“Super Mario 3D All-Stars” celebrates Mario’s 35th anniversary in style

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Image courtesy of Nintendo

Hey now, you’re an all-star in this new Nintendo collection of the best classic Mario games.

Shreyas Banerjee, A&E Editor

Mario is synonymous with video games. After practically saving the video game industry in 1985 with the release of “Super Mario Bros.” on the Nintendo Entertainment System, Mario and his ongoing series of platformers has become a staple of every generation of video games—making him an icon in his own right and a mascot for gaming in general. The core mechanics of Mario games are incredibly simple, boiling down to running and jumping, but this accessibility, as well as the amazing feel of the mechanics, has led to millions falling in love with the character and the franchise. Since its inception, game after game has been lauded as critical masterpieces.

My first experience with Mario—and also one of my first experiences playing video games, in general—came when I was in an after-school care program, waiting for my parents to pick me up whenever they were done with work. In the corner of one room was an old Nintendo 64, a console from the 1990s, loaded with the cartridge for “Super Mario 64.” As I booted it up, I was greeted by a castle that I could freely explore, as well as paintings leading to different worlds with problems to solve and “stars” to collect. It was all too much for my little five-year-old mind, and led to me being excited every day to play it while waiting for my parents. It probably had a similar enchanting effect on many others back when it was released in 1996, with the game being one of the first to make the transition from 2D to 3D graphics and gameplay. While many franchises crashed and burned during this time, Mario made that leap almost effortlessly, making a game that still stands up to this day.

Excited for more Mario, I went through my best friend’s game collection to find something to play, and found “Super Mario Sunshine,” originally released on the Nintendo GameCube in 2002. After being falsely accused of polluting the island by a corrupt judicial system,Mario uses a water gun to clean up paint off of the tropical island of Delfino. With the water gun, Mario’s moveset opens up considerably as he explores the tropical setting to clear his name. I only played it for a few hours; with all the new mechanics, the overly bright visuals and obnoxious “game over” sound, it was probably too much for me. I eventually just got “New Super Mario Bros.” for my Nintendo DS to fill my Mario cravings, as it provided a more simple 2D experience.

I didn’t play another 3D Mario game for a while. That is, until the holiday season of 2009 when I got my hands on “Super Mario Galaxy.” Despite being released two years earlier on the Nintendo Wii, I had no interest in the game at the time, but my parents dropped it on me as a surprise so I checked it out. And boy oh boy was I gobsmacked. Usually when franchises are struggling, an easy plot solution is to go to space, like “Friday the 13th” with “Jason X” or the James Bond series with “Moonraker.” This was not so with “Super Mario Galaxy.” The game utilizes the freedom inherent in space to the greatest extent, sending Mario across planets to visit various cultures and civilizations, while spinning through stars and flying through galaxies. The orchestral score gives the whole game an epic feeling and tightly crafted levels use Mario’s platforming skills to their limits. With every level there is always a new locale, a new mechanic, a new platforming challenge and a new physics system to have fun with. Running and jumping around planetoids was never so fun.

Since then, I’ve been hooked, with each new Mario release becoming a must-have. From “Super Mario Galaxy 2” to “Super Mario 3D World” to “Super Mario Odyssey,” and older entries in the series—I have them all. Now, with the 35th anniversary of “Super Mario Bros.” this September, Nintendo is releasing a collection of their 3D classics called “Super Mario 3D All-Stars.” This new release mirrors the 1993 compilation of remakes of 2D Mario games which Nintendo released for the Super Nintendo Entertainment system just called “Super Mario All-Stars.” This new “All-Stars” includes “Super Mario 64,” “Super Sunshine” and “Super Mario Galaxy,” all remastered to a high-definition resolution on their latest console, the Nintendo Switch. Playable now on high-definition TVs and portable gaming consoles, these games have never played so well. Even “Sunshine” shines, though perhaps not as brightly as the other two, but all three games are well worth a playthrough. For $60, it is a bit pricey for a collection of old games, but for these masterpieces and the new ability to play them on the go, it might well be worth it. Whether it’s your first time or your tenth playthrough, “Super Mario 3D All-Stars” has a little something for everyone. Grab it while you can, since it will have limited availability until March.