• Super Mario 64


  • Platformer


  • Nintendo


  • Nintendo

Release Date:

  • June 23, 1996 (JP), September 29, 1996 (US), March 1, 1997 (EU)

On Wikipedia:


  • Nintendo 64

Statue Texture:

  • Eternal Star

I was introduced to Super Mario 64 in December 1997, and while I was a bit young for it, it left a profound mark in me and the association with the annual Christmas vacation only left positive impressions. Over 25 years later I can still say that Super Mario 64 is one of the best games I've personally played and still deserves all the praise it got in its 1996 release.

In many ways, it is THE definitive Nintendo game, full of color and life and secrets and the last in the line of Mario games could just BE Mario without gimmicks, while still allowing all the weird and wonderful things they could add to the game, instead of the highly sanitized and gatekept world the Super Mario universe is today.

I must admit I rarely got a chance to play Mario 64 as it was intended. Played the opening on friends' N64s, had a really badly done emulator circa 2000 (half the items were invisible and you could forget about it using sound), and I think I finally managed to play it in 2008 with a Wii and its Virtual Console. Still, the PC port today with a good controller is the definitive experience unless you absolutely insist playing it on a branded Nintendo system.

There is an ongoing debate going on over how much of an improvement, if any, Super Mario 64 DS was, and using the "when you were 12" argument. Guess what? I was 12 when Super Mario 64 DS premiered at E3 2004, then known as Super Mario 64 x4. What I WANTED was the experience of SM64 I never had, and adding multiplayer with Yoshi, Wario, and the rest just seemed like icing on the cake. Well...that all faded away when I discovered that first of all, the new Nintendo DS couldn't play classic Game Boy games, so there went the idea of playing Pokémon Gold in grand style, second of all, the multiplayer was scrapped on final release, and then the actual game had so many changes from the real Super Mario 64 (in addition to the "four characters" gimmick, pretty much every texture was changed) that it was hardly SM64 at all. That's not even bringing up the fact that the D-pad is no replacement for the stick...a "pocket N64" the DS was not.

Despite Super Mario 64 meriting the highest rating this site offers, like many games, you can start seeing where the shine starts to fall off. To get 100% completion requires, among other things, a 100-coin run for all 15 main courses. Some of these are quite easy (Cool, Cool Mountain has 150 coins, half of which are in the slide) while others require some precise life-or-death controls or permanently missable areas. I had to rely on some notes for myself on beating Wing Mario Over the Rainbow but it's not something really worth saving. It's a difficult level if only for the fact that it will dump you outside the castle if you fall or fly out of bounds, and if you need help with it, it's recommended you take a look at this YouTube video. The early courses like Bob-Omb Battlefield are large and detailed (yet not TOO large), while others are highly abbreviated and much simpler.

The Nintendo 64 was not as successful as the PlayStation when both were on the market and got a fraction of the games it did, but it was games like Super Mario 64 and others by Nintendo and its partners that still made the Nintendo 64 an unforgettable console.

(An older version of this review, which this one was based after, can be seen here).