Review by Computerbug8
"Never had a game blown me away this much..."
Not only was Super Mario 64 the debut of Mario in 3D, but it was the debut of the Nintendo 64 in general, and I truly think that this was the best game Nintendo could have released to launch the N64. (yes, even better than Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time) If you're wondering why I think this game was the best choice to launch with the release of the Nintendo 64...ah, you probably aren't, because that was a long time ago, right? Whatever, on with the review.
Well, here's the story that began the N64 era: Mario has been invited to Princess Toadstool's castle (now, they're actually naming her "Peach"), because the princess has baked a cake for Mario. You're on your way to the castle in three dimensions, but you walk in and the castle is empty. Then, you hear a familiar, evil laugh...Bowser! Yes, Bowser is involved in the pilot N64 game. Now, why do you supposed Bowser is in the game? Yes, he has kidnapped the Princess again (Princess Peach now), and he's also sealed away all the power stars in the castle. Mario must jump through giant paintings in the castle that lead to other worlds and collect enough stars to save the princess and defeat the Koopa King once again!
The gameplay here is awesome. Now in three dimensions, Mario can run freely, so you're not just restricted to that one line-side scrolling style. He can also do backflips, super jumps and dives. There are some difficult puzzles to solve in the game to achieve the power stars, but for the most part, they're pretty easy. Oh, I'm sorry! I didn't tell you how to get stars yet, did I? Well then...
To get power stars, you have to jump through one of several giant paintings located throughout the castle, where you're immediately transported to other worlds. There are stars hidden in that world, and if you want them, you're going to have to solve some puzzles or complete certain objectives. There are six stars in each world, so there are six missions. Some stars can only be recieved by doing a specific mission, and once you get the star for that mission, you can't get a star from it again. There are about 120 stars in total you can get, but you only need 80 to complete the game.
While the gameplay is ALMOST flawless, there are some drawbacks. For one thing, in every world, getting a star will require you to scout the whole world (which can be kind of big) and collect all the red coins in that level and then collect the star. This becomes annoying when you need to solve a puzzle to catch a red coin or to risk losing a life and jump from spot to spot to get it. If they only did this for one or two levels I wouldn't mind, but when they do it for every stinking one, it gets annoying.
In addition to that, there aren't many bosses. In fact, there are only three main bosses, and each and every single one of them is against Bowser. Yes, there are some mini bosses, but they aren't too great or exciting. (neither is Bowser himself, for that matter) Why aren't the bosses so great? They tell you how to beat him. Be prepared to hear something like "Just try picking me up from behind and throwing me on the ground!" Why would a boss do something like that?
Finally, one small complaint comes from the gameplay itself rather than the way to get stars. Even though it's easy to get over a while in, the swimming sequences are a little awkward. Whenever you have Mario take a dive to search through a sunken ship or something like that, the camera can get kind of wacky, and the clunky controls don't make it a lot easier. Still, this isn't really a huge problem.
Those are only the negative factors of the game, though. Everything else is flawless. The puzzles, the navigation, all the things Mario can do are simply awesome.
The graphics are flawless and everything looks great. The castle on the inside, the castle on the inside, and all the worlds in between look great. When looking around and seeing how huge the world is and how small you are compared to it, it shows you how great the graphics are. Mario looks like Mario, Bowser looks like Bowser, and all the enemies like Goombas, Koopas and Chain Chomps that you've been battling in 2D for years now look awesome in 3D forms. Sure, sometimes the graphics look a little blocky, but this is of little consequence. Very well done here. Just about everything else is bright and colorful and is a true way of showing the power of the N64 in its early years.
The sound is pretty clear and sounds good. The background tracks sound all right quality-wise, and a lot of the tunes themselves memorable, albeit repetitive. There are also sound effects, and even a slight bit of voice acting. (you can actually hear Princess Peach talk!) Mario says "Let's-a-go!" whenever he jumps into a painting, and says "Mama Mia" whenever he gets thrown out of the painting when losing a life. Bowser doesn't make much sound, only some cackles and loud thumping noise when he walks. All the other enemies have their own little sound effects, but they sound cool for the most part. (although Mario's constant grunts may get annoying after a while)
This game could end up lasting you quite a while if you let it or if you try to get everything you can. While you only need about two-thirds of the total amount of stars to finish the game, you'll probably want to keep on going and see if you can get the rest of them. And depending on how you pace yourself, you can actually get the game to last you longer. If you want to get every star and you limit yourself to only getting one a day, then you're looking at an experience that will last you four months. (I know no one would really play like that-it was just a hypothetical as to how long you could be playing this if you wanted to)
I don't see the point in going back and starting from level one if you've finished the game and want to play the earlier stages. Since you can just go into any world at any time (as long as you're not already in one), you can replay just about every single level at will. There will most definitely be levels you had fun playing, and with the ability to play them again whenever you want after finishing them, this game could have quite a bit of replay value.
+ Great gameplay overall
+ Graphics are really nice
+ Sound is pleasant to listen to
+ Good length
+ Ability to replay any level at any time
+ Mario in 3D, man! (lots of exploration options)
+ Lots of levels
- Bosses are too easy
- Swimming controls and camera are awkward
- Some missions are repetitive throughout the levels
As said earlier, this is not only the premiere of Mario and his friends in 3D, but it was the introduction to the N64. This game pretty much takes everything the Nintendo 64 can handle and pushes it to the limits. The large amount of levels and the six missions to go with each one keep the game nice and organized and makes it easy for you to pace yourself when playing. The graphics and sounds are done well, and the only real flaws are how missions can be repetitive and the swimming controls are off.
It's such a shame that this was almost the peak of the Nintendo 64's great games. (what's even more of a shame is that this was the game that came out with it!)
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 10/28/05, Updated 01/01/08
Game Release: Super Mario 64 (US, 09/26/96)
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