Review by nucleargamer12

Reviewed: 04/21/03 | Updated: 04/22/03

The Nintendo 64 takes off with a blast, thanks to this outstanding game!

In the days when Sega and Nintendo's system wars raged, the SNES and the Genesis rivaled side by side, fighting to the bitter end for popularity and sales. Four years later, Nintendo decided to release a truly advanced, 64-bit console--one that could stand above the competition. And, to keep the Nintendo tradition going, the consle's first release game would star the world-famous Italian plumber, Mario. Almost three years of work was put into making one of Nintendo's greatest achievements ever--one that would set an example to every future 3d platformer. That achievement was, quite simply, Super Mario 64.

Released in late summer of 1996 after experiencing several delays, Super Mario 64 soon became THE game to have, boasting unbelievable graphics and unrivaled, flawless gameplay. Even now, 6 years later, Super Mario 64 still provides a thrilling experience to gamers young and old.

Gameplay: 35/35

Super Mario 64's gameplay is totally stunning. Mario is on a quest to save the Mushroom Kingdom's citizens and its Princess Peach from the formidable King of Koopas, Bowser. Traversing and exploring 15 vast levels and many side-quests, a player will undoubtedly be sucked into the 3d environment. As soon as you start your game, you will see how amazing the Mario world really is. Courses are spread out inside many paintings in Princess Peach's castle, and each course provides the gamer with a brand new 3d world to explore.

Another interesting aspect of the game is that you no longer have a single path to follow when you enter a level. For the first time in gaming history, you can explore anywhere you want on a 3-dimensional environment. To get the power stars you need to progress in this game, you need to search your surroundings carefully to complete the mission objectives shown on the ''course start'' screen. There are seven power stars in a single level, which are used to gain back the castle's power. There are also various hidden stars throughout the castle. Mario must fight countless enemies and bosses, travel through series of mazes, win races with formidable opponents, check every suspicious-looking place you see, and collect special red coins to get the stars and keys you'll need for the final showdown with the fire-breathing Koopa King.

Mario now has a host of new moves, including a punch-punch-kick combo, some flashy jumps, and a cool wall kick for getting onto high platforms. Nostalgic 1-UP mushrooms are still present, along with several new items, including Koopa shells, special caps that allow flight and invincibility, hearts, and cannons. The plumber is also charged with an eight-piece life bar, which lets him withstand hits and breathe underwater. There are some cool one-on-one fights with innovative bosses, while the original Goomba-stomping fun is still here! Too bad the friendly dinosaur, Yoshi, is limited to a cameo appearance in the game, and Mario's brother, Luigi, is nowhere to be seen...

Very little glitches affect Super Mario 64's gameplay, and overall, the gameplay of Super Mario 64 is ultimately satisfying.

Graphics: 25/25

Being the first 64-bit game ever made, Super Mario 64's graphics have thoroughly showed off the Nintendo 64's capabilities. Vast worlds and moody environments make this game's graphics on par with even some of the newly released games on more powerful systems.

Mario, Nintendo's reputable Italian mascot, has gone through quite a facelift in the making of this game, converting his famous red-and-blue attire into a polygonal form. He has a rather innovative look in the game, and plays very well in the three-dimensional world. The constant framerate programmed into the game prevents slowdown and improves the graphics themselves.

The enemy designs in Super Mario 64 are nothing short of spectacular. Ranging from the old-school Goombas, Boos, Bob-ombs, and Koopas to the newly innovated Amps, Spindrifts, and Whomps, the 3d enemy designs fit right in with the 3d environment. Bowser looks moderately ferocious and intimidating in his gigantic shell, and the other bosses and characters look great, as well.

Super Mario 64's backgrounds and level designs were unmatched by any platformer of its time. A wholly three-dimensional world unfolds the minute you jump into one of the magical paintings scattered through Princess Peach's castle. Courses are filled with bright colors and moody environments, with details down to the petals on flowers and the stripes on the fish. Animations are fluid, solid, and sometimes mildly entertaining.

Music: 9/10

Brilliant music is featured in this Mario adventure, some new tunes sounding just as good as classic ones. The music fits into a level's mood quite well, for the most part, although some of the soundtracks are repeated throughout different levels. All of the songs are completely original, with the slight exceptions of some remixes, and most reflect upon Super Mario 64's happy-go-lucky attitude.

A minor problem with the music's originality is the lack of nostalgia and creativity within the songs. Apart from the title theme, Hazy Maze Cave's music, and a few other tunes, the soundtracks in the game are completely non-reminiscent of any past Mario game. It'd have been better if more classic songs were present...

But the bottom line still holds: the music of Super Mario 64 can be enjoyed by everyone, whether nostalgic or not.

Sound: 9/10

It seems like, in this game, EVERY SINGLE ACTION Mario does causes him to yell out a kiddy, dramatic phrase, like ''Yah!'' or ''Yippee!'' Granted, these voice clips will get on your nerves rather quickly, but the fact that they are acted very well keeps me from significantly lowering this score. Mario, a fat Italian plumber, actually sounds like a fat Italian plumber, and not Bill Clinton. Voice clips are very limited in the game, but, for the most part, they all sound very nice. Mario's footsteps sound very realistic as he walks, and the sounds he makes while swimming are also nicely executed.

Other sound effects sound like modified, better versions of the original Mario games. Coins still make the ''Ching!'' sound when you touch them, and enemies still go ''Bloop!'' when they're stepped on. Overall, the sounds in this game were pretty decent.

Controls: 5/5

Mario controls surprisingly well in his first 3d debut. The ingenious control stick on the controller made Mario's 360-degree movement very easy, and the wide array of Mario's moves can be executed effortlessly, thanks to the convenient placement of buttons.

The B and A-buttons control Mario's jumps and attacks, while the camera angles can adjusted via the C and R-buttons. The Z-button, perhaps the most innovative button in gaming history, can be combined with other buttons to perform flashier and more useful moves.

Replay Value: 14/15

After finally defeating Bowser for the first time, rescuing Princess Peach, and gaining the bulk of the castle's power, the King of Koopas will acknowledge your skills and present you with another task: to collect all 120 power stars in order to gain back all of the castle's powers. After you get all the stars, there really isn't a big incentive to play the game over again. IF you can MANAGE to get all the power stars.

The point: Super Mario 64 is such a huge game, you're probably not going to beat it for a very, very long while. Many of the power stars can be pretty hard to get, and you will be trying to get them, out of pure ambition and curiosity, for a long time. It will take an average gamer some weeks just to defeat Bowser for the first time, plus another month to fully beat the game.

And even if you do beat the game, extra challenges and bonuses will appear for you to test out. Although the bonuses aren't big ones, they're good to keep you playing for a couple more days. You'll probably be playing your favorite level over and over again, too, since you can select any level you want..

Frustration: -2/0

Nothing surpasses the annoyance of falling down a cliff when you're inches away from success. It sure hurts being stuck with 119 stars and having no clue where the last one is. Dying ten times in desperation for reaching a secret area will create many migraines. In short, Super Mario 64 is very fun, but it can get rather frustrating.

Another problem that adds to the frustration level is Mario's rather inexperienced first-time cameraman, Lakitu. Lakitu sits on a cloud, holding a fishing rod with a camera strapped to it. That means you're looking at everything the same way Lakitu's looking at everything. This can cause conflicts. Lakitu can swerve around when you're jumping, and you'll jump the wrong way, perhaps to your doom. The ability to shift the camera manually doesn't help much, as Lakitu sometimes will shift right back. The camera angles can affect your gameplay to an extent, but doesn't ruin the majority of the game's fun.

Challenge: -0/0

The challenge of Super Mario 64 is just right. Some parts are moderately easy, while some parts are moderately hard. The levels have an ascending toughness as you progress, from the peaceful world of Course 1 to the chaotic flying carpets in Course 15.

While some places can get TOO hard and other places TOO easy, the average, medium challenge of Super Mario 64 will keep you playing on.

Total Score: 95/100

Super Mario 64 earns a whopping 95/100 (or 10/10), due to its ongoing fun, its outstanding graphics and sound, and its vast, huge 3d worlds. Earning its place on many magazine covers after its launch, the first 3d platform game soon became a million seller, a classic, and a cash cow for Nintendo. Purchasing this game is definitely the right choice, as this title will provide weeks upon weeks of entertainment.

*My review is out of 100, so rounding was needed for the Gamefaqs score.

Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

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