There are a few games that are a major part of my childhood and Mario 64 is one of the top games of the “throwback” category to me. I remember spending hours trying to get through the simplest of tasks like a double wall kick to reach a high place that turned out to not be related to what I was doing anyway. Or continually attempting to jump into a picture frame at the absolute highest point so that the water in the level would be as high as possible. Half the time all the stars would already be collected in the level by my siblings anyhow and I would just be there retrying those same stars to see if I could have done it. Even now that I spend a lot of time playing it with the volume off while watching a movie Mario’s “Ya-hooo” still rings out clearly. Sadly the “oh nooo” of his death scene is also iron pressed into my memories.
Playing through the levels again on Super Mario 3D All Stars instantly brings back a lot of nostalgia. Honestly the whole reason I wanted the game was for Mario 64 but I am excited to play through Mario Sunshine and Galaxy as well.
Right away while playing I noticed that the game was a lot easier to navigate than I remember it being on the N64. This could be due to the fact that I am “few” years older than the last time I played it. More likely it’s due to more responsive controls and higher quality controllers. In a sense this makes the game a lot easier but also a lot more fair. You shouldn’t find yourself falling to your death because your second wall jump wasn’t picked up even though you’re positive you timed it right. Now if you’re falling to your death it’s because your timing is off.
Also being a lot older I am able to work my way through the game in a lot more strategic manner than before. I like to think I am a little smarter too so I’m no longer jumping into every picture even after the world is completed just to double check. I can just check in the pause menu in two seconds instead. It saves a lot of time to get through the rest of the game a lot faster.
I will say that Tick Tock Clock is still basically the most frustrating level of my life. I don’t even know how many times I have died getting through it. I just can’t seem to get the timing of the level down but as frustrating as it is, it’s still a lot of fun.
The feeling of being able to jump around the monkey without losing my hat to him was a nice little boost of gaming confidence. Heck I was able to get through him with ease and have his partner at the top of the mountain unlock another star for me! Even Bowser wasn’t the threat that I remember him being. I was expecting a lot more fight out of him than I got. There were enemies in some of the levels that may have been tougher than the guy who organized the whole takeover.
If it wasn’t for the global pandemic I would love to get together with my siblings to work our way through the worlds like we did when we were kids. I could see us completing the whole thing in a day, a weekend at the most if we really put our minds to it.
It’s just amazing that after all these years Mario 64 can be just as fun as it was the first time I started playing it.