Review by Solid Sonic

Reviewed: 01/18/05 | Updated: 11/29/07

Mario 64 resurrected for a new generation...sans the analog stick...

Best Features: The (arguably) most revolutionary 3D game ever in the palm of your hands but with even more, fun and addictive mini games, excellent sound

Worst Features: You'll be crying for an analog stick, multiplayer is pretty bare-bones at best

Super Mario 64 set the world ablaze when it first hit the US shores in 1996 for the late Nintendo 64 console. With its innovative level design, analog stick-based movement, and overall gameplay; it single-handedly brought 3D platform gaming to the forefront like no other had before it. Now, some 9 years after its original release in the US, a new generation of gamers get to see what made 3D games what they are today. Unfortunately, to do so, they have to give up the analog stick.

Graphics: 8
For a handheld, playing a full-fledged N64 game (and extras) is impressive. The animation is smooth and the environments, while definitely showing shades of the N64, are colorful and active. Overall, its a good translation of the N64 game, with improved textures that take advantage of the DS' stronger graphics processing.

Sound/Music: 10
The music score in this game is ripped directly from Mario 64 and also includes some music from Mario Sunshine. Nostalgics will immediately take to the classic music and new players will get to enjoy the crisp and clear tunes. The DS does a great job in this department as the music sounds as good as it ever could on a TV playing the N64. The sound effects are cheery and bright. They are appropriate in their use so it never sounds hacked-together. The voices for each of the playable characters are the Mario-norm. Mario retains all his sound bytes from the N64 game so there's a little more for you nostalgia buffs.

Control: 6 (more like 6.5 but my scores are always whole numbers)
The first (and really only) aspect of the game that really fails to meet the high standard set by its N64 parent. The N64's analog stick was specifically designed to play this game. Many of the puzzles in the game require use of the many levels of sensitivity that the analog stick can provide. The DS was developed without such a device so Nintendo had to improvise methods to control the game. This involves using the touch pad to simulate the various stages of pressure. Sadly, this fails to truly emulate the control and precision of an analog stick. Luckily, there is a button on the pad that allows you to run without using the touch pad and walking is usually enough to overcome the more precise moments in the game. The game has a library of moves and for the most part, they are still easy to perform. The only technique that still presents a problem is the Side Somersault (its hard to really get an accurate leap using the D-Pad). Through practice and adaptation, the game is still playable. Still, those who have battled and conquered their way through the original incarnation will miss the analog control.

Gameplay: 8
The gameplay remains as solid as day one. This is one game that has aged well (as well as learned some new tricks). The main game revolves around recovering the Power Stars that Bowser has locked within the castle's courses. Unlike the first time around, Mario 64 DS comes packed in with 30 new stars (bringing the total up from 120 to 150). These new stars are found in new courses and challenges. The original 120 are still present however, some objectives have changed (for instance: Star 3 on the first course is no longer getting to the island in the sky, rather you must collect 5 silver stars to make a star appear). The game is now spread over 4 playable characters (Yoshi, Mario, Luigi, and Wario). Each character brings new abilities not found in Mario 64 to the table (such as Yoshi's ability to lap up foes, transform them into eggs, and chuck them back at other enemies). In all, the game offers a much fuller and rich experience than the first time around. Its something even veterans will be able to enjoy.

Replay Value: 7
As stated before, the standard game holds 150 stars for you to uncover and collect. Cleverly designed levels will draw you back in to truly discover all they hold. Nintendo even added some real estate to certain levels. If you tire of the main game, the package also includes a collection of addictive mini-games that each star one of the 4 main characters (each individual character has a subset of games that stars them). As you quest over the main game, you can unlock more mini-games in Peach's Rec Room using keys you find in the castle to open drawers. Get some friends over to play the not-quite-fun multiplayer battles. The simplistic design (it centers entirely on collecting randomly placed stars on the map in a timed challenge) keeps it from really taking off but it is a neat enhancement to the Mario 64 engine. However, the main game is really what you'll be playing most of the time and (control issues notwithstanding) that's something that's done all right.

Overall: 8
In all, it sums up like this: Mario 64 DS proves that revolutionary titles age well but only if they are reincarnated under the circumstances as its original creation. The game itself remains one of the finest examples of 3D gaming there is in any genre and on any console. Its hindered by the fact that the analog control is simply required to truly enjoy and play the game at its fullest. If you can learn to grasp the awkward-for-vets control scheme, you'll sink right in and be able to experience what makes 3D gaming what it is today.

Rating:   4.0 - Great

Product Release: Super Mario 64 DS (US, 11/20/04)

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