Review by TheRedneck14
"Mario at His Finest"
Well, Super Mario Galaxy has just been released little over a week ago, the Nintendo Wii is flying off the shelves, and Nintendo has proven that they can still throw out the 600 pound gorillas when they want too. So I decided to take a look back at one of their greatest accomplishments for this review; Super Mario 64.
In 1996, Nintendo changed the way everyone would play games with the Nintendo 64, the first true 64 Bit console with 3D graphics, and this game; Super Mario 64. I got my Nintendo 64 around the same time it came out when I was five, and this was my first game for it, and for someone who like me spend their early gaming years on a NES [not the SNES]... lets just say this game would have made your jaw literally drop to the ground like the cartoon dog when it smelled the biscuit. When it came out, it looked like Nintendo had made a masterpiece, and that their market dominance would continue, sadly that was not to be [at least for the 10 years after the 64 came out], luckily we still got a helluva game like this. Lets light this candle.
You all know the standard Mario story, Peach was abducted and Mario has to go and rescue her. This time, Bowser went into her Castle, and trapped everyone inside of the Castle Walls, and hid the Power Stars of the castle inside of magical painting worlds. Mario just came there because he was invited by Peach to have some cake, but then he had to go through the castle, get back the Stars, save all of the people inside of the walls, and trounce Bowser.
It doesn't sound like much [and Mario isn't really known for an epic story], but at least Bowser had some of his bad-ass-ness in this game, unlike his role in Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door.
Mario Platforming successfully transitioned into the world of 3D gaming, and almost perfected the way you should do a 3D platformer.
You are given some vibrantly colored, massive [for the Nintendo 64] levels to explore, while collecting coins, jumping on Goombas heads, and finding the Power Stars that are hidden throughout the level, either by exploring the level, whomping some Boss character, or doing specific challenges in the Level. The levels themselves are very big, and give you plenty of room to explore every nook and cranny of them, and that may be all you want to do. I know that when I first got the game all I wanted to do for the first half hour was climb the Trees outside of the Castle.
I honestly did not expect the 3D platforming to be better than the NES games were, but I was surprised by how similar everything was, the Bowser levels even feel like how the NES games would be if they were 3D.
There are some really fun challenges in here too, such as the Ice Slide where you are racing a giant Penguin, and unique Levels like Lethal Lava Land where you can go inside of a Volcano, or Rainbow Ride where you get to float around on a Magic Carpet for most of the level.
One more thing you should know, Mario Games have been filled with power-ups that either make you bigger, let you shoot fire out of your glove, turn you into a raccoon [anyone else wondering how a bloody leaf can turn you into a raccoon?], well that wasn't in here this time but there are some magical hats in this game [hear me out, its not as ridiculous as it sounds!]. First, there is the Wing Cap which is a hat with wings, it lets you fly, then there is an Invisibility Cap... turns you invisible, finally there is the Metal Cap... I hope you get the idea by now.
Overall, everything works very well in this game.
Compared to the previous Mario games, this one is downright simplistic, and adequate proof of how games were simplified for mass audiences [I.E. I was never really good at the old Mario games; I am great at this one]. It won't be hard to beat the game because all you need to get to the final Bowser battle is 70 Stars [out of 120], and most of the Stars are easy enough to get, some are a pain in the ass though.
As I have been saying with most of the games I have reviewed, if you are just going to beat the game with as little as possible, this game will be easy for you, hell, even the Bowser battles aren't even that hard. But getting all 120 stars will take you a while.
Lets just put it this way, the Nintendo 64 Game Pad was made with this game in mind, everything controlled beautifully and the first time I played this game I was amazed by how much I could do. The controls were so much more precise than anything from the past was, and Mario was so easy to control. I just hope the Analog Stick on your controller does not break because I have snapped off a few of them with this game.
It may not look like much now, but for 1996 this was as good as you could get. Pretty much every level is vibrantly and brightly colored, and is incredibly well designed. And, as I said this was a huge step up from the NES games I was playing at the time [imagine going from only having PS1 Graphics, into PS3 graphics and that is how I felt]. As I was saying, pretty much everything was beautifully done, and everything was translated into 3D quite nicely.
The only problem for some people would be that there were a lot of Sprites used in the game for things like Trees, but those were still done very well so I did not have much of a problem with it.
Again, this was better than almost everything else at the time, some of the best music from games I have ever heard was in this game [the Bowser Level theme, and the Dire Dire Docks theme], most of the Music and the sound effects are incredible, the only flaw is that some of the music gets repetitive after a while, and some of the sounds get annoying after a while [like the Goomba's making whatever the hell that beeping noise is before they run at you].
There is also very little voice over work, but you can blame that on the limited capacity of the N64 Cartridge.
The best part of the atmosphere in this game is the incredible design of the environmental levels, which closely [for a N64 game] resemble what they are depicting. The music also captures the feel of most of the levels [the Water levels have calming music]. Other than that there is nothing to really immerse you into the platforming action of this game, but it is enough to do immerse you anyway.
The main reason to keep replaying this game is by doing speed runs, and to see how well you can exploit the game and beat the game in the fastest time possible [I believe there is one that took 16 minutes on YouTube], but I have just been replaying the Bowser levels a lot to prepare for when I get Super Mario Galaxy on Christmas.
There are also plenty of good levels in this game that are still fun 11 years later that you can play.
Great graphics and sound for its time, changed the way you play games, finally a good 3D platformer, Controls were very well done.
Abusive on the analog stick, not as long as it was intended to be [there were 30 levels planned], too easy.
Should you get it:
Mario 64 changed the way games would be played, and is deserving of a spot in any Game Library. Buy it used or download it onto your Nintendo Wii, you will not regret it.
This game was just another one of the nuggets of gold that drip from Shigeru Miyamoto's mind, and it was almost a perfect game. Nintendo changed the way games were played 11 years ago, and this game is still influencing Developers today.
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 11/26/07, Updated 01/22/08
Game Release: Super Mario 64 (US, 09/26/96)
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