Putting together at least two of the best video games in history in the same cartridge deserved more than the law of least effort.
In one of the funniest scenes of one of the fashion series, one that also plays to recover a certain legendary trilogy with more verve and more pampering than Nintendo has shown here, the master of a group of teenage karatekas lectures his pupils with the toughness one expects from the most badass dojo in the valley. The boys, a handful of misfits who have found in flying kicks and singing kimonos the ticket to climb the ranks in the relentless social ladder of a Californian high school, they begin to take the lessons to chufla after doing a great role in the local championship, and the sensei decides to cut his losses. In a row one by one and with knuckles worn by push-ups, the group endures the downpour as best it can, and after the expected speech about the winners, the losers and all that crap that haunts Americans comes the metaphor; a metaphor as forceful and as excessive as one expects from this type of martial arts fantasy, embodied in a huge concrete mixer overflowing with freshly mixed cement. A concrete mixer that the kids will have to turn from the inside, with their own hands, because winning only once is not useful. Because the cement that stops rotating stagnates, dies, turns to stone and is lost. Because true champions can’t afford to stop. because winning only once does not work. Because the cement that stops rotating stagnates, dies, turns to stone and is lost. Because true champions can’t afford to stop. because winning only once does not work. Because the cement that stops rotating stagnates, dies, turns to stone and is lost. Because true champions can’t afford to stop.
It is easy to lose motivation when you are alone at the top, a situation that completely catches up with what is essentially the most recognizable icon in the history of video games. If Mario is still the king, if each installment of the mother franchise shakes the foundations of an industry that has never known how to keep up with him, it is precisely by refusing to lower its arms, by keeping all its hunger and creativity intact that made him an icon, and above all because he was able to turn that alarming absence of competitors into another source of motivation: the fight against himself. Each new Mario is both a base to build on and a barrier to spray, and it is that constant movement and that concrete mixer turning without a single delivery of respite that Super Mario Galaxy gave us. If I decide to bend the rules a little bit and start like this, at the end, it is because I am sincerely shocked. Super Mario Galaxy was, is and will continue to be every time we decide to revisit it, the pinnacle of that art form that has to do with control, mechanics and fun; Super Mario Galaxy is the reason video games were invented.
In fact I have to admit that sometimes it just gets over me. Perhaps he remembered it less exuberant, less excessive, perhaps he assumed that time would have taken a toll on his ability to surprise or perhaps the relative mediocrity in the creative that we have dragged on for years amplifies the impact of something like this, but the point is that with a certain I often have to stop playing and take a breath. Approaching something like that with an analytical mindset, trying to break down each mechanic and understand why everything works the way it does can only result in overload, because everything is too smart, it’s too polished, it’s too perfect. So much so that one thing that stands out (otherwise this text would become an endless love letter) I must necessarily stick with his way of putting it all together,
His way of spouting one great idea after another, and his way of discarding discoveries in minutes that could lead to entire franchises because the concrete mixer cannot stop. From its mapping, content when it comes to exploring a desert and apparently tireless when we link one planetoid with another, and how the next challenge always comes at the right time; of his disgusting power ups, of his kites that turn the rules upside down, of that spaceship that opens little by little and eliminates the concept of dead time and that story, that of Estela, that I am dying to read to my daughter .
And of its mechanics, of course, all summed up in that suicidal bet that exemplifies as never before that of not conforming and competing against its own legacy: if Super Mario is the jump, a verb refined and perfected to infinity on which little remained. In other words, the only way out was to reinvent the opposite, gravity. A gravity that takes all possible forms here, sometimes being born from a small black hole anchored in the center of each world or spreading through the walls of two-dimensional sequences that the game adopts and abandons with exemplary agility. In Super Mario Galaxy everything is a naked concept, everything is pure ingenuity and overflowing creativity, each time posing a different way of playing the same thing, But no matter how many ideas the game puts on the table, none will ever overcome the impact of that jump with a run that should make us abandon our little asteroid but suddenly it curves and deposits us safely on the other side. It’s not that Super Mario Galaxy endures the type today, it’s that those kinds of feelings seem to come from the future. It is simply too good.
And hence the relative disappointment of seeing a masterpiece thus recovered with such little enthusiasm. I do not mean to say that the game looks bad, because in fact if we ignore certain unofficial solutions this could well be the definitive way to enjoy it, but I would risk saying that the spectacle in the visual only has two people responsible: the architects of the stunning artistic section of the original, and the type that chopped the two or three lines of code that allow the game to take advantage of the resolution of the machine. As a port, the Galaxy from 3d All-Stars offers very little else, although to Caesar what is from Caesar: exporting the rom of the original and shrugging Nintendo’s shoulders could well have ignored the hot potato that the pointing system supposed by movement in its portable form, Fortunately, a solution has been sought that, without being perfect, allows playing on the subway with minimal guarantees: with both Joy-Con coupled to the unit, the pointer becomes tactile, allowing us to collect fragments by sliding our finger on the screen and shoot them with a trigger or a double press on the target. And you stop counting.
It is a reality, that of the different gimmicks that have been defining each generation of Nintendo consoles and with them each canonical installment of Super Mario, which once again testifies to the pioneering spirit of the franchise, although back to its adaptation on Switch this means There are also somewhat more bloody problems when it comes to facing Super Mario Sunshine, the next protagonist in our reverse chronological journey and without a doubt the least brilliant work of the entire package. Nor would I like to load the ink too much against a game that already received its own in its day, although it is easy to be demanding coming from the Wii game: Sunshine is different, that is clear, but perhaps the correct word is experimental. And experiments, by definition, can sometimes fail.
Perhaps not to fail completely, because the basic drawing is what it is and linking one jump after another to try to crown the bell tower where one of its suns hides is not difficult to lose track of time. In fact, I would say that the error comes from there, due to its refusal to focus on that and due to that desire for experimentation in my opinion a little misunderstood point that moves the focus of the game from the platform and agility to the handling of a device, the ACUAC, which is hard not to see as a perversion of the formula. Having a backpack that can be transformed into a jetpack at all times, having to constantly monitor a resource such as the water stored in the tank, being forced to combine the delightfully free movement of Super Mario with a wayward and imprecise targeting system … . All these systems end up detracting from the elegance of mechanics that did not need them, and do not confuse this with an allergy to innovation: as Cappy would do in Odyssey a few years later, Super Mario Galaxy himself demonstrated that it was possible to twist the formula without alter its taste. Some experiments add up and others not so much, and with all this I mean that by replaying Super Mario Sunshine I have remembered a lot of that album in which Bad Religion decided to use synthesizers.
Even so, all this is, always has been, a matter of taste, and I do not doubt that the game will have plenty of defenders who not only enjoy those episodes in which they have to block Mario’s movement to refine with the aim, but also additions even more debatable as that narrative component that does not do any good to the rhythm or those errand missions that ask us to return with three fruits to a given point. Fans of the original will be the biggest beneficiaries of a facelift that ironically here does show a greater commitment, starting from that 16: 9 format that for some reason has been denied to its older brother and going through the usual increase in resolution ( the result is fantastic: despite the lack of inspiration in some of his debut designs, Super Mario Sunshine is a visual delicacy) and for a work of adaptation for the controls that again had to deal with hardware impediments: the Switch’s trigger has no travel, so the free movement and precise pointing modes of the hose become controlled by R and ZR respectively. Nobody seems to have lost hours of sleep with all this, but at least it is functional and denotes some interest.
An interest that again seems to fade when it comes to recovering an incunabula like Super Mario 64. As for the hardware, there were few problems here, and once the camera control was adapted to a right stick that perfectly makes up for the absence of C buttons, everything else they were possibilities. The possibility of widening the format, polishing certain textures, or even cheering up with a minimally ambitious facelift that would remind us of the times of another All-Stars, the one who brought the original 2D adventures to 16-bit Super Nintendo. Sadly, this 35th anniversary does not seem to have been reason enough to try any of this, and what we have in its place is a direct port that again limits itself to taking advantage of the native resolution of the console without complicating life more than necessary to make cash. .
In the game itself I will not dwell too long, because almost everything is said about the father of the modern video game and because trying to explain why it is a masterpiece would be a bit like analyzing bread with tomato or the smell of grass after a good rain shower . I will say, however, that replaying it today is still a great idea, that it is crazy fun and that the word that has resonated the most in my head throughout the game is validity. It is almost overwhelming that a 1996 game moves with that combination of inertia and pinpoint precision, or that it handles three-dimensionality with a ease that many games published last month would like. Its value as a museum piece, as a piece of video game history and as one of its most brilliant pages is unquestionable, but its role in this compilation should have been other than that of mere conservation. Before Super Mario 64 the minimum is to square up and treat it as it deserves.
And hence the bittersweet flavor of an offer, that of Super Mario 3D All-Stars, which is known to be irreplaceable and that perhaps for the same reason has been limited to showing up at the party, period. To make an appearance at a birthday with soda and bargain hooks but full of very beautiful people, and hence I can’t help but recommend it despite everything. It is almost impossible to gather more courage, more ingenuity, more excellence in the same cartridge, Nintendo knows it, and hence its decision to go to sleep. Limiting themselves to living off their rents is a right that as champions belongs to them, but beware: it’s also the kind of attitude that can turn your entire legacy into plain concrete.