Review by Retro

"A major step for next generation video games"

It's hard to even choose where to begin when talking about Super Mario 64. It was the game that I couldn't wait to play when I first read the previews for it a few years ago, and it made me want to get a Nintendo 64 so bad I didn't know what to do. I ended up getting a Nintendo 64 and of course, Super Mario 64 was my first game for the system. When I first played Super Mario 64, I was in awe over just about all the aspects of the game. Before the Nintendo 64 came along, the most revolutionary action/adventure game (or so I heard) that I had played was Crash Bandicoot. Super Mario 64 put Crash Bandicoot to shame by being a completely 3-D game where you can explore everything in site. Of course, the main thing I was in awe over when I first played this innovative cart was the graphics, but everything else about it was just as revolutionary as the graphics were.

When it comes to graphics, at the time of Super Mario 64's release, there wasn't any mistaking that it had the most astounding graphics ever seen in a video game. The many worlds are fully explorable and very detailed. There's just about any kind of world that you can imagine in Mario's 64-bit adventure. There's everything from the kinds of worlds you would expect to see in just about all action/adventure games such as water worlds and an ice world, to the not so usual kinds of levels such as one where you climb inside a huge clock and have to meddle around with its gears, and even a high rising world set in the skies that features flying carpets. Most of the graphics are colorful and well detailed all the way through. There are cool graphical effects such as a ship in the water that slowly creaks back and forth and a lava waterfall inside a humongous volcano. Not only are there great graphical effects, but also spectacular creature effects such as the eel's and the shark's lifelike movements and an eyeball that keeps its eye on you until you run it dizzy. Even the backgrounds look sharp and realistic, especially the ones in the ice world.

The sound and music are straight out what you would expect from your typical Mario adventure, only more enhanced than ever. You'll hear Mario talk so much in Super Mario 64 when compared to all his previous journeys that you'll wonder if he's been fiddling around with some laughing gas or something. Well, I guess not, he doesn't laugh any, but you will hear him use such expressions as ''mama mia'' and ''yahoo'' pretty often. Just like Mario's sounds, the sounds of the enemies throughout the whole game are crystal clear and imaginitive. The music goes great no matter where you're at in this vast trek. For anyone who likes video game nostalgia, you might even recognize some of the music from earlier Mario games while you explore certain areas.

Super Mario 64's control was unbelievably revolutionary at the time of its release. Since this was the first game for the Nintendo 64 that required complete usage of the control stick, this was the first time many people got to see that even though it might not look like it, the control stick was a great addition in ways of controlling video games. If you barely move the control stick in any direction, Mario will tiptoe or walk real slowly in that direction, but if you move the control stick as far as you can in any direction, Mario will take off like a track & field sprinter.

Alright, now it's on to the big question. Is Super Mario 64's gameplay as great as everything else in the game? The answer is a huge YES! The princess has been kidnapped once again by Bowser, so it's up to Mario to save her, only this time it'll be in 64-bit fashion. If you've ever played any of the previous games in the Super Mario Bros. series, Super Mario World, etc., you'll soon recognize a few familiar moves in Super Mario 64 such as the busting of blocks to obtain certain items, and the collecting of coins no matter where you go. However, there are A LOT of differences and additions to Mario's list of moves and things to do this time around. Instead of just jumping on top of enemies, Mario can now punch, stomp, kick, jump kick, drop kick, slide, and perform a few other fighting moves to rid areas of deadly pests.

The main goal of Super Mario 64 is to collect as many stars as you can in the game. To collect stars, Mario (that's you) has to do certain things such as rescue a baby penguin and take it to its mom, go inside pyramids full of sand traps, open treasure boxes in a certain order, race a turtle, fetch a star from a swimming eel, and so on. In every world, Mario can also earn a star by collecting at least 100 coins or by finding all the red coins in that vast territory. But that's just the beginning, the more stars Mario collects, the farther he can go in the game and the closer he will get to fighting the game's ultimate boss, Bowser.

At the start of your game, there is a certain number on some doors representing how many stars you must collect before you can go into that door. Once you go through any of the doors, you'll see a huge picture somewhere in that room. To begin your journey in any of the worlds, you just have to jump into the huge portrait, and that's when the story will unfold and you'll see what Mario's 64-bit worlds are like. Not only are there stars and coins everywhere, there are many other items and even some familiar faces that will help Mario on the course of his trek in the world of the huge castle and on his path to finding Bowser and getting the princess back once again. Right before you start in any of the levels, a screen will come up that will give you a short description of what you have to do to find the star in the level you choose to enter. Scattered here and there throughout Super Mario 64 are several small signs full of helpful hints, and what would this game be without Toad? Toad provides Mario with more hints and advise than just about any player's guide will, and he might even give Mario a free star or two.

Believe it or not, there are still a few skills and items that are to be found and noted in Super Mario 64. On top of now being able to fight like a beginning martial artist, Mario has now become an avid swimmer, he can jump off of walls, and even do flips and a triple jump. Mario doesn't have to collect mushrooms for extra weight anymore. Instead, he can either get in some water and float to the top or collect coins in order to replenish health. But even more spectacular than anything, if you're good at exploring, you'll find a few new abilities that will drastically help Mario out a lot more than his Bruce Lee impersonations ever will. Mario has been known to fly in some of his previous games, but now, in the form of a cap with wings on it that comes from red blocks, Mario can soar higher and fly faster than Dumbo has ever been able to. Also hidden somewhere in the game is the ability to turn into metal (green blocks), which will enable Mario to sink like a rock and walk on the bottom of water filled capactities. Finally, Mario can become invisible for a short time (blue blocks) and even walk through a few walls as if he was a ghost.

The last thing I need to mention about Super Mario 64 is that since it's a true 3-D game, it requires the use of camera angles. By using the four yellow C buttons on the controller, you can change the camera angle from left to right, zoom in or zoom out, and even zoom real close up and look around 360º in any direction in case you need to get a better look at your surroundings. Managing the camera angles will take some getting used to, but they're not bad enough to take away anything from the overall experience of this gem.

It's hard to put into words how revolutionary of a game Super Mario 64 was when it was first released, and even how revolutionary it still is today. Just like Pitfall! revolutionized 2-D side scrollers by being the first of its kind back in the days of the Atari 2600, Super Mario 64 revolutionized 3-D action/adventures by being the first truly 3-D adventure. Without a doubt, Super Mario 64 is one of the most innovative video games of all time, and there probably won't be an adventure game that's even close to being as revolutionary as it was unless video games turn into virtual reality in the years to come. If you like action or adventure games, I would recommend getting Super Mario 64 as soon as you can. Even after you beat Super Mario 64 so many times you can recognize its ending, you'll probably still play it from time to time, I know I have and still do. On top of that, if you don't feel like playing the game, you could always mess up Mario's face at the title screen. Depending on your imagination, you could make Mario look like a buck toothed donkey, an unidentified living thing, and so on.

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 06/27/01, Updated 05/20/02

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