Super Mario 64 DS (Nintendo DS) Review

By Adam Riley 15.03.2005 24

Review for Super Mario 64 DS on Nintendo DS

The Mario series has thrown up success after success, legend after legend. However, when the games moved over from the world of two dimensions to that of full 3D, with the advent of the Nintendo 64, the Italian plumber had his most memorable adventure to date. But just how do you top that? Super Mario Sunshine failed, by most accounts, but that has not stopped Nintendo in its tracks. Instead, we are now being treated to an extended version of the classic N64 title. Is the magic still there now it has been ported over to the DS? Why not find out…

There is not much of a storyline, but then again it was hardly an addictive yarn back in the days of the Nintendo 64. Princess Peach has sent out an invite to a select few who can come along and share her yummy ‘special’ cake. Wario, Mario and Luigi all arrive at the castle to get their lips around Peach’s offerings only to find that there is, rather ominously, nobody there. Yoshi, sleeping atop the castle, finally awakens and stumbles down to get his share before the portly plumber devours everything, but discovers that all the other three guests have been kidnapped, as have the Toads and the Royal Stars. And so the adventure begins…

Screenshot for Super Mario 64 DS on Nintendo DS

Whilst appearing revolutionary on the Nintendo 64 over eight years ago, many were worried that a port of the game to the Nintendo DS would look rather ropey compared to some of the stunning offerings that have been served up in this current generation. However, this could not be further from the truth as Super Mario 64 DS looks amazing even now. Yes, it is true that the anti-aliasing has been removed, so more jagged edges are apparent, but the reduced resolution more than compensates for that, so everything is lovely and condensed. The same bright colours are here, as well as the extra little animations and extra like butterflies floating above flower patches in certain levels. Then there is the fast frame-rate throughout, even when the game is being shared amongst three other DS systems. If you are looking for flaws in Nintendo’s graphical execution then you are going to be coming up short, that is for sure…

The same can be said for the soundtrack, as the whole game sounds wonderful through the DS’s stereo speaker set-up. In fact, so adept is the re-orchestration that there is a 3D Surround Sound feel to the whole experience, just like you have your old N64 hooked up to a powerful stereo system. Classic tunes that will have remained in your head since the original came out are back and as pleasing as ever, and adding to that are a few new tracks that litter the game and automatically stand out as new classics that will lodge in your head for the next few years, or at least until New Super Mario Bros hits the streets! The use of voice work is increased here as well and it can be safely said that the future of the DS is bright, very bright indeed for future RPGs featuring heavy amounts of speech.

Screenshot for Super Mario 64 DS on Nintendo DS

If you have played any 3D platformer of this current generation, or even from the previous one, then you will know how Super Mario 64 DS plays. The N64 game was a revolution, the first third dimensional platform adventure. But then on the PSone and PS2 there were many a pretender to the throne in the form of the Spyro and Crash series, as well as the excellent Ratchet & Clank, Jak & Daxter and Sly Racoon titles. The basic idea is that you control a character and wander round collecting items, solving puzzles and killing enemies. Quite a simple premise, but the whole execution is so extravagant that you cannot help but get sucked in and not released until the very close of the credits.

The charm with Nintendo’s platform title is that it is not solely about going round collecting hundreds of various different items. Instead each one is a specific fun task for the player to complete in order to gain a Star, one of 150 that can be found in the game. Examples include where you have to have a race to the top of a mountain, rescue a baby penguin or catch an electric eel underwater. Yes, there are the odd one where you must collect eight red coins or hundred gold coins, but the main game can be completed without having to bother with these collect-fests.

Control is clearly of the utmost importance, and the N64 analogue stick was spectacular for this. The DS, though, has two options: using the touch screen to move the characters around or the standard D-Pad and buttons. The first one is the best option when using the thumb strap for accurate movement, once you have become used to the change in style. Plumping for the digital controls is a little more limited, with gamers losing the full 3D movement due to the D-Pad and running being accessed by holding down ‘Y’ instead. After talking to several new DS owners it would appear this latter option is the most-favoured as they cannot be bothered taking the time to adapt to the touch-screen movement. Whichever you choose, though, the adventure is so full of fun and enjoyment that you cannot fail to smile and become hooked. This is pure Miyamoto magic…especially with the fact that you can now control Yoshi, Mario, Luigi AND Wario at different times!

Screenshot for Super Mario 64 DS on Nintendo DS

And that is without even touching on the thirty mini-games that are included! You start off with a few ‘free’ ones, such as the excellent Pulley game, where you pull down on the touch-screen to drag the slingshot down and fire off at the Bob-Ombs that are continuously being thrown down at you by evil Lakitu. The mini games alone make this a worthy purchase and the quality of them, especially their touch- and dual-screen usage, place them above those in WarioWare: Touched! in all honesty. Having to draw lines at angles across vertical lines to guide Mario’s head to safety is genius, as is the one where you have to find the Boos hiding in the dark by rubbing the screen where you thought they last were. This brings a whole new element to the Mario Universe and it is definitely a welcome addition to the perfect package. Nintendo has certainly hit a home run with this one…

Whereas people were bemoaning the fact that Nintendo was adopting a ‘short, but sweet’ approach for the advent of the GameCube, with titles like Luigi’s Mansion and Pikmin being key examples of excellent games that were over far too quickly, that fear can be stricken from everyone’s minds with the launch of the Nintendo DS. The original adventure alone would have been enough to satiate many people’s desires, but the fact that Star Quests have been changed around to keep a fresh feeling, thirty extra ones have been added in, plus the amount of mini games that can be uncovered and played throughout ensure that the whole thing is stretched out considerably. And that is even without the idea of multiplayer shenanigans! There is no doubt that this is definitely the must-have game to go with your Nintendo DS purchase – whether you have played the game before or not, as it is amazing value for money.

Screenshot for Super Mario 64 DS on Nintendo DS

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

Out of the entire list of sixteen launch games, Super Mario 64 DS is definitely one of the 'must-haves', alongside Polarium. Make sure when you are going off to buy your Nintendo DS's you get a copy of this as well...






3D Platformer



C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10 (73 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


Definitely one of your more comprehensive reviews. Great job, and I agree wholeheartedly!


Definately deserved!

[:: Lee Sanders :: Cubed-3 :: News Reporter :: Writer :: Head Of Secret Operations:: Resisdentual Slacker ::] On Twitter = LeeTSanders I have a Cubed3 limited Edition mug!
DO YOU! So Cute -

Getting it today I hope its worth it :D

You found the word nipple! And you love touching them!

Superb review Adam, a good read indeed! Mario 64's a game I have to get once I get my mitts on the DS; I've given it a play test a few times and it's definitely one hell of an addictive game.

Very happy to see that the length of the game isn't hindered by the DS's capacity, good stuff!

Cubed3 Admin/Founder & Designer

Nice one Raz, definitely enjoyed playing this game briefly t'other day.

Not sure if I would buy it or not, though, don't really have enough money to buy games I have already played before, even if they are quite signifcantly different.

Still, it's good to hear the game is good, and I would certainly not mind borrowing it off someone at some point. :Smilie

Cubed3 Staff [ Retro Editor :: Previews Editor ]

Good review. I'm not sure I'd buy it, at least not yet. Perhaps when prices come down a little.

Good review. I agree on most points.

The Plumber is dead. Long live the Plumber!

Is that paraphrased from something? I can't place it, but I've heard it before...

I hated it at first, I thought it felt very cheap and didn't use the DS to its full potential. But with the excelent mini-games, the significantly extended adventure and the multiplayer - the game just keeps giving and giving, and its better than Mario 64 on N64 in every single way. And the controls, although dissapointing considering the potential of the DS, after you get used to them you are at no disadvantage. Because it dosn't make great use of the DS's controls IMO, I wouldn't rate it as a "classic" like the original, but its deffinatly worth getting - especially being very long as well. I really like it now, its just its hard to know what to make of it at the beginning.

But if your going to get one game with the DS, make it Wario Ware or Project Rub - they show off the DS a lot better IMO.

By the way, I've been playing it using the "touch" control system and the thumb strap on my left thumb (I'm right handed, but I don't think it matters). Although its difficult to get into like that and you might be tempted to resort to the much easier D-pad, just practice a bit without trying to get any stars at first and you should soon find its much better and more accurate than the D-pad method. Before you know it, it'll be second nature.

[ Edited by beamrider2600 On 2005/3/15 17:21 ]

hey, sounds a lot better then many reviews I've benn hearing! I'll be picking this game up when I get a DS, I can assure you.

MarioDS is worth the price for the minigames alone.

WarioWare minigames these ant.
30 odd very good quality games.

A few repeats, and afew duds, but most are very replayable. And some almost tetris-quality. <-- Tells some truly terrible tales.
Last update; Mice,Plumbers,Animatronics and Airbenders. We also have the socials; Facebook & G+

I just don't like it. It's a sodding port of an N64 games with amusing mini-games that took a few seconds to develop tagged on the side. If EA did this people would jump all over them, but because it's Nintendo we all praise it. Stupid if you ask me... :roll:

Trying to think of a witty signature after 'Hacker-gate'...

Tacked-on minigames?? Nah, they're wonderful - much more in-depth than the ones in Wario or Project Rub...Not saying those are bad games, not at all - but the Mario ones have a little extra Nintendo class sprinkled over them.

Anyway, temps, we'll see your full opinion in the future C3-2-1! Smilie

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

UNITE714: Weekly Prayers | Bible Verses

The mini-games are genius though, and you don't need a big budget for games to be fun - and its not just a port, its expanded significantly.

Exactly what Beam said...and whilst I'm here, many thanks to everyone for the praise - much appreciated! :Smilie

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

UNITE714: Weekly Prayers | Bible Verses

It felt iffy at first, just like DS itself, but stick to it and sooner or later you'll find out why it's good. It took me a while myself. That's the problem with DS - it lacks the first impression. But once you get used to the new idea behind the controls, it's fantastic. It plays so well. It's worth getting used to playing with touchpad by the way. With that thumb strap thing. It's annoying at first though. but its WELL WORTH the effort (says a 32 year old man).

[ Edited by Flaight On 2005/3/16 2:43 ]

Love this game. Besides from the main game the mimi games is where the DS capabilities is truly used. I love Bob-omb Squad with the slingshot... so damn addictive and fun.

That's also true - the idea of picking up the DS and using the stylus or thumb strap is so alien to many that the experience is not so pleasing from the off...But perserverance is the key!

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

UNITE714: Weekly Prayers | Bible Verses

Well I will be definitelty be picking this up along with Wario Ware, I never got into Mario 64, so this will be my first time.

9.5 for an 8 year old game with a few tweaks and a control system more akward and unsuitable than the original analgoue stick on the N64. Especially for a game most people will have played on the N64. Then again, reviews on this site are always on the generous side.

My DS code for 42 classic games is 5026 2806 4140. Looking for people to play Rummy with. Feel free to PM your code. Also, anyone can add my Wii code if they like, PM me with yours too.

^I'd say the control system is about equal with the N64 version - the only complaints I have is that it should be even better. A game as good as Mario 64, put onto a handheld and expanded so it lasts at least twice as long with all the extras and improved in many ways - it should deffinatly score high.

My sentiments exactly! Just because of it being a few years old, it's still leagues ahead of platformers today and with its extras it more than makes up for the age...

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

UNITE714: Weekly Prayers | Bible Verses

This is a good game and the fact that there are a lot more characters to play with. The best part is when you can play as Yoshi at the beginning. It doesn't beat the one for N64 but is nearly there. The graphics are really good for a remade game on the DS. Definately a must buy for any mario fan.Smilie

SuperYoshi6 PSN name
3DS friend code 2878-9581-8999


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