An innovative and absolutely amazing platformer.
When Super Mario 64 was first released back in 1996, thirteen years ago, it was a revolutionary game that influenced many 3-D games. It's possibly, along with Ocarina of Time, one of the most influential video games ever created. Does this make the game good, however? The answer is yes. Super Mario 64, even today, is a game that everyone should own. The game is far ahead of its time.
First off, the graphics, even today, look good. How Nintendo was able to manage this on an 8MB cartridge is quite a feat. Yet Sony wasn't able to make a lot of their games that good looking on a 700MB disc. That's pretty sad. Anyway, the game looks great. The textures are nice, and detail was paid attention to everything. It runs at a pretty smooth frame rate, however, there are a few slowdowns here and there. Fortunately, it doesn't affect the game that much.
The soundtrack for this game is pretty good, though a lot of the tracks are repeated, but it's expected with the limited cartridge space. Fortunately, the tunes are catchy enough so that most will not mind hearing them over and over again. Even though it's synthesised, that doesn't stop it from being composed very well.
The camera is very innovative and possibly one of the greatest cameras in video games. First off, it's, for the most part, extremely customisable. First, there's the option of making it show more space by pressing the down C button. The left and right C buttons turn the camera left and right in most situations. The R button will change the camera view entirely. Instead of being in control of the Laiku, it'll actually be closer to Mario, which is good for certain situations. This, too, can be modified with the left, right, and down C buttons. The up C button allows for close-up, non-moving view. This is good in very few situations. Sure there are a few times where the camera is annoying
The game has a decent story, typical for a Mario game, but good nonetheless. Princess Peach (first time she's called that) invites Mario to her castle. She says that she has a cake for him. But when Mario gets there, something is horribly wrong. The power stars have been taken by Bowser and are scattered all over Peach's castle. It's simple, but effective. The game doesn't really need a story to be great.
The gameplay is fantastic. Mario has made a fantastic transition in to 3-D. The camera, as mentioned before, is very unique and great. The jumping system is very effective. A is to jump. Pressing it a second time when Mario lands allows a double jump, and, if moving while jumping, pressing A a third time after he lands will initiate a triple jump. Pressing Z while in the air will allow a ground stomp. B is the attack button. Z is used to croutch.
The level design is pretty unique. There are fifteen levels throughout the game, and they are all large-world levels. Most are entered by jumping in to a picture or wall, with the exception of about four. One is down a hole, another is down a hole with liquid, a third is through the face of a clock, and the fourth is through a wall of liquid. The Bowser levels are all in holes, and even those are extremely different.
As for the levels themselves, there are a few similar themes. There are two levels involving snow, two involving water, etc. The thing is, though, that each level is unique. All of them are innovative and so much fun to play. Tick Tock level is the one that stood out most, being much like the windings of a clock, and depending on when you jump in the level is how fast the objects move. There's an option where they don't move at all!
Each level has six stars to be collected and, if you collect a hundred coins, that's a seventh star. Each Bowser level also has eight red coins and collecting those will net three more stars. There are also fifteen secret stars throughout the castle. The game has, in total, 120 stars to collect, so the replay value is quite high. Each level is interesting enough where it's not a chore to get more than the 70 stars needed to complete the game.
What was the biggest disappointment for me was after getting all 120 stars. There's a cannon outside that opens when all the stars are collected. This allows access to the top of the castle, and there is where a friend of Mario is found. I was hoping for something more than a whole load of extra lives for collecting all the stars.
All in all, Super Mario 64 is a fantastic game. It is considered by many as one of the greatest games of all time, and though it might not be the greatest, it is still one of the best games Nintendo has to offer. It is a game that is still being talked about thirteen years from now, and many games are still based off the formula of this one.