"The game that paved the way for 3-D would of course be revolutionary. It is only natural that a Mario game gets this honor"

The switch from 2-D to 3-D was bound to happen eventually. It was only natural that a game as revolutionary as switching from 2-D to 3-D would be revolutionary. There should be no surprise that the game that got the honor of this title was a Mario game. Super Mario 64 did lack the charm that Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World had but it was still a solid game and overall a success. The game was successful enough to be a launch title for the Nintendo DS. Super Mario 64 paved the way for games to come into 3-D. Zelda would come to 3-D as would Metroid, although later on the GameCube. Super Mario 64 didn't just pave the way for Nintendo games though. Games like Metal Gear Solid and Final Fantasy VII would be put into 3-D after Super Mario 64 was introduced to the gaming market.

Storyline: The storyline has remained relatively unchanged. Princess Peach has been kidnapped by Bowser. Mario, it's time for you to go save her again. You don't have Yoshi. You don't have Luigi. It is just you, Mario and you have to rescue Peach and go confront Bowser. Unfortunately, Bowser has used the power of the stars to seal himself away. The premise consists of you going around the castle collecting stars. You do this, for the most part, by jumping in various portraits around the castle. These portraits are actually worlds and you get the vast majority of your stars from these worlds. Some quests may require you to beat a boss, to save someone, to outrace someone, to collect 8 red coins etc. Technically, it isn't traditional level to level, word to world story but at least Mario lacks a water can. The lack of Yoshi and Luigi was saddening but I guess the awe from being in a 3-D world was enough to negate that. The story could have probably used a little more spice though.

Game Play: 3-D Mario. A lot of things could go wrong. Fortunately it wasn't too bad on the N64 and proved to be an inspiration to other 3-D games. It wasn't too much of a pain trying to control Mario. The Nintendo 64 controller was not received very well but it worked quite well with this game. You jump around the castle or the worlds trying to complete your tasks. As Mario, you can jump and grab things as well as do a super jump. Your specials include the ability to fly after doing a triple jump and getting fat and floaty like in Super Mario World when you touched that “P” thing. The DS version gives you the option of using several characters but unfortunately the original version didn't have that luxury. You're just Mario through and through.

Each portrait as mentioned earlier is a “level”. You'll have the basics – a lava level, a water level, a mountain level, a snow level, you have the basics. As I said earlier, there are different ways to get the stars. I really like the idea of jumping into portraits to go to levels. As I kid, I remember wishing I could jump into a portrait and go to a new world. Some levels will have puzzles that you have to do. They aren't difficult though.

Your health is determined by this pie-like grid. You restore your life by collecting coins or by coming out of the water. Once you lose all your health though, you get booted from the portrait and once you lose all your lives…… you get booted from the castle! But you can just go back in as if it were no big deal. Contrary to what some might say, I found the camera to be quite acceptable… most of the time. A few moments in a few levels were unbearable but you can alter the camera to make it so you can actually see. Kingdom Hearts could take lessons from this game. The game play uses a combination of some unique new ideas and combines them with what the older Mario games had to offer. Not too bad. 8/10

Sound/Music: When Mario jumps, you will hear his annoying Italian laugh. Sure, it's cute at first but it can get annoying after a while. Bowser's laugh is quite cool though and the coins, blocks and enemies all manage to capture a classical feel which was needed in a game that was in transition from 2-D to 3-D. The soundtrack I didn't think was so great. The music was sub-par the whole game except for Bowser's levels and I was overall unsatisfied with the musical quality. 7/10

Graphics: Looking at it now and in comparison to the DS version, the graphics really aren't that good. But for it's time, the graphics were close to breathtaking. It's always hard to determine graphical quality on scenarios like this but the best way to go about it is too usually see how they were for it's time. This game doesn't really compare to Ocarina of Time but then again, this game came out sooner. The graphical quality isn't even that bad anyways. While the camera wasn't perfect, it really wasn't bad all things considered. Look at other earlier 3-D games. Those camera angles were absolutely atrocious. Each world is nicely done and new and old enemies alike join the fray against you. One thing I didin't like is that characters like toad would only appear when you got close to him. It wasn't a big deal, but it was still slightly annoying. Despite this, the graphics aren't bad at all. You have to look how they stood back then. 8/10

Replay Value/Side quests: This game, like any other Mario game, has a lot of replay value to it. You don't really need to start a new file though; you can just jump in the portrait. That's the beauty of this game. As far as sidequests go, there was not a whole lot to do but there were a lot of stars to collect. 120 total I believe. That's a lot and enough to keep one occupied for a while. There are hidden things along the castle though. Hidden paintings and secret passages are just some examples.

Scoring Breakdown:
Storyline: 8/10
Game Play: 8/10
Sound/Music: 7/10
Graphics: 8/10
Replay Value/Side quests: 9/10
Overall: 40/50 = 80% = 8 = B

Super Mario 64 is without a doubt one of the most revolutionary games out there. If you haven't played it yet on the N64, I must first ask why. It was the game everyone was talking about for a certain period of time. Now there's a version out for the Nintendo DS and one out for the Wii Virutal Console. Playing the Nintendo 64 version at this point in time probably wouldn't be the best. Despite severe control issues, the Nintendo DS is probably now the best way to play this game because of more stars to collect and more playable characters. But regardless of where you ply it, Super Mario 64 is a game everyone needs to play. It's not the greatest game ever but it is fun and it is original and it is a great game. As I said, it lacked the charm that the 2-D Mario games did. Really, Super Mario 64 stands alone to represent 3-D Mario. Super Mario Sunshine was a game that may have been liked by the hardcore fanbase but it was shunned by everyone else. Games like Super Mario Sunshine proved to be detrimental to the GameCube's reputation. Super Mario Galaxy looks to be a game that will flow like Super Mario 64. We can only hope that's the case. Regardless, super Mario 64 is a good game that everyone needs to play. So if for some strange reason you haven't yet, get to it.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 01/16/07

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