Review by Phange

"This version of Super Mario 64 is both affordable and superior"

To those who never played the original Super Mario 64, in this day and age one would instantly assume that the game is one of the most cliched 3D platformers ever made. Of course, there's a darn good reason why they'd think that; Super Mario 64 literally wrote the book on 3D platformers. Released way back in 1996 as the star launch title of the then-state-of-the-art Nintendo 64, Super Mario 64 had it all; classic Mario platforming, kickin' 3D graphics that had no rival, a solid framerate and a camera that, at least for its day, was unparalleled in the 3D gaming sector. Added to that were good controls and serious longevity, making Super Mario 64 one of the finest games ever released. Ten years later, Super Mario 64 is among the launch list of Virtual Console games and holds the banner, once again, as the star (in this case, only) N64 title for the Virtual Console. While Mario himself took a disappointing hiatus from the Wii launch in much the same way as he did on the Gamecube, Super Mario 64 more than makes up for the lack of a Mario-related launch title. Perhaps even more impressive, this is the finest version of the game I've ever played and the cheapest as well.

Graphics

There was a time when Super Mario 64 was unrivaled in 3D graphics; it had no peer, nor an even close second. Traces of that superiority can still be seen today; the textures, while very basic, are vibrant and eye-catching. The animation is smooth and effective. The characters are silly and exaggerated, and the overall mood of the game is simply fantastic.

Compared to the DS's launch title Mario 64 DS, the N64 version couldn't compare... but, amazingly, the Virtual Console version can. In fact, not only does it compare, it spanks both versions. Why would a straight emulation surpass the original and an update? Progressive scan and 480 hi-def. Super Mario 64 never looked this good, even on the DS which did its best to mask the system's limitations by reworking the textures to look more "realistic". The Virtual Console emulation is crisp and perfect; in fact, if you didn't know what the Virtual Console was, you probably wouldn't be able to guess that the game is actually emulated.

The camera, which was once revolutionary, unfortunately shows its age. It must constantly be doctored to prevent jumping disasters. To be fair, this isn't a fault of the Virtual Console but of the original game.

Sound

All of the catchy tunes from the original game are back, in their same glorious simplicity. They all play exactly as they did on the N64, straight down to the silly ice slide tune.

Mario's a bit more annoying than he used to be, but that's primarily because Nintendo got smart over the years and shut him up a little.

Gameplay

There's 120 Power Stars hidden in Peach's castle. Bowser took them, and Peach, and a couple of Toads. It's your job as Mario to get them all back and have a nice big piece of cake. Unfortunately for Mario, the game itself isn't exactly a piece of cake. The game's divided up into a little over a dozen worlds, each filled with Power Stars requiring various tasks to unlock them. There are also stars hidden in the castle itself.

Make no mistake, Super Mario 64 was intentionally designed to keep you busy for a long time and even if you know how to get every single star in the game, you're still going to be busy for a long time.

Most importantly, the solid controls and classic mechanics hold up amazingly well by today's standards, and Super Mario 64 is every bit as fun now as it was before (if not more so). Everything from running, swimming, flying, and even sliding is possible in Miyamoto's "magical garden".

Overall

There's been a lot of complaining over the price of Virtual Console games, but anyone who would scoff at a $10 Super Mario 64 is simply a hard sell. At that price, this game is an absolute bargain and everyone with a Wii owes it to themselves to get it.


Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 11/25/06


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