Mario’s greatest evolution
Most of the gaming world would agree that Super Mario 64 is one of the greatest games of all time. I would agree also except for two things: First, the game gives me a tremendous headache after about 10 minutes of play; and, second, I’m not like most people.
See, where I have a problem with Mario 64 is where most people don’t have a problem. Don’t get me wrong; I love the leap forward that presents itself as soon as you boot up the game for the first time. I was — and still am — in awe of the wonderment that is seeing Mario in 3D after playing 2D Mario games for the majority of my gaming career. However, I’m not in concert with the idea that it’s one of the greatest games of all time. Why? Just because it was the first to fully realize a formerly 2D character in 3D splendor? Because it’s Mario and just because it’s Mario?
No, I can’t form my opinion or even include the game in the conversation of greatest game of all time just because of any of those things. There has to be some valid reasoning and while there are some great points for it, I’m not sold 100 percent.
Mario 64, graphically, is steps ahead of almost everything for the Nintendo 64. Note that I said almost.
Most games don’t hold a candle to Mario in fully realized 3D and, even with his polygonal block style as with most early N64 games, Mario still looks like a king. Peach’s Palace is interestingly laid out and the graphical quality of the castle still blows away the competition 20 years later. Watching Mario run around, run and jump and be Mario but in a non-2D sprite is pure heaven for Mario lovers like myself.
But there’s that blockiness that I mentioned before. It’s obvious throughout and can be jarring from time to time. And for motion sickness sufferers like myself, the 3D is nigh unbearable. It’s all I can do not to vomit after 20 minutes, so my playtime is immediately limited because of the visuals. I should not be wanting to vomit after playing a Mario game.
The soundtrack makes up for the illness-inducing gameplay. The soundtrack is fantastic and it’s worthy of a mainline Mario game, easily. From running around in the plains of Bob-omb Battlefield to traversing numerous obstacles to take on the King of the Koopas, Mario 64 is a dream come true in terms of audio pleasure.
And, this is, after all, the first commercial game where Mario actually speaks. It’s a joy to hear him squeal and squawk for the first time as he explores the various worlds.
With all of my negative sentiments about the leap from 2D to 3D for Mario, I still appreciate the masterpiece that is Mario 64. Groundbreaking and simultaneously frustrating?
Yes. But it’s frustration worth having even if it takes a tumble down my list of greatest games ever.