Review by Lord_Yojimbo29
"This is one of the reasons why Super Mario is so super."
There is essentially little that hasn't already been said about Super Mario 64, a revoloutionary 3-D platformer, and to many, one of the most thrilling, creative, fun, and exciting titles for the Nintendo 64, if not ever made. This classic platformer has stood unparalleled for almost a decade now.(though Castlevania: Symphony of the Night made a good run to share Mario's spot) I remember playing this as young child, so obviously I have much nostalgia and great childhood memories of playing this classic. Alright! Let's get to the review.
These graphics are superb for an early Nintendo 64 title. Mario, in his polygonal, 3-D debut looks excellent. The worlds that Mario explores also look superb, with lushly animated and drawn landscapes. From a fanciful desert landscape(complete with pyramid and oasis), to the more fanciful sky platform level(with flying carpets), everything looks superb. The only flaw is a few polygon tears, but it doesn't subtract from the game.
Even secondary characters and enemies looks great. Princess Peach has moved far from her 1980 debut as a bundle of pixels that's shaped like a female, and her mushroom retainers(the lovable Toads) also have progressed. Bowser(a.k.a King Koopa) has also taken on a new look, looking less like a 2-D steroid-addicted Koopa to a frightening, 3-D, steroid-addicted Koopa. And you will recognize many of his henchmen, such as the new and 3-D Goombas, Koopas, and more.
The sound of Mario 64 is honestly fantastic. There are many themes in the game, from the remixed version of the original theme at the start menu to the quintessential castle theme, and more music inside levels. Almost all of the themese are extremely catchy, and overall the music delivers the kind of feeling it should-exciting, dangerous, and really, really fast. The vast majority of the musical pieces are great, and they certainly suit the gameplay.
The sound work is also superb. Mario now has a real voice(voiced by Charles Martinet), as you can tell from the moment you boot up the game. Princess Peach, Toad, and Bowser also have voices although Peach has the only one in English, next to Mario. Mario also has something to say for almost any situation. You will hear a gratifying "Here we go!" after getting a Power Star, and "Let's-a go!" when you begin a mission. That's pretty much all our hero has to say, but Mario is more of the strong, silent type anyway. There isn't really too much dialogue in the game(though the cinema at the end will make you roffle your waffle), but you'll excuse that fact for the quality of what the voices have to offer.
The solid gameplay as always thrusted Mario a step above his competition, and there's no sign of discontinuing that. First of all, let's just explain the mechanics of the game. Mario runs and fights(yeah, I just said fight) like a 21-st century platform hero. Mario has several different jumps, ranging from backflips to triple jumps to wallkicks, and apparently he's been brushing up on his Jet Li, as Mario can punch, kick, throw, and butt-slam enemies in his path. Controls are solid, so have no fear. You also will take to the water(with some swimming missions) and use 3 different Caps to reach some for your Stars. There is a Wing Cap, which allows our red-garbed mascot to take to the air, an Invisibility Cap, which allows Mario to pass through some solid objects, and the Metal Cap, which makes Mario go all liquid metal and not have to breathe underwater.
You must retreive 120 different Power Stars hidden throughout the castle, and battle Bowser several times. Each time you beat him, you unlock more of the castle to explore, and you need the Stars to enter Bowser's chamber.(i.e. you require 50 stars to enter the door to the third Bowser battle)
To get these stars, you must enter courses to complete a challenge, and then you will be rewarded with a Power Star. To get these Stars, Mario has several tools at his disposal. First of all, and new to the Mario series is Mario's 8-piece energy meter. This may make the game seem too easy, but also note that the fact that you will suffer more deaths by falling into bottomless pits, and enemies do different amounts of damage.(i.e. Chain chomp's attack does 3 units of energy, etc.)
Now, what about these challenges?, you might ask. Here is your answer. There are 15 different main courses(not including secret stages and Bowser courses), each with 6 main stars and 1 hidden star. To get these stars, you must complete a task, be it battling a mini-boss, collecting 8 red coins, or solving a puzzle. For example, in the first stage, some of the missions include defeating the Big Bomb-Omb in a battle, racing a Koopa Troopa to the top of a mountain, reaching a floating island, collecting 8 red coins scattered throughout the course, using a Wing Cap to fly through some rings of coins in the sky, and butt-slamming a post that holds a Chain Chomp into the ground, as well as finding 100 coins in one stage to get the hidden Star.
The difficulty, however, could be better balanced. Some of the early missions are embarassingly easy, while some of the later Stars will have you dropping F-bombs. These difficult ones are often times the ultimate tests at your platforming skill, and will require several tries to clear, but at least the game's attitude is nice and forgiving enough as to make you want to clear these Stars. And he who can complete some of the cannon challenges without multiple tries is a stronger man than I.
You can also tell when the level designers were in a particularly sadistic mood, as some of the more intense courses(read: Courses 14, 15, and Bowser in the Sky) turn fairly simple platforming into a battle for survival. However, for the most part, the difficulty will bend but not break you, so overall, things are okay.
One feature I love about this game is almost fully adjustable camera(complete with a Lakitu cameraman), which allows you to adjust the third-person view to the best angle to fit your current needs, which you do with the C and R buttons. Although most of the camera angles are pretty useful, the only one I have beef with is the "Mario-Cam", in which you get a real close-up of Mario and not much else. Perhaps this was originally intended for some other purpose, but I can't imagine what.
I also enjoy the enemies that litter the courses. You will see tons of classic enemies, such as Goombas and Koopas, and plenty of newcomers, such as a cloud enemy that blows you off of cliffs, and the Vulture, a chronic hat thief.And don't forget his Gnarliness, King Bowser. The Bowser battles literally require you to grab the oversized Koopa by his tail and throw him into spike bombs that a wiser king probably would not have placed in his arena. Unfortanately, not all of the enemies require use of Mario's awesome fighting skills, but you won't be dissapointed.
To make a long story short, this is the quintessential 3-D platforming experience- a guy trying to avoid death in it's many forms and reach his objective. If you feel the need for an awesome platformer, want a true challenge, or simply want a fun way to get yourself served some classic Nintendo-brand humble pie, this is the game for you.
Reviewer's Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
Originally Posted: 11/07/05
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