Review by Aganar
Reviewed: 07/29/01 | Updated: 07/04/02
Still the best 3d Platformer ever!
In 1996, Nintendo EAD released their newest project, a fully 3d Mario game. Before it was done they made alot of changes to it as well as experimentations. When it finally came out it had an unbelievable amount of hype. Hardcore fans didn't like it, some people weren't sure. But, most people thought this was one hell of a game. I agree with them. Also, I have noticed that my original review of this game was crap, so since this game deserves better, I am totally re-doing it.
My god, are the graphics beautiful. I mean, this isn't just a Crash clone, this is Mario!IN 3-D!When I first saw these they totally amazed me! In fact, it was that Christmas that my brother and I were deciding what new system to get. I wanted to get a Saturn (I didn't know it was bad at the time I just wanted VF2), and he wanted to get a Playstation. Then, we both saw some guy playing Mario 64 at a mall and just the sheer graphics and the knowledge that our favorite mascot was in 3d made us decide to get that. Wise choice on our side.
Now, I'll get into technical terms. For the time, the game's graphics far surpassed anything we had seen before. The polygon counts on Mario, Peach, Toad, and Bowser were simply off the scale. It was just amazing how good they looked. The entire worlds were all just so detailed. This is quite nice. For one thing, as I said, you now have your favorite characters back in 3d with their polygon counts far exceeding anything for the time. Then you have guys who can take up the whole screen because they are so huge like Bowser or the Eel. And they look even better! The N64 really showed off with these. Then, you even have some characters who are rendered! Granted that's taking the coward’s way out to conserve memory but it makes them look really good, and were only done on necessary characters (like the bomb-ombs since they are curved spheres, or the trees at some points). I must admit, when they did cheat a little you can barely tell.
Next, onto the world itself. The world that you walk around in is jaw dropping when you first see it. All of the worlds are HUGE!I mean, they are gigantic! And they look so great. Not only are each of the worlds great and extremely big, but there is 15 of them! I mean, let's face it: If the PSX or the Saturn had tried this when they first came out they would've exploded. It's hard to describe why it looked so good. Maybe just because we had never seen anything like this before. Maybe because usually when we had worlds like this before they looked extremely blocky (even for then). But now we had such huge worlds you can explore, and they look better than anything!
Finally, I'll get into the camera angles. The camera is controlled by you. Well, the Laiktu brother following you anyway. The camera allows you to see these giant worlds without getting in the way, which is definitely a plus. Very rarely does it ever become a problem, and when it does you can afford to have Mario move a bit. Most of the game because of the excellent camera you're stood awing at this game's gorgeous backgrounds just thinking ''wow''. Great job, and you better believe graphics gets a 10!
The control is excellent. I mean superb. The control far exceeds Spyro or Crash for that matter. I was surprised at it. As said above, the camera angles are controllable by you. With the ''c'' buttons, you can move the camera around Mario to get different perspectives of the world. With the shoulder buttons you can zoom in or zoom out so you can see Mario right behind his shoulder or move it so he's a little dot on the screen. The camera was really a good idea and was needed, since you are now in full 3-d.
Now, when you control Mario, the feel you used to have is totally different. Before, it was run, jump, land, kill. Now it's run, jump, flip, bounce, punch, kill. Mario is now somehow an acrobat. I don't know why but it makes the game a hell of alot more fun. Also, he now has tons of new moves. Instead of one jump he can do a regular jump, a double jump, a flip, a punch, a kick, a punch kick combo, a backwards flip, a butt-stomp, a long jump, and many other combos you can string together like a double jump flip butt-stomp combo!
If it were just that though, the control would be no better than crash. But the real thing setting them apart is the fact that this is full 3d. No more linear paths Mario has to follow. Mario can explore the worlds anyway he wants. And the control was obviously made for just that. Combined with the moveable camera, Mario's athletics, and all the combos you can string together, you can tell that the control was made for exploring, but more importantly, made to have fun.
Now we get to the cream of the crop, the gameplay. The gameplay is so immensely fun it's just unbelievable. I'm serious. I cannot believe how much fun this game is. It is just so much fun and so damn addictive to just run around, jump or punch and kick your enemies, steal their coins, and move on. It's almost unhealthy! When I first tried it I wondered how they could make it so much fun when it was in 3d.
But, fun factor is not all a game has. A game has to also be deep. And this is just that. For one thing, there no longer is any path. You jump into a world; it's your world. You do whatever you want. You can find the stars, play around with the monsters, or just explore. That is the key point to this game...exploration. The Zelda games obviously took their toll when Miyamoto went into 3d. Mario is no longer about pure combat. Now the object of this game is to explore. Because, unlike the other Mario games, or like Crash, you don't come to a portal at the end of the level. You only get out of the world if you have accomplished something (i.e getting a star or dying) in the level.
I was totally shocked how much you explored. I was also shocked how much I quickly got used to it and started to love it. To get the stars which you need to progress in the game, you must search your surroundings to complete the mission objectives. You can not simply wonder to the end of the world and say ''I'm done with this level! On to the next!'' No, bad boy. You should be slapped for even calling it a level, and thinking it can be done that easily. To find the stars, you much search every nook and cranny, every area your eyes can see, any and every place that looks suspicious. You must fight bosses, play minigames, or even just find certain coins.
And just talk about astonishment when you first try it, I spent the first 20 minutes outside the castle! Now why would somone seeing a 4-story castle simply walk around outside? Well, it's because this game was done so perfectly that even exploring outside is really fun. Most of the time I spent outside was just jumping around laughing and awing that my favorite over-weight plumber was now an acrobat, and climbing trees or swimming. It was just so great even though I hadn't even entered any levels yet!
Once you finally get into the first level, it is jaw-dropping. After gaping at how big it is, you wonder how long it will take you to beat it. But then you realize something. This isn't just a three dimensional plane, this is a living, breathing world. You can go around and talk to the pink bomb-ombs and they'll tell you stuff. You can walk around and observe how the goombas interact. You can just sit around and watch the world go by, because there is no time limit to how long you spend in there. It's your world, you do whatever you want with it.
When you finally get there, you'll be surprised what you can do. Unlike the 2d games if Mario is at one level he isn't there for life. So you run towards a wall, just seeing what will happen. You double jump for the heck of it to see how big it is. And then what happens? Mario snags on to a ledge, climbs up, and you have a whole nother section of this world to explore. It's great because while you need to explore to beat the game, you can go through most of the game by just killing bosses or winning minigames. The most stars you'll eve need to be able to explore any level except the last is 30. If you can get 30, the entire castle is yours and you won't have to explore if you don't want to.
Anyway, now that I've turned you off this review by going on and on about the game's gameplay (which I think you can figure out gets a 10), I'll get into the sound. To make it short, it's excellent. Mario, finally, has a voice. And surprisingly enough, it sounds really good! Sure, it's Italian and kinda stereotypical, but he's very cartoony, so it fits very well! The sound for the monsters and characters are all very good. They did a great job.
The music is nothing short of excellence. Not only are there totally new and cool tunes, but also they have alot of old tunes remixed, and they sound great. The instruments aren't as good as they could've been (i.e. being orchestrated like in Zelda), but they still deserve a perfect score. Also, I totally love the credits theme. It's just so weird and cool, yet fitting. Good job Koji Kondo!
Finally, I'll get to replay value. Don't expect there to be little just because the other Mario games didn't have a huge amount. You are so wrong it's not even funny. This game has some of the largest amounts of replay value ever. You can collect up to 120 stars! After that, you get a secret rendezvous with Yoshi, and he'll give you 100 lives and a special triple jump!
If getting the 120 stars was somehow a breeze for you (you must've been on something to call that a breeze), then there's still more. You can replay the old minigames like the race with Koopa, or the sliding Penguin race again. Only now the Penguin is a hell of a lot fatter and alot faster as well. Hehe. Even though I've collected them all I still go back to the old levels and just explore, because no matter how many times you play it this game never gets old.
When you need a game to stimulate you or just to challenge you without feeling simple but easy to catch on to, Mario 64 is the game for you. A 3 year old can play it yet the smartest man in the world can find it deep and intelligent. Even though its just a game it feels like so much more. It feels like you are actually in these worlds, and it is actually yours to control.
So, overall, this game is perfect. Its graphics were top notch, the gameplay was far beyond anything for the time, the music was great and it had tons of replay value. Even though some people say they don't find it fun playing as Mario they all admit that the game is great. It simply can't be denied that Nintendo put alot of effort into this. With the release of Mario Sunshine, there might finally be a game to surpass is, but still. Shigeru Miyamoto, congratulations and thank-you for a wonderful game I will never forget!
Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
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