Super Mario 64 DS

September 21, 2009 by Aaron Green  
Filed under Nintendo DS, Reviews



Title: Super Mario 64 DS

Release Date: December 2, 2004 (JA) November 22, 2004 (US) March 11, 2005 (EU)

Developer/Publisher: Nintendo

Genre: Platformer

Platform[s]: Nintendo DS


Back in ’96 a well known plumber made his three-dimensional debut on quite a popular gaming platform, namely, the N64 – in 2004 a Nintendo DS remake was released.  Essentially the plot is mostly the same.  Despite her tendency to spend significant portions of time in Bowser’s prisons, Princess Peach (apparently a domestic goddess now) decides to bake a cake; she then sends a letter inviting Mario for a little munch on the said cake.  The moustached Plumber promptly heads to the castle, closely followed by Luigi and Wario… and so the story begins. Overall, the plot is typical of the Mario series – light-hearted, consistent fun!


Chances are if you’re reading this that you’ve already played the original, or at least know what the game is about.  So I’m going to begin by summing up the main additions to the DS version and then build on my explanation of the gameplay experience from there.

  • Super Mario 64 DS now has four playable characters.
  • The amount of Stars found in the game has increased from 120 to 150.
  • Controls.  After all, the player no longer has access to an analogue stick.
  • Character Caps which allow you to transform into other characters mid-level.
  • Multiplayer.
  • Minigames

The four playable characters are: Mario, Luigi, Yoshi and Wario with the game initially forcing you to play as Yoshi until you free Mario (which requires 8 Power Stars).  Each character has unique moves, and also controls differently in terms of speed and power.  As it happens Luigi has the advantage in this respect.  He manoeuvres a little easier and can jump significantly higher letting him skip certain platforms and challenges.  Diehard fans won’t like this I’m sure!

The extra added Power Stars present much more of a challenge, as before the aim is to complete levels (often multiple times) to earn stars which then unlock more levels.  Sure you don’t need every star to complete the game but to unlock every level hidden within Peach’s castle and to get the full Super Mario 64 DS experience it’s certainly something worth considering.

Controlling your character in Mario 64 DS is not going to be easy for everyone.  For some people the lack of analogue control is actually going to be what stops them enjoying the experience as whole.  As a player you’re presented with two ways to direct Mario & Co. one is via the d-pad (and remember the original M64 was designed to steer away from this) then another is through the DS’s stylus which is the only way to get precise accurate movements.  At first this is somewhat difficult as to pull off all the required move the player must juggle use of the Stylus, D-Pad and buttons – after a while this does become second nature but only once the initial learning curve has been conquered and lets face it, there are some who wont stay that long!


In the original SM64, Mario could collect caps which presented him with a number of abilities.  There was the ‘Winged Cap’, ‘Metal Cap’ and ‘Invisible Cap’ now however our plump plumber is limited by only being able to float whilst Wario can turn into metal, Luigi can turn invisible and Yoshi can shoot fireballs. Much like N64 hit these “character specific” abilities aren’t available where and when the player chooses them but only when the character touches a special object before this was various ‘Power Caps’ this time it’s a ‘Power Flower’.  There’s also the Feather which enables Mario to fly.  Finally there are ‘Character Caps’ which are (obviously) unique to the NDS – with these characters can take the form of other characters (in appearance and ability at least) mid-level, these caps can be knocked off the character and must then be re-attained.

This is a Nintendo DS launch title.  Certain aspects were required in order to advertise the handheld’s true capabilities.  Touch control is one and wireless multiplayer is another.  As you know by now SM64DS has both!  Only one cartridge is required; everyone else can join via downloaded play.  Well, when I say everyone else I actually mean three other players.  Basically four different coloured Yoshis are dumped onto a map and have to battle it out for stars, to add variety the maps also contain Mario, Luigi and Wario Caps which means a variety of attacks in order to steal those stars.  It’s all great fun but more maps would have been nice.

Everything about the original SM64 is as you’d expect from a platformer.  Levels were filled with complicated jumps, traps and obstacles as well as numerous enemies.  All this remains the same for the NDS remake but with a special added extra: mini-games.  These said minigames are accessible in a room within Peach’s castle but can only be unlocked by catching rabbits in the main game.


The Nintendo DS could probably have presented Mario 64 DS with slightly better graphics but the fact of the matter is it’s a remake and an improved one at that, as the texturing and polygon counts are clearly superior to Super Mario 64.  Yes there are bugs, errors and graphical glitches but that’s to be expected really.



The audio is mostly the same as before but with a little bit of remixing here and there.  The soundtrack is upbeat as per usual with Mario games.  Peach now opens the game with a fully voiced introduction, something entirely uncommon with Nintendo and phasing effects have been added to emulate a multi-speaker environment with the console’s stereo speakers.

Overall Score & Replayability

Well, what we have is an enhanced remake of a Nintendo classic.  Graphically this is a better version, acoustically this is a better version and in terms of replayability this is a much superior version – the extra stars and extra characters mean more of a challenge and for those that choose it much longer gameplay.  Is this a perfect game?  No, the controls just take too much getting used to, but all-in-all this is definitely one of the best Mario experiences remade for an altogether richer experience… and it works.