finally finished super mario 64 for the N64. i started off rather disliking the game, and then i got into it, but by the time i got the 120th (and last) star i finished the game with mixed feelings. there’s no doubt that the game was a milestone in the history of gaming, with its redefinition of platforming from 2D to 3D. i was surprised at how much this game incorporated puzzles, and it made sense to me when later i read that several of the elements were taken from a zelda game they had been working on at the same time.
overall my biggest gripe w/ the game is that i feel there are too many cheap “try and die” situations, a criterion that i’ve been using for platformers and which seems to me a pretty good rubric; in particular w/ aiming the canons, some of the flying, and with a fair amount of the jumping. i suppose you get better at all the skills including these throughout the game (particularly flying), but even by the end i had a hard time judging exactly how wide a gap was or predicting if i’d have too much momentum if i jumped onto a platform, causing poor mario to slide off. a common complaint and one i agree with is that it’s especially annoying when you fall all the way down from the top of a mountain and you have to keep climbing all the way back to the top just to fall again b/c you haven’t gotten the jumping angle quite right. at least the height issues aren’t quite as bad as mario sunshine, that i can remember anyway.
regarding 3D platformers in general, the game makes me appreciate the modern prince of persia games a bit more, the first of which i played last year. like mario 64 the persia games use height as its main level design element, but with its rewind feature you rarely have to restart from the very bottom. sunshine helped solve the height problem by giving you some leeway in form of a hover ability, but in that game i still remember falling from high up being a big pain. from what i’ve played of galaxy so far, they’ve come up with another way to solve the 3D jumping problem by pretty much doing away with falling at all, thus focusing your attention on other gameplay mechanics instead.
i’ll prob. tackle mario 64 DS eventually, although the controls sound like they’ll be more awkward. but from various reviews i’ve read (including this one from gamespot) it seems like they’ve offset this by making the game easier in general with the addition of characters with powers different from mario’s. mario-wise i’ll prob. hold off on playing too much more of galaxy and return to the 2D games, and as you can imagine i’ll be doing so with a rather big sigh of relief. i guess i’ll just always be a retro gamer at heart. haha.
– themushroomkingdom.net’s mario 64 site: nice site, w/ some good info.
– PDF of US manual at replacementdocs.com
– strategywiki.org’s page seems fairly complete.
– cheats at IGN
– good walkthrough at IGN
– IGN’s guide to mario 64 DS
– youtube video of the best ending (w/ all stars obtained)
– crazy tool-assisted speed run on youtube: i can’t imagine anyone wanting to work out all the glitches and things to do these speed runs, but it’s fun to watch.