Video Game Thoughts: Super Mario 64

Super Mario 64 was a 1996 platformer game for the Nintendo 64 by Nintendo. When the Nintendo 64 (N64) came out, I didn’t pay too much attention to it. My mom didn’t like that we had a regular Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). She didn’t let me get a Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES), so she definitely wasn’t going to get me a N64. Of course, the games looked fun. Back then many stores had N64 kiosks. A lot of times my mom would go shopping while I stayed to play games. I knew the games were fun, but I didn’t have any hopes of being able to play them at home. I settled for playing it at store kiosks and occasionally at neighborhood kids’ houses. Suddenly in 1997, however, my mom said I could ask for a N64 for Christmas. I was so excited. It was at the top of my list.

Christmas Day I opened up the new console and the game, got straight to playing, and stayed up as late as my parents would let me. Super Mario 64 was magical. I was used to the NES. This game was so far above those old games. I just couldn’t imagine everything they created in Mario 64. Everything was new to me, and it was breathtaking. Mario 64 occupied me for a solid two months of playing every evening. Even after I beat it, I would frequently start a new game to see it all again. It didn’t end there. I was a subscriber of Nintendo Power magazine. Every so often they revealed another secret about the game, and I was back to discover this new secret firsthand.

Super Mario 64 was the perfect game to usher in 3D graphics on the video game consoles. It showed exactly what it meant for a game to be 3D. It showed all the advantages of 3D. I think it really helped the developers of other games to see how to make a good 3D game. There were bad games on the N64, like all consoles, but the console could have been a disaster had Nintendo not made a great first game for it. Many, many gameplay mechanics in Super Mario 64 became conventions, reappearing in countless other 3D platformers that came later.

The only bad thing about Super Mario 64 was that it may have been too good. Many other 3D platformers came out, but I never bought them. I rented a few of them but just didn’t see enough creative game mechanics that I would want to buy them. Super Mario 64 was almost completely polished, there wasn’t much else that other developers could do to unseat it. Later games might have had better graphics or sound effects, the technical things, but their gameplay wasn’t really better. I was always budget-minded because there were so many games to play and so little money to buy them. I had to stick to the best of each game genre. Super Mario 64 was pretty much the best at what it did.

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