Super Mario Galaxy, one of three classic Mario games on the new compilation Super Mario 3D All-stars. Photo: Nintendo
If you want to feel old then this should do it; Mario, Nintendo’s video game icon, has just turned 35. Yikes.
In honour of this very happy birthday, Nintendo’s released Super Mario 3D All-Stars, a collection of the portly plumber’s very first three 3D adventures. These games saw the moustachioed hero leaping out of the constraints of the flat side-scrolling worlds of gaming’s early era and into the freedom of movement and exploration afforded by the march of technology.
As someone who grew up with these games, this makes for an incredibly nostalgic collection. I remember my mind being blown by Mario’s acrobatics in 1997’s Mario64, being equal parts wowed and frustrated by 2002’s colourful Super Mario Sunshine and nipping home from work during lunch breaks to squeeze in a quick level or two of Super Mario Galaxy back in 2007.
These games not only ushered in the 3D video game revolution but also set the benchmark with their intoxicating blend of accessible yet challenging gameplay, tech innovations and fiendishly addictive platforming puzzles.
So it’s a bit disappointing this celebratory collection is bereft of new features or fun extras. You can play their soundtracks and . . . that’s it.
The games have been given an HD spit and polish to bring them somewhat closer to modern standard but sadly not a proper graphical makeover as when Microsoft splashed out on for Halo CE: Anniversary, the 10th anniversary re-release of their flagship shooter.
It feels like a wasted opportunity and it’s hard to not be gutted about it. Mario64 especially suffers, the game’s graphics will be either crude or charming depending on how powerful are your nostalgia goggles. The other two have aged incredibly well, and do look great in HD widescreen, but it’s hard to not think of what could have been.
This, however, is what we have and the gameplay of these classic titles remains as fun, challenging and charming as ever. There’s a reason these games are so lauded. They’re all exceptional platformers that have withstood the test of time.
So although Super Mario 3D All-Stars may be as bare-bones as it comes, it’s got it where it counts.
Game: Super Mario 3D All-stars
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Verdict: Not really a gold star effort from Nintendo but you can’t complain about three true classics for the price of one.