Retronauts Vol. IV Episode 54: Super Mario 64 | Retronauts

One thing that always really impressed me about Super Mario 64 was how it mostly threw out the incredibly successful Mario platforming design that Nintendo had been refining for over a decade.

To tie this into some older Retronauts episodes, both Jeremy and Bob have made point in the past that a lot of Nintendo’s early 3D entries into their popular series played it safe by taking the most polished 2D iteration and lifting its design wholesale in the transition to three dimensions. For instance, Ocarina of Time is basically A Link to the Past in 3D– it follows the same format, adopts the same conventions, and even has a similar gameplay gimmick (past/future instead of light/dark world). Likewise, Metroid Prime clearly aimed to ape Super Metroid’s design as closely as possible while switching the perspective to first person. This allowed Nintendo to preserve the feel of fan favorites while still updating them to modern expectations.

But Super Mario 64 didn’t really do that. It carries over the basic idea of platforming and powerups, as well as a bunch of superficial elements such as familiar enemies, but Nintendo completely changed the way you play. They ditched the linearity of the 2D entries, making the goals so much more open ended, and giving you a world to explore without a time limit, usually without much of a clue as to what you needed to do. 2D sidescrolling games have an implicit impetus for their goal: you move from your start point towards the end. But Super Mario 64 didn’t even have that. Nintendo wouldn’t really create a 3D version of Super Mario World until Super Mario 3D Land and World: those games preserve all of the important aspects of the sidescrolling Mario games.

But Super Mario 64, like Super Mario Bros. 11 years earlier, really crystallized an entire genre from the get-go. That’s kind of insane, that Mario as a series has revolutionized gameplay on a major scale TWICE.

Also huffduffed as…

  1. Retro

    —Huffduffed by jermm on

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