Celebrating 25 years of Super Mario 64, the father of 3D platformers

Super Mario 64 25

Super Mario 64 needs no introduction. Most of us have probably played it, and if you haven’t, go play it right now! On this day 25 years ago, June 23, 1996, Super Mario 64 was released in Japan along with Nintendo 64. This was an especially important game for Nintendo, as it spearheaded the transition from 2D to 3D visuals. It previously experimented with 3D with the Super Nintendo’s SuperFX chip for the likes of Star Fox. However, the launch of Super Mario 64 and Pilotwings 64 with Nintendo 64 truly marked the start of a new era for the company.

Super Mario 64 Bowser

Super Mario 64 did not invent 3D platforming, but it codified it and certainly helped popularize it. It was a mindblowing experience to say the least, as we had full 360° control over Mario and were introduced to one of the finest opening levels in any video game with Bob-omb Battlefield. It has some really iconic music, which was beautifully crafted by genius composer Koji Kondo. Collecting that first Power Star from defeating King Bob-omb never gets old and sets up the rest of the adventure very well. All of this is complemented by the fantastic hub world, Peach’s Castle, which serves its purpose in a memorable and grandiose manner.

My personal favorite moment is discovering one of the game’s secret stars, “The Princess’s Secret Slide,” which can be accessed early on. This was the first appearance of the iconic “Slider” track, another fantastic musical composition by Koji Kondo that has gone on to appear in other Mario titles.

Another noteworthy aspect of Super Mario 64 is that it popularized the “collectathon” gameplay style, which would be seen in Banjo-Kazooie and many other games of that era. Super Mario 64 is home to 120 unique collectable Power Stars, each with their own objectives, and mainline titles would continue with this format for several entries, including Super Mario Sunshine and Super Mario Odyssey.

Super Mario 64 Penguins

No matter how old you are, Super Mario 64 is still worth playing to this day. Some elements may not stand the test of time, but that is to be expected from an early 3D platformer. Nintendo Switch owners are able to experience this classic title with Super Mario 3D All-Stars, but only if you managed to grab it during its limited availability window. However, it seems like most stores still have plenty of stock, so I’d recommend picking the game up if you’re interested in experiencing this fantastic adventure.

Now that the game is 25 years old, what is your favorite memory of playing Super Mario 64? Let us know down in the comments below!

Jaimie Ditchfield
Freelance Writer. Work seen on GGRecon, Zelda Universe, and BackToTheGaming. Studied Games Journalism and PR for three years, and is relentless at spreading his love for The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask.