A title that revolutionized the industry that sadly doesn't hold up, a deeply flawed but great experience, and a bonafide masterpiece that perfected the 3D platforming formula all bundled together in a disappointingly low effort collection. Like them or hate them, these three games are iconic parts of video game history, and they deserved better. Had 64 and Sunshine been updated to include some quality of life improvements, as well as given fresh coats of paint, this would've been quite possibly the best collection ever. Sadly, this is what we got instead.
I'd love to give this game a lower rating because it's incredibly lazy with no widescreen on SM64 and no extra features like an art gallery or video gallery. It's just bare bones as can be for all three games. That said, all three games are some of the greatest of all-time, and this is currently the best (official) way to play them.
I've collected the 120 main collectables in each game on this collection (Have not done the Luigi playthrough but I'm about 20ish stars into that its whatever I don't really consider it necessary for 100%) and I gotta say this is a real hard package to rate. The games all looks fantastic and run great. Sunshine in particular had the most work put into it visually to make it look great. It seems like in most cases for all 3 games where higher res source textures were available they were put in. The visuals overall look really great, the menu is no nonsense and just gets straight to the point, and gets you right into the game.
Super Mario 64 is arguably the weakest part of the collection, and even then it's only because of the aspect ratio. While Sunshine and Galaxy are both 1080p with (Galaxy being 60fps as well) 64 being in 4:3 720p is a little disappointing. That said this is the best Super Mario 64 has ever looked and this is the best it's ever controlled besides on original N64 hardware. They mapped the deadzones on the Switch joycons and pro controller very well and it doesn't have the problem that earlier virtual console releases and emulators/the pc recompilation has where the deadzones just feel like garbage. You really feel like you have full control over Mario at all times and theres a lot of visual improvements, even if they're more subtle to the casual 64 players. The rumble feels really nice which was absent from the non-1.1 release of SM64 which was previously JP exclusive. That said SM64 still has its own problems, namely Rainbow Ride and Tick Tock Clock being the personification of Miyamoto's paranoid schizophrenia. Those levels are so bad it makes me dread playing through 64 every single time, I can forgive it for just being 2 of 15 levels and it being technically optional compared to how much good Mario 64 has done and how great it was for the industry. 64 is a masterpiece for sure but it's definitely the game that's aged the "worst" if you can even call it that. Unless you really care about BLJ and speedrunning then this is the best official way to play SM64. I think it's pretty reasonable that they could patch in Widescreen support since it seems like something they could do, though the way the emulation for 64 works it might not be compatible.
Super Mario Sunshine is bar none the best game on this collection. That's it. No but for real I love SMS. SMS did "moons" before Odyssey did and had the good sense into making the exploration based blue coins add up into one collectable, instead of devalueing the current ones. Tangent aside, Sunshine definitely had the most work done to it. The games controls have been redone to work properly with the Switch and feel just as smooth as they did on gamecube, with tricks like Shotgun Spray being even easier to pull off. All the speedrunning tricks are in the game, and Sunshine's movement is still outclassed by any other Mario games. This game has also never been re-released before so it's pretty insane that it was and was re-released in such a beautiful way too. I mentioned earlier the textures in Sunshine were replaced in higher fidelity and they really really look good. The goofy charm of Isle Delfino is all here. Unfortunately the Switch release didn't add the ability to skip cutscenes, even though after watching them if they replay you can straight up skip them so the functionality to skip them exists in game, and they un-inverted the controls (I'll touch more on this point later), it still is just as fun to play Sunshine today as it was almost 20 years ago, and now you can play it handheld that's great I love it, favorite Mario bar none and I don't think another one will ever top it.
Super Mario Galaxy works surprisingly well. I hated Galaxy's IR aiming, I think the Wii's IR sensor was hot garbage because you almost could never get it in a spot where aiming and being comfortable were a reasonable option but with the Switch release they've fixed that. Sure you have to re-center the cursor but it's really a much better option than the Wii's IR sensor. The gyro motion controls for the other gimmick levels in the game also function way better than they did on Wii due to the more advanced gyro tech in the Switch. This is the definitive way to play Galaxy, and whether you use split joycon or the pro controller you'll have a great experience with it. The movement in Galaxy feels extremely slow in comparison to Sunshine and 64 and the contrast is probably the most noticable that its ever been, but Galaxy manages to hold up on solid level design and visuals that hold up to this day. The game is very confident in itself, and it really does hold up.
I think the biggest issue with this collection is expectations, since it leaked earlier this year and Nintendo had done nothing to get on top of the story people had higher expectations. With rumors that 64 would be a full remake or that other games would be included, Nintendo's PR should've handled this better. On top of that other collections like Rare Replay are half the price, contain more games and a ton of extra bonus content. There's no doubt they could've done more with the bonus features, and a beta rom of SM64 from spaceworld would've been nice, but the games all speak for themselves as masterpieces and I think without the influence of leaks it would've been received better by fans. That said, there's still some legitimate crimes. First and foremost the first person and camera controls in 64 and Sunshine have gone from inverted to the standard non inverted we know today. Sure that's great for new players, but Nintendo didn't have the good sense to add in some basic options to allow older players to switch it back if they're used to the way it was, or if they just prefer inverted controls in general. There's no defense of this its absurd, I shouldn't have to relearn one of my favorite games of all time because there's no options to revert the aiming to "normal". Another issue is that this is a timed release, I have a feeling I know why but that doesn't mean its a good idea. I think this package should stay available because its one of the best deals you can really get, it's 3 of the greatest games ever made and now you get to play them on a handheld, no doubt you're paying a Mario tax but 3 games for 60 bucks compared to the garbage thats been coming out these past few years and the absolute braindead move to move to 70 dollar releases by third parties and Sony (Microsoft hasn't said anything about that yet, maybe they'll have the good sense not to raise prices). At the end of the day is the collection worth playing? Yeah. If you've missed out on any one of these games it's 100% worth your time. If you've already played these games and want to revisit them its a great way to do so. If you own these games still but want to play them in handheld mode they are a great way to experience the games, and with a few patches like invert support and widescreen in SM64 I'd have no issue saying that this is a perfect collection but it's not. The only reason I rated it 5 stars is because all 3 of these games are 5 star games that helped shape the industry and set standards that are still felt to this day. Idk man it's Mario what more could you want?
Not a final review - Ongoing impressions
Controls for Mario in SM64 are pretty smooth. You find yourself wishing you had a full-360 control of the camera, but the right stick is an improvement over the C buttons.
Currently at 96 stars, trying to go for 120 before Ultimate Bowser. It's been a huge pleasure to revisit this game.
On Sunshine, the emulation is making everything look really good except for the cutscenes - certain voice lines, particularly from the Piantas, sound extremely muffled. And then the cropping and brightness settings they're using really make the cutscenes incongruous with the gameplay.
I'm one of those who ranks Sunshine third among these three games and I'm still struggling. Mario is so damn slippery when landing on platforms, that it irrationally angers me. The music and gameplay animation makes me happy, though.