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Super Mario 64 (N64) 250px-Super_Mario_64_box_cover

Super Mario 64 (Nintendo 64)

(C)1996, Nintendo

Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo

EU Release: March 3, 1997
NA Release: September 26, 1996

Players: 1
Genre: Platformer

With the N64’s release, came a game that transformed how we thought of gaming as we’ve never witnessed a full fledged 3-D game do it right. Many companies have attempted such a goal (even Nintendo themselves), but failed to provide a true 3-D experience. Super Mario 64 was the first experience that lit a torch in the cave of skepticism and failure, to show everyone 3-D can be achieved, yet win the hearts of millions.

Unfortunately, after a decade and a half, and four true 3-D sequels, I find that Super Mario 64 is aging for better or for worse. The storyline has been trade marketed (as this is the first traditional Mario game to explain its back-story), as a defining tack on everything Mario. Peach invites Mario to Mushroom Kingdom for some cake and by the time Mario arrives, Bowser has not only kidnapped Peach but he has infested the castle with his minions and is potentially hidden from Mario’s grasp.

If you were totally isolated from news of Super Mario 64 back in the mid 90s you probably had no idea how the Super Mario universe would work in 3-D as it had never gone there before whatsoever. The game play isn’t as polished as its successors, though it still provides an experience that is still enjoyable for the present day audience.

Super Mario 64 (N64) Super%20Mario%2064%20%282%29

Roaming over a course of fifteen worlds, you will either come off with an impressed feeling or a mixed one. Most of the levels are fairly linear and provide little to no time to explore. It felt like every mission’s objective wasn’t thoroughly planned and rushed. In multiple levels I only explored so far to reach a star, then turning right around and being forced to go a little further for a different star.

The camera angles are, at best, terrible. Eighty percent of the times I died were because of the camera angles as I couldn’t see Mario, let alone what I was doing in general. Adjusting the camera will either help you slightly or ruin it all together, resulting in an unnecessary, time consuming hassle that can potentially lead you to your inevitable doom.

Terrible camera angles comes with poor physics and decent controls. Every time I get hit by an enemy or even fall off an object I slide backwards as if I’m on ice. Actually, sliding was a big hassle to get used to on ice or not. Unresponsive controls resulted in many failed attempts and deaths as the controller is fairly bulky in my tiny hands to be performing such daredevil tricks.

Super Mario 64 (N64) Super+Mario+64+%28U%29++snap0002
Super Mario 64’s soundtrack is great if limited. Like most Mario games, the music will have to bobbing your head as every song fits the level’s mood and layout. It being limited makes room for certain songs reused for later levels. A lack of variety that even some of its predecessors possess, makes my stomach feel a tad eery.


Reading this you may think I’m downright bashing Super Mario 64 but truthfully I’m not. There’s no denying age is on its tail but you have to give credit where credit is due. From a 1996 perspective (as this is the first true 3-D platform game), the complaints listed are legitimate yet unfair. You truly can’t complain about a game when it's the first of its kind. That would be trimming down and complaining about arcade games like Pac Man and Donkey Kong, saying how the graphics and short length makes both of those games awful.

Holding up the complaints against the entirety of the game wouldn’t be fair, whereas not holding each complaint against it would be biased. Ultimately, Super Mario 64 is great game and anybody who enjoys video games should play it. Besides, it only lit inspiration that eventually made the games you play today, exist.


9- Awesome This game has little in the way of flaws, and is a highly enjoyable experience.

Last edited by Chrono_Cross on May 10th 2012, 7:07 pm; edited 3 times in total

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April 12th 2012, 3:52 pmNINTENBRO
I just began playing through Super Mario Galaxy, and it's phenomenal. I definitely plan on purchasing a copy of Super Mario Galaxy 2. With those two Super Mario titles in my library, I have absolutely no need to download Super Mario 64 or purchase a copy of Super Mario Sunshine either. Until the next superior 3-D Super Mario title comes along, those are the only two titles anyone should need. I really can see myself playing through Super Mario Galaxy more than once.
April 12th 2012, 4:25 pmDigiDestined
Nice detailed review Viewtiful Surprised
April 16th 2012, 10:27 amSkywardL
Hope this gem gets to be a part of the monthly Club Nintendo downloadable games someday.
Biorn the Viking
April 16th 2012, 11:17 amBiorn the Viking
I have to agree on the camera. I didn't get very far because of camera annoyances. Great review overall, Viewtiful Joe! Smile
April 17th 2012, 2:25 pmMarth
Good review, Joe. The only thing I really disagree with is the linearity you mentioned. From my experience, the levels here are far more open that of Super Mario Galaxy or perhaps any other Mario platforming game.

In fact, you can collect stars from a different mission from within the mission you're currently in. If that doesn't make sense, I basically mean you can get the star from the Chain Chomp in Bob-Omb Battlefield while you're supposed to be fighting King Bob-Omb. You could do the same with the red coins mission.

You're also free to explore the level you're in, as there's no definitive path to victory in all of them. They all have defined solutions, yes, but you'll need to explore if you want to collect all the stars. You need to collect 100 coins in the main stages to obtain certain stars, which I certainly wouldn't call linear as there are numerous different strategies to do so.

With the exception of a few missions that revolve around racing to the goal, there's no time limit at all. I'm not sure what you meant when you said you're given little time to explore.

With the exception of the Bowser stages (which, to your credit, are entirely linear), you're given total freedom as to what levels you want to complete. No, it's not the most "open" game in the world, but I'd be hard-pressed to say it's linear in the face of a game like Super Mario Galaxy. That game had levels that were almost on-rails whereas you can go wherever you want in most of these levels and there's no time limit to abruptly kill you for taking too long.
Aqua Cherry Blossom
April 17th 2012, 6:12 pmAqua Cherry Blossom
I agree with Yoshi Super Mario 64 is nowhere near as linear as most Mario games.
April 17th 2012, 6:12 pmChrono_Cross
The same can be said about Super Mario Galaxy 2, though. You don't have to get the designated star in which you are assigned to do, let alone be in a specific world like its 2-D brethren. Whether you take Sunshine or either Galaxy games, this can be applied ten folds.

Sure, Galaxy has some linear levels, but to me not only is that not a bad thing but it mixes up the rest of its formula. You're not always going in a straight line and people often misinterpret the term linear as bad and simple. (Which it's not.)

I am often dumbfounded by people saying the Galaxy games are linear. Let alone Sunshine. Which, by the way, does everything Super Mario 64 does to a larger extent. Take Ricco Harbor, the linearity is almost nonexistent whatsoever due to blue coins and the Shine Sprites being scattered all over the level's layout.

Ricco Harbor is also far larger than any world presented in 64's game. I hear many people say eight worlds isn't enough for a 3-D Mario game but what most don't know is that Sunshine can last you twice, if not three time as much time as Super Mario 64 which, to them anyhow, have "larger" levels. I guess less is more in this case?

It took me over a course of a month and a half, with fifty plus hours of time to finally 100% it. Super Mario 64 only took me... roughly fifteen hours.

So what I'm trying to say is that the levels in 64 are small in diameter and have little to nothing to offer. Exploring each would take five minutes as you don't even have to explore the entire level to get every star. In Galaxy and Sunshine you have to explore everything and is always a blast to do so.

Also, never compare Super Mario 64 to its successors. It's embarrassing. Razz
Aqua Cherry Blossom
April 17th 2012, 6:16 pmAqua Cherry Blossom
How can you 100% Super Mario 64 in 15 hours? Surprised
April 17th 2012, 6:29 pmChrono_Cross
It's so easy. Don't you think so? D:
Aqua Cherry Blossom
April 17th 2012, 6:39 pmAqua Cherry Blossom
That's called speed running not playing normally lol. Razz
April 17th 2012, 6:58 pmMarth
If you're referring to the level sizes when you mean linearity, then that makes more sense. I can agree that they're pretty tiny, but stand by the idea that they're more like playgrounds than levels. Sunshine also has mostly "playgrounds".

What I meant with Galaxy was that it had several levels that were so linear you were unable to progress backwards. There was a defined process you always had to do in order to "progress" in nearly any form, with minimal player input on what course of action should be taken. Several of them were like action sequences (or the original Super Mario Bros in a sense).

There certainly were some playground areas, but at least based on my memory, there are quite a few linear levels as well. I won't throw out a comparison ratio though, since your guess would probably be more accurate than mine. There were at least enough linear levels that people took notice of the difference, I guess.

By the way, Eureka, Joe is right about being able to 100% it in 15 hours. Some really hardcore people can get all 120 stars in just two or three hours, believe it or not. Surprised No speed hacks or anything. 15 hours would still give you time to mess up or slack off quite a bit.
April 17th 2012, 7:15 pmChrono_Cross
With the size of every level being so small it makes them linear as you're retracing your steps all the time. With Galaxy you only have to find around three stars compared to seven in Super Mario 64, which allows you to explore more.

Super Mario Galaxy never really had linear levels though. Sure, there are enough to take notice, as you've said, but there are a lot that aren't linear at all and are more like "playgrounds" than anything else. And playing the levels for only three stars, it always feels fresh and welcomed.

Yeah I actually took my time with this one. I actually found fifteen hours to be a lot of time as I could have done it way quicker but chose not to for review purposes.

I don't know about people 100%'ing this in 3 hours but I have seen people beat it in twenty minutes with a bunch of glitches and what not. But 100%'ing this game would take much more than 3 hours without glitches hence the fact that you have to collect 100 coins in every level, let alone red coins.
April 17th 2012, 7:28 pmMarth
The 2-3 hour runs are "rehearsed" so that the player knows exactly what they're going to do for the timed run. A couple of glitches might have been used for some stars (certainly nothing on the level of cheating through inanimate objects), but 99% is just raw memory and muscle memory. Done on an N64 in a single sitting.

Here's one done in 2:09:06: http://archive.org/details/Mario64_SS_100p_20940

Obviously the average person wouldn't be able to come close to that, but the point is that it's a pretty short game if you don't get stuck in one spot for too long. 15 hours is very generous.
April 17th 2012, 7:55 pmChrono_Cross
Ten years after its release eh? What a waste of time. lol!
April 22nd 2012, 4:00 pmMegatron2000
Great review ViewtifulJoe |D
April 24th 2012, 6:35 pmTinglemaster
Your review is very good man!
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