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What ‘Super Mario 3D All-Stars’ May Mean for Zelda’s 35th Anniversary

Despite being some of the most beloved games of all time, Super Mario 3D All Stars could spell bad things for future anniversary collections.

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If there were three main collections Nintendo fans have been clamoring for ever since the Switch launched, they’d be a 3D Super Mario collection, a 3D The Legend of Zelda collection, and the Metroid Prime Trilogy. The thought of having all of these titles easily accessible and portable is tantalizing, and could very well be the only way many Switch owners play some of the older entries in these series.

However, collections of some of the best games in history come with high expectations in regard to packaging, presentation, and bonus features. It’s precisely the lackluster delivery on all three of these fronts that has many fans only begrudgingly excited about Super Mario 3D All-Stars. What could have been a fully-featured celebration of Mario as part of his 35th anniversary has turned out to be a middling collection of ports that doesn’t quite do the beloved plumber justice. With The Legend of Zelda’s 35th anniversary on the horizon, one has to wonder: what does 3D All-Stars’ success mean for future anniversary collections?

Stars With a Dull Shine

First of all, let’s be clear: Super Mario 3D All-Stars never promised more than what it delivered. Just like the original Super Mario All-Stars on the Super Nintendo, it’s a collection featuring some of the best games of all time (and Sunshine). From a game preservation standpoint, this might be exactly what some players wanted: the original titles left intact and simply given a slight touch-up. The power of nostalgia is strong, and if the Amazon sales of 3D All-Stars is anything to go by, most consumers are just happy to have the games ported to the Switch at all.

However, when one actually sits down and starts playing something like Super Mario 64, it quickly becomes clear just how much more could have been improved during the development process. The camera, 64’s greatest offender, and frequent cause of frustration, remains untouched. Clipping through textures is rampant and pop-in is the norm. 64’s aspect ratio is the only one of the bunch that’s been left in full-screen, and there isn’t even art on the borders to fill the black void on the sides of the screen (something compilations like Mega Man Legacy Collection did half a decade ago). All of these blemishes were present in the original game, but fixing them would’ve only enhanced the experience for new and older players alike.

Then there’s the overall packaging of 3D All-Stars as part of Mario’s 35th-anniversary celebration. Launching the game brings up an elegant start screen where players can read a brief synopsis before launching one of the games or their soundtracks. For as nice as this hub is, though, it’s noticeably lacking any special features one might expect from an anniversary collection. There isn’t any concept art, behind-the-scenes interviews, developer commentary, or even a way to put together a playlist using the included OSTs. As a result, the package ends up feeling rather barebones instead of like a true celebration. When compared to past compilations like Kirby’s Dream Collection: Special Edition on Wii–which included bonus stages, a virtual gallery, an art book, and even a few episodes of Kirby: Right Back at Ya!–the difference is undeniable.

Super Mario 3D All-Stars

Celebrating a Legend

All of this isn’t to say that Nintendo will never put out another Kirby’s Dream Collection-tier compilation again, but the amount of effort put into Super Mario 3D All-Stars–and the amount of success they’re seeing as a result–may help us understand what they’re planning for future collections, specifically for The Legend of Zelda’s own 35th anniversary next year.

For one, whether Nintendo decides to release a similar Zelda-themed collection or something else, it’ll likely only be on sale for a limited time. Though the limited availability of 3D All-Stars and Super Mario Bros. 35 has caused some backlash, it’s been such an immensely successful strategy that they’re surely going to do it again next year. A Zelda collection won’t sell as well as a Mario Collection, but the deep roots of the Zelda franchise combined with the upcoming Breath of the Wild sequel means that it’ll be hotly anticipated all the same.

Considering Nintendo’s decision to simply up-res Super Mario 64, it’s likely that they’ll bundle Wind Waker HD, and Twilight Princess HD, and Skyward Sword together instead of going through the effort of reworking the earlier titles in the series. Wind Waker and Twilight Princess are two of the few remaining Wii U games that haven’t yet made the jump to Switch, and Skyward Sword would finally get the HD remaster it deserves (and hopefully a second chance at success with reworked controls).

Whether or not they’ll include more goodies with a Zelda collection is a toss-up. With the sheer amount of official books Nintendo has released on the history of The Legend of Zelda franchise, its lore, and the evolution of its art over the years, there’s plenty of material to pull from and include in an art gallery or “Official Timeline” section as a special feature–even if it’s ripped straight from resources like Hyrule Historia. Add in a live orchestral soundtrack taken from The Legend of Zelda concert series and there’s the possibility of a solid collection here. If Nintendo knows how well it can do without having to put together such an enticing package, however, these hopes may be in vain.

In the end, the fact that Nintendo has put out any kind of collection at all is sure to be enough for some fans. Super Mario 3D All-Stars is great for those who never got to play these titles, and being able to experience Galaxy in HD might be worth the price of admission alone. For many others, however, this may be a sign to lower expectations for future anniversary compilations in an era when Nintendo doesn’t have to do much to keep full-priced software (or Switches) from flying off the virtual shelf.

Brent fell head over heels for writing at the ripe age of seven and hasn't looked back since. His first love is the JRPG, but he can enjoy anything with a good hook and a pop of color. When he isn't writing about the latest indie release or binging gaming coverage on YouTube, you can find Brent watching and critiquing all manner of anime. Send him recommendations or ask to visit his island in Animal Crossing: New Horizons @CreamBasics on Twitter.

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