Review by cvxfreak

Reviewed: 02/09/02 | Updated: 02/09/02

If this was great, imagine what Mario Sunshine will be like!

Ever since 1985, Nintendo has provided the best classics gaming can offer. They offer the platforming of Mario, and Donkey Kong, the depth of Zelda and Fire Emblem, and the unique gameplay in the Star Fox series. Now, in 2002, Nintendo has released its Nintendo GameCube. But before the GameCube's release, and after the Super Famicom's era, the Nintendo 64 lived. Its first game, Super Mario 64, is in absolutely no doubt, my favorite 3D Mario EVER. (Super Mario RPG doesn't count).

The Mario series' creator, Shigeru Miyamoto, managed to translate a powerful 2D game into a 3D masterpiece. I applaud Shigeru Miyamoto. He has created THE Nintendo 64 masterpiece.

Super Mario 64 is the first Nintendo 64 games. Back in 1996, the game simply blew gamers out of their minds. They were used to Mode 7, 2D graphics, like Super Mario World. The graphics in this game are superior to that of most PlayStation and Saturn games.The game features a fully 3D world, where the camera moves along with Mario's movements. The worlds are extremely detailed. Textures in this game are gorgeous, considering the release of this game. Super Mario 64's textures look better than some Dreamcast and PlayStation 2 games it isn't even funny! Though there are many jaggies in this game, where bumpy edges appear, this is a 1996 game.

The characters in the game, whether it be Mario, Yoshi, Goomba, Bowser or the Bomb King, all look detailed, and are fun to look at. The color of the characters are carefully crafted onto the character models, to give a great, authentic look to the Mario universe. The best thing, though, is that the game keeps a constant frame rate. There is never any slowdown, showingg that the power of the Nintendo 64 was used carefully. 1996 greatness. Even the latest PlayStation games simply cannot match this game graphically.

Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels, Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World for the NES, NES, NES and SNES respectively, were all very straightforward Mario games. Miyamoto returns to the formula of Mario, but decides to take an approach much like he did with Super Mario Bros. 2 (Super Mario USA in Japan). He decides to change the gameplay considerably, to make it much different. And he succeeded. He succeeded alright.

Super Mario 64 is a 3D game. Instead of straight, linear levels in which he simply stomps on goombas and heads for the goal, he must collect Peach's Stars and use them to defeat his nemesis, Bowser (Koopa in Japan), who is back after his mecha-koopa beating in Super Mario World. He must tap into the castle's paintings and capture 80-120 stars in order to finally defeat Bowser again.

Miyamoto has taken a platformer, and instead of linear gameplay, you can wonder throughout the many paintings and levels, and defeat enemies, have races with penguins, and even fly high up in the sky. Mario takes 3 new incarnations. Instead of Super Mario, Raccoon Mario, Feather Mario, and Fireball Mario like in SMB, SMBTLL, SBM3 and SMW, he takes the form of regular Mario, Metal Mario, Wingcap Mario and Vanishcap Mario. Miyamoto has changed the formulas well, and uses the coreses to spread the use of these new Mario incarnations.

Unfortunately, Luigi is notable absent in this incarnation. Having Luigi would have enhanced the gameplay options, such as having ''Luigi-only'' areas in some stages, much similar to Donkey Kong 64, where Diddy can reach one area Donkey can't because Diddy can reach small areas, etc. It would have been cool if they had some high areas Luigi can reach, but I guess that would defeat the purpose of the wingcap. No big, ferocious deal.

Well, the story is not bad, but it isn't exactly top notch, and deep like say, Final Fantasy IV, or Star Fox 64. The story takes place probably after the events of Super Mario RPG. Let me run you down Mario-ville, which contains spoilers for those who have unlike;y not played previous Mario games.

In Super Mario Bros., Bowser kidnapped Princess Peach, and Mario and Luigi eventually saved her, after pulling a switch in which Bowser fell. He survived, and vanished for awhile. Mario, Luigi, Peach and Toad were together now. In Super Mario USA, an evil villain named Wart ruled over subcon. Mario and friends were taken to subcon, where they fought new villans, particularly Shy Guys, with vegetables. Wart was defeated, but in the end, the whole ordeal was only a figment of Mario's dreams.

Bowser returned and wrecked havoc in Super Mario Bros. 3, and again in Super Mario World, but Mario and Luigi defeated Bowser once again. In Super Mario RPG, Bowwser once again attempted to take Princess, but was shortly thworted not by Mario, but by a giant sword called Exor, whom was working for Smithy, an evil alien who accidentally destroyed Star Road, the keeper of wishes. Mario and Bowser teamed up with Mallow and Geno, and even the Princess helped. Smithy was defeated. Now, in Super Mario 64, Bowser is once again Mario's enemy, kidnaps her once again. Will Mario save her? Let's just avoid the mysteries and give it a yes.

As in all Mario games, we have the classic Mario Bros. theme, remixed to be modern. Miyamoto took a different musical approach this time, by giving each course a musical theme. In snowlevels, you get winter-like music, while in water courses, you get the relaxing water-type music. They all sound very nice to hear, and sound clear, thanks to the N64's great sound capabilities.

There is very little reason to replay this game again. The game is the same whenever you play it, but it is worth it to get all 120 Stars, and see an old friend, reincarnated into 3D. Otherwise, one go through this game is all you need to fully enjoy this masterpiece. Enjoy it the first time through, you probably will.

Super Mario 64 is a timeless classic. Its stretches the boundaries of what 2D to 3D transformations should be. At the same time, the game itself is kept its gameplay unique, and not carbon ala SMB and the Lost Levels.

If this was great, imagine what Mario Sunshine will be like!

Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

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