Super Mario 64 DS
Thé launch title for the Nintendo DS is without a doubt Super Mario 64 DS. It’s a brushed up version of the original and well-received Super Mario 64 on the Nintendo64 but more expanded due to the addition of a multiplayer mode and addictive mini-games. Has Nintendo already found a topgame already for their new handheld or will we have to walk out of the store with another game ? For me to find out…
In the main menu you can choose from Adventure, VS-battle and the Recreation Room. Since Adventure is the main mode of the game I’ll start with this first. The story has remained the same; Mario is invited by Princess Peach at her castle to eat a pie. This time however, he brings his friends Luigi, Wario and Yoshi along. While Yoshi is sleeping on the roof, the other three decide to enter but when they haven’t returned after a long while, Yoshi decides to go out to search for them, and that’s how you start the game.
Once inside, Toad tells you about the evil Bowser. He has enprisoned Peach, Mario, Luigi AND Wario in the walls and paintings of the castle and locked these with the Power Stars. You need a specific amount of stars to open a certain door, but luckily there’s one that can be opened without any, and Toad suggests you start there. And thus begins your search for all 150 stars (30 more than the original) that are spread over 15 different levels.
The top screen is the main for the game and the 3D graphics have greatly increased when compared with the N64 version. The models have been renewed, the textures are more vivid, although zooming in on a walltexture doesn’t give such a decent image. In any case, the graphics are much more beautiful than what you can see in screenshots and movies. On the bottom screen we get a map of the world and although at first I was wondering who would ever use this, I caught myself after a while looking for a star on the map.
The graphics are of course the first thing you notice from a game but it isn’t the biggest refreshment from the original. The minigames that completely use the touchscreen are, most even use both screens. For instance there will be 2 doors and by drawing a trampoline you’ll have to get the jumping Mario’s in the desired door. Or you have to rub the screen to get a snowball moving and get it to the finish as quickly as possible. The minigames are different for each character, and where Mario and Wario have a bit of everything, Yoshi mainly has puzzles and Luigi runs through a casino. The minigames can be gotten by collecting rabbits throughout the game.
The DS’s touch screen of course gives new possibilities for control in the game and next to the minigames – that completely use this feature – you can also control the main adventure in different ways. For beginners I would suggest the Standard Mode, here you move with the D-pad, jump with B, attack with A, walk with Y, zoom with X, duck with R, center camera with L and rotate camera with the touchscreen. The Touch mode is pretty identical although the movement and zoom are taken over by the touchscreen and you rotate camera with X and Y. Here, Nintendo has overlooked something as since the action buttons are on the right, and the touchscreens needs to be handled with the left hand, playing in this mode is quite hard for right-handed people like me.
An alternative approach is the Dual-Hand mode. Here you move your character, zoom and rotate the camera with the touchscreen and use X for jumping, Y for centering the camera, A for attack and B for duck. On the left side this button configuration is taken over on the D-pad on respectively top, left, right and bottom. This requires quite some getting used to since the buttons are completely different from what we’re used but for those who want to enjoy the precision of the touchscreen this is a good solution. When you touch the screen a circle will appear with a red core and yellow circle around it. This somewhat simulates an analog stick; the further away from the red core, the faster you go. This control works best with the Thumb Strap that’s delivered with each Nintendo DS.
As final addition there’s the multiplayer mode, where you can run around with maximum 4 players in 4 arena’s to catch the stars. I wouldn’t say this is really great but this game isn’t centered towards multiplay either, this mode is only a little extra. Maybe the simplicity of this mode is compensated by the fact you only need one game to be able to play with 4.
Thanks to the stereo sound of the DS your ears get the best handheld sound ever. The voices and cries of our friends come out of the speakers like from a TV, only less loud of course. The only annoying thing is the constant moaning from Mario and co. when they jump up and down, and also during the minigames there’s quite some noise, but it is and remains a happy Mario game so we’ll just have to live with that, won’t we ?
Super Mario 64 DS is an obligatory purchase for anyone planning to get a DS. Despite the fact that I played the original version only with friends and therefore didn’t play it intensely, I’m sure those that have the original will still have lots of fun with this DS-version. The minigames are very addictive, the Adventure mode is and remains good due to the additional 30 stars, and when your friends also have a DS you can still enjoy the multiplayer mode that only needs 1 cartridge.