”Super Mario 3D All-Stars” tells a story. On the surface, this collection of games is all about Nintendo’s famous mascot rescuing Princess Peach from Bowser’s clutches. He does this in “Super Mario 64,” “Super Mario Sunshine” and “Super Mario Galaxy.” It’s a well-worn plot that never changes, though the journey does.
But if players think about the compilation as a whole, they’ll discover a tale of a franchise discovering itself — as Nintendo introduced its fans to the idea of a 3-D Mario, how it experimented too much and failed, but then regained its footing while perfecting its platforming formula. “Super Mario 3D All-Stars” lets fans new and old reconnect with the titles that have molded the genre.
Instead of linear levels where players go from point A to point B, the first game in the collection, “Super Mario 64,” turned the levels into playgrounds. The developers created missions and the maps became a template where these tasks take place. It was a revelation back in 1996, though on the Nintendo Switch “64” shows its age. Textures and models look primitive compared with subsequent titles.
Nintendo tried to expand on those concepts in “Super Mario Sunshine.” The black sheep of the franchise, it was plagued by excess. The developers went wild with ideas, throwing in a partner for Mario called FLUDD, short for Flash Liquidizer Ultra Dousing Device. For all its flaws, the developers learned valuable lessons.
Nintendo finally got its blueprint right with “Super Mario Galaxy.” This game alone is enough to justify buying the collection. As the name implies, “Galaxy” takes place in space and focuses on unusual worlds. Mario circles around it, sometimes moving upside down or walking on walls. The game even has a FLUDD-like component with the ability to shoot Star Bits at foes, but this time around, players fire by pointing and clicking via the Joy-Con controller or by tapping the Switch’s touchscreen.
When it comes to extras, “Super Mario 3D All-Stars” doesn’t have much. Players do have access to the soundtracks of the three games. That’s a plus for those who love the games’ music, but like the rest of the effort, Nintendo could have gone the extra mile.