Review by GavLuvsGA
This Game Alone is Worth Getting a DS For
I wanted a DS for an incredibly long time, having read a lot about this game and how you could play as Yoshi, Luigi and Wario and how it added more stars to theNintendo 64 classic. Eventually I gave in and got myself a DS and bought this too.
Gameplay - 8/10
The only problem I found with the gameplay itself was that the controls take a little while to get the hang of. In particular, the decision to use A to bunch and B to jump. Anyone who has played the original (and indeed most other Nintendo games) will be used to A being the jump button and B being for attacking, so I don't get why the buttons were switched here; this took me a while to remember; plus, the "press Y to run" style can be irritating.
Once you get past the controls, this is actually a good game. In addition to playing as Mario, you can control Yoshi, Luigi and Wario - considering all the fake rumours of Luigi being in Super Mario 64, playing as him here is very welcome - and you don't even start as Mario. Starting with Yoshi, you have to collect stars like in the normal game, in order to open doors and rescue the other characters, including Mario; I can only recall playing one other game where Mario was playable but started off locked, and that was Mario Golf on the Nintendo 64. Yoshi's moves are limited, which gives some extra challenge to start with (for example, he is slow and cannot pick things up), but as you unlock more characters, the game really feels like it opens up a lot. You can even transform into Mario, Luigi and Wario - usually by finding their hat lying around the course somewhere; at this point you can also use their respective skills; for example, Luigi has a better jump than Mario and Wario is stronger. You turn back if you take a hit and must run after the hat until it vanishes, which is easier said than done as it seems to vanish in seconds.
All of the original worlds are featured in this game, but with modifications; for starters, each features one extra star or one challenge that is altered (most notably the Big Bob Omb battle in the game's first star challenge where you have to lead bob ombs into him instead of throwing him). A couple of levels are actually made harder, with the most obvious being Big Boo's haunt; Yoshi cannot even enter this since he has no way to attack the boos. The programmers presumably realised that this level was just too easy, so they added the extra complication that simply jumping on a boo will not suffice in terms of killing it; instead you must punch them from behind, which took me a long time to get the hang of and caused me to lose a few lives trying to enter the place.
There are a few extra courses in the game, including special ones (with boss battles included) where you must rescue your kidnapped allies. I found a few of the extra stars to be a little repetitive, since they mainly involve pressing a switch and making a star appear, or grabbing five silver stars and then getting the gold star. While the silver star challenges sound a bit too much like the red coin ones, there is one vital difference - if you take a hit, a star will fly out and you must chase it and catch it again. This game also features 150 stars, rather than the original 120.
In another welcome change, the more uninteresting castle stars were removed; no longer do you have to chase MIPs the rabbit to get stars, and no longer will talking to toads in the right location get you a star (the cheapest tactic used in the original). Speaking of MIPs, there are many, many rabbits that you can find around the game, and catching them will give you keys to the Princess's recreation room, one of the largest additions to the game. Accessed off the room that originally just led to the secret slide, you can use the touch screen to play various minigames; some are uninteresting ones that you probably won't want to play more than once, while others are completely addictive such as Luigi's pelminism games (card matching).
The other notable changes to gameplay are the roles of the special caps. In the original, Mario had to collect the Wing Cap, Metal Cap and Vanish Cap; in this game, the vanish cap has been taken out entirely (its course has been kept in as a red coin challenge only), although the ability to vanish and walk through walls is still used as a special ability for Luigi. Mario also gets an additional ability of being able to swell up to a balloon and float around for a while (try and ignore the fact that this appears to have been ripped straight out of one of Lanky Kong's abilities in Donkey Kong 64), while Wario can turn metal without needing to activate the metal cap switch.
Overall, gameplay is good, but the controls can be a handful at first.
Story - 7/10
Little has been changed from the orignal, other than the fact that now Mario has been kidnapped, which makes a change. The only other game I can remember playing where this happened was the much-derided (and with good reason) Luigi's Mansion. Yoshi arrives at the castle and realises that all of his friends have been kidnapped; the definition of "friend" including Wario - who appeared to become friends with Mario sometime during the Nintendo 64 era (one of the Mario Parties, I think). The rest of the story remains pretty much unchanged, with Bowser being once again the main villain (and after all, the best villain in video game history in my opinion.
Graphics - 10/10
These are superb; just like the original, only sharper and pleasing to look at; I particularly like the way they handled the decor in Princess Peach's recreation room. The best change, however, is the Thwomps; they have been returned to their orignal (and best) design, with the weird Nintendo 64 restyling forgotten about; evidently Nintendo does listen to the fans after all.
Sound - 9/10
The sound is very good, with all of the orignal music intact, and slightly remixed (but not to the level where it actually gets murdered in the way Sonic Advance did to the Star Light Zone theme from Sonic the Hedgehog). No new tunes are used, though - it would have been nice to hear one or too I hadn't heard before. However, the original had some of the best tunes I have ever heard, so I'm not complaining.
Lastability - 9/10
With more stars, you get greater playing time and amazingly, there is very little, "seen it all before, done it all before" syndrome and you will probably want to find yourself grabbing all the stars again, including the ones that may have annoyed you immensely in Super Mario 64.
I think this game itself is worth buying a Nintendo DS for; the best remake I have played since Resident Evil on the Gamecube. If you liked the original, you will love this.
Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Product Release: Super Mario 64 DS (EU, 03/11/05)
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