Nintendo 64's Super Mario 64
The Fifth Generation of gaming was already in full swing by 1996. Sega had released their ill fated and largely forgotten Saturn, while Sony had begun their juggernaut PlayStation line. The Nintendo 64 was the final home console to launch in the Fifth Gen, but it launched like an Apollo rocket.
Super Mario 64 and Wave Race 64 were the two North American launch titles. Wave Race 64 was a critical success; it displayed the console's power and multiplayer capabilities quite well. But the real gem, of course, is the timeless classic, Super Mario 64. Mario was at the helm of the new system, and he was indeed a fitting captain.
The Nintendo 64 was, for commercial gaming, the first foray into the use of the treasured analog stick that we've all become so acquainted with. Mario's world was reimagined as a lush, three-dimensional environment that would become an industry standard. One could even go as far as to make a bold claim: Super Mario 64 is the greatest launch title of a video game console.
First, it must be asked, what defines a true, well put together launch title?
A launch title is likely the first thing you'll play for a console. It creates the first impression for the gamer, and just for that, it automatically holds a legacy for future generations. Super Mario 64 defined what the Nintendo 64 was all about. Vast (at the time) expansive environments, presented in many colors. three-dimensional graphics with complete free roaming in any direction. The analog stick as an essential element to nearly every controller. Almost every major platformer on the Nintendo 64 and even future generations took some sort of inspiration from Super Mario 64.
With its hub world, three-dimensional graphics, layered courses, hidden items, free roaming controls, and perfect dose of nostalgia-inducing music, Super Mario 64 defined what was to come on the Nintendo 64, made it an immediately sought after system, created trends that future developers would follow, and created a powerful legacy that lasts even to this day.
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