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Super Mario 64 DS (DS) artwork

Super Mario 64 DS (DS) review

"I’m not Nintendo’s #1 fan, but I’ve found myself siding with them more and more; the majority of gamers seem either increasingly hostile or increasingly indifferent to their efforts. I liked Mario Sunshine, I loved Wind Waker, and I could see Circle of the Moon just fine. "

I’m not Nintendo’s #1 fan, but I’ve found myself siding with them more and more; the majority of gamers seem either increasingly hostile or increasingly indifferent to their efforts. I liked Mario Sunshine, I loved Wind Waker, and I could see Circle of the Moon just fine.

I also love the DS. The two-screened handheld has amassed a fantastic, deep library in months, not years, and all this in spite of a pathetic launch that was headlined by a broken rehash of a classic game. I’m talking about Super Mario 64 DS, a tawdry and embarrassing “update” of the Nintendo 64’s marquee launch title. It does look slightly better on the DS than it did ten years ago on the N64, but that’s little reason to pick up something that is significantly more aggravating in so many other respects.

Say what you will about the port conveyor belt Nintendo has operating at full capacity, but when a poor sap pays $20 for a Game Boy version of Legend of Zelda, he’s getting basically the game that thrilled NES owners twenty years ago. If Nintendo had kept that in mind, I doubt they would have ever attempted Super Mario 64 on the DS—any idiot can see the problems inherent in playing the game that wrote the three-dimensional rulebook on what is essentially a Super Nintendo pad. No analog stick, no C buttons. Nintendo should know better than anyone: their best games seem made for their respective controllers, and Mario 64 is one of those games. And yet here they are, trying to cram a square peg into a circular hole.

You can control the DS version about half as well as on the N64, albeit with twice the stress. My method involves the right hand’s fingers contorted into what I call a “duck shadow puppet configuration”; the thumb is attached to a little nub that’s used to rub the touch screen. This alone should keep people away from this new version—the original plays better, it’s easy to find, and it costs less money! It’s not a complete train wreck on the DS, but why bother?

Nintendo has an answer ready to that question: more crap! The total of stars has been upped from 120 to 150, but earning these is mostly tedious item collection. There are now multiple characters, but since they effectively replace items from the original game (e.g., Wario = Metal Cap), and they are strewn in far corners of each level, far too much time is spent wandering, and with controls this unwieldy, every step is obnoxious. Oh, and there are some superfluous, boring minigames that make rudimentary use of the touch screen. Why do all these additions seem determined to undermine the reasons that Mario 64 has been respected and emulated for years?

This must what Nintendo haters feel like when they rail on GBA-Gamecube “connectivity,” endless SNES ports, and touting old ROMs as a selling point of a new console—how stupid can you be, Nintendo?

careless_whisper's avatar
Community review by careless_whisper (December 28, 2005)

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Linkamoto posted November 03, 2013:

Wow, I totally disagree with this review. While I respect your opinion, I have to ask: did you even play the mini-games?

They were a really nice sideshow that complimented what is a base that shines through. Did you try the d-pad controls for this at all? They worked just fine. I certainly didn't use the nub that Nintendo provided.

At worst, this game is no better than the original. But Nintendo really did add a bunch of content, and improved the graphics, to boot.

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