Retro Thoughts – Super Mario 64

I recently played through Super Mario 64 on the WiiU Virtual Console for the first time (up to 70 stars. Enough to beat Bowser, see the credits, and get the game off my backlog.)

mario64

For a genre defining game it stand apart from everything from it’s era. However, if we look back through 2016-o-vision the cracks show.

This is Mario’s first foray into 3D environments and every level is unique and engaging, but the controls let it down in my opinion. This isn’t really a flaw in the game, or even with the Nintendo 64 it ran on. We are just so used to twin sticks in modern games to play a 3D without them feels strange and unwieldy.

Twin sticks weren’t even a thing until the year after Super Mario 64 was released (the Sony Dual Analog controller became available April 1997 for the Playstation) and not on Nintendo hardware until the Gamecube in 2001 over five years later.

For what it had, the game controlled well and even translated quite decently to a DS remaster a decade ago. The levels were fantastic (nothing felt rushed, or repeated, or a lazy cop out), the music sublime, and this game is rightly considered a classic.

It’s a shame that Nintendo’s Virtual Console is too dark, as you can see in these screenshots. You could always play on actual hardware (but I am never going be buying old consoles.. I have enough crap as it is) or resort to other solutions like emulating the game yourself on something like RetroPie or your normal computer. Why can’t Nintendo fix the darkness issue? Who knows.. Maybe they will on the NX (as they get us to ‘upgrade’ our virtual console libraries again…)

I don’t think I will ever go back and get all 120 stars. I’d probably snap my controller in half, and I have a hell of a backlog to get through anyway.

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