Super Mario 64
Nintendo - 1996
Machine: Nintendo 64
It was difficult to describe the sheer amazement and terror I felt when I first saw Mario 64. The concept of playing platform games in three dimensions was mind boggling... consequently, I was rubbish at Mario 64 when I first played it. It's quite easy to look back and think that the 3D platform game just 'came along' but the truth was, it was the one of the most revolutionary steps ever made in video game history. Crucially, Mario 64 is still the high watermark of the platform game... A whole bevy of 3D platformers have been released: Crash Bandicoot, Spyro the Dragon, Rayman 2... all have borrowed heavily from Mario 64, yet none have managed to better it. Mario 64 created many of the rules, but the most important thing it taught was what could be done within a 3D environment. It wasn't just a display of the N64's technology: it was a display of what could be achieved with imagination and invention.
The game is not only truly enormous but it is highly detailed as well... all of the baddies seem to have been perfectly designed and placed, all of the power-ups tantalisingly close to your grasp. The levels themselves have great variety: anything from beating a giant bomb, to racing a penguin, the game is bursting with ideas. Where as in Super Mario World, you could 'choose' your levels by walking Mario around a map, in Mario 64 you 'choose' your levels by walking around Princess Peach's castle... completing the levels that lie within rewards you with stars, the more stars you collect, the more rooms open up for you to explore. The castle also serves as a training ground, so that you can practice your skills and become familiar with the transcendentally amazing controls... The game has a great learning curve, but it does get fabulously difficult (as you would expect from a Mario game.) Some of the puzzles are just so insanely ingenious and original that it can become overwhelming... as one of my mates wisely said: "to play Mario64 you have to think like a child."
Bubbaray 15 Oct '02
The Making of Super Mario 64 - A great article from Miyamoto Shrine.
Mario Mania - A wonderful Mario resource site.