It’s been a long time since I’ve played Mario 64, not even sure when the last time was to be honest. Must have been on the N64 because I don’t remember playing it on the Wii or GameCube. I remember going to the local Toy’s R Us with my brother before the N64 came out and playing this game on the demo units they had set up in the store. It was literally the coolest game we’d ever seen. We would just play the opening world over and over doing only what was possible on that demo kiosk. Luckily for my brother and I, he had some big life event and party to go along with it and came away with a decent amount of cash, so that gave us the ability to buy the console. Our parents weren’t really the type to buy us every console we wanted so we had to make do the best we could.
I still remember the night we came home with the console. We had to wait until after dinner to go up to Toy’s R Us with our parents. When we got home, we used those magical RCA cables to connect the mind-bending console to our tube TV in the living room. We jumped into the first world, showed off the cool graphics and our amazing gaming skill to our parents, and proceeded to climb the mountain to beat the King Bob-omb at the summit in no time. We were able to beat him fairly easily since we already had some skill in the game from playing the demo units so much. Then our parents told us to turn it off so they could watch their TV show that started at 8pm. I think that’s when we decided that it was finally time for us to get a 13 in tv in our bedroom, so that was the next big saving goal for us.
Playing this game on the switch brought back a lot of memories. Everything just clicked and I was right there doing the same long jumps and tricks that I did all those years ago. Sadly, I wasn’t able to invert the controls on the camera since I played it before the patch came out. Other than that, the controls felt good, or they felt like how I always remember them feeling. If you’re reading this and never played this game before then you need to try it. It’s not a hard game to get into, it’s not the best 3D platformer you can play, and the graphics could be considered ugly. It’s just a historical achievement and wonderful history lesson in video game form. Everybody should know this game, it’s a classic that helped define 3D controls and platforming for the modern age.
A review of this game today, at least from my perspective is almost impossible to do. The game itself is so engrained in who I am as a gamer, so little things that might bug someone today don’t even come into my thinking when I’m playing. The camera is wonky as hell, you’re constantly fighting it, especially when lining up tricky jumps. I already know the little tricks, like how many times to tap the camera or which way to hold the stick in the air after doing a long jump to get the red coin and stick the landing. It’s something I really don’t have to think about since I learned it so well as a kid.
The game is a lot simpler than I remember it being, this truly is one of the first 3D platformers. You can jump into most levels and get a star within a minute, then jump back in and get another in a minute again. Some stars are a little trickier, but that doesn’t happen too often. I was surprised to see how easy it was to rack up stars and honestly, it didn’t take that long to get all 120 in the game.
The most annoying thing to me was that the game didn’t even take up the whole screen. Why not just expand the camera out to fill the whole screen? It’s a lazy port job that they just emulated for this bundle. How does a company that is going to make so much money off this collection put in so little work to renovate it a bit? Don’t update the graphics, that’s okay, but use the whole screen for the games and give people basic controller options from day one. They just shit this product out at a 60 USD price point, told people they need to buy it before they sunset it in 2021, and we all buy it because what the fuck else are we going to play on our Switch. Oh Nintendo, you love them and hate them at the same time, what a cruel relationship. I also ran into spots where the game made me want to rage quit, which isn’t something I ever really do. You’ll be collecting coins and hunting for the last one to get 100, then something stupid will happen and that it. There are just these little unique moments where a more modern game would have smoothed over through better collision handling and character movement, you just don’t get any of that. This is just the N64 edition of the game whether you like it or not.
Final Score – 8.5
This game is a classic for a reason. I love it to death and enjoyed my time playing through it. It was funny how much I remembered and how I completely forgot some of the stars and what to do to get them. Like getting shot out of the cannon into the corner of the wall to break it and reveal the star inside. Everyone should play this game at least once, and playing it on the switch was really convenient and easy to do, just don’t get me started on the way they’re selling this game.