Review by Fastkilr

Reviewed: 01/03/05

Viva La Plumber

The kings of creativity release yet another remake. Fortunately Nintendo remade what is officially “the best game ever made.” Being pushed as the major launch title that everybody needs to have, the DS is being blessed with a spectacular remake. If you still haven’t played the N64 game (you don’t exist) then you’re going to find a lot to like here. However if you were with the times in 96’ Mario may feel a bit tiring. Within the next few months I’m expecting Nintendo to throw some sort of port at us, but Mario 64 DS has raised my standards now that I know they can create amazing ports as well as great cutting edge games.

If you don’t know the story, then you’ve obviously been living under a rock for the last decade or so. Princess Peach has baked a cake for you, has been kidnapped by Bowser, and has become the damsel in distress. This time around you’re joined by Yoshi, Luigi, and Wario. Your companions split right after the initial cut scene and it’s your job (as Yoshi) to unlock your friends, and to win the princess back. Although characters have been added, the plot still stays on route and is essentially the exact same story as the N64 version.

Combining the acclaimed gameplay of the original with a new multi-character system, SM64DS isn’t looking to innovate anything using the DS’s capabilities. While the touch-screen functions as a map, it can still be used to smoothly move your character about the levels emulating the analog control of the N64. The top screen displays all the in-game action, and for the most part the DS screen feels a bit too small for the remake. This is the same game you were playing back in 98, only with worse controls!

With 4 playable characters, 150 stars (30 more than before), and a slew of great new mini-games, there’s still reason to purchase SM64DS even if you’ve conquered Mario 64 time after time. But there are also quite a few bugs throughout the game that some may find difficult or irking to deal with. Poor hit detection has now been introduced to a series of games (Mario) that are famous for their tight controls. In general, nothing feels as good as it used to. I came across many glitches concerning jumping, which include but are not limited to: certain areas not letting me back flip, side flip not working, wall-jump not detecting a wall, and many other gameplay-hindering glitches.

Certain characters will carry their own attributes. Yoshi can extend his jump by wobbling in the air, and can digest his food into shoot-able eggs. Luigi can back flip into a helicopter move, can keep in the air for a long time, and can walk on water. Mario is the most balanced character (as in every Mario game) and has the ability to fly. Wario has very little jumping ability, but literally packs a punch, enabling him to destroy a number of objects other characters cannot. All in all the game’s well balanced. But the inclusion of new characters wasn’t specifically needed, even if we were begging for it back in the N64 days. I have a problem with Luigi’s jumping ability-often times I can just easily use a helicopter-back flip to propel myself to any open star that was meant to be nabbed through some sort of puzzle I’ll never have to attempt. I don’t like games with too many shortcuts.

Adding new levels, and mini-games certainly increased the replay value, but are they any good? Even if they don’t shine like Cool Cool Mountain, or carry the originality of Lethal Lava Land, they’re still good fun. A new gameplay type in which you have to collect numerous silver-stars adds a bit to the experience, and unlocking all four characters can prove to be a challenge. How long will the game last you? Well there are plenty of mini-games, 150 levels of pure Nintendo bliss, there should be enough to keep the average Nintendrone at bay for a couple of weeks maximum.

Being considered “The Killer App” for a brand new system, and also being a remake of the first 3D Action/Adventure leaves SM64DS with big shoes to fill. Nintendo pulls it off, but only by the hair of their chin. Leaving the mini-games out would’ve been fatal due to their replay value (sometimes I think I play them more than the actual game.) It’s odd to think that the best game out for the DS launch hardly utilizes the touch-screen, while a third-party company (Sega/Sonic Team) has already developed a game like Feel The Magic that doesn’t use anything but the touch-screen.

Overall there’s already a lot here but Nintendo really could’ve ironed things out a bit more. With sloppy controls, little incentive to play through the game again, and a good portion of the levels involving massive item-collection hunts there’s enough reasons to dislike SM64DS. However, it’s still an enjoyable game that will last for a little while as you wait for some “real” killer apps to arrive in March. Mario 64 DS is certainly a fun game, but I consider this review extremely giving.

8/10

Rating:   4.0 - Great

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