Is Super Mario 64 STILL the apotheosis of the movement in the history of video games?

Is Super Mario 64 STILL the apotheosis of the movement in the history of video games?

Wait a minute, is the movement in Super Mario 64 still the best ever seen in video games?

Load the game and find yourself at the entrance to Peach's Castle, with the shush of that distant waterfall. The fluttering of birds in the trees. That green knoll and that blue sky and a specific feeling of calm. Then here's your first triple jump, wah! HOOHoo! , and then YAhoo! And at that point it's all a: or and a gape and I seriously think this single movement could be the best and most fulfilling thing in my Switch library. The best in video games? Certainly the best thing that can be done with a bipedal avatar and a controller in hand with Mario flying so high and so fast that the camera reaches out to keep up with him. Then he pivots and bends, arms out, arms back too fast to keep track of it by splitting the air with the sound of two swoosh before landing with a gymnast-worthy finish. With triumph and joy. Sure. Super Mario 64. Always perfectly animated, calibrated and timed, and you haven't even tried the Long Jump yet. You haven't even heard Dire Dire Docks yet! After all, what are the other games for?

I think many have played the 3D All-Stars Collection finishing one title at a time but I enjoyed a four (I also include Odyssey) experience of Mario concentrate : yes please, all served in one go. Like triple jump tapas! Moving from one game to another with their clearer and more prominent differences. And played in this way they modify each other slightly, like an album played completely in sequence. And taking into account everything and every single jump for me Mario 64 still seems to be the G.O.A.T., the best of all time.

The balance of each element just seems perfect. In Mario 64 Mario's jumps are exhilarating as fast and incredibly high as they are (I was watching Let's Play on and Aoife got an oh my God on the first triple jump), with enough space and zenith suspension to transmit convincing sensations and a strong sense of freedom. But there is enough gravity to be drawn to the bottom and to convey the feeling of weight and importance of each platform section. In Mario 64 there is simply so much fun in Mario's speed and weight, the simple and pure joy of movement. And that must be the point surely, right? Motion management?

Watch on YouTube. All this also determines the obstacles of Mario 64. There are those platforms that swing and those that rotate at full speed and from which, in some ways, you have to free yourself. Or those pointless mini-pyramids on which you have to run until you stop exactly on the top. Everything is geared towards conveying very pleasant sensations of weight and movement more than a prepackaged show or gorgeous contextual animations that make the platformer something fair, honest and elementary in its pleasure.

You might think I'm a little bit slow in this case but I also realized a new thing: I always thought that the central thrill of a platformer was in the push and pull between pressing, holding the button for jump and control in the air but many of the movements in Mario 64, the back flip, the side flip, the triple jump are not even modified by the time of pressing the button, they are already at maximum power! All you can do is evaluate the space properly and then refine your landing.

Take Mario 64's Long Jump, a very powerful movement that often has to be held in check before it's even started. . Really, it's a kind of mini sky diving jump, the air suddenly gets thicker with the analog that in a very short time goes from one possible future to another: Forward-Back-Forward-Forward THEN BACK panicked like Pierce Brosnan with a flight stick. And I love the way Mario is ripped from the earth, his arms spinning as he whizzes away in a short arc beautifully softened by our control. So flexible that it can hold it so much that it keeps it suspended in place, in the air but as if held between two tugs. So flexible that you can do a Long Jump backwards. Or forward-backward, if you know what I mean (and if you've played Mario 64 you surely know).

It's the same for the back flip or side flip or triple jump. So despite all the revolutionary that comes with analog and 360-degree motion, when you're in the air there's still a kind of 2D title purity. How far forward, how far back? It's been more than twenty years now and making Mario pass accurately inside a hole after a back flip Ha-Ha! he hasn't aged even a day yet. These moves convey the feeling of being powerful and with a considerable specific weight but at the same time alive and characterized by absolute precision. Like a foot pressing on a car pedal.

And yes, I really understand the protests of people who would prefer a completely free room over Mario 64's sometimes awkward first attempt but I also think something is lost with the subsequent cameras that have assumed a more distant and elevated perspective. They seem to have lost some of that involvement and manual nature of a closer, lower camera. So low that there is a whiplash to the sky when Mario pirouettes from the top of a tree that for me reaches the height of a Galaxy Slingshot Star while maintaining that elastic touch (the point!) .

Watch on YouTube. I think it's important that Mario 64 is not only responsive but also playful and expressive and swinging. The posts are elements to be screwed onto by sliding downwards. Crouching is just a potential pirouette. Jumps are not only used to aim an area and land but are movements to be varied in mid-air or to be converted into a dive that then leads to a somersault landing and a breathtaking run. And in all of this there is an animation grace that still feels 'real' between that slightly dragged left knee in the second jump or the unfolding in the triple jump. Here is a low-poly movement magic as impressive as Lara climbing a handstand with a handstand.

Anyway. Remember that Twitter thread, about all the little elements that allow Madeline's movement in Celeste to convey such positive feelings? Obviously not. You probably don't read and write about Celeste as much as I do. But hell what would I do for something the same for Super Mario 64. Go deep into all the little secrets behind control and movement.

At least with the 3D All Stars Collection I can play spot the differences. I can take pictures of jumps along the brick walls of Peach's Castle to better compare their heights (the second jump is higher than a brick when running!). I can play with the camera settings noticing the changes, I can obsessively record clips of Odyssey's Mario triple jump in his retro Mario 64 costume to better compare it with the real Mario 64. Mario's scream is less triumphant, height minor and doesn't have that stylish sound (There's a much more fantastic hiss in Mario 64!).

Now the point is, I actually love Odyssey's Mario. I love his accuracy and speed and I realize that his jumps are more of a connection in the sense of a zig-zagging combo allowed by Cappy's mid-air direction changes. I love the fact that there is the possibility to do a sproing, a jump after a dunk on the ground and I love the way in which little what if's of insights are rewarded: if you jump as soon as Mario grabs a spinning Cappy here he spins blatantly straight up.

And I love Sunshine's Mario, even if it's a little hesitant and wobbly when you stop. But the SPLAC 3000 conveys the feeling of being a flexible extension of a movement that is now literally fluid, allowing those particular jumps linked to the "jet" or transforming a dive into a slide on the water. And I also really like the noise Mario makes when he runs, almost like tap shoes.

Watch on YouTube. Then there's Galaxy, the chapter that some people have saved up for Christmas (I thought Christmas was for Zelda?), A fact that I imagine witnesses just how magical and majestic it is considered. However, I have never really played it the first time and although I may appreciate Galaxy as a toy box full of surprise and beauty, of paths designed around precise and focused ideas, I pull back every time Galaxy's Mario Long Jump. it switches off immediately upon arrival. Or when he falls like lead when he runs over a precipice or rotates to immobility with his attacks. And it's not just the fact that the animation and timing of the Triple Leap gives the feeling of being flat (the acceleration too constant as if being hoisted by invisible wires) I don't even like the Squee! , the sounds that accompany it. Like that doing in the song Say My Name! (and it took me years to accept it).

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I know this is all subjective, I cannot claim that Mario 64 is the best Mario 3D overall. It doesn't have the sparkling variety of Galaxy or the eccentricity of Sunshine / Odyssey. And certainly you can't turn into a fork or climb to the top of a skyscraper but without stars and Cappy's transformations in terms of purity, just jump by jump, I appreciate more the sensations transmitted by Mario than Mario 64. In that title Mario is the game. Thank God they spent so much time on his movement and not on the levels, because something about speed and weight still feels natural, convincing, true. Like a ball thrown in one hand. A yo-yo. A grace you have a chance to play.

But maybe you play video games for something else. For systems that propose either strategy or storytelling. Or maybe just for different movements! Maybe you don't primarily use Corrin in Smash for his harmonious style or you don't think so much about Zora Link's movements. Maybe not go back to that Flash version of Mirror's Edge 2D (may rest in peace) for years just for the way Faye snaps and rolls. Or don't spend hours watching Sakuga MAD dance videos and anime compilations. What I mean is that maybe the streams of movement in your mind are being marked by different things, present in other games, brought to life and shaped by something different. I'm simply happy to have Super Mario 64 handy on Switch. With that double swoosh in the Triple Leap.

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