Top Ten Greatest Video Games of All Time: #10
Super Mario 64
Nintendo’s toughest task when making Super Mario 64 could be summed up in one simple question: How do you take a 2D game and transform it into a 3D game while maintaining its identity?
Not only did Nintendo nail this task on the first try; they revolutionized the industry and took the extreme simplicity of a side-scroller and gave it a z-axis without it feeling too clustered or too openly empty.
This new concept of moving around in a 3D space gave the player so many more options on how to approach a level. Not only could you only just jump and move left to right, you could now triple jump, long jump, wall jump, back flip, side flip, dive, fly (again), and more.
The level design is focused more on vertical movement rather than horizontal, utilizing the 3D space efficiently. Classic Mario enemies are present, and a few more were created specifically for the purpose of using its 3D functions (such as the giant eyeballs you have to run circles around). Bosses are also a joy to fight, and they all have unique quirks and weaknesses.
SM64 also gave the player the option of choosing how many power stars they wanted to find before moving on to the next area. This freedom of voluntary decision-making appeals to both veteran and inexperienced gamers. Inexperienced gamers will most likely move on and try to complete the game as fast as possible, while veterans and completionists will try to acquire every star available (there are 120 by the way).
SM64 also took a unique approach in its 15 worlds, placing Mario in the same spot at the beginning of every level, which forces the player to explore new areas and observe their surroundings. The overworld of Peach’s castle also contains numerous secrets, so there is never a dry moment of exploration.
A problem with SM64 is one that would plague Nintendo’s 3D platformers up until recently with Super Mario Odyssey: the camera. Trying to maneuver around the more compact areas are frustrating because sometimes the camera doesn’t like to cooperate. This leaves the player blind and struggling.
Otherwise, Super Mario 64 is a great game that is filled to the brim with creativity and fun secrets that will certainly stand the test of time.
Come back Friday when I present the ninth entry in this list: a criminally underrated puzzle game.