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Purchased a Switch - Playing Mario Collection Through the Years

Posted 3 Weeks ago by mariomguy

So... My best friend in Texas wanted to get a Switch, and hoped I would get one so we can play together. I took the plunge, and my first two games of choice were the Mario collection and Smash Bros. Ultimate. I played Super Mario 64 through 31 stars. Here's my thoughts so far.

When Super Mario 64 first came out, it was groundbreaking, revolutionary, to the point gamers had no idea how to play it because that kind of third-person 3D gameplay had never been accomplished before. Now... it's obviously rudimentary, and there are some difficult moments for sure, but it still feels like a fun game. Something I picked up now that I couldn't before is the entire game is an exercise in limitations. How can you make a great game feel great with minimal level mechanics and a very constrained palette of enemies, music, and mechanics? For starters, it feels great to control Mario again, in a way that actually feels more open. It's just fun to control Mario and perform combos. Then, when it comes to the levels, there was real intention behind everything. When you swim underwater in Jolly Roger bay, you'll lose a bit of health before heading into coins. You'll probably go in the cave first, and realize you heal stepping out. Then finish a late mission early on, showing you that the missions don't have to be played in order. The entire game is like this. One moment of discovery to the next. Waste, if any, is minimal.

The red coin challenges are trickier than I remembered. The hunt for the 8th coin is always tough if you forget the location of one, and in SM64 they really got good mileage using the entire level to hide those coins. I missed one in Big Boo's Haunt and ended up scouring every inch of every room, even the basement which I swore had no coins. Of course, that final coin was the one behind the piano.

And to follow up on that intention-behind-everything comment, it's easy to see why there were so many wild and crazy rumors about Super Mario 64 back in the day. Unlike Super Mario Galaxy and modern Mario, which tends to hold your hand, Super Mario 64 gave you a few signs and just let loose. Then you find there are stars hidden in the castle, there are secret areas in every level, some secret levels even have secret missions of their own. And at no point in the game does anyone tell you how many stars are in total. This kind of quality design with layer after layer of discovery and encouragement cannot come from a large, massive, open-world game. It needs to be small enough and easy enough to traverse in order to have this kind of intention. Perhaps the answer to better games lies not in their size and scope, but the quality with which they utilize their space. At the time I thought SM64's levels were enormous. But it's the magic of the design that makes it seem bigger than it really is.

Technically, the game plays at the highest resolution of any official SM64 port, and I swear it never looked better. But there are some caveats. The Joycons are very touchy, so you'll have to be mindful of any areas that require sensitive movements. But considering the game is over 23 years old, it still feels nice to this day. And yeah, those moments I thought were frustrating as a kid? They're still frustrating as an adult! I'll be playing through all the games again and giving my thoughts.

There are 2 Replies

Mariomguy, don't forget that if you subscribe to Nintendo Online service for $20 a year you can download the NES and SNES Online Apps that let you play all of the original mario games. the SNES App has Mario Allstars which has Mario's 1-3 and Lost levels with 16bit graphics and a save feature. You'll also have cloud saves.

2 Weeks ago

I did subscribe, but I don't really care about the older Mario games that much. I already played them all to death. But there is still a special place in my heart for the 3D games, and it was on sale.

2 Weeks ago

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