DS Review: Super Mario 64 DS
Review by: Hairball (hairball@sm128c.com)

Game Info

 System: Nintendo DS
 ESRB: Everyone
 Genre: Adventure
 # of Players: 1-4
 Developer: Nintendo
 Publisher: Nintendo

 Release Date:
 US: Nov 21, 2004
 JP: Dec 2, 2004

Screenshots:

Screenshot

Screenshot

Screenshot

Final Score:
8.0/10

Reviewed on: September 24, 2005

Continuing with the precedent left by the Game Boy Advance, the Nintendo DS finds itself launching with a classic. This time itís the renowned Nintendo 64 launch title, Super Mario 64, a game that is acclaimed by video game players across the globe that revolutionized the platform genre, and one of the best games of all time.

This time around, it's not a solo show. Along with Mario; Luigi, Yoshi, and Wario are allied together on a mission to rescue Princess Peach from Bowser. The game starts off with Yoshi, and you must work your way through by rescuing more characters, which are needed to collect more power stars, and there are 150 in all. Only Mario is the character that is required, as only he can challenge the one known as Bowser.

The graphics in Super Mario 64 DS are quite good and look similar to what was found on the N64. But for those who have encountered the current 128-bit generation video games, the look and feel might be a little lacking. The game image is very sharp and there is good contrast, and smooth animation, with a bright clear display, thanks to the TFT LCD screen. The dual screen gives the game a different perspective. The main screen shows the gameplay, while the secondary (the touch screen) shows a map, which can guide you in the castle, and the stages that are encountered.

Sound quality has been greatly improved on the Nintendo DS as opposed to the Game Boy Advance. Not only does the DS have dual screen, it also has dual speakers, which allows for stereo sound, which was not found on any previous Game Boy system unless headphones were connected. As such, the familiar tunes from Super Mario 64 are in great quality, and there's even a surround sound option, which further enhances the quality of the audio.

The Nintendo DS does not have an analog control stick, which was an integral of part of the N64 controller, but however there is a touch screen that can simulate the movement of the control stick. A stylus or a thumb cover can be used to control the movement of Mario around the game, on the map which is shown on the touch screen. While this is a unique approach, it can be rather difficult to grasp the control and it requires a lot of practice in order to master. The traditional control pad controls are easier to use, and bring a sense of familiarity to the player, but it lacks the accuracy the touch screen offers. The new style of gameplay is innovative, but it remains to be seen whether or not it will be accepted by gamers.

The camera controls use the touch screen, and are fairly simple to use, an improvement on the C buttons used on the N64 controller. It can still get stuck occasionally, but there appears to be fewer problems in the DS version.

There are a few significant changes to Super Mario 64 DS. There are more characters, more stars, new levels, and also a change in the special moves. As mentioned earlier, the additional characters will allow access to more stars, since each character has unique moves. The original levels have changed with some different tasks, and there are also switch stars and missions where you collect 5 silver stars to gain a power star. These new tasks can be quite frustrating, but they do add to the challenge.

The new levels involve new bosses who need to be fought to rescue Mario, Luigi and Wario. These levels do not contain the power star tasks of a typical level, but however there are secret stars to be found. For those who have played the N64 version, they are a welcoming sight, although the bosses are not very challenging.

To the surprise of some players, the Wing Cap, Vanish Cap and Metal Cap have a few significant changes. For one, the special powers come from a red exclamation mark box, which also means the blue and green switch levels are now missing the switches. Mario can fly and float like a balloon, Yoshi can breathe fire, Luigi can vanish, and Wario can turn into metal. The loss of power essentially makes it necessary to use more of the different characters do complete certain tasks.

Another addition to Super Mario 64 DS is the mini-games option which features numerous touch screen games to play. These are obtained by catching rabbits scattered around the castle, and can be played in the mini-game room. These don't have an effect on the actual adventure; they are more of a side addition to give more replay value.

Also included in the game is a multiplayer mode where up to four players can play a star-collecting game, where the player who collects the most will win. Only a single cartridge is required for the multiplayer mode.

For those who have not played the original game, Super Mario 64 DS will be a great opportunity to relive a classic, and bring the player back to that generation. Those who have played the N64 game will find that even with extra features, and new levels, itís still after all a port. There are some flaws, such as the touch screen controls, but it was still an innovative way to show off new technology. Overall, Super Mario 64 DS is a great game, shows off the hardware capability of the Nintendo DS, and most important of all: it is fun to play.

-- Hairball (hairball@sm128c.com)

Bottom Line: Super Mario 64 DS can be described as Super Mario 64 plus mini-games, new levels, and new characters, and a new control scheme.