26th game played so far
Heads. I won. It’s time for a little bit of Super Mario 64. Yeah, and I don’t mind. The first real Mario 3D game. The game that moved it from a 2D platformer to a 3D action platformer that’s far more mission based and less linear. It also features far less mushrooms, so it’s a bit less interesting by default.
The Princess baked Mario a cake. Bowser was also hungry, and so he captured her and hid the stars you need to get to him to free the Princess in a number of paintings, inhabited by both the familiar old cast of friends of enemies and a number of new ones.
We had the fortune of being able to play a game with all 120 stars found on it (thanks Kat or one of Kat’s brothers), meaning that we had a chance to explore the castle and try out most of the levels and a couple of different missions.
I want cake, I wonder what sort of cake the Princess made for Mario. Why does Princess Peach bake cakes anyway? Doesn’t she have Toads to do that for her? It’s clearly more important than ruling a full Kingdom and that’s a proper kingdom, not just a figurehead position. Even though there’s no king we see either. In that way it appears to be more of a principality… like Monaco without the Formula 1. The Mario Kart series? Touché.
It’s a big country anyways. With its tennis courts, kart racing venues and whatever other sports facilities Peach builds in order to scratch that uncontrollable itch of hers to lose weight. Too much cake I venture.
And different lands in several different versions of the RPGs as well, in which she’s as often the damsel in distress as part-time hero. Still, this game keeps the world far more contained, by only taking place in Peach’s Castle and its environment even though there’s no way to get in or out of it except for one pipe that disappears immediately. Apart from the magical portraits; I do love the ripple effect as you jump through them. Are they portals to another worlds, or do you just jump into the painting?
It looks nice, yeah. It all looks nice to be honest. One amazing thing is that this is 15 years old and yet it does not look it quite yet. Maybe it helps that the graphics stayed the same in the DS port. You can tell there’s less polygons, it’s all not as complex as it could be and the environments are quite sparse – you can tell the difference between it and, say, Super Mario Galaxy 2 – but yeah, the graphics work great on the DS’s smaller screens.
Yes, there is definitely a difference I grant you but as a game it really has not aged too badly, especially when you compare it to the likes of Lylat Wars or Dune II. The bright and cartoony looks help a lot with that. True, but you have to admit that a lot of the things this game pioneered already feel very well perfected – the camera system especially.
The camera system bugged me at times. While you can set it yourself and make it better that way, it’s not yet smart enough to always do it automatically. I loved it when you saw the cameraman in the mirror. That’s a cute detail – there’s a Lakitu following your every move. It rarely shows – this and the introduction explanation of the camera are two of the few times – but it makes it a bit more… well, Mario. It does take a while to learn how to control it but once you do it’s actually really well done – even if the C-Buttons on the N64 controller do not feel that natural to use to move the camera. Yeah, you can tell it needed work, but once it works, it works well.
Same with the open world feel of each of the courses. It’s so much better in the Galaxy games, but it works very well here. It feels pretty open, but again, on having to develop it, the boundaries feel artificial at times. One of them is during the giant world, where the water just stops. There’s no real indication of where or why, you just can’t swim any further and the water is darker (similar in a way to Super Mario Sunshine.) I never understood why all the courses appears to be floating… that’s Mario’s world. From the start, there have been endless pits in the levels. Very true.
If it wasn’t for the fact that I am deeply in love with the first Super Mario Galaxy I would happily say that this is the best of the Mario platformers that I’ve played. It’s just so iconic. Some things are done better by other games, and the Mario games have evolved, but this is a good, basic game, missions, open world, 3D… it all works together well here. And there’s a lost penguin! Which you threw away! It throws itself away every time you get hit, jump wrong, or anything like that. I didn’t want to throw it. Likely story.
Have we peaked too early? This is widely regarded as one of the best games ever released (if not the best platformer) and we are only 26 games in. Super Mario 64 really is a great game and I would suggest that anyone who is yet to play this to try the DS port. It’s a very good substitute for the N64 version.