The first 3D Mario game required a big entry, and that game, back in December of 2004, was a remake of Mario 64.
A remake that was in the vein of the recent Crash N.Sane and Spyro Trilogy releases, but with three other characters to control, and even a wireless multiplayer mode.
Many seem to forget that this entry exists; it was a launch title for the Nintendo DS in Europe, and even came out on the Wii U Virtual Console in 2015.
With that, here’s why Mario 64 DS still holds up, and even enhances the original game, albeit held back by the controls of the original DS.
A 64x4 Remake
Originally it was a multiplayer demo to show off the features of the Nintendo DS handheld when it was first announced. But eventually, there was confirmation that the original game would be getting a remake.
It’s a unique entry here, as every texture has been redesigned to better reflect the characters. Before, Mario was a blocky, rough reflection of himself, but here, it’s as if he was taken right from the Mario 64 box art and transplanted into the game. There’s even 150 Stars this time, thirty more than what was in the original entry.
But of course, there’s a reason why the game was originally called ‘Mario 64 x 4’. Three other characters, Luigi, Wario and Yoshi are available to play after unlocking them, each with their own unique abilities. You can also transform into them in many levels by wearing their ‘hats’, suddenly changing from Mario to Wario, like ‘Stanley Ipkiss‘ and ’The Mask’.
It brought the ‘L is Real’ rumour to come true in the remake here, but it also began another one; Waluigi. Rumours still persist of being able to play as him in this version, but alas, it’s not true.
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Super Wario 64 DS
Of course, this being the Nintendo DS with its dual-screens, it offered the player to view the level from a top-down perspective, so you knew exactly where you were, alongside being able to control the camera if needed.
Then there’s the ‘Multiplayer’ aspect, something that I feel was originally intended for the N64 version when Miyamoto would discuss the prototype with a second player as Luigi. You could pair up to four Nintendo DS systems together to battle across four stages as Yoshi, but you could also find the hats to transform into Mario, Luigi or Wario. It almost reminded me of ‘PowerStone’ in this mode, and it’s still very fun.
Playing this back, there’s many breadcrumbs in this game that remind me of future Mario games. The multiplayer aspect reminds me of ‘Mario 3D World’ for example, while wearing the caps reminds me of ‘Mario Odyssey’.
While the DPAD let it down when the game first came out, its re-release on the Wii U, and it being able to be played on future DS systems with an analogue stick quickly alleviated the issue, making the game a worthy remake.
It’s a shame that we won’t be seeing this version on the Switch anytime soon, but it’s a great time capsule into what a remake meant to Nintendo, even in 2004 before it was ‘cool’.
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