Ever since Super Mario 3D All-Stars released for the Nintendo Switch, I have been playing it steadily and in the weeks since the games release I have unlocked all 3 cap switches and have gotten over 90 stars in total on my way to the coveted 120. Putting as many hours as I have into the game I have realized this one big truth. I’ve been spoiled rotten on modern Mario games, especially Super Mario Odyssey. I’ve never played this game before in my entire life so being able to play it now means I can finally experience what all the fuss is about with this game.
I have of course, played some Mario games over the course of my gaming career. I’ve mostly dealt with the 2D games like the original, Super Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario World, and New Super Mario Bros. Wii. Now before you bring out your torches and pitchforks as to why I’ve never played Mario 64 for over 24 years allow me to explain. Even when I had a N64 my focus was on Pokemon Stadium, Mario Kart 64, and Super Smash Bros. I knew what I liked as a 11 year old when I finally got the console and that didn’t change until much later in my life. Even when I got my Wii (never owned a Gamecube) and Galaxy came out I played a bit of Galaxy before I had to give it back to my brother’s friend. Then we got Guitar Hero for the Wii and that took up most of our time and sadly I never got a Wii U. I didn’t fully play a 3D Mario game until Odyssey and that’s 3D Mario perfection.
Super Mario 64 is a great game and I am bummed that I’ve never experienced it until now. It truly is fun and I love finding stars and secrets throughout the castle. However as fun as this game is good Lord is it dated and no I’m not talking about how the game looks. It does look a lot cleaner than the original N64 version but it is a straight port of the original cartridge, but even with this game’s issues, I can see the building blocks for future Mario games. The biggest thing that was kicking my butt was the camera. I’m sure so many people have already complained about it not being in the right spot so you can see where you’re going but dang I didn’t know it was this bad. I was fighting with the camera quite a bit especially when I needed to line up a jump only to have the camera switch at the last second, making me miss. Also another thing I’ve had a bit of a an issue with is how drifty Mario is. He doesn’t stop on a dime and when he lands he moves just a little bit further, also causing me to fall off platforms and losing a life. For a first timer like me getting used to moving Mario like this takes a bit of getting used to, but luckily with practice comes perfection and I would eventually be landing jumps no problem.
Super Mario 64 literally gives you all the things you need to advance the game, just go out and find the stars. If you’re having trouble the Toads around the castle do help out every once in a while and some might even give you stars. I was trying to figure out how to get over this one fence in Wet-Dry World and couldn’t figure it out. I talked to a Toad and he gave me the hint on jumping higher into the painting. Next thing I knew I was able to clear the fence and get the star I needed. I also love how the game wants you to explore every nook and cranny, and you can possibly get stars you weren’t supposed to if you’re clever enough. I got the chain chomp star in Bob-Omb Battlefield the first time I went there and found another star on my way up to King Bob-Omb. There is a set path but the games rewards you for going off of it and finding something new.
The best thing I can say about Mario 64 is that it truly hasn’t lost its luster. It’s dated for sure and maybe Nintendo could’ve done a bit more TLC to fix a few bugs, the clipping, and the camera, but I keep finding myself in the same situation I found myself in when I played Odyssey for the first time. I would get a moon then think, “Oh it’s not THAT late, I can get a few more,” and would keep going until hours later. It’s the same with Mario 64. I get a few stars, look at the time, and think the same thing and down the rabbit hole I go. Next thing I know it’s very early in the morning and I should have gone to sleep hours ago. The game is still that much fun even 24 years later. Even with all the problems I have I’m having a blast and can’t wait to get into Sunshine and Galaxy which are next on my list. I can say, without a shadow of a doubt that Super Mario 64 truly is a masterpiece and a pivotal part of gaming history, of course I’m just 24 years late to the party.