Don’t get me wrong. Mario 64 is a great game, and what it did for the industry can’t be understated. But personally I feel like every 3D Mario has topped it, yes, even 3DL and 3DW.
- The levels
Mario 64’s levels feel pretty lackluster, especially compared to its successors and even other n64 platformers like Banjo Kazooie. Many of the levels consist of very basic geometric shapes suspended in the air. The few levels that genuinely seem creative and interesting are tiny huge island, tick tock clock, and wet dry world. Banjo Kazooie did a much better job at creating interesting and charming levels. Compare gobi valley with shifting sand land. Gobi valley does a much better job at feeling like a real place and is far more creative, while shifting sand land is mostly a few pillars surrounding a pyramid with no real purpose. Of course, Mario 64 was one of the first real 3D platformers, so you can’t really expect much. But that doesn’t change the quality of the levels imo.
- The Bosses
This game has the worst bosses of any 3D Mario. Most of them just consist of slightly bigger versions of enemies and hardly take any effort to defeat. Bowser himself is extremely underwhelming, and only consists of tossing him at a spike, which you can easily cheese by grabbing his tail again as soon as he lands. Again, this is a fault that can be attributed with Mario 64 being one of the first 3D games, but when discussing the quality of games, I don’t think impact or time of release should really be taken into consideration.
- The Mission Structure
This is one of my major complaints with the game, and why I consider it to be the worst of the 3D series. Upon collecting a star, the game boots you out of the level, and forced you to enter it again. This makes the game feel repetitive and padded out. This problem is especially evident in levels like tall tall mountain, tick tock clock, and snowman’s land, where stars are in an extremely close vicinity and take little effort to get. Of course, Sunshine and Galaxy also follow this structure, but levels changed drastically between each shine in Sunshine, and levels were linear and had entirely different layouts between each star in Galaxy.
Overall, I think Mario 64 is good, and have fun playing it because of Mario’s varied moveset. But I don’t think it’s aged very well, and it falls short compared to every other 3D Mario imo.
If you’re wondering how I’d rank the games:
- Galaxy 2
- 3D World
- 3D Land
- 64 DS
Odyssey and 3D World are around equal for me in terms of enjoyment, same with 3D Land and Sunshine.
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