Game of the Week (7/2/17) – Super Mario 64

For my first Nintendo 64 GotW, no other game seemed to make sense to write about besides Super Mario 64. As one of just two titles available at launch in North America, Super Mario 64 was clearly THE reason to purchase a system in the Fall of 1996. Taking the Super Mario Bros. formula and transferring it to a 3D polygonal open world adventure, Nintendo really wanted to create a showstopper of a game and for the most part they succeeded. As I mentioned in my first post this month about the console itself, I had very little experience with the Nintendo 64 during its original run. Of the little gameplay I experienced, most was with Super Mario 64. 3D gaming was a completely different concept for me in 1996, having grown up with the 2D masterpieces on the NES, SNES and Genesis. I saw Super Mario 64 as the games of the future and for the first time in my then 21 years of life, I thought I might be getting too old for video games. I very much recall watching my friend play the game and being visually impressed but spending a considerable amount of time running around the 3D environment in order to find clues, doors and items seemed like such a time waster to me. It seemed like the only time Mario had to battle enemies was when there was a boss battle, which I thought was strange and disappointing. Yes, you could stomp on goombas, bob-ombs and other enemies but you really don’t have to. Bowser, Toadstool & Peach can be found in this 64-bit adventure but sadly no Luigi. The poor ignored brother has been left home. On the positive side, the controls are smooth with the analog stick and pulling off the various jump combos introduced in this game aren’t too difficult. This is a game I can only play in short doses as all the camera angle changes in the near 3rd person perspective tend to make me a bit nauseous, which is another unfortunate reason I never got into 3D first person shooters.

I’ve had plenty of fun experiences playing 3D open world adventures but part of me gets frustrated when I am perpetually running around looking for items or secrets only to find none not to mention having to adjust the camera so I can see what’s right in front of me. These issues are prevalent in Super Mario 64 and prevent it from being one of my favorites in the series. I’d much rather play the 2D Mario games available for the handheld systems and Wii U than Super Mario 64. I understand how important this game is/was to the advancement of gaming in the late 90’s but that doesn’t mean I have to love it in 2017. It’s importance tends to outweigh the fun factor but overall this is still a very good game and a must own for the N64.

Rating: B

Currently in my collection: game, manual

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