Super Mario 3D All Stars Benny Kong

It’s Mario Time – Super Mario 3D All-Stars Announcement Time

It has been rumored for quite some time over the course of 2020: A notorious Super Mario 3D Collection will hit the Nintendo Switch. Obviously one of the worst kept secrets in Nintendo’s video gaming year 2020 so far!

First brought to light by VGC back in March 2020 and eventually announced by Nintendo during a dedicated Super Mario Bros. 35th Anniversary Direct on September 3, 2020, we finally know the what, and the when: The long-rumoured Super Mario 3D All-Stars collection will be available for Nintendo Switch, September 18, 2020.

Cued in by a “It’s a me, Mario”, the Super Mario 3D All-Stars announcement trailer answered some essential questions on the contents of this collection.

Get Ready for Mario’s 35th anniversary with Super Mario 3D All-Stars for Nintendo Switch!

First things first – what can we expect? The collection will include optimized versions of following classic 3D platformers:

  • Super Mario 64 (Nintendo 64, 1996): improved picture resolution, 4:3 visuals (720p docked and portable)
  • Super Mario Sunshine (GameCube, 2002): higher-resolution, 16:9 visuals (1080p docked, 720p portable)
  • Super Mario Galaxy (Wii, 2007): 16:9 visuals, 1080p docked, 720p portable.

All 3 iconic games will feature Joy-Con controls as well as Pro Controller support. The bundle will also contain an in-game music player mode that allows you to listen to a catalogue of 175 timeless Super Mario tunes.

It’s feels super-right to finally have these three Mario titles from three different console generations bundled up for Nintendo Switch:

Interestingly it seems that Nintendo never revealed a blockbuster game with such a short notice: Based on the day of the announcement, Super Mario 3D All-Stars* will hit physical and digital shelves only 15 (fifteen) days later. And another super important fact:

The collection will be available as a limited-run retail edition and a digital version that will be only on sale until March 2021. This limited-time only aspect caused a lot of polarization among both players and collectors and will be discussed later on in this article.

No Love for Super Mario Galaxy 2?

Since the idea of a Super Mario 3D All-Stars collection first leaked, the aspect whether Super Mario Galaxy 2 will be part of the collection or not was speculated heavily. As we know now, at the time of writing, the Wii game from 2010 will not be included in this Nintendo Switch 35th Anniversary celebration edition. This is surprising, since for many players, Super Mario Galaxy 2 is considered better than its predecessor, Super Mario Galaxy:

One leading opinion for Super Mario Galaxy 2 as the better overall game is that the level design is by far more creative, there are more stars to be found, it’s the longer game and Yoshi makes his debut in Super Mario Galaxy 2 and introduces new gameplay mechanics. As I actually haven’t played Super Mario Galaxy 2 myself yet (but I have it in my Wii collection), I can’t take any side here.

So why is Nintendo excluding Super Mario Galaxy 2 from Super Mario 3D All-Stars? And more interestingly: Why hasn’t Nintendo even mentioned the Wii game in their entire Super Mario Bros. 35th Anniversary Direct? Everybody that doesn’t know better, could claim Super Mario Galaxy 2 doesn’t even exist.

For sure, Big N doesn’t need to justify their decision why not re-releasing a certain game, but gives us players and collectors certainly room to speculate now.

Looking at the commercial side, Super Mario Galaxy 2 hasn’t sold that well as Super Mario Galaxy did (7.41 Mio. units vs 12.8 Mio.). But Super Mario Galaxy 2 outperformed Super Mario Sunshine regarding sales units (6.28 Mio.). This could be based on the fact that the Wii has a much bigger installation base than the GameCube has. Nevertheless, I don’t think that Nintendo’s decision to not include Super Mario Galaxy 2 in the Super Mario 3D All-Stars collection was a sales-driven one. To me it seems that Nintendo may have further plans with Super Mario Galaxy 2.

Maybe there is a new Super Mario Galaxy 3 in development, and to market this release most efficiently, we will get a separate Super Mario Galaxy 1 & 2 collection to create momentum? Or we might even get an entire Super Mario Galaxy collection, including Super Mario Galaxy 1 -3? Or maybe more realistically – but still wishful thinking: There are still a lot of ideas that haven’t been used for Super Mario Galaxy 2 and we will get a Super Mario Galaxy 2 – The Lost Galaxies release?

I’d love all of that! But I honestly wouldn’t appreciate when the only reason why Super Mario Galaxy 2 is not on the Super Mario 3D All-Stars cartridge is that Nintendo can release the title separately later on. For sure Nintendo could have ran into some development delay and haven’t managed to finish the Super Mario Galaxy 2 remaster to be ready for the 35th Anniversary collection.

Or Nintendo simply didn’t want to flood the market with too many Super Mario releases and overwhelm players with too many options? But when, when not during the Super Mario’s 35th Anniversary celebrations?

My Thoughts on the Limited Run Aspect

Another controversial aspect is Nintendo’s limited-run policy on this release: As we learnt, Super Mario 3D All-Stars will only be on sale from September 18, 2020 until March 2021, physically and digitally. The physical boxed version is a limited run print that can be bought as long as supply lasts, whereas the digital version will be removed from point of sale at the end of March 2021. These practices arouse a lot of question marks among the Nintendo community, but is not completely new:

In 2010, Nintendo released the Super Mario Bros. 25th Anniversary collection for Wii. The compilation contained the four classic Super Mario Bros. games from the NES area, combined together with a booklet detailing the history of the series and an audio soundtrack of the platforming games of the Mario series.

But the interesting part of the story is that the collection was a limited run as well: Despite the “Limited Edition” aspect, Nintendo issued re-prints of the Wii retail version under the Nintendo Selects label in 2016. However, this 2016 re-release did not contain any bonus material though. So can we maybe expect that Nintendo will also be doing a re-run of the Super Mario 3D All-Stars collection at some point? Time will tell.

So what the physical limited print is concerned that’s not completely new. But today we are also talking about a delisting of the digital version of Super Mario 3D All-Stars at the end of March 2021, which is being criticized a lot. In general one could argue that special anniversary collections are quite common in all industries – may it be music albums, clothing, cologne, or even cars. All kinds of brands are bundling up certain goodies to celebrate a variety of occasions, and customers can benefit from these special offers. Are these certain purchase opportunities extended, special collections are usually not purchasable in the way they used to be in this special timeframe. One was lucky to snag this limited edition, whereas others were missing out (and are complaining now).

Although we are mainly talking about physical goods here, I think honestly, that this also can apply to digital goods: 

Nintendo is giving us a window to buy a special product to celebrate Mario’s 35th Anniversary – so should I still be able to buy this dedicated 35th Anniversary product in 2023, when Mario celebrates his 38th birthday? Maybe there will be even a better product out in three years?

The fact that Nintendo is releasing three iconic platformers in one collection at a fair price, should be considered as a gift – and not being taken for granted. All three games could be also released individually at a later stage, but that’s usually not that handy from a customer standpoint as having the games bundled up in one collection. We don’t know what plans Nintendo has for all of these three games in the future. But one’s for certain: Nintendo needs to protect their titles’ individual value, their Intellectual Property (IP), and not dilute the value by having too many releases out there. The argument that Super Mario Sunshine sees its first digital re-release since the GameCube release in 2002, supports this value protection approach.

Nintendo is entertaining us with Mario games since 1985 and provides us with tons of hours of gameplay – but Nintendo is also running a successful business that needs to be sustainable. And protecting the business’ IP by carefully balancing the amount of re-releases per title, is an essential aspect and understandable approach in my mind.  

My Verdict on this 3 in 1 Collection

I think it’s great to finally have these three iconic 3D platformers with Super Mario 3D All-Stars on one cartridge – or available as one download. And that’s why I also pre-ordered a physical copy (actually even two physical copies for collecting purposes), and given the limited nature of this release, I even consider buying the digital version. 

Since I only 100%’ed Super Mario 64 so far and never finished Super Mario Sunshine or Super Mario Galaxy, I’m really looking forward to revisiting these games on Nintendo Switch. My plan is to play them all in chronological order to witness the evolution of Mario’s 3D adventures at best.

As Super Mario 64 is one of my favorite games of all time, I can’t wait to play it on Nintendo Switch – despite the fact that I beat it a couple of times on my Nintendo 64, and completed the game even on the Wii U back in 2016. Nintendo also released a digital version of Super Mario Galaxy for Wii U in 2015, but since you were required to play the game with Wii Remote and Nunchuk, I never purchased that version digitally for Wii U. The motion controls aspect was actually the reason why I was never that much into that classic game from 2007. So I’m really excited to dig into the game – playing with my Pro Controller. What Super Mario Sunshine is concerned, this is the very first time that we will get a ported version of the GameCube platformer – what may explain the hype on this release. And also my hype – as the Benny Kong guy, that never finished the game back in 2002.  

But there are also some downsides of Super Mario 3D All-Stars:

As highlighted earlier, there are a lot of criticisms that Super Mario Galaxy 2 is not part of the Super Mario 3D All-Stars collection – and I’m honestly disappointed here as well. The fact that the platformer is missing may be due to several reasons, but there are even some scenarios, which will make it up to us. So even though Super Mario Galaxy 2 is not included in the 35th Anniversary collection, doesn’t mean necessary that the game will not be released on Nintendo Switch at some point. 

Another downside of this Super Mario 3D All-Stars collection we are getting for Nintendo Switch is the aspect that the package only contains optimized versions of the games. At the time of writing we don’t know exactly if Nintendo has some surprises planned since we only know the trailer so far, but currently we are promised higher resolutions and an optimized gameplay experience for Nintendo Switch.

I honestly also thought that we will get proper remastered versions, such as Activision’s Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy* or Spyro Reignited Trilogy* which are actually remaked versions – often also categorized as remasters. But to me, we have to differentiate between a remaster, which is usually just some (quick) fixes and improvements of the resolution, e.g. HD coat of paint, additions of new effects, improved interfaces etc, or a full remake. The amount of work for a remake is considerably higher, since in Activision’s case, the games were built from the scratch using a different engine, what’s the reason why the Crash or Spyro Trilogy versions are absolutely stunning and provide a gorgeous visual improved experience, as you can see below:  

Honestly I also wished that at least Super Mario 64 will be a remake, instead of only applying resolution updates and releasing it as a remaster – what is basically an enhanced port. It’d have been so amazing to see new assets such textures for walls or the grass, as Nintendo demonstrated already in the Mushroom Kingdom in Super Mario Odyssey:

Wouldn’t this be wonderful? I was really hopeful that Super Mario 64 will be a remake, giving the gratitude of this game – and the occasion, as it’s Mario’s 35th Anniversary. And! Nintendo is not new to remakes! Nintendo also remade the Super Mario Bros. series from the NES and bundled them into a Super Mario All-Stars collection for the Super NES in 1993. 

Not only had every game in Super Mario All-Stars been remade; brand new and totally redrawn graphics utilizing the rich colour palette of the Super Nintendo, Nintendo also added the western release of the Japanese Super Mario Bros. 2, presented here as Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels, to the collection.

That’s exactly what most of us also wished for Super Mario 3D All-Stars for Nintendo Switch: Getting a remake with some gameplay goodies, such as additional playable content, instead of an optimized remaster with a music player.

So what about you? Are you happy with Super Mario 3D All-Stars? Have you pre-ordered already? Which game will you be playing first? Let me know in the comments section!

* Affiliate link: In case you haven’t bought Super Mario 3D All-Stars yet or just you would like to support the blog, using my affiliate links for Amazon or PlayAsia would mean a galaxy to me. Not to get rich, just to get the blog going. Thank you for your support!