"One of the best and most revolutionary games ever made."

Nowadays, everyone loves their three dimensional gaming. In fact it is almost unthinkable to think of games only having two dimensions anymore. With all of the recent smash three dimensional hits, next generation consoles, and game companies always trying to give themselves the edge, two dimensional gaming has almost become nonexistent. And with it, the difficulty of games has gone down drastically as well. No more do you have difficult games with a simple, 'replayable until the end of time' concept. Gone are the days when games like Contra 3, Mega Man 2, Super Mario 3, Pac Man, and Super Metroid absolutely ruled the market. Between their difficulty, simplicity of design, and amazing replay value, these games are timeless. Games like that simply aren't made as often anymore. Today, games are too long to have a legendary replay value. Running around shooting a bunch of infested vermin while in an effort to save your own skin from getting capped from the unseen enemy that magically appeared behind you is a lost art. Today, games play more like movies, and while this fits the times well, difficulty does not exist anymore.

So how did all of this get started? Why give up solid gameplay to try to make a few extra dollars for yourself? The beginnings of this gaming trend began with console wars, the same console wars that began in the days when Sega and Nintendo battled it out. Nintendo won in time, but Sega managed to prove that Nintendo was not invincible; the people liked their timeless classics, but wanted something fresh and new. Enter the legendary battle between Sony and Nintendo, which happens to still be going on. It all began with two systems: the Nintendo 64, and the Sony Playstation. Around that time, the attitude of the video game industry shifted toward its present state.

But even then, a game had to come along that really caught the attention of everyone. And while the three dimensional gaming era does not feature many titles that will go down as timeless, infinitely replayable classics, a lot of the games from the beginning of these console wars still manage to fit the bill. One of which is the legendary Super Mario 64. Before this game's release, 3D gaming was pretty much nonexistent. And if it was there, I can't think of many titles off the top of my head that made the impact Super Mario 64 did. During the beginning stages of the console wars, here we had a game released as a launch title for the Nintendo 64 that was both a 3D title and timeless, something you do not see much of these days. The N64 released quite a number of these gems, and I will try to make an effort to cover most of them.

Gameplay

This is where Super Mario 64 really shines. Until this title, all Mario could do was run around in his two dimensional world and jump on the bad guys. But now he has more ways of dealing with them. He can jump on their heads, punch them, stomp on them, fly over them, grab them, and even throw them. And this is only the beginning. This game features Mario donning wings and taking flight, turning into metal and walking on the ocean floor, flying out of cannons, jumping off of walls, and doing all sorts of other things that were simply unheard of before this game was made. Nintendo touched upon a nerve in gamers never seen before. Finally, we had a timeless classic of a game that could be replayed for years and years to come, and believe me, it has been.

The concept of the game is simple enough. While Princess Toadstool is busy getting ready to make a cake for her darling sweetheart known as Mario, Bowser kidnaps the princess and takes over the Mushroom Kingdom Castle. It is up to you to find a bunch of stars in order to unlock other parts of the castle and free the princess. Doors in the castle have numbers on them, and they symbolize the set number of stars you need to open the door. Simple enough, for we have seen these types of situations in other Mario titles. Bowser has kidnapped the Princess again? Mario must save her? OH NOES!

But this Mario title manages to both incorporate the traditional Mario elements with things never seen before. Many games have tried to do what Mario 64 has done in that they release a new game with new elements in order to revolutionize the industry, but most of them fail horribly at this.

But running off with the mouth about how fun Mario 64 is is one thing; you have to actually play the game before you can see for yourself. Then again, the game is almost eight years old now. If you have not played it by now, you do not know what you are missing. Getting all 120 stars is a fun challenge, and the bosses of the game are varied enough so that you are not doing the same things over and over again. Bowser is the exception, but there are not too many new things that you can do with a giant turtle. Super Mario Sunshine tried to change Bowser's style, and the game wound up paying a huge price for it. The game's replay value comes from trying to get all 120 stars, and how fun it is. You can beat the game by getting the bare minimum, but where is the fun in that? Getting all 120 stars is that much more fun you can have with Mario and all of his new features. And if you do not believe me, the replay value of this game has had people doing the tasks of this game over and over again for years. Come to think of it, we are still doing them.

Graphics

At the time this game was released, the graphics were some of the best ever seen in gaming. And come to think of it, they still hold up pretty well by even today's standards. Too many games nowadays think that having hot girls is the key to making a good game (SEE: Final Fantasy X-2), but this could not be more false. The key is having an environment that runs smoothly with what you are trying to do. Mario 64 does this perfectly, and then some. Mario's surrounding rarely get in his way or get glitchy to the point where he has to take the cheap way out of a level, and that is what gaming is all about. Simple, yet fun.

Music

Considering all the time you spend in some of these levels, Nintendo needed to make some music that was not a bore to listen to after a little while. They pulled it off perfectly, in my opinion. The water levels especially are quite relaxing.

Overall

Mario 64 gets a perfect score, and for good reason. It revolutionized gaming, it is still a damned fun game to play, and it still gives the magical feeling of nostalgia whenever fans of the game pick it up again. And even then, the game has so much replay value that fans pick it up time and time again years after its initial release. Few games are good enough to do this, but Mario 64 was able to do it with ease. I can only think of a handful of other games off the top of my head that have amazing gameplay, amazing replay value, that have revolutionized gaming as we know it, and are fun to play even today.


Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 06/19/04, Updated 06/11/10

Game Release: Super Mario 64 (US, 09/26/96)


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