After Super Mario 64 launched for the Nintendo 64 with flashy 3D visuals and a completely different perspective, a remake of the stellar classic was among the first games for Nintendo's new handheld system. People weren't really sure how the game would work on a portable console, wondering how the system would cope with all the action. The game proved to be a huge success and it definitely shows.
The premise of the game is exactly the same as the original, but with a few new things thrown in. You're still collecting stars and unlocking new areas and killing bosses, but you'll notice that basically everything has been polished up since 1996. Controlling the titular character, Mario, is joyfully easy due to the comfortable button layout, making sure you always have precise control over him. Things like double, triple and long jumps are made easier than ever before, combat is simple but engaging and exploring each vast level is never tiresome. The major difference between this and the original are the playable characters. Strangely enough, you don't start the game as Mario. Instead, you play a Yoshi, a character who wasn't nearly featured as much in the original as he should've been, trying to free Mario from a locked room inside Peach's castle. Once you unlock Mario, you're granted full access to his abilities. You can even play as Luigi and Wario throughout the course of the game. In some levels, you may notice hats of each character in certain rooms or hallways. Whenever you pick one up, you change into the character the hat represents for a short period of time. This is always handy if you need to do something you can't to with your current character.
The graphics, in my opinion, look way better than the N64 version. Character models no longer look blocky, animations are a lot smoother, every single level looks gorgeous, the sound has been reworked and everything seems new and fresh. Most of the time I forgot that it was a remake. The presentation of the game looks amazing, and hardcore Mario fans will feel the nostalgia when they are greeted with the castle, the paintings as well as the lush courtyard. This game is just packed full of charm from the very start, which is what the franchise is known for. The game also has exclusive mini games if you ever get bored from the main game or just want a change. Most of these mini games are fun, quirky novelties such as card games with Luigi, a defense-like mini game that involves shooting bob-ombs, and even one where you need to draw lines with your stylus to create trampolines for Mario to bounce off in order to stay alive. I couldn't tell you a bad mini game if I tried, all of them are original, creative, witty, clever and most importantly, enjoyable.
Finding negative things to say about this game is relatively difficult, so most of them are nit picking. I find the boss battles to be extremely fun but laughably easy in their design. Their AI is seriously lacking spark, and you know it's a problem when you realize that the regular enemies pose more of a threat than a colossal explosive with legs. Despite almost all of them being cake walks, they are captivating enough. What's weird is that, usually, the levels you trek through are a heck of a lot harder than boss encounters. Skating around on a koopa shell, avoid lava and enemies that push you a few inches off platforms can be a lot more stressful. While these tough levels are brilliant, they often end up being rage inducing at their finest. Also, I think the camera needs some work, as it can sometimes position itself at the most awkward angle possible, resulting in unfair hits or deaths. It's not impossible to control, but you'll have to take your time with it.
Super Mario 64 on the DS is a technical achievement as well as a well crafted game. There are many fun elements present here, and nothing negative can really detract from the overall gameplay. If you're like me and you haven't had the chance to play the original, or you want to take a trip down memory lane where ever you go, give this a go.