection. We’ve gotten so used to saying that Galaxy 2 is a better game, that we forget that the first Super Mario Galaxy is still a masterpiece. A 10. A waste of imagination that even today, playing as an outsider in Oddyssey territory, is capable of surprising and feeling as current as 13 years ago. Nintendo’s first galactic plumber adventure was a total disruption to what we had seen thus far. In Mario 64 and Sunshine our character interacted in three-dimensional worlds with established rules. In Galaxy, these were smashed into pieces. It was the world that was alive and interacting with us. A game that continues to blow your mind.
It’s hard to stick with a specific Galaxy mechanic, which feels as current as the first day. In part, also, because being the HD version that came out on Nvidia (China), it is the one that looks the best of all visually. And because the soundtrack, orchestrated and always recalling classics from the saga, is worthy of being heard in the auditorium. Mario defies all the laws of gravity, and this changes everything throughout the search for the different stars and max stars.
The difficulty drops a few notches from its predecessors, but the game is so slick that it makes up for that with a near-constant ability to surprise. Jump between planets changing from one gravity to another, lateral scrolling phases where we will literally run backwards. Switches that change the laws of physics, enemies that spin on small planets while we hit their trajectory, original power-ups like Bee Mario, Dock Mario or Ice Mario. An interaction with enemies and the environment far superior to what has been seen so far. And final bosses with a great staging. A game that balances action, exploration and the platform amidst fireworks in which the player is a participant. Their interaction and progress through the worlds completely changes them.
The variety of stars, each phase posed to the millimeter as if it were unique (even those that have a common purpose, such as collecting certain parts of objects) and simply memorable galaxies, such as a Toy Box that appears when you are already going towards the final boss and It turns out to be another turn of the screw to what seemed to have given all the possible ringlets, they are the culmination of the longest game and with the most secrets of the three. And more beautiful, also for that precious story about Estela (Koizumi’s hand here was key) and for that masterful artistic direction.
Its only problem is that the motion control, both for hunting stardust and for some phases (such as those when we roll on top of a ball or navigate inside a bubble) suffers in portable mode, the least precise of all (the control happens to be the touch screen) and it is not the best, although it is acceptable, with the Pro remote control. Something that ends up limiting the best possible experience to the separate joy-con, where the response is precise. It is not serious with the controller, but it is much less satisfactory in portable mode.
The compilation closes with little fanfare and little extras. We have the possibility to listen to the soundtrack of the three titles, but whoever expects sketches, art, stories and other elements that never remain in this type of collections, will be disappointed.
To Super Mario 3D All-Stars what we have seen many times with other compilations or returns of great games happens. Where the quality of the titles, especially Mario 64 and Galaxy, is impeccable and remains valid today, but the way to recover them is far from living up to its legacy and its history. Both for the treatment and extras of the three recovered games and for the omission of Galaxy 2 in the compilation. A 35th anniversary deserved something much more complete and worked, especially coming at a novelty price and with an expiration date a few months away. This pack also demonstrates the difficulty of evaluating certain products. All three games are high-level and two of them are masterpieces; If you have never played them before, it is an opportunity that you cannot miss. But on the other hand, the compilation is vague and lazy. It is not necessary to do a remake from scratch to retouch and adapt those details that the original works need to fit perfectly today, something that does not happen here. Mario offers the quality we remembered, but he deserved something much more ambitious.
- Super Mario 64, a historical game that keeps the type and is essential to understand the saga
- Galaxy looks and controls the best, and it’s still as good as when it came out
- Sunshine’s best stages are still at a very high level
- Unambitious compilation, with no improvements and additions for the price it brings
- Sunshine, for irregular and some camera and control problems, pales before the other two
- Motion controls on Galaxy when in portable mode
- Without Galaxy 2 and on sale with an expiration date, two very debatable decisions
It meets the expectations of what a good game is, has quality and does not present serious flaws, although it is missing elements that could have taken it to higher levels.