Re-Living the Past: Super Mario 64

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History

I think that every person who has played video games knows what this game is. But, just in case, here's a quick summary. This was released with the launch of the Nintendo 64. It was one of the first games, and the first console game, to be set in a fully 3D environment. The game allowed for nearly complete camera control and the player could platform nearly anywhere. At the time this style of game in a full 3D environment was almost impossible to conceive. It was highly regarded everywhere and sold millions upon millions. It is still often regarded as the best console game ever made.

Personal History

The N64 was my console after the Sega Genesis. I was so damn excited. My Dad and I followed the news about the console for a long time. Back when it was the Ultra 64 and Robotech 64 was the be all end all of future video games. I remember hearing that the 'Ultra 64' was supposed to produce graphics that would rival film. I was so fucking excited. And this game was that excitement in a nutshell. I thought it was phenomenal and nothing could touch it.

What About Now?

Well...here's the thing. This game was the first real attempt at a 3D platformer. So there is bound to be some wonky-ness here and there. Well, this game has it. Quite a bit unfortunately. The game is broken up into multiple levels (oddly called 'courses' in the game) located within a big overworld (Peach's Castle). Each level has 8 stars associated with it (7 stars associated with objectives and one associated with collecting 100 coins).

The wonky-ness comes in with the controls and the camera. The controls are rough. Gross movements are fine. You can jump and run really well in a big open environment where precision isn't necessary. But run across a small, narrow plank and it's like you're trying to perform brain surgery with chop sticks. Mario has this thing where he is either going at a snail's pace or a full on sprint. There's no jogging equivalent. When you need precision and you either crawl (which I just can't handle) or sprint there can be a lot of frustration. I just felt like I never had a good amount of control over Mario. It always felt like I was pinning my ears back every time I did anything. Really, this isn't a huge issue if you just want to get the 70 stars required to beat the game especially if you get most of the stars from the earlier 'courses'. The later 'courses' though? Yikes.

Then there's the camera. The camera is good some of the time. Then, other times, it's amazingly stubborn. Sometimes it just doesn't want to get near the action. More often then not, with all the camera options, I couldn't find one that worked well. It was just so irritating. The game looks good though. The frame rate is solid (looks like about 30 fps) and it is really colorful. It's got a very simple, early 3D look but it's nice. It's not 'good' mind you but nice. It still sounds great too. The game's sounds sort of lack that 'punch' new games have (due to the lower bit rate) but they are still good and memorable.

Conclusion

The game is really interesting. Being the first 3D console platformer is a huge weight to hold. The 'first' at most things is usually not that great. So, that said, it's amazing how well Nintendo with this game. When it doesn't require precision, the game is really good. Even when you need precision the game is pretty good. But my God can it be frustrating. I had planned to get 120 stars before I wrote this blog. But, while playing it, I came to the conclusion that I just don't have the patience anymore. But there still is value to this game. Even if you haven't played the game before it is still fun. But I think it might be more interesting then good for new players. Even for former players, the game is a bit rough around the edges.

Pros

-It still looks pretty good (simple but good), it sounds nice, the earlier levels are really well made and work well with the controls, and it can be really fun.

Cons

-That Goddamn camera, the later levels can be really rough due to the camera and the controls, and trying to 100% the game now (as opposed to when it was released) might cause new and old players alike to pull all of their hair out.

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