Review by Gamerguy Zero

Reviewed: 11/24/04

Nintendo's Masterpiece gets a facelift, but loses its original luster.

SM64 DS was Nintendo's only launch title for the DS (unless you count the Metroid demo), but thankfully, it gets the job done.

There's a very good chance that most of the people reading this review have at least one Mario port on GBA, whether it be Super Mario World, Yoshi's Island, Super Mario Bros. 3, or Super Mario USA. Those games seemed like a good length, but now we're faced with a whole new era of gaming thanks to the DS: Super Mario 64. Mario 64 revolutionized gaming, and amazingly it's done it again for handhelds.

This game has an incredible replay value even if you don't replay the main game: not only does each of the four characters get through each level in a different way, Nintendo also included over 30 Mario Party-style mini-games. The main adventure in Mario 64 took me about 23 hours to get all 120 stars, but in Mario 64 DS, that time is closer to 35 hours thanks to the addition of 30 new stars and the new challenge of unlocking the new characters. Many of the new stars have their own new levels to explore.

Nearly everyone who's played the N64 has played Super Mario 64, so I don't think I really need to explain what it's about. There are a few major changes though...
When the game starts, instead of controlling Mario, you see a cutscene of Mario, Luigi, and Wario walking into the castle. The screen(s) go dark and switch to Yoshi, sleeping on the roof of the castle (a reference 120 star completion fans will get). Lakitu (the cloud guy) wakes up Yoshi and tells him that Mario, Luigi, and Wario still haven't returned. So, as Yoshi, you must find the Mario Bros. and save the castle's inhabitants. Yoshi can find caps throughout the levels to transform into any of the characters until you've unlocked them permanently by finding keys to their cells.
Other than that...there's no big story difference.

The only problem I've had thus far with this game is the control. There are three control schemes that vary from the buttons only to a combination of buttons and the touch screen, but there's no way around the fact that Super Mario 64 was designed with the Nintendo 64's analog control stick in mind. It actually makes me wonder why Nintendo didn't put an analog stick on the DS in the first place. Navigating is very difficult in some areas with the buttons because there's no pressure control, and you are required to hold the Y button to run. The controls will constantly cause you to screw up and get really frustrated with the game if you use the pad, but it IS possible to do well using the touch screen. Upon touching the screen, three different waves of circles appear around the point you touched. you can use these different waves like the analog stick: the closer you are to the center circle, the slower you'll walk; the farther you are, the faster you'll run. It's difficult to use the stylus AND support the DS in one hand, so you'll end up having to get used to the thumb strap.

The graphics look wonderful, the surround sound is fantastic, and the game is timeless: but it's a true shame that Nintendo didn't put more time into developing the control scheme for this game. Even with the control problem, I have to recommend it. It's like a time machine to take you back to an era when games were actually worth playing, and it's a trip you don't want to miss.

83 / 100

Rating:   4.0 - Great

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