Super Mario 64 DS (DS) review
"Eight years ago, the game that gave new meaning to the term "3D Game" and redefined the platform genre, Super Mario 64, was released to the world on the Nintendo 64. The game was well-received, and as most will tell you, it was extremely fun. However, one of the most complained about issues, was the lack of Mario's green-hatted brother, Luigi. It does seem rather ironic, that on the DS reincarnation of the game, amongst many new additions and features, is the ability to control Luigi. And indeed..."
Eight years ago, the game that gave new meaning to the term "3D Game" and redefined the platform genre, Super Mario 64, was released to the world on the Nintendo 64. The game was well-received, and as most will tell you, it was extremely fun. However, one of the most complained about issues, was the lack of Mario's green-hatted brother, Luigi. It does seem rather ironic, that on the DS reincarnation of the game, amongst many new additions and features, is the ability to control Luigi. And indeed, this is a good omen, signifying that Super Mario 64 DS is ready to pave the way for future masterpieces on the DS.
Upon starting up the game, you'll be presented with three options on the main menu; As well as a concealed fourth option. The first, is the main Adventure mode, which is, as you can guess, the main game -- Now boasting 150 stars, as well as many reworked and new areas not seen in the original game. This mode also incorporates use of all four of the characters that are playable in the game: Yoshi, Mario, Luigi, and Wario. Unlike the Nintendo 64 original, where you played as Mario from beginning to end, using the switch blocks to gain different abilities, the DS version places Yoshi into your control.
Right away, you will notices differences in control. For one, Yoshi can use his trademark flutter jump, and swallow enemies to make eggs, and shoot them ala Yoshi's Island. Throughout the course of the adventure, Yoshi will unlock the remaining three characters; Each of the three being held captive in a brand new stage, with the pleasant presence of a new boss. Each of the characters will have to be utilized if you are to collect all 150 stars of the game. This is due to the fact, that rather than have three switches as in the Nintendo 64 version, this has only one switch, with a different ability for each character. Mario can inflate like a Balloon, or get a Wing Cap (depending on the box you hit). The wing cap, will allow Mario to fly, while the Balloon, not seen in the original, will allow him to float upward as in the days of Super Mario World. Luigi will get the Invisibility powerup, allowing him to pass through fences, and Wario will pick up the Metal Cap allowing him to run across the bottom of water, resist wind, and pass through fire. Good old Yoshi, gets his fire breath, allowing him to scorch enemies and melt ice blocks. There is also the addition of the Super Maushroom; The lack of this surprised many fans. It allows Wario, Luigi, or Mario to grow to a giant size, and run around crushing enemies, wooden pegs, and crates with ease for a limited time.
Each character also comes with basic differences that separate them. For example, Yoshi has his flutter jump and eggs attacks, which were already mentioned. However, the green dinosaur can not punch enemies or break blocks. Mario can wall jump. Luigi can make huge backflips, and slowly spin to the ground -- As well as run several steps across the surface of the water before falling. And finally, Wario comes in with his enhanced strength, and ability to crush metallic blocks. However, he is extremely slow, and is not very good at jumping. This is a great concept to the game, and brings back memories of Super Mario Brothers 2, where you could pick your character. What makes it even better, is that while in stages, you can pick up hats on the ground, to switch to another character. The one obvious flaw in this, is that in a few places, Luigi's backflip is simply too powerful. For example, in one of the later levels in the game, you are supposed to use a cannon to reach a star. However, with this enhanced backflip, Luigi makes it completely pointless to do so.
With the release on the Nintendo DS handheld however, comes the obvious needs for a new control scheme, especially considering that the DS has an unfortunate lack of an analog stick. Thankfully, however, Nintendo was on the top of their game as they developed this title. They've given you the option to use the D-Pad, or the touch screen to move Mario. The D-Pad feels extremely awkward at first, however, using it becomes second nature after the first fifteen minutes or so. The touch screen mode is a hit-or-miss method though. You are to use the Thumb Strap that came with your DS as a virtual analog stick of sorts. This works for some people, but for others, it just doesn't feel natural.
The conversion from analog to D-Pad/Touch screen is definitely the low-point of the controls, as the rest of the buttons are fine. There are some new features that are DS-exclusive, though. For example the touch screen acts as a map of the level, which will show the location of your character, stars, and several other things, depending on the goal you are going for. There are also arrows on the touch screen that act as alternative ways to rotate the camera. This allows the game to be viewed at many more angles than were available in the Nintendo 64 version. Sadly, there are a few places in the game, where the camera seems to go crazy.
As far as audio and visual impressions go, the game looks rather well, and sounds as good as it always has. The voices of Yoshi, Luigi, and Wario were the obvious additions, and they do fit well. The characters all look very nice, and have souped up polygon counts. The levels seem much the same as far as polygon count goes, but if you are a veteran to the Nintendo 64 classic, you will notice new textures here and there, and always for the better. Don't be expecting an absolutely beauty, however. Though it is true that most of the game sports nice looking landscapes, there are a few textures that seem very stretched out.
Now, getting back to those other options on the main menu. Well, by tapping the character's -- Either Mario or Yoshi -- face, you will enter a draw mode. Here, you can either stretch their face, or draw new faces. It has no point, and you can't save it, but it is a rather fun easter egg. The second mode, is a VS mode. This mode allows you, and up to three friends, to participate in a battle mode, using just one copy of Super Mario 64 Ds. The mode isn't amazingly fun -- A co-op Adventure mode would have been more entertaining -- but it is better than having no multiplayer at all, like the original.
In the battle mode, the players are in one of four areas, and they run around collecting the stars that appear. They all start as Yoshi, but can pick up hats to change their character mid-game. You will be racing for stars, as you attempt to use your moves on your opponent, to make them drop theirs. This mode is somewhat fun, but as stated a co-op mode would have been exponentially more fun. Or, if the addition of a co-op mode would have been too much, it would have at least been nice to increase the time limit in the battle mode matches. As it stands, they end quickly. All-in-all the Vs mode is mediocre at best.
The final option, is the Rec Room. In this mode, you get to play all the mini-games you have collected. There are 36 in all, and you start with eight. The remaining 28 games come from collecting rabbits in the single player mode. You see, spread amongst the castle and the courtyard, there are seven rabbits for each character -- And you will only be able to see them, if you are the correct character. Each time you catch one, you unlock a mini-game. And let me tell you, some of these mini-games are extremely fun, and will have you hooked, playing several hours on the same game in some cases. One game in particular, has you using the touch screen to pull back a slingshot and aim it at falling bob-ombs. Another, has a version of shuffleboard, where you push shells onto a target. Still, another involves you drawing lines, to redirect a falling picture of Mario's head, before it falls into a Piranha Plant's mouth. There's even a version of Poker. To put it simple, if you can say you like Mario Party, Wario Ware, or the fellow DS launch title, Feel the Magic XY/XX, you should love this mode.
All-in-All, this game is great for the fans of the original. And for those who have never played the original, you simply should not be without this game. After getting used to the controls, which takes less than half of an hour, this will make an excellent addition to any Nintendo DS game collection.
Community review by sayainprince (September 13, 2005)
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