Review by Jason_IX

"Mario's first foray into 3D -still a classic?"

Super Mario 64 was and still is one of the best games ever. Mostly because it brought gaming into 3D world, so all the good 3D games we play today are due to Mario. Yet again, Super Mario 64 wasn't exactly "old-school". Several things were gone from the Mario formula, several new came. But it sill is a classic.

Now, the ones who never got to play it right (I'm looking at you, SM64DS) can now do it so, because Super Mario 64 is on Virtual Console! But is it worth the ten bucks? If you love nostalgia, it is. If you want to see how old classics were like, it is. If you expect a perfect adventure by all means, that holds up even to today's games, it's not.

Yes, Super Mario 64 has aged a bit, but it's still enjoyable and a must-have if you are a Mario fan or looking forward to have a collection of quality games. Now, let's explain a little bit more about SM64.

The story is the same again, with some minor twiches: Princess Peach has invited Mario to a cake party at her castle, but when Mario arrives, he sees that she has been kidnapped by Bowser once again. This time, Bowser decides to act alone and didn't bother to take Peach even to his stronghold. He instead lock her in the tallest tower of her castle and sealed away the energy source of the castle: the Power Stars. Without them, you can't proceed. Without a word, Mario sets off to collect the 120 sealed Power Stars and rescue Peach from Bowser's claws.

That's the story. Now the gameplay is what you 've read: collect Power Stars. Bowser has sealed them away into distant places and throughout the castle. In order to proceed you need them, as they can open up new doors to new hallways, and assuming that getting to the tallest tower takes at least 70 Stars, you have quite a number of Stars to collect. Well, how do you get those Power Stars? The Stars are hidden inside specific paintings that are actually portals to far-away places were the Stars are. In each of those paintings there are 7 stars. To obtain each star, you have to do the task written at the start of the level. For instance, "Star 2: Race Koopa the Quick" or Star 5: Collect the 8 Red Coins". You pick the star task and you play the level. Notice that some parts of the level may change according to the task to make the Star possible to get. There are 6 tasks in every painting plus 1 if you collect 100 coins in that level, which is quite hard because the number of coins in each level is limited. The paintings-levels are 15 in total, so we have 15x7=105 Power Stars. Still, there are 15 more Stars hidden inside the castle, so you must search the castle from top to bottom if you wish to have all 120 Power Stars.

Now, the controls and gameplay overall. Once you enter a level, you can roam freely in 3D. Use the analog stick to move, A to jump and B to punch and kick. There are also further moves to perform, like the Triple Jump (Jump 3 times in a row), the summersault, the sideways summersault, ground-pounding and crouching. All of them are helpful, especially the ground-pounding. Except from that, Mario can also get his hands on various Power-Ups: The feather, which will let him fly for a period of time, the metal power-up which will make him metallic, heavy and able to walk underwater besides swimming and the invincibility power-up which will make you invulnerable and able to go through certain walls. All of them are needed to finish the game completely, and all are hard to obtain. Because to obtain them, you need to do a certain challenge and press their switch to make those power-ups available. These challenge are well hidden inside the castle, so it'll take some time to find them.

All is well until now, because the low point of the game is the camera and the controls, but mostly the controls. Mario slips and slids off WAY too easily even when he's not on ice. If you ride up a big hill, Mario will get slower and eventually slid off. That's not good, it's rather annoying. Also, when Mario hits a wall, he bounces back and that's a REALLY bad thing about a platformer. In paces where you have to jump over pits to small platforms, it is very possible that Mario will bounce off them and onto his doom or land on one, then slid off to the other side because of the force you put into jumping. That's really frustrating.

Jumping is also awkward. If Mario jumps, it's almost impossible to change direction leading to constant falling into pits and enemies. Even if you land and jump again, Mario will jump facing the same direction again. The last frustrating bit of the controls is that Mario sometimes does a 360 turn when you change directions, leading to even more frustration. I don't know if it is the Classic Control or not, but Super Mario 64 controls gawkily.

The camera bit is a little better. The camera may get sometimes in your way, making you lose complete control of what you're doing and it takes time to place it facing forward so you can see, but I'll forgive this since it's the first 3D game.

The graphics on the game have also aged. Minimal detail is given almost to everything and it sometimes feels bland. It's colourfoul though and Mario looks better than ever (as well as Bowser). The graphics were good for their time and they feel original in some kind of way. The sound is also memorable. Happy tracks, spooky tracks, calming tracks, all are well synthesized and a joy to listen to. Sound effects are also good, especially Mario's voice when he shouts, but the vocals are way too quick spoken. In general, sound and graphics were good for their time and are still enjoyable.

At last, the replay value. It's by far the biggest Mario game to date along with Super Mario World, and that means huge. The quest for the 120 Stars is long and tough while entertaining and challenging without discouraging. I really felt like crying at the final music when the credits rolled, back at 1996. It's a fabulous feeling, getting your first Star, feeling the rage as you come closer to the dark tallest tower, enjoying the ending with the fantastic music and so many others, that today's games unfortunately lack. Maybe newer players won't feel it. Maybe they'll quit playing it and run to get a copy of Halo 3. But they don't know what they miss by that. Sure, Halo's fun, but you need to go back in time and see the old-school classics that have affected the videogame company, because these games are the reason you today can play GoW, Halo and all the good current games.


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 10/01/07

Game Release: Super Mario 64 (EU, 12/08/06)


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