For a long time I was really hard on the N64. Perception, I guess. Back when it launched only one of my friends even bought one. We were in high school at the time, and it just seemed like Playstation was where all the cool edgy games were, and the N64 was for kids. And while I did play a fair amount of that friend's N64, it was basically three games: Mario Kart 64, Super Mario 64, and Goldeneye. Of those three, Mario Kart was the one I was really into.
We definitely did play Mario 64, though. It was the only game he had for a while. However, the issue was that he'd play it a ton and when I got to give it a go, it was just random parts - wherever he had left off. So I wasn't super attached to it. And because that was my full exposure to the game (and the console), I never grew all that attached. Instead, I moved on to Gamecube and felt like Double Dash and Mario Sunshine were better takes on the N64 formula. Like I said, unfair.
Over the past year I've become a newfound fan of the N64. My brother found a broken up console that he passed on to me and miraculously it worked. I fixed it up as best I could and started delving into the library. To my surprise, it's damn good. Even without an optical drive, I found that the games often eclipsed the quality of their PS1 counterparts.
My relationship with Mario 64 is trickier. Like I said, I had very little nostalgia for it - having only played bits and pieces. And instead, I was more drawn to Sunshine as far as 3D Marios go. Plus, I'm not a big fan of 3D platformers period. I actually attempted to play the DS remake years ago, right after I had run through 3D Land on 3DS. It wasn't a good way to attempt it, though. And I got bored quickly.
Over the weekend I found myself unsure what to play next, and started digging through the Wii U Virtual Console. I found that Mario 64 was cheap (compared to picking up an actual cartridge) and for whatever reason was kind of interested in giving it another go.
To my shock and horror, I'm having a good time here. Since the Coronavirus is preventing us from doing a lot of things, I managed to squeeze in about three hours of the game here and there. I've managed to beat the first Bowser, and gain twelve stars. I'm now just kind of working my way through the first floor and attempting to pick up more stars. Some, with the help of a walkthrough (how would you know which wall to break open to get a star?) and others with the help of save states (I can't imagine dropping to that platform from the owl over and over again in real time...).
I'm staring to be able to contextualize, though. Like, NOW the game isn't as mind-blowing to me. But had I gotten into it back then? It probably felt like a proper 3D follow-up to Super Mario World. Interesting.
I have no intention of going for all stars, as I'm not a completionist. But, I'm interested to see how quickly I can get enough stars to make it to the end. Or if I'll even keep my interest. We'll see.
Having played some more, I can say I like this game about as much as I can like a 3D platformer. Which is saying a lot. But I still don't love it. I APPRECIATE IT so much more than I did. But my main gripe is I don't love the loop of replaying the same levels over and over again to gain stars to unlock new levels. Ironically, this is exactly the complaint I had when playing Super Mario 3D World a while ago. While I think the platforming is sound, and the levels are neat, I'm just not a fan of the repetition of playing those levels over and over again so I can hunt for one more THING in order to move on.
So I don't know. Maybe I'm done for now. I played about five hours or so, and amassed 21 or so stars. So I'm not even THAT far into the game, really. But eh. This might be something I come back to later, but I can't see sticking with it for the long haul right now. Oh, but I will say that the ghost house level is awesome. I'm glad I played through that one!