Author Topic: RetroActive 48: Super Mario 64  (Read 590 times)

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Offline Crimm

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RetroActive 48: Super Mario 64
« on: October 05, 2020, 01:14:59 AM »
Most of you are probably playing it right now anyway, so our 48th RetroActive will be Super Mario 64.

Comments posted here may be used in the relevant episode. Recording will happen late October.
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Offline pokepal148

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Re: RetroActive 48: Super Mario 64
« Reply #1 on: October 05, 2020, 03:41:34 PM »
Here are all the posts from the waiting room thread I made because someone took forever to post the actual retroactive thread. There's some interesting discussion in there already so let's get this started with a bang.

I'm playing through this on the DS version on the Wii U Virtual Console. It's been a real hoot. I like playing a version of Mario 64 wherere the camera isn't an absolute nightmare and the extra characters and stuff they added are real fun as well. I definitely want to dabble with the original more. I know I have a save from the Wii VC version that was in the castle's second floor that I could pull up to mess around with some of the later stages but honestly, the DS version having a functioning camera system really puts it over the edge for me.

The original game is impressive as hell for it's time, and I do feel it took a while for time to catch up with it, but as gaming has evolved more and more, it's age has started to show more and more.
This is why it's too bad we didn't get a full remaster that had both the original and DS version present.  The DS version has a lot of nice content added to the game, but the lack of analog controls is kind of a big deal.  For the most part I played the game just fine with the D-Pad until I got to the later levels like Rainbow Cruise.

I've been meaning to play the game on my 3DS someday to see if using that systems control stick might solve some of my issues.  Of course, you mentioning the Wii U Virtual Console is making me tempted to buy that version of the game since being able to use the Pro Controller analog stick might solve my issues as well.  Even if the game still doesn't have full analog controls, at least using a joystick to move Mario should hopefully work better then the d-pad on original DS was.
I've spent significant time with the DS version on both 3DS and Wii U, and while it definitely controls better, it's still not great compared to the real thing. I enjoyed the extra stars, but the character switching was pretty clunky at times. Having to go back to Peach's room anytime you wanted to switch got really annoying.
If you play as yoshi, you can select the character hat you need on the touch screen at the start of a stage.
Yeah, but if you get hit you lose it, which can be pretty annoying in certain situations. They should have just let you switch between them at any time when you're in the castle.
Getting back to the actual game, 64 has a really weird difficulty curve. Literally the first time it throws moving platforms at you is over a bottomless pit in Whomp's Fortress and the missions in the game are not always based on difficulty. Rainbow Ride is a really good example of this with how one of it's hardest Stars is the first one on the list.
Yeah, I've been grinding through the last stars in the Switch version and its been a lesson in patience and fury. Maybe its using a joycon that is the problem, but everything just missed the mark on fine control. The camera was much harder to manage, and moving while the camera auto adjusted led to a lot of falls and mistakes. I'n down to just two Rainbow Ride stars and the final Bowser star before I beat the game and I'm surprised to say the ending can't come any sooner.

How much does the DS Mario 64 go for because I may pick that up for a later play through since I never got to experience the extra content?
How much does the DS Mario 64 go for because I may pick that up for a later play through since I never got to experience the extra content?

The DS version of Mario 64 can be bought on the Wii U eshop for $10.  That's probably the cheapest and easiest way to buy it, and as Insanolord said, that version controls better then playing it on a real DS would.
I've been playing this on Switch, mostly in handheld mode.  I've been trying to do all stars for each world as I go along, and it's led to me getting into some frustrating situations where I'm fighting the camera and old game design instead of just moving on like I should.  The jarring thing to me is how the level design felt vast and invigorating as a kid, but now it feels lacking and limiting in places.  Getting through the levels is less fun while beating bosses is easier than ever.  Still, the nostalgia runs deep, and there is a good game under all the archaism.

But this is definitely a game that needed the remake treatment, even over a remaster.  The updated textures are appreciated, but the camera needs an overhaul.  They also could've also fixed the smoke effect bug; although, something like that is far from a big deal and the game is probably more nostalgic with the bug.  But other issues are more hinderance than charm.

It would've been nice to get an up-port of the DS remake, but that version doesn't really feel "definitive".  Because they were once willing to go into the game and update the models for a remake, it's a bummer they haven't here.  Making the existing enemies look like their modern counterparts and doing things like turning Big Boo into King Boo (and having him sound like King Boo) would've been greatly appreciated, as they were for the DS version, but especially in HD.
I tried to do it in order as well, but ran into two issues. One was the necessity of the caps for some early stars and another was my patience. I cleared most of the first three worlds in order, but the need to unlock the caps threw me off, especially since I was refusing to look up help and only rely on the game itself and my memory and I had forgotten where the metal cap room was located. I then threw all attempts at going "in order" to the wind when I kept dying due to the finicky camera and twitchy controls causing me to waltz off ledges. In the end the last leg of the game turned into a real slog and I could not for the life of me toss Bowser into the mines when I remember having pin-point accuracy.

I'm glad I've finished and moved on to sunshine. The camera and controls of Mario are MUCH better in direct comparison. There are still a few odd quirks (I can't go into a near-1st person view to have Mario look around anymore?) but nothing as frustrating as the camera and controls in 64.
« Last Edit: October 05, 2020, 03:43:56 PM by pokepal148 »
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Offline ClexYoshi

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Re: RetroActive 48: Super Mario 64
« Reply #2 on: October 06, 2020, 08:41:47 AM »
I may be retired from listening to Radio-Free Nintendo, but lucky you! I played Super Mario 64 earlier in the year because my Girlfriend had never really sat through anything more than 0 stars speedruns!


I ended up playing the game specifically using the SGI project, a set of model and textures for the DirectX12 version of Super Mario 64 that tries to make Super Mario 64 resemble the SGI-made renders that were made for promotional materials for Super Mario 64. It also incorperates a free camera that works perfectly with a right analogue stick or mouselook, if you're some sort of heathen who desires to play Super Mario 64 on a keyboard/mouse control scheme.


Obviously, though, I got a N64 for Christmas of 1996, after specifically seeing Super Mario 64 at a Toys R' Us that my dad and I went to on a lark during our usual bus route (at the time, dad had his license revoked for DUI, so we'd take the bus up to the mall or Walmart or such.) and having that outer courtyard that was effectively just this giant playground to mess around with Mario and the way he changed from his 8-bit and 16-bit incarnations was a brilliant choice. the ambience of the birds chirping and the waterfall added to this idea of being able to just... play around, like one might play around at the Jungle Gym at my grade school. the fact that this memory 24 years on is so vivid in my mind stands as a testament to how strong of a design choice hubs to run around in was.


and really, I'm not sure how I should approach discussing Super Mario 64. Should I hit on the powerful memories of a childhood that formed with Super Mario 64 as a basis? Should I talk about the game's eternal zeitgeist? the reverence to which people regard it and the ways people have peeled back the layers of it's depth and complexity? Should I talk about TASers like Panenkohek, who both created an insane meme and has helped educate many on the inner workings of Super Mario 64's coding? should I talk about how Cheese at the beginning of 2020 won a jackpot of $10,000 for being the first person to beat Super Mario 64 with 120 stars in under 1 hour and 39 minutes while at a speedrunning event with a stomach flu? Or should I talk about my thoughts of playing this newfangled version for PC, only possible thanks to tireless efforts of people who managed to decompile Super Mario 64 back into it's source code via reverse engineering efforts?


While I mull over this, I hope many people post here. I am interested to read what folks have to say about this game.

Offline Shaymin

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Re: RetroActive 48: Super Mario 64
« Reply #3 on: October 06, 2020, 06:49:05 PM »
It took me about a week to get all 120 stars in the 3D All Stars, which is the first time I ever did it on a console (the last time I did it was on an emulator in like, 2007). Most of it is due to the sheer insanity of the stars on the top level: Tick Tock Clock, Rainbow Ride, and especially Wing Mario over the Rainbow.

It usually takes me a few attempts to get the red coins in the level where the Wing Cap unlocks, but I spent about an hour and a half on Wing Mario over the Rainbow because the flight controls in this game are inscrutable at best. I'm not sure if the N64 stick would handle it better, but the fact that you fall outside the castle when you blow the stage made it worse.

The other problem part was the 100 coins stars - Tick Tock Clock's was bad, but Rainbow Ride's required me to use the stick from the Split Pad Pro to complete it undocked (for the wall jumps after the blue coin switch). So of course, they made every shine in Sunshine as annoying as that.

The first three floors of the castle are still fun, but the top floor is enough to drive a completionist to drink.
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Offline ClexYoshi

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Re: RetroActive 48: Super Mario 64
« Reply #4 on: October 07, 2020, 05:01:05 AM »
I got my first 120 when I was a kid, with an assist from my cousin for Jolly Rodger Bay, as I was intensely afraid of the eel as an 8-year older. some of the 100 coin stars I do remember being pretty tight affairs as a kid, but... honestly?

Super Mario 64 is pretty cozy. Yes, Tik Tok Clock has some devious stuff in it if you're afraid of taking the spill all the way down, but Rainbow Ride is not nearly as bad as I remember it, 100 coins or otherwise. Granted, It should be noted that i played with the unlocked camera recently, so maybe the camera doesn't make it as cozy as I thought, but I seem to have only sharpened my skills when it comes to Super Mario 64, and it felt like death rarely would happen. I probably can chock this up to considerations the level designers made to accommodate this wild new 3D and general knowledge I have of the game.

Heck, I may have even showed off to my friends I was streaming for and performed a BLJ to skip the 50 star door and do some Tik-tok clock action early! (sorry to you suckers playing the Shindou version on your Nintendo Switch. :()

Offline TOPHATANT123

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Re: RetroActive 48: Super Mario 64
« Reply #5 on: October 08, 2020, 03:48:41 PM »
I completed the game for the first time today. I got it on Wii U a couple years ago and I've played the odd level here and there ever since.

There are some things I really like about it. The stars mostly feel unique and once you get one you have the urge to jump back in to get another you might have seen. The hints on the level name is a genius way for guiding you towards the next star. The cap is a fun addition despite feeling a bit erratic.

The game can be addictive but I also found it quite difficult. Grabbing onto ledges hurt me more than it has helped me, though I imagine back in the day it was a really cool piece of programming. Some more check points would be nice and wind can be absolutely infuriating, looking at you Mr Snowman!

Falling off the level is such a huge set back. You lose all your coins, red coins and all progress in terms of platforming. Had the game been easier I might be tempted to get 100%, but some aspects are just too frustrating for someone used to modern day Mario.

I got my 70 stars and went straight for the final boss. The final cutscene actually has voice acting which surprised me. Total playtime 21 hours

Offline pokepal148

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Re: RetroActive 48: Super Mario 64
« Reply #6 on: October 08, 2020, 04:17:30 PM »
I think Peach was voiced by someone who worked for Nintendo Power or something like that.

Outside of Mario though, all the other characters feel like placeholders in terms of their portrayal. It feels like they weren't really sure how they wanted to portray Bowser and Peach yet so they kind of just feel off compared to how they're portrayed nowadays. Peach is very calm and soft spoken compared to her more modern, energetic portrayal and Bowser, while closer to his modern portrayal, is much more menacing and threatening.
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Offline ClexYoshi

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Re: RetroActive 48: Super Mario 64
« Reply #7 on: October 11, 2020, 06:15:17 PM »
I've... always seen Super Mario 64 as a pretty easy game. even when going for your 100-coin gauntlet on stages, the lack of checkpointing never bothered me, even on incredibly punishing stages like Rainbow Ride.

You might not savor Super Mario Sunshine if Super Mario 64 is grinding you down to the point where you don't think 120 stars is a reasonable ask, Tophat.


I kinda find talking about the game's actual contents akin to talking about Wolfenstein 3D, where it is such a genre blueprint that I'm so familiar with that I can't really go and remark on the game's substance...


But things in Super Mario 64's periphery are FAR more fascinating... like the story of how Argonaut ended up pitching a 3D platformer starring Yoshi to Nintendo in 1994 that Nintendo rejected, only for Super Mario 64 to show up at Spaceworld 1995 and Miyamoto approaching Jez San privately to apologize. apparently the dude is still pretty salty about Nintendo effectively poaching Dylan Cuthbert and other talent before throwing their big pitch out on the curb to become Croc: Legend of the Gobbos.

That's right; Croc was supposed to be a Yoshi game, and Jez San believes that Miyamoto might have committed plagiarism against them.

to quote the Eurogamer interview;

"Miyamoto-san went on to make Mario 64, which had the look and feel of our Yoshi game - but with the Mario character, of course - and beat Croc to market by around a year. Miyamoto-san came up to me at a show afterwards and apologized for not doing the Yoshi game with us and thanked us for the idea to do a 3D platform game. He also said that we would make enough royalties from our existing deal to make up for it. That felt hollow to me, as I'm of the opinion that Nintendo ended our agreement without fully realizing it. They canned Star Fox 2 even though it was finished and used much of our code in Star Fox 64 without paying us a penny."

Offline TOPHATANT123

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Re: RetroActive 48: Super Mario 64
« Reply #8 on: October 12, 2020, 08:05:45 AM »
I don't intend to play Sunshine haha

Offline Grimace the Minace

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Re: RetroActive 48: Super Mario 64
« Reply #9 on: October 12, 2020, 02:05:38 PM »
3D All Stars has turned out to be the best official way to play Mario 64 aside from actually digging out the original hardware. The virtual console versions all did a terrible job emulating the N64's analog stick, and while 3D All Stars isn't perfect, it's by far the best official emulation yet.

That said, Mario 64 really frontloads its best content. You might as well consider Bowser in the Fire Sea to be the final boss because it's all downhill from there. Every world upstairs is mediocre at best, and god damn Rainbow Ride at worst. Early worlds like Bob-omb Battlefield, Whomp's Fortress, and Big Boo's Haunt all feel like they take advantage of the structure and engine that's been set up fantastically, and barring one or two bad stars (I'm looking at you Snowman's Lost His Head) they have a good balance of legitimate platforming challenge without costing you a lot of time if you mess up.

Worlds like Wet-Dry World and Tall, Tall Mountain cost you a lot of time if you make a mistake. One bad jump means climbing the whole mountain again, and you'd better clear your calendar in case you slip and fall in Tick Tock Clock. It kind of sucks that as the platforming challenges get more demanding, they also get much more frustrating.

Soundtrack is 10/10 though.
« Last Edit: October 12, 2020, 09:09:30 PM by Grimace the Minace »

Offline Grimace the Minace

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Re: RetroActive 48: Super Mario 64
« Reply #10 on: October 12, 2020, 02:15:59 PM »
I think Peach was voiced by someone who worked for Nintendo Power or something like that.

This is also 100% true, and as a fun fact Peach is voiced by a different person in each game in Mario 3D All Stars.

In Mario 64 she's voiced by Leslie Swan, who was the localization manager at Treehouse as well as Senior Editor for Nintendo Power. In Sunshine she's played by Jen Taylor, who you may also know as Cortana in Halo. Mario Galaxy introduced us to Samantha Kelly, an actress with no other major roles who's local to Washington where NoA is based.

Offline ClexYoshi

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Re: RetroActive 48: Super Mario 64
« Reply #11 on: October 12, 2020, 06:21:04 PM »
I find Tiny-Huge Island and Wet-Dry World to be pretty fun, actually! the nervousness I feel playing Tik-Tock clock can also feel very rewarding, in my opinion. They are much stronger levels than Lethal Lava Land, Shifting Sand Land, or Dire Dire Docks. I've seen SM64 hacks that demand far more and push SM64's loose controls to their limit, unfortunately.

That being said, if you really don't like the upstairs that much but still want to beat the game, you could always BLJ OH WAIT 3D ALL STARS IS BASED ON THE GREEDO SHOT FIRST OF MARIO, THE SHINDOU VERSION AHAHAHAHAHAHA

I suppose if you're willing to build speed via a series of frame perfect wall jumps, you can skip the 50 star door and the staircase that way.

Offline regmcfly

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Re: RetroActive 48: Super Mario 64
« Reply #12 on: October 13, 2020, 04:36:34 PM »
Firstly I should say I refuse to play the DS version again - the game that Donkey Kong 64-ified a perfectly tight playformer with the incessant character swapping. Shan't.

Having not played 64 in about half a decade I found a lot of the memories of the stars, particularly the first half of the game (up until Dry Dry Docks) pretty straightforward to get. The back half of the title was a little less memorable, although much more enjoyable. Tick Tock Clock remains my overall highlight of the time (sorry) I spent with it.

Two criticisms, however. I eventually realised that the most incessantly frustrating enemy in the game was Lakitu. The inability to continually turn the camera one direction indefinitely was a real source of frustration, and one which I hope any subsequent re-release addresses.

But the main issue, the crime of the title, lies in the fact that there is one whole world which is so full of bile, hatred and animosity to the player, that I feel it outdoes anything Sunshine dares to throw their way.

Shifting
Sand
Land

A level so devoid of personality; a level with a meagre overall coin count, necessitating a near perfect run; a level with an unstoppable vulture who steals the player's hat for no discernable reason other than they are a bad bird; a level with a tower, part of a required star to get 100%, that is so fiddly to climb, surrounded by instadeath quicksand.

Shifting Sand Land is the nadir of Mario gaming. And I include when it was 'all about the gold in that.

Aside from that, pretty good game.

Offline Papasmurff

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Re: RetroActive 48: Super Mario 64
« Reply #13 on: October 17, 2020, 10:37:09 AM »
I just finished getting all 150 stars in the DS version. Not sure why I felt compelled to do it, but I did. I played the original a ton growing up so I figured I’d give the DS version a whirl. This was on my 3DS, and controlling the game with the circle pad actually wasn’t too bad. I was able to get the hang of it eventually.

The DS version has more content, sure, but I’m not sure it really adds anything to the game other than bloat. The new stars in each world are all pretty forgettable. I guess some of the added levels and bosses are pretty cool. Playing as Luigi, Yoshi, and Wario is cool the first time as a novelty, but the need to switch characters gets old fast. The original is just overall a better and more condensed experience.

One thing that feels lacking in the game is the lack of actual platforming challenges in the game. I guess I have been spoiled by the Galaxy games and Mario Odyssey in that regard. And the worlds in 64 are really quite small compared to what is found in Odyssey and even Sunshine. Super Mario 64 was my first Mario game and it holds a special place in my heart. It was obviously revolutionary for the time and still holds up as a great game. But after this replay I think it does slot in at the bottom of the totem pole in terms of the 3D Mario games, behind Odyssey, the Galaxy games, and yes, even Sunshine.

Offline ClexYoshi

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Re: RetroActive 48: Super Mario 64
« Reply #14 on: October 17, 2020, 07:44:04 PM »
Wowie, PapaSmurff, That's some biting commentary! I feel like in the case of the original game that some of it can be forgiven because of the limitations of the hardware and lack of ease with 3D controls.

As someone who's played a few Super Mario 64 Romhacks, though, the control simply isn't quite tight enough to make straight platforming challenges viable for the average consumer. even with adding a lot more smoothness and control to the games, that didn't really become viable (look at some of the rage at sunshine's jank that occurred in the RetroActive on that game 3 years ago. What ever happened to the rule on keeping Retroactive from looking at multiple games in the same franchise anyway?)

Now, granted, Super Mario 64 DS eliminates some of the jank. it has a real camera, there are more aids to movement (digital inputs for walking Vs. Running, Yoshi's Flutter Jump, Luigi's various platforming tricks, Mario sliding down walls he can jump off of Vs. having a 5 frame window when you bonk to jump again), and other little bug fixes that alleviate jank, but by 2004, I think Nintendo was clearly not willing to risk adding something to Super Mario 64 that would give it the qualities that frustrated people about Sunshine. At that point, the team at EAD Tokyo would be lead on a crusade to streamline Mario design in such a way that they could start to build levels as obstacle courses more than playgrounds.

Offline pokepal148

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Re: RetroActive 48: Super Mario 64
« Reply #15 on: Today at 03:30:31 AM »
Most of the added stars in the DS version can feel kinda bloaty. I'm rather fond of the Switch Stars since it adds a bit of a time trial element with how you have to get to the star before time runs out which is something that the original game lacked but the Silver Star missions are kind of hit and miss. Some of them are kind of interesting but some of them just feel like another set of red coins. There are actually only 8 of them in total. Pyramid Puzzle is a silver Star mission in the DS version because they realized how **** it was on the original game and two of them have little stages devoted to them but even with that in mind the silver stars kind of just lost their charm.
« Last Edit: Today at 03:43:49 AM by pokepal148 »
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