Back in 1996 with Super Mario 64 – Let’s-a Go!
Some games do not need to be introduced. Great Mario 64 was a truly revolutionary leap into glorious 3D for everyone’s favorite mustached plumber. What really brought him home was the adorable little Mario face in the main menu, which you could interact with and make him feel how well done in three dimensions.
This mind-blowing factor for the time attracted gamers and it was maintained pretty much throughout Super Mario 64. The game was a launch title for the Nintendo 64 system and cemented its initial success as an app. killer.
It was not only the beauty of the Mushroom Kingdom that wowed players, but there have been several gameplay changes that rely on the increased scale and sense of freedom that comes with the move to 3D. As usual, Mario was on a quest to save the ever-indiscreet Princess Peach from Bowser who had locked her in her own castle. The cheek.
This time around, however, the castle acted as a hub that you had to explore to find portals to multiple worlds. Usually disguised as a painting, which rippled as you approached, these worlds were wonderfully diverse. You would find yourself diving to explore sunken ships, scale fortress islands while avoiding deadly crosswinds, and tiptoeing across platforms surrounded by deadly lava. The castle also contained a lot of secrets for the player to discover, with bonus worlds that could be completely missed if not found.
The object of the game was to collect stars to unlock the path to Princess Peach, who was regularly blocked by confrontations with Bowser. There were eight to discover in each world and you could collect them in just about any order you wanted. On top of that, you didn’t need to find everyone to progress either. This gave Super Mario 64 an unprecedented sense of freedom and choice that was previously unachievable in Mario’s 2D adventures.
In addition to the fact that the player had more control than ever over the way they played, the environments in each world seemed enormous, with no linear path from A to B. Exploration was encouraged because you did not have to follow a particular path and make a choice for yourself. Stars have been earned in a variety of ways, from simple exploration to charming encounters such as penguin races.
Mario also had some new perks up his sleeve, including a wide range of jumps, a pound on the ground, and bonuses like the ‘wing cap’ which opened up all kinds of platforming opportunities in the 3D world. These moves helped fight the vast roster of enemies in Super Mario 64 which populated a diverse set of worlds.
Boss characters also popped up from time to time, which, while never too difficult to send, introduced brilliantly wacky characters into the game (King Bomb-omb was a personal favorite). Bowser was of course the big bad as usual, and you would face him multiple times throughout the game. The levels leading up to these encounters gradually increased in difficulty, serving as an obstacle course to test your platforming skills.
Super Mario 64 was backed by a brilliant soundtrack, composed by the legendary Koji Kondo. It also starred Charles Martinet, Mario’s most famous voice actor. Many of the tracks that accompany the varied worlds of Super Mario 64 are still enjoyable to listen to today, testifying to the team’s groundbreaking work 25 years ago.
I have very few reviews of Super Mario 64, even through today’s lens. The major issue, however, was the in-game camera, which still required constant play to get the view you needed to help you avoid an unpleasant death. It seems odd to say the camera was problematic because you had a lot of control over where it was placed, but frustratingly it never got where you wanted it to be. Still, the problem was manageable and didn’t detract from the otherwise fantastic adventure on offer.
Remakes are rife today, but they haven’t always been. Super Mario 64 was one of the first games I can remember getting this treatment. Who could resist revisiting such a classic when new technologies became available? Well, that was the case when the Nintendo DS was released, and Super Mario 64 got upgraded for launch.
The re-release featured improved graphics, new playable characters, and a multiplayer mode to boot. While these weren’t the biggest changes, they were enough for millions of people to revisit the game once again. More recently, the game was integrated into the Wii Virtual Console and Nintendo Switch as part of the The stars of Super Mario 3D collection.
Super Mario 64 remains effortlessly brilliant to this day, as I rediscovered while playing the last iteration. Thanks to a leap forward graphically, a real sense of freedom in the way you play and all that is present that makes the franchise so brilliant, it’s fair to say that Super Mario 64 is probably one of the most successful games. influential people of all time.
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