Real Talk By: Ms. Throwback
If you weren’t one of the lucky ones who experienced Super Mario 64 at the peak of an era, you may not get what all the fuss is about. To understand why Super Mario 64 was so amazing, you’ll need to place yourself back in 1996. Back then this notion of 3D gaming was brand new, and not too many developers were getting the hang of it, and by not too many, I mean basically none. For some reason, devs had a hard time conquering not only running from side to side, but also from front to back. There was a very simple solution, it was just easy to miss. The player had to have the ability to control the camera behind the character. While the wonderful world of Playstation had been around for two extra years, the Nintendo 64 had a lot of competition to stand up to. The launch of the system, and certainly the launch of Super Mario 64 would not only change the face of gaming for Nintendo, but the face of gaming over the entire world.
The classic story line didn’t change. Mario is on a quest to save princess peach from the elusive Bowser by jumping into paintings in Peach’s castle and collecting stars. One of the most fun aspects of this game is that it’s almost a platform puzzle title. Mario finds himself having to use a three-dimensional axis to reach the greatest amount of stars in the game. A star could be hidden in the middle of an ice maze and the player can watch as Mario jumps, slides, and crawls by using the independent camera. The worlds are constantly teaming with enemies and environmental changes that the player has to over come. It might be balancing on a ledge, or ascending platforms over a vast nothingness, but Mario stops at nothing to save his princess.
While most games at the time were top down views or generally played on the ground, Mario spends his days flying, swimming, and using different hats to find hidden secrets and pathways to his goals. Metal hat allowed the player to be invisible to certain threats and sink to the bottom of a water level to walk along the bottom. (This would become extremely important in a future series of Zelda titles as well.) One of the least seen hats in the game, the flying hat, had wings that allowed you to collect red coins for stars or fly through rings, or to other unreachable platforms.
The soundtrack for the title would become ingrained in a generations brain. Even as I write this I was watching a trailer for the new Wii U downloadable copy of Super Mario 64 and someone yelled, “Sounds like Mario!” across the house. Just as we can recall the original sound of Mario, Mario 64 takes its place in history for being one of the greatest soundtracks of all time. The music wasn’t the only noticeable sound. Enemies were incredibly vivid and lively thanks to the effects of the game. I can still remember Twomp as clearly as I did in 1996.
Part of the appeal and amazing nature of Mario in this game is his movement. The double jump, triple jump, wall jump, enemy grabs, and racing slides had never been done before. They were all new, and they have all stood up to the current test of time. Through the history of games after Super Mario 64’s release we have seen an array of characters which can interact with the environment like never before, but it all started with Mario himself.
In 1997 many didn’t realize that Nintendo had announced the beginning’s of Super Mario 64 2. It was never released due to many factors, but somewhere on some hard drive, there sets levels to Mario 64 that have never been played by the masses. The game has now been released on countless Nintendo systems including, Wii and Wii U virtual consoles, and various handhelds. While I love the game every time I play it, I get jitters in my stomach every time it re-releases hoping that the levels of Super Mario 64 2 show up someday. It’s a far-fetched dream, but for this gem it would be absolutely amazing.
Super Mario 64 Gets
5 Out of 5
+Graphically this game was top of the class
+Secrets and puzzles are great fun
+Level design is strategic
+Music just doesn’t get better than this
+Length of game is adequate
+Interactive environments and enemies are fresh
– The controls this day and age can be challenging
– What happened to those Super Mario 64 2 levels?