The Super Mario Bros series part 2: a look at the 3D games

When it comes to the 2D Mario games, SMB1 on NES through SMW on SNES, my opinions tend to fall mostly inline with the mainstream gamer audience as a whole. However, things diverge quite a bit when it comes to the 3D games.

My first exposure to 3D gaming in general was a Pseudo-3D games on the NES called 3-D Battles of the World Runner. This was one of those games that I first played at a friend’s house then picked up a couple times later from rental stores. Much like the modern day 3DS and the contemporary SMS 3D glasses at the time, this game relied on a 3D gimmick that used those red and blue glasses to trick the gamer into seeing a 3D image. I tried playing this game with the glasses and 3D effect turned on and it didn’t really do much for me.

My next exposure to 3D gaming was in my junior high computer lab. I got to experience a host of 3D games running on modern technology, at the time, including Duke Nukem 3D, Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, MechWarrior 2, Heretic, and a few others I forgot the names to. In the interim 3d and VR had begun to take the tech industry by storm. Sadly, I must confess that even to this very day I have yet to experience VR in any shape or form. I am strongly interested in picking up a PS4 VR headset at some point in time, but I fear it will be much like my acquiring of a Sega CD, too late in the game to experience it when it was right to do so. Still 3D gaming and VR was all the rage in the mid-1990’s. SO much so we as a society had to endure the likes of the Lawn Mower Man, Virtual Boy, and that terrible VR scene in Double Dragon, among other pointless references including Virtual Bart.

Once I walked into K-Mart and put my hands up to that brand new kiosk playing Super Mario 64 on the brand new N64 machine my mind was blown. Unlike many gamers at the time, I missed out on Star Fox and similar early 3D type games because I had a Sega Genesis at that time and was more impressed with Mortal Kombat and Shinobi games. Hey what can I say, I was 12 and those games had scantily clad digital images of boobs, Star Fox looked worse than Lego’s. Thus, once I first laid eyes on Super Mario 64 I was legitimately blown away. I hadn’t experienced anything like that before, computer, arcade or elsewhere.

Super Mario 64

I played the hell out of this game. It was so mind blowing that even though I bought a PS1 and and N64 the exact same day, my 18th birthday with my hard earned paycheck, I spent easily 2-3 times as much time exploring that vast (for the time) 3D world. Much like Super Mario World this game has become an absolute favorite of mine. I replay it more than almost any other game, SMW notwithstanding. I have also owned it on multiple systems including the original N64 cart, the DS remake, the Wii and Wii U virtual console and I even have the rom on my laptop. Don’t judge me, I have given Nintendo more than enough money for this game, if they were ever to re-lease it on Steam or a similar service you can be sure I will buy it again.

I spent a lot of time playing this game in my late teens to early 20’s and on to today. Super Mario 64 had been my absolute favorite 3D platforming game for a very long time. I haven’t really enjoyed many of the other 3D Mario games since so let’s move on.

Super Mario Sunshine

I will just say I have a love-hate relationship with this game. I understand from a fanboy perspective why this game is beloved. However, I just couldn’t get into it no matter how much I tried. The problem is I absolutely adore the GameCube, to the point I sometimes claim it to be my favorite game console ever. I can go back and forth but it easily a contender. I just didn’t like this game. It just happened to come out at a time when I was getting into Playstation following a very devoted teen years with Sega at the forefront so for me I was losing interest in the more kid-friendly Nintendo stuff. Even though I did have this game early on, I hardly ever played it. I preferred Smash Bros, or even Sonic Adventure DX despite all the hate I got online for having that opinion. In the end I still enjoyed the GameCube thoroughly but this game just didn’t do it for me. I didn’t like the tropical island mechanic, or repeating the jumping into paintings to travel to the levels. I felt it was trying to hard to be the next revolutionary Super Mario 64 yet it was doing all the wrong things. Sadly, I see the games potential and have given it a second, and third, chance over the years yet it continues to be one I can’t enjoy nearly as much as I thought I should.

Super Mario Galaxy 1 & 2

I will keep this short as I picked up both games the same day. One I got used for the Wii, to play on my Wii U, the other I downloaded the discounted $10 virtual console version also for Wii U. I skipped these games when they were new and you can guess why. I HATE motion controls. But that wasn’t what did it for me. I just didn’t care for the running around upside down on broken pieces of levels. I thought it was just a strange gimmick to hide the hard ware limits of the GameCube 2.0 Waggle Edition. It was obvious to me that the developers chose to use very small, limited environments to trick the gamers into thinking the graphics were better than they actually where by throwing all the power into smaller levels. They were somewhat fun games and despite the limits of the machine don’t look at all bad, especially the art direction. I just couldn’t get into running around on floating orbs. I tried watching some Let’s Play’s to see if the later levels would appeal to me but I got bored and gave up. I am NOT saying these are bad games, just that I, personally, couldn’t get into them. I wish I could but they weren’t fun for me and that’s more important to me than following the mob.

Super Mario 3D World

I will say it, this is *the* game that pushed me into buying a Wii U. Even today it’s the only game for the console I have clocked more than an hour into, not counting virtual console or eshop titles. All I can say is that this felt like a true sequel to Super Mario 64 despite it being more linear and having a fixed camera. I can see why some fans, especially the ones who liked the other 3D games, didn’t enjoy this one much but I had a blast playing it. I got burned out on New Super Mario/Luigi U (I have both discs) but I can still go back and pick up the Wii U Game Pad from time to time for some Super Mario 3D World.

I am not going to discuss the handheld games because 1, their’s just too many of them and 2, I consider those entirely separate franchises to this mainline saga.

As of right now I am on the fence about whether or not I will even like Super Mario Odyssey. I know that it certainly looks more like a typical Super Mario game than some of the others and the high reviews it has garnered give me some hope. But Galaxy 1 and 2 both earned extremely high reviews too and I am afraid much of that might have been a combination of fanboyism being caught up in the success of the Wii and the hype around it so I am a little cautious since in so many ways the Switch is a lot like the Wii. Not that I am complaining, I enjoy it tremendously and have put more hours into it than I did the original Wii and am gaining on the Wii U.

Over all I can honestly say while some of these games weren’t quite my thing, none of them were terrible and I did enjoy each of them, to a degree, while I had the chance to experience them. I wish I could go back in time and like Galaxy but the reality is it just didn’t do it for me. I am willing to give Odyssey and fair shake, hopefully I will enjoy it too.

BONUS

Super Mario Super Show/Super Mario Bros: The Movie

Real quick I just wanted to share my first impressions of the Mario cartoons and feature film since I brought them up in the previous post.

I was around six or seven years old when the cartoon first aired, or at least when I first noticed it. I distinctly remember getting excited for new episodes. I was so into this show that I watched all of the versions, Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World. In fact I even watched other cartoons that featured the same voice actors just because. Around this time Mario was huge. I never did try any of the Nintendo foods but I did have a few of the Super Mario Happy Meal toys. I remember it fondly from my childhood as a result I won’t watch negative reviews of it by adults that try to critique it from grown up eyes. Leave it in the past where it belongs.

As for the movie. I have mixed feelings for this. Like many people I fell for the hype. I read about it in magazines. I got excited for the preview every time it played on TV. I should have known something was up when it showed up at the dollar theater just 2 weeks after premiere. I didn’t care I was getting to see it in theaters while it was still brand new so I was super stoked. Let me tell you like most kids my hype sunk into bewilderment once that cheesy cartoon started up. Then the movie ended. I went home and told my parents don’t bother buying a Super Nintendo get me a Sega Mario is dead to me. As a movie, I must admit, I still enjoyed it. I mean I like science fiction movies and I like dystopian futures. The movie certainly has flaws but I managed to enjoy it for what it was, but in doing so I divorced it from Mario and in my mind it was just an alternate reality movie that happened to have characters named after the Mario Bros. characters. I mean, looking back no I didn’t hate it, I did buy some of the toys from the movie, but to me it wasn’t Mario.

I guess that’s all for now.

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