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Super Mario 64 DS (DS) artwork

Super Mario 64 DS (DS) review

"Super Mario 64 – the father of modern gaming. Almost every gamer ever has played some form of this gaming classic in some form, and for good reason. Super Mario 64 did for the 3D generations of games what Super Mario Bros. did for the 2D generations of games. Simply, the game is legendary and wicked addicting and fun. Sure, by today's standards, Super Mario 64 may be showing some age, but by re-releasing the title on their latest handheld system Nintendo has breathed new life into their classic ..."

Super Mario 64 – the father of modern gaming. Almost every gamer ever has played some form of this gaming classic in some form, and for good reason. Super Mario 64 did for the 3D generations of games what Super Mario Bros. did for the 2D generations of games. Simply, the game is legendary and wicked addicting and fun. Sure, by today's standards, Super Mario 64 may be showing some age, but by re-releasing the title on their latest handheld system Nintendo has breathed new life into their classic with some new features, but coupled with some minor problems.

Of course, the original game is kept mostly intact, but with some new tweaks and features that give it that new game smell. For example, in the original Super Mario 64, the only character you could play as was Mario, but in Super Mario 64 DS, you can play not only as Mario, but as Luigi, Wario, and even Yoshi. Though this feature is pretty cool at first, it does not exactly amp the gameplay up a notable level. The four characters have different advantages and weaknesses to them, but I found Yoshi especially annoying to play with since he is noticeably under-powered compared to the Italians he has partnered up with.

Remember those speedy little rabbits that bounced around the dungeons in the original game? Well, they are back, but there are way more of them. Some of these rabbits you can just get a key from, others allow for you to get a Power Star, and others still are color-coded to only appear to specific characters, and by grabbing them you can unlock some more mini-games for the Rec Room, which I will get into later. Honestly, the rabbits do add some replay value, but the vast amount of them steals the mysterious air about them that was present in the original game.

Even though I would have awarded this game a perfect score of ten if it was the original version or maybe on a different console, there is one thing that brings it down, and that is Super Mario 64 just doesn't translate to the DS handheld very well. Basically, there are two main control schemes at you disposal, but both control schemes do not do much justice to the title, and one of them even favors players that are left-handed! Since the DS has no analog-stick and instead has the d-pad, moving throughout the 3D environment is hard as hell. Of course, there is the option of using the touch-screen to move around, but this feature, like I mentioned earlier, is nearly impossible to do if you are right-handed, simply because of the button layout of the Nintendo DS.

Like I mentioned above, you can use the touch-screen to traverse throughout the environment, but the main gameplay is not displayed on the touch-screen. Instead, a map is displayed there, and this map does take away some of the frustration with the original title with its total lack of hints on how to obtain Power Stars. Main items are displayed on the map at all times, which really helps in completing objectives.

One thing I did like about this enhanced remake of the original Nintendo 64 classic is that there were more levels added as well as new bosses. This equals up to thirty more Power Stars to collect as you play through the game. Some of the new bosses were pretty impressive in terms of design, and I am glad to see that the developers could still do pretty interesting tricks with such an old title.

I usually always say that adding a multiplayer function could always make a game better. Usually this is true, but the multiplayer in Super Mario 64 DS is really not that great. The basic gameplay is that you and up to four friends play through a few stages of running around grabbing Power Stars and stealing them from each other. There are about zero customization options available for this and the game really makes you feel like you have no control, plus the matches are unbelievably short to even be enjoyed. You can really tell that this feature was simply tacked on at the end of the development.

The Rec Room I mentioned earlier is a set of mini-games that take advantage of the touch-screen on the Nintendo DS. Some of these mini-games are amazingly addicting and extremely fun. Sadly, Super Mario 64 DS does not take advantage of the microphone functionality of the DS, but these mini-games really show what the combination of the touch-screen and stylus can do in conjunction. It is a real shame that these mini-games are not able to be played in multiplayer matches, but they are still great and really give Super Mario 64 DS that last kick of original flair to almost make it standout as a standalone game from the original.

Who could forget the time when you first started up Super Mario 64 and were guiltily amused by the ability to mess with Mario's face? I mean, seriously, you could do really creepy things to the guy. In place of this feature there is a drawing feature that takes advantage of the touch-screen as well. You can draw whatever you want to, and even drag around Mario and Yoshi's faces to disfigure them in amusing ways.

Mario games are not known for their story, and sadly Super Mario 64 DS is no different. It would be good to see a Mario game with a halfway decent story, but at least Nintendo doesn't let the story get into the way of good gameplay and fun. Still, the basic setup is that Princess Peach has invited Mario over for cake…but Luigi and Wario decided to tag along. As Yoshi lazily lolls around outside of the castle, the three heroes run into the castle, and Yoshi dozes off. When Yoshi is awaken by Lakitu, he is informed that Bowser has entered the castle and kidnapped Princess Peach using the Power Stars. Bowser has also trapped Luigi, Mario, and Wario in the kingdom and has hidden the Power Stars throughout the worlds he has created within paintings. Like I said, not exactly an amazing Final Fantasy-level story, but it's still fun to play.

When I play 3D games on the DS, usually one of the first things that I notice is the real choppy look and the grainy effect that seems to plague nearly every 3D title released for the handheld. With the release of Super Mario 64 DS, however, it is safe to say that the DS can produce some pretty decent graphics. Sure the DS is no Xbox 360, but it can hold its own. Super Mario 64 DS has practically no glitches and virtually zero loading time, and with all that said, the level designs are still amazing to this day as well as the monster designs. Frankly, it is still just as impressive to travel around the cleverly crafted kingdom as it was all those years ago.

The music is just as great as it was years ago, but the developers did some interesting audio effects with the mini-games. It is very rarely that a game's audio impresses me significantly enough to have a section in any of my reviews that is more than just a couple sentences long, but the Mario music obviously deserves more than that. Almost everyone in the world knows what the Mario music sounds like, and it's only right that that classic theme is instilled forever in this masterpiece, even if it is a reworking. All of the sound effects sync flawlessly and are hilarious to boot.

With all the above said, you probably are already convinced to go out and buy Super Mario 64 DS. There are 150 Power Stars to collect, and collecting all of these can take an extremely long time, so you won't have to worry about the game being too short. There are a ton of secrets as well as the Rec Room mini-games to flourish in to add extra hours to your gaming experience. Hell, you may even like the multiplayer, though I didn't, but if you do, then you'll have even more to squeeze out of this title.

Though it is not that practically perfect masterpiece that the original Super Mario 64 was, Super Mario 64 DS still manages to stand out among the mass of Nintendo DS games as one of the best games on the system, as well as one of the best games I have ever played. I highly recommend this gem to any gamer that owns a DS; if you own a DS, you NEED this game.

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Community review by horror_spooky (November 10, 2007)

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