The StarSoldier

Artist touch: Nintendo did a great job of showing Mario's new ability to fly on the cover. All the rest of the background looks like filler though. Cover art rating: 8/10
Month it won: January 2005

(Nintendo, September 30, 1996)
Special note: This was a N64 Launch game and it was the first time Mario was in true 3D!
Introduction and Story:
In 2004, one of the biggest stories in the gaming world was when Nintendo released their DS portable game system. Easily one of biggest games of its launch was Super Mario 64 DS, this was a remake of a classic Nintendo 64 title that sold millions and won major critical acclaim from the gaming community. Since I'm still on a Super Mario high after my last Game of the Month (which was Super Mario Brothers by the way), lets take a look back when Super Mario 64 first arrived for Nintendo 64 in this GOTM.

If there is one video game that changed the gaming world in 1996; it was definitely Nintendo's first N64 game! When legendary game programmer Shigeru Miyamoto introduced Super Mario 64 on this then new system, the game had a whole new way to play video games. The game's unique controls were made possible from Nintendo's new bulky but very usable controller with its unique Analog stick. With Super Mario 64's stunning 3D graphics (which was a first for this popular series by the way), and its brand new non linear game play, it is no wonder the game took the world by storm.

The story starts off when Mario gets invited to Princess Peach's castle because she just finished baking a cake (I think though that it's really a Booty call but that's just me) but as soon as Mario enters the castle he then finds out that the entire place has a spell on it and it looks like your old nemesis Bowser: King of the Koopas is the cause of this. Now Mario must recover the lost golden Stars to gain entry to some of castle doors but it won't be easy because the Stars are lost in several strange worlds filled with monsters, traps, and pitfalls.
Controls and Game Play: Video Review:
Mario can only be controlled by the new Analog stick found on the then new N64 controller. What makes the Analog stick different than the standard Cross Dpad on older Nintendo systems like Super Nintendo or NES? With the Analog you can make Mario tip toe, walk, or run just by the pressure you place on it thus making the game very innovative. Mario can also do some more tricks like triple jumps, somersaults, wall jumps, butt slams, and lots more! You can even change the view of the Koopa camera with the new yellow C buttons just encase you need to help Mario out in an awkward perspective (this is a 3D game after all).

The game play is almost nothing like past Mario games like Super Mario World because most things like Mushrooms, Fire Flowers, and even Mario's younger brother Luigi are not in the game. To unlock sections of the cursed castle you need to find Stars that are secretly hidden in the castle and the 15 worlds, some are easier to find while others are nearly impossible to get. The game will drop a few hints now and again and you can find a Star by collecting 100 coins in a world will automatically get you a star too but that's easier said than done. Peach's Castle has 3 floors and each floor as a Bowser to fight. Bowser can only be beaten by grabbing his tail, spin him like crazy with the Analog stick, and then throwing him off the battle area into a near by bomb. If you manage to beat Bowser 3 (the final Bowser) you'll finish the game and save Princess Peach, you only need about 70 stars if you want to this, but Bowser 3 will give you a special message if you have all 120 of them.
Graphics and Sounds:
The game may be old now but it still looks very smooth thanks to the high frame rate and there is very little slowdown or glitches when the game gets too busy. I was amazed the first time I seen the castle, everything looked so real and all the little things like the trees, the water, and even the bricks all had a fair bit of detail too. This game really helped to show off the new powers of the Nintendo 64 thanks to all the smooth textures, and there is even this cool new power up to make a awesome looking Chrome version of Mario. Although other 3D games like Banjo Tooie, Luigi's Mansion, and Donkey Kong 64 have better graphics, Super Mario 64 still looks fairly decent today thanks to its style.

The in-game music fits this cartoon like 3D platform game well enough with bouncy new stuff to some classic remixed music as well. The music can also help sometimes too for example; some tracks let you know that there is a enemy near by like a sleeping man-eating plant thanks to the sleepy music. The best music by far though is when you face Bowser 3 in the final showdown, it's loud and it feels very climatic. The sound effects are right on with realistic bricks breaking, monster sounds, and even Mario will talk now as well.
The Bottomline:
Unfortunately, Super Mario isn't without its problems. The biggest problem I found is the major lack of replay value after you found all the 120 stars. There's little to no reason to play it again and the game is bound to collect a lot of dust afterwards that just to warn you ahead of time. The game's camera can be a pain at times especially when you have to make that difficult series of jumps in World 8 (Small-Big world) to collect all the red coins or even when you're flying and swimming around too. Sure it's a great game but you experience some headaches thanks to the new controls, cameras, and lack of multi-player modes.

So why did I gave this GOTM and not the newer DS version? The DS game is great game with tons of cool extras but the controls are just not nearly as user friendly. Super Mario 64 is a long and challenging 64 Meg game in a fully interactive 3D universe with 15 different worlds to explore and master. Unlike Nintendo's launch GameCube game; Luigi's Mansion, Super Mario 64 will take a good solid month to get everything and not just a couple of days. It's still a great game even today and if you never played it yet then you owe it to yourself to try it.
*Battery back up game saves up to 4 files, no game pak needed!

overall rating: 95/100
Find this game on eBay here!

For 1 player only
Rated (K-A) Kids to Adults

graphics: 8/10
sound: 7/10
gameplay: 9/10
replay: 8/10

(Ryan Genno) 2005

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