Having played a little of each of the games on the set, and having 100% completed Super Mario 64, I wanted to share my thoughts and get the comparative thoughts of others on the games, not the quality of the collection itself.
Super Mario 64
Nostalgia: I received Super Mario 64 as a Christmas present in 1996 alongside my N64 console. It took me a month to get all 120 stars. I felt like I played the heck out of it, and loved it. While playing it, Super Mario 64 felt utterly groundbreaking and unique compared to every game I had ever played before. I remember it for being a great world to explore, controlling Mario to be fun and precise, and the camera largely working enough to allow me to feel like I always had a good view of the action.
Modern Impressions: Definitely rougher than my memories would suggest. I last played Super Mario 64 in 2007 or 2008 on the Wii Virtual Console and I remember having some control issues. I also had control issues with the DS version, but who didn't? Unfortunately, I had some similar issues now. Mario doesn't turn on a dime; he has to walk in a small circle before turning, which I believe was not as bad of an issue with the N64 control stick. The biggest problem is the camera. It's terrible by modern standards. Getting 100 coins in Tick Tock Clock (even with time frozen) and Rainbow Cruise can be trials of attrition, where the camera is a more challenging opponent than the stages themselves. I also found Tiny Huge Island to be annoying because of slopes that caused Mario to fall into the abyss more often than my playing probably warranted. Still, the level design, particularly for the first half of the game and the castle, remains top-notch, and the soundtrack holds up extraordinarily well.
Super Mario Sunshine
Nostalgia: I remember being disappointed by this game on a number of levels. First, it launched in the end of August of 2002 in North America. It felt like it would have been the perfect June game due to the tropical vacation theme. It made a difference for me because it came out about a week before I went back to school. Second, I was in high school at the time, and the story sequences seemed extremely juvenile. It felt like a game that was just beneath me at the time in terms of its presentation, like it was clearly made for younger players when the N64 game felt like it was more of an all-ages affair. I had a similar feeling about Luigi's Mansion and especially Mario Kart Double Dash. Wind Waker too, until I played it and realized that it was decidedly not just a kids game. To this day, it's the only 3D Mario platformer I haven't 100%'d, and that includes grinding out all 999 stars in Odyssey. When I finished it, I had no interest in getting the remaining 50 Shines. I didn't like FLUDD or the water shooting mechanic at all. The best part of the game was the challenging platform sections.
Modern Impressions: I haven't touched this game since 2002. It's better than I remember it being, but the story sequences are still terrible. The visuals on the Switch are pretty good. The platform sections are still very challenging. FLUDD still kind of sucks. In general, it's not a ton better than my memories suggest. I plan on getting all 120 Shines this time around, but 3 worlds in, it largely aligns with my memories of my first playthrough.
Super Mario Galaxy
Nostalgia: I got this one at launch in 2007 and it was phenomenal. I was definitely over the gimmicky motion controls for the Wii, but they worked in this game. The visuals were great for their time and the music was some of the series' best. I also liked the story, which was in sharp contrast to my feelings on Sunshine's story.
Modern Impressions: Somewhat ironically, I feel there's a tad too much story in this one. That's my only complaint though. This game holds up well, and is the absolute best game in 3D All Stars. The music remains incredible, the visuals on the Switch are phenomenal in HD, and the overall game design is truly fantastic. Of the three on this set, this is the only one that's actually better than it was originally, largely because the Pro Controller makes it more fun to play.
I'm curious to hear other comparative impressions from people who have played both versions of all 3 games. Did they hold up for you when compared to your memories of them?
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