This article was originally published at Aussie-Nintendo.com
It is hard to write a review for a game known by so many people, especially for what is at least its third commercial release. It has now been over ten years since Super Mario 64 blew gamers away and it is still one of the most highly praised and beloved games ever made. Its pioneering gameplay is still the benchmark for almost every title in a genre it basically started. Even the less than stellar GameCube sequel, Super Mario Sunshine relied on Super Mario 64’s fundamentals and built little on what had already been done. What then is it like to go back and play the classic today?
If you still remember staring in awe at Super Mario 64 whether it was on first booting it up on your 64, or on seeing those ridiculous Tim Ferguson ads, you may be disappointed to learn that it hasn’t aged well graphically. This is not to say that it looks bad, indeed the early parts of the game still look as bright and beautiful as ever. The age mostly shows in the later levels in the game which have become extremely dated due to lack of colour, bland textures and many clipping issues that plagued early 3D games. As a general rule, the brighter the level, the better it looks compared to the far more advanced environments we see today. On the whole the game does appear much sharper than it did when I originally played it on 64 but whether this due to some improvements in translation or just my eyes playing tricks, I am unsure.
Mario games have all had catchy tunes and going back to hear some classics from Super Mario 64 was quite a treat. From the file selection screen to the gentle melody during the introduction, all the way to the energetic beats in the Bowser fights, the game still shines. Some of the music has since been recycled in more recent releases like Luigi’s Mansion but they are almost all as catchy as ever and it was certainly more than nostalgia having me enjoy them all over again. In case anyone had forgotten, Mario’s yelps, cries and silly phrases are also still as fun to hear as they were when he first gained a voice outside of the various cartoon shows.
One thing that has definitely aged little in Super Mario 64 is the gameplay. Whether you use the classic controller or pluck one from your GameCube, you will still find this a pleasure to play on the virtual console. When using the GameCube control the only gripe is the slightly inconvenient importance of the z-button. Mario is still a lot of fun to have running, jumping on enemies, over obstacles and flying through blue skies with his winged hat. The camera lacks the precision that a second analogue stick provided newer games but it still works well enough today and is never a burden on the gameplay. If you are one of the many people whose Nintendo 64 control sticks have seen much better days than you might actually be better off with the VC version.
In some aspects Super Mario 64 has aged quite a bit but what originally made it so much fun certainly hasn’t. If you are one of those people who missed on this game for whatever reason it is definitely worth your Wii points. Sometimes it becomes a bit of a fetch quest but it still provides hours of entertainment and some challenging moments. I don’t think it would be an exaggeration to suggest that if this game were re-made, an audio-visual upgrade would be the only thing required for it to compete with most new games in the same genre today.