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Super Mario 64 (Nintendo 64) artwork

Super Mario 64 (Nintendo 64) review


"A long time ago, in a far away kingdom filled with mushroom hill tops, green pipes, and coins as far as the eye can see, there was a man named Mario. This plumber, sporting a killer mustache, overalls, and a red hat, time and time again saved the Mushroom Kingdom from the diabolical Bowser, a towering turtle that has a huge obsession with kidnapping a princess. Mario had plenty of help during these adventures, but that didn't seem to matter to him, since he was so intent on hogging all the glory..."



A long time ago, in a far away kingdom filled with mushroom hill tops, green pipes, and coins as far as the eye can see, there was a man named Mario. This plumber, sporting a killer mustache, overalls, and a red hat, time and time again saved the Mushroom Kingdom from the diabolical Bowser, a towering turtle that has a huge obsession with kidnapping a princess. Mario had plenty of help during these adventures, but that didn't seem to matter to him, since he was so intent on hogging all the glory. He went to a mysterious storyteller by the name of Shigeru Miyamoto, and paid him to retell the tales so that it would sound like the plumber did most or all the work. He even went as far to put his name in all the titles: Super Mario Bros., Super Mario World, Mario is Missing, and so on. Due to spotlight hogging, poor Luigi, Mario's brother, got by on part-time sports jobs. And Yoshi, the green dinosaur that cared for Mario when he was a whiny baby, was abused in later years with constant beatings to the head and countless sacrifices for extra jump boosts.

So when it came time for Mario to embark on his latest, supposedly greatest journey, he didn't want to wait for people to hear about this current conquest against Bowser's army. His solution? Live TV, baby. He called the Mushroom Broadcasting Company (or MBC for short), pitched his idea to the executives, and within minutes a camera crew was sent over. The Lakitu Bros. crew, or commonly known as The Great Lakitus, have been praised for their bravery in the line of duty, all for the sake of the shot. The brothers, excited about this latest job, thought this would be their big break, especially if the previous outings of the "hero" were any indication.

However, when they finally had the chance to meet the famous Mario, they soon realized how different he was from the legend. On first arrival, they witnessed the plumber tying up his brother and hiding him inside a bush. Yoshi tried rescuing him, but Mario knocked the mammal out cold, stuffed him into a cannon, and shot him to the top of the castle with no means of escape*. Mario then turned around and was shocked to see the cameramen so soon. He marched up to the turtles, grabbed their necks, and threatened to do horrible things to their entire family if word of this came out. He didn't want another "Lost Levels" incident on his hands.

*It was later discovered the punch was so powerful, that Yoshi completely forgot about the whole ordeal and made up a story when saved.

The Lakitu Bros., beaming with enthusiasm just minutes earlier, tagged along with the Italian mobster in depressed state of minds. All hope wasn't lost, fortunately. They couldn't do anything with words, but they still had their cameras. And you know what they say: actions speak louder than words. As the journey to rescue the princess, recover all the stars, and take back the castle went underway, Mario was thrilled his loyal fanbase would be able to see this adventure in, some would say, a three-dimensional perspective. It would be unlike the hand drawn art that accompanied his stories of yesteryear's treks.

Traveling into the Bob-omb Battlefield portrait, though, he realized the camera work from the Lakitu Bros appeared... sloppy. Thinking it was just first minute jitters, he marched forward, jumping on Goombas, dodging the giant, chained Chompa, and climbed the booby-trapped mountain to face Big Bob-omb. As the hero of the Mushroom Kingdom continued into the painting worlds of little giants, submerged cities, and winter wonderlands, however, he wasn't as focused as he usually was; he kept noticing the Lakitus' were in horrible positions, always moving to the most awkward spots imaginable. And whenever they were actually in good positions, the second Mario tried doing something, The Great Lakitus went back to terrible angles.

In what was a rarity, Mario was out of his element due to how distracted he was. Usually the master at platforming, which came off so easy in electronic play recreations, was now reduced to a clumsy fool. Challenges were now unintentionally magnified because of the Lakitu Brothers' annoying and erratic movements, and the plumber began screwing up more than was needed. Mario tried to make the best of it on Live TV, but the damage was done. Thankfully for him, viewers still enjoyed the show thanks to it being such a monumental occasion in that time period, plus the pleasure of seeing familiar places and things in the new perspective. But for Mario, it came off as a disappointment. He was glad people still managed to enjoy more of his spotlight hogging, but he wished the experience would have performed better. It was at least an interesting first experiment, he thought.

The Lakitu Bros, silenced through blackmail, were proud of the job they did, however. And thankfully, Mario never realized that they performed badly on purpose. Even though they knew they ruined what could have been a very engaging experience, destroying their careers in the process, they wanted to avenge the wrongdoings brought upon Luigi, Yoshi, and all the other nameless heroes that did their job for princess and kingdom.

Because that's just the type of people they were, The Great Lakitus.

Rating: 6/10

pickhut's avatar
Community review by pickhut (July 02, 2010)

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Feedback

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Felix_Arabia posted July 02, 2010:

"The camera is bad" would have been a lot more concise.
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pickhut posted July 02, 2010:

I thought we were aiming for varied styles and takes on reviewing. >_>
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JANUS2 posted July 02, 2010:

I enjoyed reading it. It was a "creative" approach that had it's ups and downs but I'm definitely glad you didn't just say "the camera is bad".
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qxz posted July 02, 2010:

The Lakitu Bros.' cinematography was always inconsistent. The flight scenes were beautiful, but their work was flawed on land. It's a shame that, when when the show asked for underwater scenery, the quality of their cinematography went down the crapper in a hurry.


That said, I liked this review! I'm probably just saying that because I always thought Super Mario 64 was good, but the camera -- ESPECIALLY in those [censored] water levels -- killed the game's potential for greatness.

That, and 3D platforming was actually done -- to a much smaller scale -- 13 years earlier.
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pickhut posted July 02, 2010:

That looks pretty epic for a 1983 game. How come I'm only hearing about this game now?

And thanks for all the comments on the review. Even you, Felix. 8======D oooo
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zippdementia posted July 02, 2010:

It was way worse on the DS where you had to control the game with either a little stick on the screen or a d-pad. A !@#$! d-pad!!!
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Leroux posted July 03, 2010:

I never really understood the camera is bad complaints. It's adjustable and since the primary movements are just running and jumping -- all done with control stick, A and Z -- it never struck me as too difficult to be working the C-left, C-right and R buttons simultaneously. Usually, even if the perspective was less than ideal, you could use cues like Mario's shadow and quick camera rotations to judge distance.

I would say the camera introduces a learning curve and agree with QXZ that underwater -- notably Jolly Roger Bay -- it can be pretty lousy. Some other spots too -- inside the volcano of Lethal Lava Land or Dire Dire Docks's area above the submarine come to mind. But overall I would never call it bad and the reviewers that base their whole opinion on it baffle me a bit, like we didn't play the same game. I thought it was a non-issue for the bulk of it and its perspective -- which didn't always center behind the main character -- helped bring the imaginative settings to life (Whomp's Fortress and Tall Tall Mountain, among others, examples of two levels that would not be nearly the same if the camera constantly centered behind Mario).
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Suskie posted July 03, 2010:

The problem I had with SM64's camera was that I'd often hit one of the C buttons to move it and it was all like "NO I DON'T WANNA." It would happen at the most annoying times, too. Like, it would move everywhere except where I wanted to put it, even when there was nothing in the way. Baffling and irritating.

It hardly ruined the experience for me and it's still a great game, though I do believe a bad camera system can single-handedly destroy a game. Especially in the case of that one popular game I keep citing for its horrible camera. You know which one I'm talking about.
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pickhut posted July 03, 2010:

I was willing to accept the game's problems and probably give it like a 7 or 8, but then I noticed I was raging and getting upset a lot over missing jumps, falling into pits, ect. because of the camera. I realized I never got this upset over games I actually enjoy a lot, and that's how I came to the conclusion I'm now at with Super Mario 64.

Thanks for the various views and comments, btw!
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jerec posted July 03, 2010:

The camera was a physical character in the game levels, like Mario, so you couldn't move him into a wall or anything, which created problems in enclosed areas. Tick Tock Clock, I recall, I had two different camera angles available at any one time whenever you were near the edge.
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qxz posted July 03, 2010:

Leroux_Deux wrote:
I never really understood the camera is bad complaints.
.
.
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I would say the camera introduces a learning curve and agree with QXZ that underwater -- notably Jolly Roger Bay -- it can be pretty lousy. Some other spots too -- inside the volcano of Lethal Lava Land or Dire Dire Docks's area above the submarine come to mind. But overall I would never call it bad and the reviewers that base their whole opinion on it baffle me a bit, like we didn't play the same game.


Hold on there. Just because I hated Super Mario 64's camerawork at spots doesn't mean I hated its overall quality. I remember Super Mario 64 being an overall GOOD game, but I simply couldn't overlook how often the physical camera became unusable. Granted, it was Nintendo's first foray into 3D platforming, but having better camera control could easily have made Super Mario 64 a masterpiece at both technical and entertainment levels.
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bluberry posted July 03, 2010:

camera angles are subjective. loads of people rag on Mario 64 or DMC's and I think they're largely fine, loads of people don't mind Ninja Gaiden's whereas I find it makes the game unplayable. whatever.

cool review pickhut.
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jiggs posted July 03, 2010:

the camera control is masterable. i was able to move the camera on the fly while moving mario around at the same time. tick tock tower and rainbow level which can prove especially daunting even for the camera can be mastered. i used to do this with ease when i did speed runs of the game. i could get all 120 stars in about 3 hours.

i can see where the camera may be a problem for some, seeing my cousin who enjoyed the 2D mario games play SM64 for the first time and struggled at it while cursing at everything from the camera to the analog thumbstick. suffice it to say he couldn't quite adapt to it like i did and vowed not to play another Mario game again.

when you can make the camera your bitch, SM64 is a much more rewarding experience. i probably would have no interest in replaying it now, the Galaxy games are way better and have alot more going on.

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pickhut posted July 04, 2010:

The problem I have with that, though, is a camera should never be mastered in the first place. It should be as easy to execute as basic jumping or attacking.

Even if a camera does need some time to get used to, it shouldn't at least take more than a level or two to get the hang of.

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