Release Date: November 20, 2004
Buy 'SUPER MARIO 64 DS': Nintendo DS
Super Mario 64 DS is a rehash of the 1996 title for the Nintendo 64. In this expanded version of the original game, the player starts with the loveable reptile, Yoshi, and you unlock playable characters as you go. Each character has his own specialties and issues, which makes for a wonderful combination in tackling the issues that come along across the Land of the Mushrooms.
The title has expanded content, and the sheer amount of mini-games amazes, giving the feeling that Warioware has been added to the original title. In addition, Nintendo even added wireless multiplayer capabilities that only require one cartridge. Super Mario 64 DS is a central showpiece of the DS' capabilities.
Yet, even with the improved technology and expanded content, Super Mario 64 DS shows its age (although most portable gamers are used to a slightly dated feel to their titles). Nintendo has brought every Mario and Zelda game from their oldest consoles to their portable platforms, which is not necessary a bad thing, since these older games have great quality to them.
My biggest issue with Super Mario 64 DS, and most of Nintendo's platforms is the lack of concept on how to handle the controls on 3D games. I found that the learning curve of the title's interface was significant due to the control issue. The controls feel clunky and unnatural, and controlling the camera is uncomfortable and unintuitive.
Control and dated issues aside, the gameplay of this title is solid. Like a good portion of the Mario titles out there, the objective of this game is to defeat Bowser and free the Princess. The fact of starting the game with Yoshi makes for an interesting variation, and the player can either unlock the other characters or use "hats" that simulate another character. Switching between unlocked characters is onerous, since it requires the player to enter a door marked with the character to which they want to switch.
To beat this game, there is a requirement for the collection of a number of "stars" to open doors throughout the game. Each level or world, accessed through paintings, has a number of stars, which requires the player to keep re-entering a level to gather more and more stars. Not all stars are required to beat the game, which is nice since there are dozens and dozens of stars in this game.
In addition, this title has the usual assortment of Mario paraphernalia: mushrooms, coins, and such. The collection of such contraband is not required, but is recommended to assist in the player's task in rescuing Princess Toadstool. Each little bit helps obtain extra lives, stars, huge size, etc. It is amazing to see the sheer amount of things people leave lying about, and the vast cornucopia of items will assuredly keep the player busy for hours, getting lost in the many levels. The levels are amazing in the variety of environments, and there are many mini-quests to keep the player busy.
The 3D graphics are amazing in comparison to the flat sprites from earlier systems; vibrant cartoonish colors bring back Nintendo's characteristic look to yet another game system. Audibly, Super Mario 64 DS takes advantage of all of the technology implemented into the DS system. Using reverb and timing effects, the game beautifully "fakes" 3D sounds. Being a showcase game for the release of the DS, the implementation of all of the possible technology in the box is expected. The wide sound suits the game, and the characters tend to have much in the way of distinctive sounds, and coupled with the music, it all makes for a very impressive soundscape.
The mini-games allow for added hours of fun, taking advantage of the unique interface of the DS, the touchscreen. It makes this title ideal for an entertaining trip or a slow afternoon. Add the multiplayer capability, and we have wonderful variety for aficionados of the handheld platform.
This is a wonderful game for most of the players out there, and certainly a requirement for all DS owners … after all, what is a Nintendo system without a Mario title? Even with the inherent control issues of the DS, I highly recommend Super Mario 64 DS, due to the game's variety, good game design, and a quality that transcends time.