After months of rumours, “leaks,” and “maybe next week”’s, the Super Mario 3D All-Stars collection for the Nintendo Switch was officially announced in a surprise Nintendo Direct last Thursday and it’s… kind of a mixed bag?
As a lifelong Nintendo fan and spineless consumer worm, I’ve already locked in my pre-order for a physical copy. Now that Nintendo have secured my money, let’s dive headlong into exactly why I’m an idiot before I go back to hypocritically sneering at Disney+ subscribers on Twitter (you actually paid that for Mulan!? You corporate thrall!).
In a move that has been described as “veritably Disneyan” by me, Nintendo have made the collection a limited time only release, both physically AND digitally. You have until March 31st, 2021 to have the honour and privilege of giving Nintendo your hard-earned money, you lucky so-and-so’s! After that, it’s gone! POOF! Delisted and unavailable to anyone who didn’t purchase it before that date.
This isn’t new territory for Nintendo who, despite their denials, have intentionally restricted the availability of their own products for years now. We saw it with the Wii back in 2007 and, more recently and most notably, with their Classic Mini consoles. Consumers struggled to even find units for sale, and the entire line has since been discontinued despite both being an enormous success.
The Classic Mini consoles aren’t expensive to produce, and the nostalgia Nintendo have cultivated for their games over the years effectively made these things a license to print money. There’s nothing inherently special about them—both contain identical, off-the-shelf components (An Allwinner R16 system, 4 ARM Cortex-A7 central processing units, an ARM Mali 400 MP2 GPU, 512 MB of flash storage, and 256 MB of DDR3 memory, to be precise)—in an admittedly charming plastic case resembling the original system. But by intentionally limiting the number of units available, Nintendo artificially increased its perceived value and desirability. Heck, I bought both. See, as I alluded to above, Nintendo REALLY wants to be Disney. They have for a long time, and the timed availability of Super Mario 3D All Stars is the most egregious example of this desire since, well, this:
Back in the day, Disney home video releases were similarly restricted. Movies would be made available for a limited time, before being put back in “The Vault”—a disappointingly not-literal treasure trove of Disney classics, sealed away and inaccessible to the public until ol’ Uncle Walt saw fit to re-release them. Snap ‘em up before they’re gone! Do you want to explain to your squawking children why they’re the only ones without The Lion King on VHS? Of course not. Hustle your bustle and buy that video!
It was a different time. But in the here and now, Nintendo have adopted this approach wholeheartedly. In generating enough of what I believe The Kids call “FOMO” (Fear Of Missing Out), Nintendo cultivates prestige around their characters and products. It’s undoubtedly the reason their Virtual Console services over the years have been so spartan. It’s all very anti-consumer… not that the video game industry has ever been pro-consumer.
But it works, clearly, because I’ve already bought it. I’m part of the problem, and if the kind of numbers Nintendo are doing these days are anything to go by, you likely are too. Shall we potentially drum up a bit of buyer’s remorse for ourselves by taking a peek at what’s in store?
Let’s-a-go, or something!
SUPER MARIO 64
The return of the king! Not quite. Given the release of a fan created “PC port” earlier this year, this bare bones re-release falls a bit flat.
Super Mario 64 has had an active and exciting romhacking scene for many years. From tweaks to the original game to full-blown sequels, fans have been using this classic as a platform for their creativity and willingness to do what Nintendon’t for a long time. However, a major development occurred in August 2019 when the game was decompiled and reverse engineered, producing a version of the game that runs natively on PC as a simple .exe file. Suddenly, all boundaries and limitations to what fans could do with Super Mario 64 evaporated. This year, their efforts were released to the public in the form of the “PC version” and a whole host of mods and other alterations that simply weren’t possible before. These range from the graphical, such as character models and textures, to control and camera tweaks. Recently, drastic changes to gameplay have emerged, such as the implementation of Mario’s entire move set from Super Mario Odyssey.
Naturally, Nintendo were never going to make any drastic alterations to the core gameplay. I’m not sure anybody wanted them to, either. It’s Mario 64! It’s great! But since the announcement of the upcoming collection, many fans have voiced disappointment at the lack of any changes whatsoever. It is, disappointingly, a straight up port of the original game, upscaled to 960 × 720 in both docked and handheld modes. It’s not even in widescreen! That stings, especially when I can compile a version of the game that looks like this in the time it took for me to write these last two paragraphs:
Naturally, the legwork required to obtain this fan port means the vast majority of players are unlikely to experience the game this way. But knowing it’s out there, seeing what could have been, surely neuters this third of the collection somewhat.
SUPER MARIO SUNSHINE
While undoubtedly the most divisive game in the collection, Super Mario Sunshine is the title that should benefit the most from this rerelease at first glance. It looks gorgeous (1920 × 1080 docked, 1280 × 720 handheld) and was designed with a traditional controller in mind. Almost.
The GameCube controller has analog triggers, allowing for different inputs depending on how far you press the trigger. The Switch Joycons and Pro Controller, with their digital triggers, don’t allow for this functionality. Controlling FLUDD (Mario’s back-mounted water propulsion… thing) required these two different inputs to gauge the pressure of Mario’s bursts. While I’m sure Nintendo must have found an adequate solution to this, it’s worth noting that this might impact gameplay, if only a little. Oddly enough, this version is not compatible with a GameCube controller despite the existence of the GameCube controller adapter.
SUPER MARIO GALAXY
Super Mario Galaxy will look glorious, because it’s Super Mario Galaxy, and it always looks glorious. That flawless art direction in “up to” 1920 x 1080 (1280 x 720 handheld) resolution is probably worth the price of entry alone. It seems the JoyCons are capable of replicating the Wiimote pointer functionality of the original, and listings do state that the Pro Controller is compatible, though this may be an error. That would be too good to be true.
In handheld mode, the pointer functionality is served by the touch screen, which sounds awkward, but far from a deal breaker.
SUPER MARIO GALAXY 2
… is missing!
That’s right, the undisputed king of linear-flavoured 3D Mario is nowhere to be found! Why? DUNNO! Nintendo sure aren’t telling. As well as being absent from the collection, they also omitted Galaxy 2 from their montage of Mario titles at the end of the Direct presentation. Why they’re happy to admit to the existence of the New Super Mario Bros. line of abominations but seemingly ashamed of one of the greatest video games of all time is beyond me. Perhaps they have other plans for it. Time will tell. Or it won’t. You can never be sure with Nintendo.
£49.99 well spent?