Super Mario 64 DS Reader Review
Is the best a new handheld console has to offer based on a game that is over half a decade old? A handheld console that is supposed to provide a revolution in the way games are played, but looks forward by going backwards? No wonder the DS has its fair share of doubters.
However, I believe this is a revolution in handheld gaming. I have never played anything like this on a handheld before - nor have I ever had so much fun. The train journey is now flies by, as I try to obtain one last star from Lethal Lava Land. You are constantly discovering more and more unlockables, whether it be access to a previously unknown area, or another mini-game (ah, the mini games, a review in itself - needless to say the mix has ups and downs, but the best are on par with the best of Wario Ware). The game gives and gives, and as a result sucks you in with ease, spitting you out at your destination with a big gaming smile on your face.
The graphics are slightly better than I remember in the N64, in particular Bowser looks a lot more defined. The characters and landscapes are solid, and pop-up is kept to a minimum. The world is very colourful, and full of the usual Mario mise-en-scene; sound is equally impressive. You can usually work out what you objective is, and how to go about it by looking around in 1st person mode. The map on the bottom screen comes into it's own when you are stuck - showing the star, and main land marks - everything is pretty clear. There are issues though as the camera still doesn't always respond as you like. Although you can move the camera around, the main way to do this is via arrows on the touchscreen, which is not always convenient. This can land you in trouble but it is rarely a huge issue, and there is usually a way around it.
There are many ways around things, which is a tribute to the game design. The game is very open, and now you can attack levels with different characters (you unlock Mario, Lugi, etc, as you progress), which means you have a variety of options available to you at any one time. The game is pretty much, as you would expect - it's Mario 64 - which happens to be one of the most influential games in recent gaming history. A joyous celebration of 3d platforming, that is addictive as it is enjoyable. It is the open nature of the game that keeps surprising you. I only played this game briefly during it's previous N64 life, and I am glad to have a second bite of the cherry.
However, it's the game's previous life that many people claim is this version's problem. Mario 64 was built to show off the N64, and to take advantage of the N64 controller : and it is claimed the DS suffers in comparison. Well, I am in no position to compare, my N64 experience is limited. But I will say I have no problem with the control at all - in fact I will go so far as to say I believe I have glimpsed the future of handheld gaming. With the thumb strap on my left thumb, the touch screen becomes my controller - and once you have got used to the idea, you will be tip-toe-ing or running to your heart's content. It is very responsive, and due to the sensitivity of the pad you will not have to move your digit far to perform a variety of actions - meaning you rarely run out of screen space, which is surprising to say the least. With my left thumb busy, the right hand is free to push the buttons on the right hand side as required. Back flips, side flips, long jumps, triple jumps - all easy to perform, and make star getting all that more enjoyable.
All in all Mario 64 DS provides reason alone to own a DS. 3d gaming on the move, and one of the best games ever wherever you are - excellent. But it is still a game over five years old, and it's previous baggage does stop it becoming a "killer-app" in many peoples' eyes. However, for those that look beyond that, and you will find the rumblings of a potential revolution in your hands.
9 / 10