Game Grotto 4: Super Mario 64 Retrospective

Super Mario 64 was one of the first successful 3D platformers and was responsible for bringing the gameplay of Super Mario into 3D. Mario 64 is seen as a true classic on the N64. For Mario day I decided to do a retrospective of this classic game because it is responsible for many aspects not just for the Mario series, but gaming as a whole going forward, let’s have a look at some of these aspects.

Levels

Unlike previous Mario games where there are many linear levels the player must get through, Mario 64 has a smaller number of sandbox-style levels where the player must collect power stars to progress. The idea of having each level be one big sandbox, a level type that wasn’t super common back in the day.

There are 15 main courses in the games with 6 main stars and a 100 coin star. One thing that is nice is that a good chunk of power stars can be collected out of order.

For example, in the first mission of Bob-omb Battlefield, you are supposed to climb the mountain to fight King Bob-omb; however, instead, you can free this Chain-Chomp near the start to collect a power star and progress with the story. This is honestly a genius mechanic, in my opinion, as it allows players more freedom with how they play the game in case a certain part is too difficult for them.

Mario’s Moveset

Manual Scan of Mario’s moves

One aspect of gameplay that Mario 64 has become famous for is the game’s controls. The jump to 3D and the possibilities with the N64 controller not only allowed for analog movement in a 3D game, but it also allowed Nintendo to really add a number of useful moves for controlling Mario.

You could now punch enemies to defeat them, wall jump to reach certain areas, and long jump across gaps to name a few. And thanks to such a diverse and expanded move set, there are more options for getting around the various levels, including some the developers didn’t intend.

In fact, there are actually a number of tricks and glitches players have discovered and used as alternative ways of collecting stars, and thanks to many of these tricks Mario 64 has become one of the most popular games to speedrun.

The Controllable Camera

Lakitu following Mario around recording his actions.

One of the big innovations from Super Mario 64 was the introduction of the camera players could control with the C-buttons. This feature would players adjust the camera to get a better view of the level and would become a standard for many other 3D games to come.

To help with establishing the idea Lakitu follows Mario around with a camera, and at the start of the game, he goes over how to control the camera. Nintendo would also add a number of camera viewpoints to aid players can that can be toggled with R

However being one of the first games to have a controllable camera, it was far from perfect leading to players having to fight it often, although for the time this was pretty revolutionary.

Conclusion

Overall Super Mario 64 was truly an influential game for its time thanks to its open sandbox levels, diverse and useful move set, and controllable camera system. Admittedly this game has aged perfectly, this definitely looks like a game from the mid-’90s and the boss fights are pretty pathetic, but even with its quirks, it is truly one of the most influential games of all time.

If you are interested in checking it out nowadays the game is available as one of the 3 games in Super Mario 3D All-Stars, was remade for the DS with new content, and was even unofficially ported to PC with an active modding community, so you definitely have options if you wanna try this game.

Thanks for reading and be sure to follow me on Facebook and Twitter for more updates about the games I will discuss.

4 thoughts on “Game Grotto 4: Super Mario 64 Retrospective

  • So nostalgic; I loved playing this as a kid! I just have memories of being kind of scared of the inside of the castle, for some reason. Probably had to do with that one Bowser painting..

  • I remember having this game when I was a kid and I thought it was so crazy and different from any Mario game I had played before. It is crazy to think that the decision to make this game this way, may have changed the course of video games forever. Mario games have always been the perfect amount of casual but still fun and I don’t think this franchise will ever lose steam!

  • This was also another game I played growing up as a kid especially on the Nintendo 64. Its crazy that Mario is still around today. Really liked how in depth you go when you talk about each game. Nice Job!

  • Its kind of crazy to think back on SM64 and how insanely nostalgic it makes many of us feel, not to mention how impactful it was too. I remember playing the game as a kid like many others! Its got alot of fond memories and was really a good example of great 3D platformers were back in the N64 Era. It makes me nostalgic but thankful for how it shaped the genre!

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