How many times do you find yourself slipping down a featureless slope or swimming slowly towards hard-to-grab coins? Mario’s movement may be versatile but it’s a bit clunky and slippery compared to Galaxy. The levels may have multiple goals but this now feels like the cleverest of clever ways to elongate game time. And once you’ve finished it, there’s little reason to go back.
The Mario character model looks awful too - not because of the technical issues, but rather because he was yet to take on the familiar proportions we know and love. The sound quality is now abysmal and the game looks incredibly blurry. Sure, you can play it on Wii where it’s much sharper, but this just exaggerates the angular nature of the environments.
Perhaps the most telling thing is that while gaming newbies can still easily be introduced to Super Mario Bros on NES or Mario Kart 64, trying to show someone today why Mario 64 is so great is very difficult. It’s lost its universal appeal. And we have to admit, we’re starting to feel it too.
Above: The Wii version is sharper and of course there are some genius moments. But would you really choose to play this instead of Galaxy?
Forget the fact that the fighters look like cardboard boxes and the closest we get to any detail is floppy 3D hair (basically a collection of triangles) - the gameplay has aged very badly too. Where are all the moves? Where’s the finesse in the fighting? The speed? The parries and guard breaks?
Granted, there are some recognisable throws, and at least there’s a feeling of solidness about the contact between boxy fist and face… but the crucial thing is the adaptability of the animation. In that, you know, there isn't any. Make a wrong move and you can't seamlessly transition into another. And so it was surpassed by its sequel immediately and has been left behind by everything else. Play VF2 if you want some retro goodness - it’s still lightning fast and deeper than the Grand Canyon. But avoid this.