Super Mario 64 DS (Nintendo DS) Review

By Adam Riley 15.03.2005

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   


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