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Review – Super Mario 64 DS (NDS)

There are re-releases of games, and then there are remakes of games. Super Mario 64 DS certainly falls into the remake category. It’s essentially the same game at the core but it adds so many new features that it feels more like a remake. I suppose really it would need more of a graphics overhaul to be a true remake.

I didn’t set out to own Mario 64 DS (Abbreviations from 2 systems? How does that work?). When I purchased my DS, Best Buy was running a promotion to get the game free. One might conclude that I didn’t really want this game, and they would be correct. However I’d have to say it’s probably the most enjoyable game I have for the system. And that’s saying a lot. I own 5 DS games and only Metroid Prime: Hunters was a disappointment.

At the core, this is the exact same game as Super Mario 64 DS. However there are many really nice additional features added to the mix. Most notable is the new characters, which changes the plot slightly. Instead of starting as Mario, you start off playing as Yoshi. Mario’s been locked up, along with Luigi and Wario. That’s two Mario based games in a row where Mario’s been captured (see also Princess Peach), it would seem our persnickety plumber is starting to slip a bit with age.

As Yoshi you’ll have to progress along collecting a few stars on your own before you can even think of rescuing anyone. Each new “floor” of the castle (divided by Bowser Keys), presents a new hero to be unlocked. Each hero adds new skills to the mix. This 4 way cast is analogous to the cast of Mario 2, whether intentional or not. Mario and Luigi have comparable differences that they shared in Mario 2, Luigi jumps higher an is more “floaty”. He can also run on water for a short period of time, a skill that is ultimately useless. Wario takes the place of Toad. Wario jumps lower and moves more “bricklike”, but he’s generally stronger. Yoshi replaces Princess Toadstool with his short range flight ability.

The old “cap System” is also gone, or at least revamped. Instead of special ability caps, you have character change caps. Only Yoshi lacks a cap of any sort. All of the power up blocks contain he same power flower, the effect they give is dependant on the character. Luigi becomes invisible, matching is floaty high jumping air based personality; Wario becomes metal, matching his strong stocky personality; Yoshi breathes fireballs; and Mario turns into a balloon (or flight cap on certain levels).

There are many obstacles that only certain characters can pass. For example, Mario may need his wall kick and only Wario can break the large dark blocks. This makes some previous tasks a lot easier, especially Luigi’s ability to helicopter high jump from the ducking position. The Shifting Sands land can be traversed easily by Luigi with this move where previously you’d have to make a lot of treacherous trips over quicksand.

There are also new stars. Thirty new stars to be exact. Each level now has 7 stars to find and there are a mess of new hidden stars. Some of the missions have even been altered slightly to accommodate the new cast.

Finally there are also a bunch of mini games to be unlocked. As you travel through the castle, you’ll encounter rabbits. Catching these rabbits yields a key that unlocks a new mini game. I personally did not find the mini games that fun. They all involve the touch screen and most are repeated several times only with new graphics sets. I’ve never cared for mini games since they tend to serve no ultimate purpose to the main quest.

Other than the boring Mini games, this is one spot on title. Despite being a remake, it offers plenty for gamers to enjoy. Super Mario 64 was a solid game to begin with, the new features don’t change that one bit.

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