November 16, 2017
Sometimes a game comes along that the majority thinks is great. It gets high review scores and some refer to it as a game changer. A game that will change the future of the industry forever, but it seems there is always room for hate. In regards to Super Mario 64, I’m that person, because I hate Super Mario 64! I have loved almost every Mario game I have played. They have been some of the best video game experiences of my life, so how could I possibly hate the one that is considered the greatest Mario game by many?
I was 13 years old when the Nintendo 64 was released in 1996. I was in the prime of my gaming years. I was a little older and understood how to go about defeating games better than I did with the NES and SNES. I can still easily recall how big of a deal that console was. We first had an 8-bit and 16-bit system, but this was a jump all the way to 64 bits, AND THE GAMES WERE IN 3D!!
Sadly, I did not get a Nintendo 64 right when it came out. At that time, I didn’t have the funds to buy a new console and I was busy playing youth sports, so I was constantly out of the house. I remember one day going to a friend of a friend’s house and seeing this game that appeared to be a Mario game. I asked this guy what it was and he told me it was Super Mario 64, the latest Mario game on the new Nintendo console. Right away I was amazed. They were playing a Bowser level (I don’t remember which one) and the 3D platformer with different camera angles simply blew my mind. It was one of the greatest things I have ever seen.
So some time went by, and I eventually ended up getting a Nintendo 64. When it was I don’t exactly know, but I do recall it still felt like a new system so it had to be not long after launch. One thing that I remember being surprised by is that my parents didn’t have a Mario game to go along with it. Both the NES and SNES had come with a Mario game included. Either this was not the case with the Nintendo 64 or they got a different bundle.
I could have bought or asked for the game some time shortly after this, but I never did. Either I felt like the game was too childish (remember I was a 13 year old teenager) or I thought I was too far behind and that game had came and passed. It’s still an issue I have today. I like to play and talk about games right when they come out. Sometimes if I miss a release I won’t end up getting the game because I will feel behind and out of the conversation (guess which idiot is buying Skyrim for the Switch this week though).
So after all of this, time and life happens and I don’t end up playing Super Mario 64 until my late 20s, and man was I upset. This was one of the greatest games I have ever played, and this was many years after it was released and graphics were now in HD. The camera system was amazing, the moves and attacks were fun, and the 15 levels/courses/kingdoms were simply beautiful. At the time of my first playthrough, I had not played any 3D Mario games so it somewhat felt like a new experience. I never had a GameCube so I never had the ability to play Super Mario Sunshine. I did up getting a Nintendo Wii and both Galaxy games, but it was after I played Super Mario 64.
So why do I hate Super Mario 64? Nostalgia, that’s why. I simply don’t have any when it comes to Super Mario 64, and that’s sad. We do many Zelda rankings on our YouTube channel, and sometimes nostalgia definitely plays a part on where we rank a particular game, dungeon, boss, area, etc. I get so upset when people say nostalgia shouldn’t be factored in when doing a ranking. It’s something that I completely disagree with. Rankings are subjective, meaning they are based on or influenced by personal feelings, tastes, or opinions. Nostalgia is a positive personal feeling created by something you enjoyed in the past, so I think it is definitely viable to be a factor when doing a ranking, because you are ranking how YOU enjoyed things.
I am currently finishing up Super Mario Odyssey which is actually what sparked the idea for this article. I have already beaten the game, I’m just going around collecting purple coins and more Power Moons. I’ve already begun to think about where I might place it among the best Mario games. It will definitely be near the top if not at the top. Currently, Super Mario Galaxy is my favorite Mario game, followed by the focus of this piece, Super Mario 64. It’s hard not to imagine where I would place Super Mario 64 if I would have first experienced it back in 1996.
I can imagine seeing Peach’s Castle for the first time as a teenager. What an amazing hub that was that you continue to come back to throughout the game. It is such a memorable place. I loved exploring around the outside and collecting more and more Power Stars to make your way up to higher levels in the castle.
I can imagine racing the Big Penguin down the ice slide for the first time as a teenager. It was one of my favorite things to do in the game and is still one of my favorite video game memories. It was so unique. I fell off many times but it never frustrated me because it was so much fun. Usually when I have to do things over and over in a video game, I just lose my patience, but this mini-game was different. I didn’t mind re-doing it.
I can imagine diving all the way down to the bottom of Jolly Roger Bay for the first time as a teenager. When the game came out, this was a new and very cool concept. Swimming in water is still something that is very difficult for video game developers to master. There are numerous games out there where the swimming mechanic can make the game not enjoyable. Super Mario 64 was not one of these. I enjoyed swimming in the game even if it wasn’t perfect, but diving down as a 13 year old would have been a much better experience than as a 26 year old.
I can imagine feeling the mysteriousness of Hazy Mazy Cave for the first time as a teenager. This was a unique level accompanied by a great theme that really fit. What exactly was this place and what are these steel structures I’m seeing every where, and what is this crazy haze I have to walk through?! While it wasn’t my favorite level in the game, it is still one that sticks out to me today.
I can imagine scaling Tall, Tall Mountain for the first time as a teenager. A lot of you know that I love verticality in video games. Maybe a little too much. I just love the views it offers and I always have fun getting to the tallest points in games. These levels always stand out to me. This is something we were not able to get in the NES and SNES days, but now we could get it in a 3D game.
I can imagine riding a magic carpet around Rainbow Ride for the first time as a teenager. I’ve always loved levels up in the clouds since I first experienced it in Super Mario Bros 3. This level took it a step further with a rainbow color roller coaster. Then you got that sense of danger with a small rectangle you had to stand on or you would fall to your death. I’ll never forget the first time I saw Rainbow Road in Super Mario Kart. At that time, it was the coolest thing I had ever saw. It was neat to see this concept used in a Mario game, especially in the last level.
I could go on and on about all of these imaginations. Sadly, they are just that, imaginations. They are not reality. If they were reality, I could definitely see Super Mario 64 being my favorite Mario game ever (possibly my favorite game ever) because it was an absolutely amazing game. It walked up to many homes with a sign over it’s head that read “Great Childhood Memory” and decided to come in and stay for eternity, but it must have lost my address. Not getting this game when it came out might be the biggest regret of my life when it comes to video games. Nostalgia is absent with you Super Mario 64. We could have been something greater but we’re not. It’s not your fault, it’s mine, but for this…..I hate you.