It finally happened! Nintendo revealed its plans for the Super Mario Bros. 35th anniversary. And while I’m happy and excited, Nintendo is still being weird about it.
A lot of this has to do with the event’s marquee attraction: Super Mario 3D All-Stars. I’ve been hearing rumors about this compilation for months, and it is finally real! Hurrah! But this collection also feels less than what it could have been.
I know — I feel silly complaining about getting Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine, and Super Mario Galaxy together in one package for Switch. But I’m surprised that these versions of the games are just remasters and not remakes. I mean, it’s weird to see Crash Bandicoot and Spyro get more attention than Mario when it came time to repackage their classic 3D platformers.
In a way, I don’t really mind. I like the low polygon look of Super Mario 64. I think that the original versions of Super Mario Sunshine and Super Mario Galaxy looked good enough that they just need the addition of HD. I guess I have my own expectations to blame here. These rumors have been swirling around for awhile, and they filled my head with visions of graphical overhauls that would have these games looking more like Super Mario Odyssey.
And while rumors are out of Nintendo’s control, it could have combated them by announcing this package earlier. I know I should be glad that Super Mario 3D All-Stars is coming out so soon (September 18). But that also feels weird! A lot of Nintendo fans have been anxious because the last half of Nintendo’s 2020 release schedule looked so barren. It could have made fans feel better — and set expectations — by announcing this collection earlier.
Then there’s the shadow of Super Mario Galaxy 2, which is casting darkness over this whole compilation. I was ready for its absence, as the rumors I heard said that it wouldn’t be part of the package. But its nonappearance would’ve made more sense if these were going to be full remakes. But if they are just remasters, and they’ve already figured out how to adapt the first Super Mario Galaxy’s motion controls to Switch, leaving Galaxy 2 out becomes an extra bummer.
As disappointing as some of those issues may be, I can understand them to some degree. The challenges of developing and promoting games during COVID could be responsible for some of these decisions. But Nintendo has no such excuse for the bizarre time-gating of the collection. Super Mario 3D All-Stars will only be available until the end of March 2021. Why? I don’t know!
It’s especially frustrating because the best Nintendo games have always had long tails when it comes to sales. Early Switch games like Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and The Legend of Zelda: The Breath of the Wild continue to sell well in 2020. So why is Nintendo forcing scarcity on 3D All-Stars and denying itself money in the process?
Maybe Nintendo is going to just sell these games separately after March. And maybe Super Mario Galaxy 2 will become available then, too. Even then, this seems … stupid. Just keep making the bundle an option, and if Super Mario Galaxy 2 is coming later, then let it be a standalone game on Switch.
Another new Mario game for Switch, Super Mario Bros. 35, is also only going to become available for a limited time. This battle royale take on the original Super Mario Bros. reminds me a lot of Tetris 99 … except Tetris 99 has no expiration date. Just like with 3D All-Stars, Super Mario Bros. 35 is going away at the end of March for no reason.
I’m trying not to let these caveats get to me. I love Mario, and I’m excited about getting those three classic games on Switch. But Nintendo still has to be Nintendo. It’s a company capable of the most fun and creative gaming experiences, but it always makes a few bewildering and avoidable mistakes.