Does Super Mario 64 Hold Up Well Today? – Retro Review
By Jonathan Balofsky On 28 Nov, 2017 At 11:09 PM | Categorized As Editorials, Featured, NINTENDO, Reviews, ROG News, ROG Retro | With 0 Comments

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I can remember the first time I ever played Super Mario 64. I has played the Mario games on NES and SNES and felt they were the pinnacle of 2D gaming, and playing a 3D Mario game for the first time was like nothing else. I was in awe of what I saw and played constantly. But now decades after playing it, I have to ask myself if the game really does hold up well today or if it was just good for the time.

The first thing I will note, is that this does not take into account ports such as Mario 64 DS or the Wii U virtual console version, just the N64 original. After popping in the cartridge and sitting down to play, I tried to go back to my youth but found that I couldn’t. You cannot recapture that sense of wonder you had as a kid, but looking at the game with an older perspective still allowed me some new insight.

Rather than viewing the game as the height of the series, I now see it as having been Mario’s second beginning. Many 3D platformers from that time ( and  3D games in general from that era) have not aged particularly well, while Super Mario 64 still has a sense of polish that has aged it like a fine wine. There are issues such as the dated visuals, but bizarrely enough, the game actually manages to look good today in spite of that. Perhaps it was because of the art style but the game still has a charming look to it.

But what about the controls? There is a reason I did not want to look at a port or the Virtual Console version on Wii U, and that is because I wanted to experience the game using an N64 controller. This is what the game was designed around and modern controllers do not handle many N64 games well. I was surprised just how well Super Mario 64 uses its control scheme. Every detail is accounted for and everything has a function.  These controls would soon become the norm for Mario, after receiving an introduction of sorts in Donkey Kong 94, but were given true life in this game.

There is also the fact that the game design is so unique that people have found so much to do with the game for years after release. New speedrun tactics are constantly being used and some people are even finding new secrets decades later. Compare this to other games of the era, and Super Mario 64 is leaps ahead of the competition. Of course, compared to the modern Mario games, this one is lacking as the modern games do many things better. But it is important to remember, that Super Mario 64 was where modern Mario derives from. In fact, all of modern gaming does in fact derive from Super Mario 64 in some way. So yes, Super Mario 64 does hold up well today, and it is a game that all generations should experience at some point.

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