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Super Mario 64 DS (DS) artwork

Super Mario 64 DS (DS) review


"The idolization of Mario throughout history has opened many eyes to the world of gaming. Side scrolling platformers were what started it all, but an interesting side note will show you the wild success that Mario's first venture in the realm of 3-D brought. With a constant camera rolling around Mario, it brought forth new ways to flesh out the franchise that already had deep roots. Learning from their past mistakes, Nintendo launched their new handheld, the Nintendo Ds, with an expansion of one ..."



The idolization of Mario throughout history has opened many eyes to the world of gaming. Side scrolling platformers were what started it all, but an interesting side note will show you the wild success that Mario's first venture in the realm of 3-D brought. With a constant camera rolling around Mario, it brought forth new ways to flesh out the franchise that already had deep roots. Learning from their past mistakes, Nintendo launched their new handheld, the Nintendo Ds, with an expansion of one of the greatest games of all time, Mario 64.

For those that don't know what this classic was all about, let me elaborate a little. Mario 64, when stripped of it's outer shell, was essentially a compilation of stages that had you collecting power stars in order to rescue your damsel in distress, Princess Peach. Acquiring these stars demanded precision, skill, quick reflexes, and occasionally, dumb luck.
What is always first noticed about the changes undergone in this version is the lack of an analog stick. Mario 64 revolved around this and the fact that the DS doesn't support one has been blown way out of proportion by the media. Yes, it feels a little weird controlling the fat plumber at first, but you will grow accustomed to the new ways in no time flat.

One configuration option is the analog mode. With the innovative wrist strap supplied to you by Nintendo when you buy your DS you can slide your thumb across the bottom touch screen with a little plastic pad, mimicking the feel of analog. The only problem with this is that after a short time of sliding your thumb it begins to make its way to the edge of your sliding boundary, forcing you to pick up your thumb and readjust. To make things easier for you, let me suggest using the d-pad. It works perfectly well in most all situations and, other than performing the quick back flip, should give no hassles at all. Once you get the controls down pat you will begin to rekindle old memories of the past while enjoying the new content, all at the airport or subway.


Yoshi. Wario. Luigi.

What do these characters have to do with SM64 DS, you ask? Well, actually quite a lot.
In a brilliant move by Nintendo, these characters are incorporated into the already-proven-solid mix, allowing you to choose one to your liking before each level. Each has their pros and cons and can significantly increase your chances of getting a certain star in the game's many perilous places. Yoshi's flutter kick, Luigi's scuttle jump, and Wario's immense strength all play a role in getting various stars. Also, each character has a special, with Yoshi's bringing the ability to breath fire, Luigi's allowing him to slip through otherwise solid objects, Wario's turning him into living metal, and Mario's turning him into a blown up, floating rendition of himself. All this adds up to extremely high versatility, granting a plethora of ways to undertake each stage.

Soaking in the aforementioned praises, I must also break the news that a large portion of this game is unchanged from the original. You're still going to be encounter levels such as tall, tall mountain, wet-dry world, and Jolly Roger Bay, and most of the bosses and enemies aren't altered in the slightest.

Thankfully, there are thirty new stars strewn randomly throughout your quest, adding some much needed flair. As a whole you can't help but think of deja vu all over again. Most people that played the original will fly through the familiar stars that haven't changed from before. Taking that into account, this really is not that long of a game; one you should have beaten within a reasonable amount of time.

A multiplayer option is featured, allowing one to four players to link wirelessly. Virtually all you do is run around, grabbing stars and knocking down other players. The one with the most stars at the ends wins...a pretty uninspiring and highly mundane sideshow that loses its thrills quickly.

While it's basically a classic slightly changed, you can't deny the exquisite vistas at which you'll be gaping at from start to finish.

It seems like yesterday I was sitting at home playing through SM 64 thinking, "Graphics don't get any better than this!" Less than ten years later I'm playing it on my new handheld with BETTER graphics. The modeling and texturing, for the most part, is top notch for handhelds and it conveys that familiar vibe that all Mario games portray. Since all this 64-bit goodness is packed onto such a small screen the graphics truly do look better than the original, except when get close up on some objects. I swear I can count the pixels when I see a tree right on top of the screen. This is a gripe worth mentioning, albeit a minor one. Water and particle effects are stupendous and, as are the graphics as a whole, an example developers should seek when putting out games on the DS.


While the DS touts stereo sound, a first in handheld gaming, Mario 64 DS still sounds somewhat compressed when compared to it's predecessor. Granted, you do hear the chirp of a far off bird in one speaker, and hear the cacophony of the distant waterfall in the other, but the overall quality does not represent what is considered a top-of-the-line audio presentation. With that said, you have to give credit for even having stereo sound at all.

What looks to be a never-ending trend, SM64 DS is without voice-overs. Voiceovers are not hardly integral to an enjoyable game so this is not a major gripe. Classic grunts and groans replace these whether you like them or not.


There seems to be an overabundance of bunnies prancing around the castle that are just begging for you to catch them. For every bunny that you catch, a mini-game will appear under whomever's name you caught it with in the rec room. With nine games per character, and thirty-six overall, this clearly offers up a change of pace. Getting sick of trying to find that ridiculously relentless star in the Clock Level? Fear not, for the mini-games are a blissful blast to play. Most all of them take advantage of the unique touch screen and, if they so desired, Nintendo could release this assortment of mini-games as a stand-alone game and come out unscathed.

There's even a little doodle program that allows you to draw Mario or Yoshi's face and see how close they are to the real thing. In all honesty, the mini-games brought me just as much joy as searching for all 150 stars did. Without these, SM64 DS would be an unacceptable foray into the Mario franchise.

I really wanted to love this game. On paper it looks to be a fascinating idea, but a lack of innovation pulls this game down in so many ways. With what's presented, it's worth another go to see the added content, but images of something better on launch day will forever be engrained in my dreams. If you own a DS right now, you must own this game. Just don't expect anything sensational.





Rating: 8.0/10

mrmiyamoto's avatar
Community review by mrmiyamoto (February 26, 2005)

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