Review by Fieryterminator
A game for the ages
Super Mario 64 is a game that has stood the test of time. Although that is a rather large cliche, it fits no other game quite as well as it does this one. There are wonderful, classic games that did nearly everything right, but just didn't have that element that brings forth such a lasting charm. You could say it's the bright, colorful atmospheres that decorate the game. You could say it's the heart-warming music that floats through these atmospheres. One could even say it's the feeling of adventuring through such imaginative and open worlds that gives this game its charm. All of these are valid answers, but the real truth lies in the fact that it's the masterful combination of these elements that really brings this replayability.
Upon this game's release, it was hailed for many things such as being the first Mario game in 3D and being one of the most successful console launch games of all time. Although these are in fact true, I'd like to skip past this and give this game a grade based solely on its quality and nothing more. Let's begin.
The sound effects don't play a very large role at all, seeing as most of the time it's the music that takes over the level. This is because the game keeps it simple, so the only kind of sound effects you hear are doors creaking, birds chirping, or Mario taking out one of Bowser's minions. However, Mario 64 features almost no voice-acting (Except the intro), so throughout the game, you'll be seeing a fair bit of speech bubbles. Fortunately, speech bubbles work quite well for it.
The sound effects are not too prominent, but they get the job done well. One of Super Mario 64's best features is the music trailing Mario in each world he visits. Each song has a different theme, and the theme is based on the level that you're currently playing or the boss that you're fighting. Because of this method, the games' music is very well done. From the moment you get to the start screen, you're entranced. It fits so well with the atmosphere that you scarcely notice it, but I doubt anyone would play without it.
This game doesn't variate too much from the classic Mario template, as the story is considered to be much less important than the gameplay, graphics, and sound. The story is basically as following: Mario receives a letter from Princess Toadstool inviting him over for cake. Mario travels out to the castle, only to discover that she's been kidnapped by Bowser. We play as Mario on his journey through the castle to get his love (and his cake) back. As I mentioned earlier, it doesn't innovate too much story-wise. I'd have liked to see Mario do something else for once, but it's not bad per se, so it's alright.
One of the strongest features of Super Mario 64 is its graphics. Despite the Nintendo 64's small texture cache, Nintendo still managed to craft bright, beautiful landscapes that you can play for hours at a time. The framerate is quite high for its system, which brought a lot of fluidity to Mario's movement. Some of the character animations are 2-dimensional, but this is hardly noticeable and doesn't impair the experience at all. The game does a good job with graphics, and especially for a Nintendo 64 game.
The game follows a very specific formula in order to get peach. There are 15 levels, and 7 stars in each of them. The stars that you collect are used to unlock new rooms in the Castle, and are not lost when used. It's a simple formula, but effective. Now, every Mario game since has copied this endlessly. It is very fun to run around as Mario and explore the secrets of these worlds.
The amount of movement Mario can do is just insane. He can kick, jump-kick, dive, roll-dive, jump, double jump, and even triple jump. Accessing and discovering the secrets of all these worlds is immensely entertaining, and definitely worth doing. All in all, Mario really wins you over on the gameplay, and keeps you hooked till' the end.
Mario 64 may not be the most advanced game of its time, or the best graphics-wise, but it's a solid game that should be placed at the forefront of every gamer's collection, no matter what genre they like. I'd say buy it. I promise you won't regret it.
Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Product Release: Super Mario 64 (US, 09/26/96)
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