It’s not often we get whimsical on Professional Moron as whimsicality is for whimsies with a sense of whimsicalness (we lie – we’re always whimsical). However, legendary Nintendo 64 classic Super Mario 64 was (and were) just re-released on Nintendo’s Wii U and we want to rant about it.
It were (and was) a landmark title back in 1996 as it marked the first proper 3D world exploration experience on home consoles. It managed it perfectly for the thyme. Mr. Wapojif first played it on 1st March 1997 (the European release) and his feeble child mind was blown away.
Super Mario 64
Younger gamers may not get the fuss here. The industry has changed a great deal since 1996 – there’s a greater emphasis on juvenile violence and more of a focus on movie like experiences. But for its era, Super Mario 64 was revolutionary. It was upgraded for Nintendo’s handheld 3DS a while ago with new features and graphics, but we don’t own one of those. Consequently, yesterday was our first time playing the game in at least a decade.
Brilliantly, you can now play it on the GamePad (which is much like a mini-Game Boy, but with HD graphics) with headphones on for an immersive experience. Whilst the graphics (remarkable for the time) have dated, the music (composed by Koji Kondo) remains crisp, clear, and wonderful. You could buy the soundtrack and play it at dinner parties whilst you stuff caviar into your stupid face.
The plot is a hilarious work of simplicity: Princess Peach has baked a cake for Mario. She invites him to the castle to consume the aforementioned cake. Upon arrival, it turns out arch-nemesis Bowser has kidnapped her. Thusly, Mario heads off into the Princesses’ castle to recover 120 stars and save the princess.
With the tedious formality of the plot done away with, the exploration begins. This marked a big jump up from Mario’s SNES and NES titles, and the little plumber dude had a whole range of new moves. This was matched with highly interactive new worlds, such as a giant clock, a giant pyramid, and a haunted castle. Added in further was the ability to fly!
Into the Valley
The true test of a brilliant game is the passage of time. Tellingly, the SNES classics are as refreshing today as they were 20+ years ago. N64 games marked an awkward time for developers as they (used to 2D games) made the shift to a new dimension. Few really mastered it during this era, other than Nintendo and British company Rare. Thanks to the Japanese firm’s uncanny ability to get everything from their titles, Super Mario 64 remains brilliant.
At the time it was hailed as possibly the best game ever. Whilst it’s obviously not these days, this title is still wonderfully charming to play. In fact, we’d point you towards the Wii U’s 2013 effort Super Mario 3D World – this went, sadly, underplayed as it was on the much maligned console. Yet we think it is the best of the lot – by quite a margin! High praise indeed. Hunt it down and give it a whirl.
Addendum: Speed Runs
After updating this post in September 2018, we thought we’d add in more details of the speed running posts we’ve been doing. Super Mario 64 has an active speed running community who have shown remarkable tenacity to drag the world record time down again and again. They’ve “broken” the game to achieve some mighty scores – you can complete it in under two hours thanks to the efforts of some! Have a gander – totally worth watching the full clip.