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Mario’s 35th Anniversary announcements – are they enough?

For most of 2020, Nintendo fans have been left craving news after the company has repeatedly offered mostly underwhelming updates in a variety of odd methods. Recent Partner Showcases have practically been condemned by many, and for some, none of Nintendo’s major first-party games have really appealed to them so far.

However, there were always rumours of a project that would celebrate the 35th Anniversary of their premier franchise, Super Mario. This project would be a collection of 3D Mario platformers, many of which would be re-released for the first time on a new system. On top of this, they would also feature visual upgrades to make them look better than ever. This collection has been rumoured for what feels like all of 2020, and finally, we have an update.

News about Mario’s 35th Anniversary has finally been shared in a recent Nintendo Direct. For many, this has been some much needed good news after what have been disappointing updates all year. We finally received confirmation of the fabled 3D Mario collection, as well as other projects, such as a port of Super Mario 3D World, a new AR Mario Kart experience, a Mario Battle Royale game with Super Mario 35, as well as a host of other tie-ins with other products.

The reception has been mostly positive. Fans are happy to finally have confirmation of long-rumoured projects. And there were some nice surprises. 

There has sadly been some controversy around the Direct, thanks to typical Nintendo business practices

Super Mario 3D World stood out, as it has been revealed the game is receiving a host of improvements, such as faster gameplay, Amiibo support, online co-op, and what are seemingly brand new levels.

It is also great that so many players will be able to easily play some of Mario’s 3D platformers, and the newly unveiled Super Mario 3D All-Stars is arriving amazingly soon on 18 September.

However, there has sadly been some controversy around the Direct, thanks to typical Nintendo business practices. The much anticipated 3D All-Stars is a timed release, meaning that you have from now until 31 March 2021 to purchase it, both physically and digitally.

This makes absolutely no sense, considering that this has been a rumoured project for a while, and the idea of having re-releases of three of the most famous games ever is an attractive prospect to many. Many are now accusing Nintendo of artificially inflating demand – as Disney has been known to do – which is causing the announcement to be soured for many. Some have said this is a means to gauge interest in the demand, but this is still unnecessary if that’s the case, as Nintendo must know how well this will sell regardless, and if anything, this just makes more people justifiably mad at Nintendo.

This same limitation is being placed on Super Mario 35, a mashup of Tetris 99’s battle royale approach with the classic gameplay of Super Mario Bros. The game is a great surprise and one I’ll spend a lot of time in, but it too is only available to download and play until 31 March.

If there is a good reason to limit these games, Nintendo has yet to provide one, and it’s souring what would otherwise be amazing announcements for many. I can only hope they’ll reverse the decision and make these games permanently available.

Having expensive ports of older games doesn’t set the greatest precedent when many games are so hard to play otherwise

There’s also been backlash over the contents of 3D All-Stars itself. While it’s great to have Super Mario 64, Sunshine, and Galaxy all together, many are wondering why Nintendo didn’t include Galaxy 2, given it plays and runs identically to the original Galaxy and is considered by many as the best 3D Mario.

Sunshine and Galaxy also feature 16:9 resolutions, and each game has improvements to the resolution, but many are sad that Mario 64 still runs in 4:3, and didn’t receive any significant graphical enhancements.

While it’s true that Nintendo never promised any such upgrades, fans have compared this to mods that significantly improve the game graphically, incorporating 16:9 resolution and upgraded character models, causing many to call Nintendo’s ports lazy as a result.

There have been comparisons to the Kirby’s 20th Anniversary Collection, which not only featured more games, but also had extras like the history of the franchise, episodes of the TV show, and new challenge stages. In comparison, 3D All-Stars feels lazy to some for only featuring 3 semi-upgraded ports and a music player, despite being full-price.

Some of this could, of course, be entitled fans being ungrateful, but the majority seem to say that the collection is slightly underwhelming. It’s still a great idea to be sure, but I do wish Nintendo had gone a little further – especially with Mario 64 – to make the releases feel more special. Backwards compatibility is always a big issue with Nintendo and the Switch, so having expensive ports of older games doesn’t set the greatest precedent when many games are so hard to play otherwise.

On the whole, the Direct was quite good. It was great to see Nintendo mostly back on form with genuinely exciting announcements, and there were some great surprises. However, there are legitimate things to criticise about 3D All-Stars, and I hope that Nintendo will listen to fans rather than stubbornly persist on a limited release.

I know they won’t make any further graphical updates to the games, but I also hope they would add in Galaxy 2 via an update later just to complete the collection. I’m glad Nintendo is finding their feet again, but I hope it can keep fans on its side by avoiding some of the pitfalls they’ve demonstrated here.

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