Super Mario 64
Released: June 23, 1996
Super Mario 64 is a video game for the Nintendo 64 . It debuted in Japan on June 23 , 1996 , in North America on September 29 , 1996 , and in Europe on March 1 , 1997 . Along with Pilotwings 64 , it was one of the launch titles for the new console. As the flagship killer game , it drove initial sales of the Nintendo 64, and has sold over 11 million copies in total.
Super Mario 64 was the first 3D game in the Mario series, and though it was not the first-ever 3D platformer , it helped to define the genre, much as Super Mario Bros. defined the 2D sidescrolling platformer. Super Mario 64 was considered so revolutionary that many consider it to have set the standard for all later 3D platformer games and 3D games in general.
In going from two to three dimensions, Super Mario 64 replaced the linear obstacle courses of traditional platform games with vast worlds in which the player must complete multiple and diverse missions, with an emphasis on exploration. While doing so, it managed to preserve the feel of earlier Mario games, including many of their gameplay elements and characters. It is acclaimed by critics as one of the greatest video games of all time.
Super Mario 64 begins with a letter from Princess Peach inviting Mario to come to her castle for a cake she has baked for him. When he arrives, Mario learns that Bowser has invaded the castle and imprisoned the Princess and her servants within it using the power of the castle's 120 power stars. Many of the castle's paintings are portals to other realms, in which Bowser's minions keep watch over the stars. Mario searches for the portals, entering them to recover the stars. As he finds more stars, he can reach new places in the castle, eventually reaching Bowser when he recovers 70 stars. He defeats Bowser three times, rescuing Peach and restoring the power of the stars to the castle. Peach rewards Mario by baking the cake that she had promised him.
Mario's abilities in Super Mario 64 are far more diverse than those of previous Mario games. He can walk, run, crouch, crawl, swim, climb, and jump at great heights or distances using the game controller's analog stick and buttons. As jumping was Mario's signature move in earlier games, particular attention was paid to this move. Special jumps can be executed by combining a regular jump with other actions, including the extra high double and triple jumps (jumping two and three times in a row, respectively), the long jump, and backflip . There are also special maneuvers, such as wall jumping (jumping from one wall to another in rapid succession to reach areas that would otherwise be too high).
Mario has a number of physical attacks in addition to jumping. His basic attack is the punch , which becomes a jump kick when performed in mid-air. Attacking while running causes Mario to lunge forward. Crouching while in the air executes a power stomp (also called the ground pound). Crouching while running and then immediately attacking executes a slide kick, while crouching and moving the analog stick makes Mario crawl and enter small spaces. Mario can pick up and carry certain items, an ability which is used to solve various puzzles. Mario can also swim underwater at various speeds. His life slowly diminishes while underwater (representing how long he can hold his breath); he must find coins or air bubbles to replenish it, or return to the surface before drowning.
Super Mario 64 is set in Princess Peach's Castle, which consists of three floors, a basement, a moat, and a courtyard. The area outside the castle is an introductory area in which the player can experiment. Scattered throughout the castle are entrances to courses and other areas, usually accessed by jumping into a painting.
Each course is an enclosed world in which the player is free to wander in all directions and discover the environment without time limits. The worlds are filled with enemies that attack Mario as well as friendly creatures that provide assistance, offer information, or ask a favor. Mario gathers stars in each course; some stars only appear after Mario has completed certain tasks, often hinted at by the name of the course. These challenges include defeating a boss, solving puzzles, racing an opponent, and gathering coins. As Mario collects stars, more areas of the castle are opened. Mario unlocks doors in the castle with keys obtained by defeating Bowser in special courses.
Mario is assisted in some courses by three cap power-ups. The Wing Cap allows Mario to fly, the Metal Cap makes him immune to most damage and allows him to withstand wind and walk underwater, and the Vanish Cap renders him partially immaterial and allows him to walk through some obstacles such as wire mesh. Some courses contain cannons that Mario can unlock by speaking to a pink Bob-omb Buddy. After Mario enters a cannon, he can be shot out to reach distant places. When Mario has the Wing Cap, cannons can be used to reach high altitudes or fly across most of a level quickly.
There are many hidden secrets to the game, most containing extra stars needed to complete the game 100%.
Super Mario 64 has fifteen main stages in total, and each is unique while incorporating elements of previous Mario video games.
The first floor (the one Mario arrives) has four levels:
- Bob-omb Battlefield , a bright grassland following the tradition of first courses from earlier Mario games. The main enemies on this level are the Bob-omb . It also features a King Bob-omb .
- Whomp's Fortress , a fortress floating in the sky filled with Piranha Plants and the Thwomps .
- Jolly Roger Bay , a mostly-underwater course centered around a sunken pirate ship , also featuring a monstrously large eel.
- Cool Cool Mountain , is a snow-themed course featuring some Penguins.
- Big Boo's Haunt , is located in the courtyard of the castle, and is also accessible from the first floor. The level is a haunted house with various Boos and other frightening enemies.
The basement of the castle has four levels:
- Hazy Mazy Cave , a complex of caverns, reminiscent of dungeons from earlier Mario games (and using a remix of the same music).
- Lethal Lava Land , platforms above a sea of lava, as well as a volcano that Mario can enter.
- Shifting Sand Land is a cruel desert (reminiscent of the desert courses in Super Mario Bros. 2 - also featuring Shy Guys and Pokeys - and Super Mario Bros. 3 ) that is home to a labyrinthine pyramid as well as a cap-stealing vulture named Klepto , the fearsome Eyerok and quicksand.
- Dire Dire Docks , is another underwater course, involving two main areas separated by a tunnel and a submarine that belongs to Bowser.
The second floor features four levels:
- Snowman's Land , another snow-themed courses, centered around a giant climbable snowman mountain (that bizarrely enough, can talk.)
- Wet-Dry World , a course in which Mario can raise and lower the water level. The initial water level corresponds to the height at which he enters the painting, and there are switches that can change the water level.
- Tall Tall Mountain , an extremely steep mountain, that plays host to a cap-stealing monkey called Ukkiki as well as many precariously placed mushroom platforms;
- Tiny-Huge Island can be played either as a small Mario in a world where everything is larger than normal, or as a large Mario in a world where everything is smaller than normal, a theme similar to World 4 of Super Mario Bros. 3 . Its two differently sized paintings allow Mario to start the course either way, and warp pipes within the level allow him to switch.
The third and final floor contains two levels:
- Tick Tock Clock , the inside of a gigantic clock where Mario must navigate between moving parts such as pendulums and gears, and the speed and direction of the moving parts in this stage are affected by the positions of the hands of the clock when Mario jumps into it. This level was reused as a race track in Mario Kart DS .
- Rainbow Ride , that takes place in the sky, with various platforms and floating buildings that can be reached by riding a magic carpet . The course's name, difficulty level and high altitude are reminiscent of the Rainbow Road courses from the Mario Kart games. This level was reused as an arena in Super Smash Bros. Melee under the name of "Rainbow Cruise".