The new Mario Nintendo Switch Collection is not worthy of the All-Stars name

Super Mario 3D All-Stars
Super Mario 3D All-Stars (Image credit: Nintendo)

After months of heady rumors around a series of remasters for some of the most beloved Mario games out there – in celebration of Mario’s 35-year anniversary as one of gaming’s most iconic, well, icons – we finally have confirmation. Nintendo Switch is getting a Mario 3D All-Stars trilogy featuring Mario 64 (1997), Super Mario Sunshine (2002), and Super Mario Galaxy (2007) – but it’s not quite the good news it may seem on the surface.

Nintendo has been here before, with 1993’s Super Mario All-Stars, which landed on the SNES and contained four classic 2D Mario games initially released on the NES: Super Mario Bros, Super Mario Bros: The Lost Levels, Super Mario Bros 2, and Super Mario Bros 3. This compilation remastered every level for the upgraded hardware, with updated graphics and music – and went on to become a critically-acclaimed bestseller.

Mario 3D All-Stars is a similar venture, with each of three games – flagship 3D titles from across the Nintendo 64, GameCube, and Wii – getting a resolution upgrade, as well as an improved frame rate, it seems, over their original iterations. “In addition to having higher resolutions than their original versions, the games have been optimised for a smooth gameplay experience on Nintendo Switch,” we’re told. 

While it’s not quite the level-by-level overhaul of the last All-Stars compilation – which admittedly would be a massive undertaking – you’re still getting three beloved Mario games in one bundle, with the benefits of modern-day hardware.

So far, so good – but there’s a big issue with Nintendo’s release strategy.

Super Mario Sunshine (2002) is one of three 3D games included

Super Mario Sunshine (2002) is one of three 3D games included (Image credit: Nintendo)

As many angry gamers will have noticed, Mario 3D All-Stars is only available for a ‘limited release’ for both physical and digital versions, meaning you can only buy it during a six-month window (from September 18, 2020 to March 31, 2021).

A press release tells us that, “The packaged version software is a limited-time only production, and the digital version will be a limited-time only release until the end of March 2021. Super Mario 3D All-Stars is available to pre-order from Nintendo eShop today.”

While limited production for the physical cartridge makes sense, doing the same thing for the digital software – which, you know, can’t run out – really doesn’t.

It’s a frustrating restriction – and while the answer may just be to buy the game before the window closes, it’s a bizarrely anti-consumer choice on Nintendo’s part. For anyone who waits until April 2021 to adopt a console, or just didn’t get around to it in the available times, the option simply isn’t there. 

"Wait, is it gone?"

"Wait, is it gone?" (Image credit: Nintendo)

It also harks back to the worst of the infamous Disney Vault, which used limited releases to drive up the demand of classic Disney movies – continually limiting access to these decades-old movies through legal means.

It’s all the more disappointing, given Nintendo used to have a means of buying and playing older games through its eShop. But the pivot towards a Nintendo Switch Online subscription service, which grants access to select NES and SNES games, is an incomplete and imperfect solution, keeping as it does countless games from the interim N64, GameCube, Wii and Wii U consoles out of reach on the Switch platform.

In fact, it’s possible Nintendo Switch Online is the reason for the limited release. We’re expecting (or hoping) Nintendo 64 games and GameCube games to start landing on the NES emulator at some point, and it may be that these titles will be included down the line.

Nintendo Switch Online has a slowly-updating roster of NES and SNES games

Nintendo Switch Online has a slowly-updating roster of NES and SNES games (Image credit: Nintendo)

A limited roster

While Super Mario Galaxy is included, though, the lack of its beloved sequel, Super Mario Galaxy 2, is a glaring omission – though it could be coming in a separate pack or DLC down the line. Either way, the limited release doesn’t bode well for the future, with it looking likely any future compilations to get the same treatment.

It’s worth noting that the $59.99 / £49.99 price tag is still a lot for such old software, especially without a substantial remaster. It’s to be expected from Nintendo, which is infamous for refusing to drop prices on their first-party games even years after release, but a disappointment nonetheless.

If we knew Galaxy 2 was coming – say, under a 3D All-Stars season pass – we would be able to swallow the pill more gladly. But the limited release window, restrictive game selection, and lack of clarity on future availability, undermine what should have been a joyous announcement for Mario fans.

Didn't catch the trailer? Watch the announcement in the video embedded below:

Henry St Leger

Henry is a freelance technology journalist, and former News & Features Editor for TechRadar, where he specialized in home entertainment gadgets such as TVs, projectors, soundbars, and smart speakers. Other bylines include Edge, T3, iMore, GamesRadar, NBC News, Healthline, and The Times.