3D games existed before the N64, but they were simplistic and clunky. The titles that weren’t probably were pseudo-3D shooters. Wolfenstein and DOOM were able to trick the brain well into thinking they were a 3D experience instead of conveniently layered 2D sprites. Taking a genre like the platformer and translating it into 3D was the stuff of dreams, but Nintendo was going to be the first to do it. Super Mario 64 was going to lay the foundation for the future of gaming!
While Mario has never been complicated, Super Mario 64 remained incredibly simple to make a smoother ride. Bowser has stolen the castles power stars, hidden them away, and kidnapped Princess Peach. It is up to Mario to traverse through the mysterious paintings within the castle walls to stop Bowser.
Mario is a lot more complicated than on the SNES! He can run in 360 directions, perform backflips and long jumps, ride Koopa shells, swim around, and even jump straight off of walls. Mario just feels fun to control, but there are strings attached. Mario can often feel stiff and out of control. He’s a joy within open sandboxes, but most levels are tightly packed mazes. It’s not made any easier by the awful camera.
Instead of being divided into short platforming challenges, Super Mario 64 is divided into many levels with seven missions. You can complete almost any mission no matter what your current objective is. There are some cases where this is impossible. Unfortunately, most missions are repeated throughout every stage in the game. The coin stars specifically became the bane of my playthrough. You’ll encounter quite a few bosses on your journey! From King Bob-Omb looking over his battlefield to an angry wiggler taking revenge for his flooded home, there’s quite often an encounter to spice up the experience.
Mario 64 looks quite dated, but not awful. It’s rather charming and, with Super Mario 3D All-Stars, looks better than ever before! Each track and sound effect have etched themselves into my brain. Super Mario 64 isn’t an experience you’ll quickly forget, but I don’t think it’s an experience everyone will enjoy. Super Mario 64 isn’t a bad game, but it’s legions behind all of its offspring. There’s not a single 3D Mario I’d put this above, and I’d be quick to switch to Banjo-Kazooie if not for this review. Super Mario 64 only angered and disappointed me. I wouldn’t call it terrible, but I expected much better from a game remembered with such nostalgia.