Super Mario 3D All-Stars — Visually Impaired Review

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Super Mario 3D All-Stars Accessibility

Individual scores

  • Visual Characteristics - 7
  • Accessibility Features - 3
  • Difficulty and Assist Modes - 3
  • Non Visual Cues - 5
  • Text and Interface - 6.5
  • Controls and Depth Perception - 7

After months of rumors and weeks of controversy, Super Mario 3D All-Stars is finally available for the Nintendo Switch, allowing you to play your favorite 3D Mario games… Unless your favorite 3D Mario game was Galaxy 2 or 3D World.

One of the important things to know about Super Mario 3D All-Stars is that the games are ports of their versions, but with a better resolution suited for the modern era of screens. Nothing meaningful has been changed, and this is particularly the case for accessibility. Still, this wouldn’t be Can I Play That? if we didn’t review the accessibility.

About me and my playstyle: I have albinism. My visual acuity fluctuates between 20/100 and 20/500 depending on if I’m wearing contacts and how tired I am. I have color vision, but no depth perception. I also deal with eye strain if I have to focus too precisely for too long.

Visual Characteristics 7/10

(Contrast, Lighting, Tracking, Clutter)

Mario games are always excellent in content and presentation. The contrast, lighting, and clutter are all handled excellently. The worlds are bright and colorful, assets are large and generally presented in context. My only complaint is that the camera can be very jarring. The camera has not changed from the original games, and because the game comes with upgrades to the frame rates and resolution, the camera does make for some nauseating and frustrating turns. Tracking movement was difficult for me because of these camera difficulties, particularly in 64 and Galaxy.

Accessibility Features 3/10

There are no options for any of the games in Super Mario 3D All-Stars. The games are functionally exactly the same as the originals. The HUD elements have had resolution upgrades and the button prompts have been updated for the Switch, but that’s about it. Because the game is on the Switch, you can remap controls on a system-level, which may be helpful.

That said, Galaxy does come with a new feature that allows you to utilize the touchscreen to collect nearby items. There’s also the ability to use motion controls but this can be difficult to use because you have to keep track of where your cursor is and frequently re-center it. 

Difficulty and Assist Modes 3/10

I’m being very generous by counting the low difficulty in favor of the game. There are helpful hints that pop up if you’re struggling throughout the games, but there are not any new prompts that I found. Given then Nintendo could have maybe spent some time introducing some new tips alongside the upgraded HUD, this feels like a missed opportunity to welcome a new generation of players.

Non Visual Cues 5/10

Mario has a generally helpful set of vocalizations through the Super Mario 3D All-Stars games, and the enemies also sometimes have audio cues to indicate they will attack. I would not consider these cues to be sufficient by themselves, but they are undoubtedly helpful. Again, the cues included are the cues that were already built into the game.

However, if you played the North American version of 64, you likely did not get to experience the rumble features that are in this version of 64. It won’t change your life or anything, but it may provide some additional help.

Text and Interface 6.5/10

The original text found in Mario 64 has been replaced with a font that is slightly more legible. That said, the font is still bad by today’s standards. Sunshine and Galaxy are much better and use the original fonts. The UI in the original games has also been carried over directly from the originals, including mandatory motion or touch controls in Galaxy.

Controls and Depth Perception 7/10

In general, the games in Super Mario 3D All-Stars control very well. There are some notable differences from the original versions of 64 and Sunshine in that the camera and aiming are inverted. Personally, I appreciate this change, but it should have been an option instead of a mandatory change.

There are suspend menus that are added on top of the old games, and the new options could have been added to that new menu. The new menu does offer a controller map, which can be very helpful for newcomers. I discussed it earlier, but any camera improvements would significantly help the depth perception. 

I would certainly understand if the controls were the same as the originals since these are essentially ports. However, the controls were tweaked slightly to invert cameras and remove backward long jumps, so it definitely feels like more could be done to bring the controls up to what we’re used to in more recent games since these control improvements affect accessibility.

Recommendation for visual skills needed for enjoyment

If you’re looking to experience these games for some hearty nostalgia or because you missed them the first time around, I would recommend somewhere in the neighborhood of 20/600 if you are willing to miss some of the text, particularly in 64. If you want to be able to read the text, I would recommend 20/400 for Sunshine and Galaxy and 20/200 for 64. However, the text is not necessary if you’re willing to look up a few gameplay videos to help you learn the controls.

Overall, I recommend Super Mario 3D All-Stars. This is by far the best way to play these games outside of hacks of questionable legality. That said, these games are not designed with accessibility in mind. If you’re looking for a 3D Mario game on the Switch, I would recommend starting with Odyssey because it has any more accessibility features to support you.

A review copy of Super Mario 3D All-Stars was provided by the developer / publisher.

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Christy Smith

Christy Smith is a visually impaired gamer whose main goal in life is to snag a seat on the metro instead of having to stand so that she can play Switch on her commute. She/her/hers or They/them/theirs

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