Monday, 7 August 2017

Super Mario 64 Review - A landmark title, but it has aged terribly.

By Sam Coles:

Nintendo in the past have been known to release some fantastic games when they launch a console featuring the portly plumber Mario, with titles such as Super Mario Bros., Super Mario World and Super Mario 64. Super Mario 64 is regarded as one of the best Mario games and is touted to be a game that has aged well, although I disagree with that statement I understand what it did for 3D platformers at the time. However it has aged poorly with terrible camera angles and awkward platforming compared to today’s standards. Is it a bad game? Yes and no.

Super Mario 64 was one of the first 3D platfomers of the time and it really shows within the graphical and gameplay department, now I understand the game is old but I don’t understand how people can say that this game still holds up. How the game works is that you start off in a hub world which is Princess Peach’s castle, where you have various doors you can go through that is if you have enough power stars.

In each door there is a painting you can jump through where you then start the game and play through a level, before you start the level you have to choose what power star you want to collect. However you don’t have to go for that start because Super Mario 64 is fairly open to what approach you want to take, so if you don’t want to fight King Thwomp you don’t have to and instead go collect the 8 red coins.

Mario controls were tuned to suit a 3D plain, so he is a lot more acrobatic compared to the other games, but I expect they took notes from the Donkey Kong game that was released on the Game Boy back in 1994. There is no longer a run button like there was in older Mario titles, but instead he builds up momentum over time gradually getting faster. He can jump higher if you perform a succession of jumps with the final jump resulting in a back flip; this is great if you want to get around faster in larger areas. He can also perform the long jump which is extremely fun to use as well as a great way to traverse large gaps.

The controls are great in open areas; however when you get the later stages of the game it decides to throw you in cramped environments and this can get very aggravating with the controls and the camera, oh lord the camera. The camera is a nightmare in this game especially when you’re in enclosed spaces as it refuses to move in the direction you want it to go some times and it will be positioned where your screen is filled with a blurry brick wall texture. I don’t understand how Nintendo fan boys can completely disregard this terrible camera system and still say that this game holds up, the camera ultimately holds the game back and Nintendo themselves fixed it in the next Mario game Sunshine.

Visually the game looks awful, most games on the N64 have not aged well in the graphical department they tend to be a blurry and muddy mess. Although Mario 64 is brighter it doesn’t have the muddy textures like some games on the system, but the textures are flat and polygonal and Mario looks like an inflatable doll that has been deflated and inflated several times. There is nothing appealing about the presentation in this game.

Super Mario 64 is a game that has aged poorly it’s like the cheap wine of the video game world, the older it gets the more like vinegar it will taste like compared to other games from the 90’s that are like a fine vintage wine. The controls and camera get very frustrating in the later levels in the tight and enclosed spaces coupled with the horrendous presentation, there are better Mario games out there on the NES, SNES, GameCube  and Wii.