By: Shane Sacobie
By releasing only two games at the launch of the Nintendo 64, Nintendo had
a lot riding on this title. It was designed with the system from the ground
up. The controller and the hardware were designed at the same time as Super
Mario 64, and Nintendo's future depends on this title.
Putting Mario in a completely 3D
environment adds to the world in a major way, and the realism is awesome. Step
into water, and it reacts like real life. Go under the water, and Mario will
respond realistically -- breathing air bubbles and swimming in various ways depending on what's going on.
All of the characters just come to life on the screen. Super Mario 64 manages
to maintain Mario's cartoonish look, though. There are a few glitches (i.e.
sometimes when Mario goes through a door), but they're hardly noticeable and rarely occurs.
Soundwise, it could've used a little work but was good for the most
part. Mario's high-pitched voice can get annoying at times, but his
voice, along with the Princess' voice were well done and easy to understand.
Whining from the baby penguin is right up there with Baby Mario and the babies
in Three Dirty Dwarves for the most annoying sound of all time. The music
is typical of the Mario series. Again, there's a lot of realism... every time
something happens, there's a sound to go with it. Mario's footsteps can be
heard throughout the game, as can the splashing in water levels, and birds in
the outer levels sound so real that my parakeets like to talk back to them
as if there were real birds flying around outside.
Nintendo took the classic gameplay we've all come to know and love from the
Mario series and moved it up a notch. SM64 is definitely a revolutionary
game due to the fact that it's the first truly free-roaming 3D title. In
other words, you can go anywhere you want. It's almost limitless.
The game is huge. There are fifteen courses plus some additional hidden ones.
Whether he's in his usual red cap and overalls, made of metal, or sporting
a handy flying hat, Mario will travel from the snow-capped mountains to the
skies to the depths of the ocean and everywhere else you can think of.
Control has been redefined thanks to the new controller. Press the analog
stick a little to tip-toe; press it a lot to run. You can also control the
camera angles with certain buttons. Mario's got a whole new arsenal of moves:
in addition to the standard run and jump, Mario can do double jumps, triple
jumps, somersaults, drops, and more.
Perhaps the only thing lacking from this game is a 2-player mode. On top of the actual gameplay elements that are lacking from previous games, without
a 2-player mode, there's really no reason for Luigi so he is not present
in the game. On a related note, Yoshi wasn't in this game (in playable form,
anyway, though he did make a cameo appearance).
I had mixed reactions about the concept. On one hand, putting Mario
in a 3D free-roaming world is excellent. Having the game take place in a
large castle with Mario having to search for stars to unlock various parts
of the castle is totally original. On the other hand, it's the same basic
concept. Mario must save the princess, who has been kidnapped by Bowser.
Mario 64 is great fun. While some of the searching becomes somewhat annoying, you've
got a lot to do and are always on the move. Rarely a dull moment.
Once you beat Mario 64, there's not much reason to play it again. However, there's
so much to accomplish to defeat it that you won't do so in a short time so
I'll go easy on the replayability. After defeating Bowser for the third
time, you must keep going to get all of the stars, unlike previous Mario
games, where defeating Bowser would end the game. In addition, you can keep
going for records for coins for all the courses, and there are hidden courses
like the Princess' slide that will keep you interested for a while after winning.
Overall, Mario 64 is a great game. In perhaps the most revolutionary game
of the next gen era, Mario's back, and he's got some incredible gameplay
to back him up. This is one that you won't regret buying.