I have a different opinion here...
Before I walk into unknown territory and criticize this legendary title, let me say that I am not a young person. All the 8-bit Mario games remain great to me and in my view, are better than the majority of video games today. So it pains me to say anything bad about a game people love this much. In fact, I once fell for the hype. Last summer, I wrote a review for a small blog owned by someone else, and I completely urged people to download Super Mario 64, giving the game all the praise everyone else gives it. But as time goes on, my positive feelings about this title disappear.
For one thing, the camera is a pain throughout Mario 64. Yes, I realize this was one of the first Nintendo 64 releases and
Repetition can also be a problem. There are not a lot of different levels to see in Mario 64. You could find yourself going through the same exact stage at least five times or more each time. Mario 64 contrasts with the earlier Mario titles because the objective is not necessarily just to get to the end of a certain level. There are many stars to collect within each area, which sounds like a nice idea at first, until you realize Mario is running through the same environments multiple times. It is true that in Super Mario Bros. 3, you do run through the same "theme" ten times or so before moving to the next stage which again has you run through another theme ten times or so. However, each level within the different "themes" is set up completely different from each other. Whereas in Mario 64 the same footing, the same paths, the same entrances are passed over multiple times with only small variation, in Mario Bros. 3 you never have to go through something already seen. There is a chance I am not explaining this properly. The variety in visuals just disappointment me in Mario 64. The visuals themselves are fine. I do not mind block-ish graphics. But I am seeing the same objects, enemies, etc. over and over again just to get a star hidden in some remote location when I would rather be moving on to a different part of the game. I miss the linearity of the old Mario titles when I play Mario 64.
I could go on about the game's strong points. But people have heard them already. Yes, the music is spectacular. For the most part, the controls are great when not dealing with the poor camera, especially if you own a Gamecube controller. Just plug that in the Wii console and it will feel even better than controlling Mario on a Nintendo 64. Running around the playing field just for the sheer enjoyment of running around in an open environment can be fun at times, I must admit. But it is not enough to make me forget I have to get at least five stars each stage, which means I am forced to play each stage multiple times whether I take a liking to it or not. I feel the hype for Mario 64 comes from the fact that it is Mario in 3D for the first time. That in itself makes the game special, but not necessarily fun.