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A Worthy Remake of a Timeless Classic
Most Mario fans hold Super Mario 64 in high regard. Considered by many to be the first real 3D platformer created, Super Mario 64 broke new ground by putting Nintendo’s mascot at the epicenter of beautiful graphics, amazing gameplay, and tight, precise controls. Super Mario 64 DS attempts to take all of these qualities and enhance them significantly in what can only be considered an impressive remake of one of the most revered games in history.
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Super Mario 64 DS starts with Mario receiving a letter from Princess Peach. In the letter, Peach tells Mario that she has a cake for him, and this cues Mario to head for the castle along with Luigi and Wario. Yoshi is then introduced into the game, and it turns out that Mario and friends have all gone missing, so it is up to Mario’s green companion to seek them out.
The story in Super Mario 64 DS is nothing convoluted, and it never gets complicated or complex. It does start out slightly differently than other games in the series—and even the original version of the game—but it eventually falls into the ‘Mario must save the princess’ stigma that most Mario games fall under. This isn’t a bad thing, though, because it brings up feelings of nostalgia for past games in the series, and Mario fans will appreciate the fact that the game sticks to the classic formula that made it so popular since its humble beginnings.
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Those who played Super Mario 64 will feel right at home with the DS remake. Everything is translated beautifully onto the DS’s dual screens, locales are still fun to explore even after so many years, and the core mechanics of Super Mario 64 remain intact. It’s impressive to think that the game has managed to hold up so well that it doesn’t need any major overhauls in its gameplay design.
One of the game’s biggest changes is the addition of four playable characters. Mario, Luigi, Wario, and Yoshi are all featured in the game, and despite playing similarly, they each have their own sets of abilities and minor attributes that differentiate them from one another. Mario can pull off his signature wall jump and take to the sky with the Wing Cap; Luigi can run on water and float in the sky after performing a backward somersault; Wario can break blocks that others can’t and turn into Metal Wario; and Yoshi can turn enemies into eggs by swallowing them and perform his popular flutter kick jump. These are just a few of the many abilities that help distinguish all four characters, and they truly add a layer of originality to each protagonist.
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Super Mario 64 DS features three different control schemes, and sadly this is where the game takes a hit. While all three control options work well, they can’t duplicate the precision and accuracy of the Nintendo 64 controller’s analog stick. Whether you use the D-Pad or touch screen to control your character’s movement, you’ll still be prone to losing control of Mario and friends, falling off ledges, or running into enemies. It’s a shame that the controls aren’t as refined as they once were, but even after this small gripe, it’s worth noting that all three of the control schemes get the job done.
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Graphics and Sound
When it was released in 1996, Super Mario 64 featured some of the most impressive graphics for its time. The DS remake of the game, while not revolutionary by any means, features great graphics of its own, and it’s nice to see Nintendo upping the polygon count and softening some of the rough edges found in the original game. Character models all look more accurate, previously 2D objects now look 3D, and textures are smoother. Not everything you’ll see onscreen is amazing, but for the most part, the game’s graphical overhaul is a major improvement over what was a good graphics engine to begin with.
The sound department in the game remains largely unchanged from the original, with only a few jingles and character sounds added. The DS’s speakers unfortunately don’t give off the same rich sound that TV speakers would, but that’s to be expected. Overall, the sound design, while not very rich in quality, works in the same way it did back in 1996, and fans of the original will find themselves reminiscing as they listen to themes in places such as Princess Peach’s castle, Bowser’s Dark World, and Jolly Roger Bay.
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Super Mario 64 was a long-lasting game back in 1996, and the same can be said about the updated remake for the DS. With 30 extra Stars to find and four playable characters to experiment with, Super Mario 64 DS will last you a decent amount of time. The game also features a Vs. Mode for up to four players, but this serves as a mere distraction and nothing else. The game’s slew of touch-based minigames, however, is a very nice addition to an already impressive package and will add even more longevity to the game’s value.
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Super Mario 64 DS is a worthwhile remake of an amazing game. It serves as a history lesson for those who never played the original, and those who did will find lots more to do this time around. Control issues aside, Super Mario 64 DS is a must-play title for anyone with a DS, fans of the original, or just about anyone who enjoys a great game.