Nintendo came out of hiding last night and presented us with a brand new Nintendo Direct specifically about Super Mario’s 35th Anniversary and all the goodies that come with it. There was good (3D World Port and Super Mario 35), interesting (Game and Watch) and just the absolute bizarre (Mario Kart Live). But of course, the one announcement everyone expected was finally getting confirmation of the Mario 3D All-Stars Collection, a re-release of Mario 64, Sunshine and the original Galaxy with the latter two in 1080p Widescreen.
Of course, I could go on about why Nintendo is making this only a limited release together, or the lack of in my personal opinion, the way more superior Mario Galaxy 2. But I want to talk about a situation that has gone over a lot of people’s heads and its been an issue with Nintendo for a while now. Back when the Wii was still known as the Revolution, one of the very first things we knew about the system was the ability to download retro Nintendo games with the Virtual Console service, Iwata promoted it as a way to make us all feel young again. For the most part, the Wii’s iteration was probably the best in terms of variety with not just Nintendo available but Sega, Turbo-Grafx and even NeoGeo joining the fray.
Now there were issues aplenty with the service, Earthbound never showed up on the Wii despite Iwata specifically mentioning it during the announcement, the complete lack of Rareware titles on the N64 library and just the continuous, sluggish drip-feeding that has plagued Nintendo ever since. The biggest issue has been that with every new system, Nintendo basically starts from scratch with its retro catalogue, the Wii U barely saw any new titles with the exception of the first two Earthbound titles and the original Wii Shop shut down back in January 2019 taking its entire catalogue with it. With the Switch, Nintendo has been doing its own thing with the NES and SNES Online services, while other platforms like Sega and NeoGeo have been doing their own thing with Sega Ages and Arcade Archives.
In 2020, the drip-feeding has gotten even worse with only a few new NES and SNES titles releasing every month if we’re lucky. I honestly don’t know why Nintendo keep doing this to use, they might think we could be too overwhelmed with the amount of choice if they give us all the big NES and SNES hits at once. But the more obvious reason is holding back certain titles for special releases, case in point Super Mario 64.
While we have been slowly getting new titles for Nintendo’s first two systems, that hasn’t slowed down demand for Nintendo to finally release Nintendo 64 Online. As someone who loves the 64 and its library of titles, nothing will make me happier than to play the on a system that isn’t a blurry slow mess. The N64 quite famously outputted in Composite only, while the SNES and even the NES with some tinkering could output super crisp RGB graphics with thanks to an upscaler like the Framemeister or OSSC. The N64, even with an RGB mod still looks pitiful in comparison, Super Mario 64 will mark the first time Nintendo has re-released a game from that system in HD and the results speak for themselves.
What frustrates me the most is that it is clear Nintendo has been holding out on launching Nintendo 64 Switch Online for THIS sole reason. This may explain why Nintendo has made it clear that 3D All-Stars as a compilation bundle is for a limited time, because after March 2021 Nintendo will release the N64 Online Service. It’s clear that Super Mario 64 would have been an absolute requirement on Day 1 of the service, but it was also clear that Mario’s 35th Anniversary would be approaching and having Mario 64 already available would cheapen the release, basically, we were in a situation where one couldn’t happen until the other and Nintendo being Nintendo, decided to wait FOUR years into the Switch’s life to give us N64 games.
While it’s clear some enhancements have been made to the Super Mario 64 version arriving on Switch like updated visuals and 2D icons, titles like Rare Replay, Turok and Doom 64 have shown how N64 games can perform on modern hardware. While it may sound like a stretch, it could be very likely that Rareware classics can appear on the service as Microsoft has been very open in offering titles like Ori & Cuphead on the Switch. That does leave the issue with Goldeneye though, I’m sure many people would love to play split-screen like in the old days and Nintendo would have first bid on the game as they owned the license during its development, a license that has been dormant now since 007 Legends on the Wii U *cough*
Now, this is merely speculation, I could be talking completely out of my ass and it turns out this is all just “Nintendo being Nintendo”. But I would like to think that there is some logic behind the madness. Even so, better to be safe than sorry and that means preordering the 3D All-Stars Compilation as quickly as possible.
The founder and Editor in Chief of UnboxedTV. Nintendo lover and not afraid to admit it, can always go for a good Indie Metroidvania with a nice cold Cider.