Memory Pak: Looking into the light in Super Mario 64

My dad used to tell me that when I was young, the world was in black and white. For a long time, I didn’t think to question it; after all, every bit of historical evidence that we had from the 1950s and before was also in black and white. Unfortunately, I grew up and realized that my dad, as all dads usually do, was teasing me. Still, I could never envision the past as anything other than sepia tones, even as I pored over colored photos and videos from bygone eras.

I think if I ever have children, I will try to tell you that the third dimension was invented in 1996 by Shigeru Miyamoto. Super Mario 64 was one of my first games, and it blew me away: Mario could walk in almost any direction and you could even turn the camera around him like some kind of Spielberg video game. Sure, Mario’s first 3D adventure wasn’t the first 3D game, although exactly what game has that title is debated, so I’ll just say it was sometimes in the early 90’s, but it was the first time that many people experienced the new Z-axis in a video game.

"Reporting live, this has been the Lakitu Bros."
“Reporting live, this has been Lakitu Bros.” (Image: IntroGameOver)

Back then, 3D was so new that even developers didn’t know what to do with it. The idea of ​​a player-controllable camera is so ubiquitous these days that we barely registered it, but in Super Mario 64, it wasn’t just a passive view of the player, it was Lakitu, the villain-turned-cameraman (and occasional headlight holder). output) from the Mario series. It was a lovely little addition to make this new idea of ​​a character tracking camera easier for players, but I’ll be honest I’m glad I took him out so quickly. There was always something a little creepy about a turtle with a camera following him around everywhere.

But the best moment of Super Mario 64, for my money, was possible only with the addition of a new axis: the secret sky level that could only be accessed by looking up at the ceiling.

Seconds before you look at the light and burn your retinas
Seconds before you look at the light and burn your retinas (Image: GamerJGB)

For most of the 1990s, when game news was spread by the twin forces of magazines and hearsay, the playground was the ideal place. A kid promised him that his uncle who works for Nintendo had heard of a new Zelda game where you could play as Epona; Another would swear he read in a magazine that if you pressed START three hundred and fifty two times, you could unlock Luigi in Pokémon Red and Blue.

It was difficult to separate fact from fiction, and even more difficult when the only way to confirm these rumors was to own the game and replicate the exact conditions. Maybe you only pressed START two hundred and fifty times? You lost count in the middle.

Peach's Castle in Super Mario Odyssey: You'd think Mario had already learned not to look at the sun
Peach’s Castle in Super Mario Odyssey: You’d think Mario had already learned not to look at the sun (Image: IGN)

The Super Mario 64 trick of standing at the entrance to Peach Castle and looking up was easy to test, and it worked instantly, cementing it as one of those great secrets of all time. In fact, it was so timeless and memorable that it made its way into both Super Mario Sunshine, where the hack is used to access Noki Bay, and Super Mario Odyssey, where entering Peach’s Castle and looking up at the sky gives you a Power. Moon. . The last example is one of those things that everybody I tried it instantly, as soon as they discovered Peach’s Castle in the game, and the fact that it works is like a jolt of nostalgia that also brings us back to the first time it worked.

That secret sky level itself isn’t particularly memorable except for letting Mario fly in full 3D, but there’s no moment that shows the new dimension like the brilliant realization that you can, for the first time, look at. until. Nintendo has always been great at the unexpected – I’ll almost definitely write about it in Phantom Hourglass with the map at some point (if you know, you know) And there is a reason why there were so many rumors about their games.

Wow, Peach, I love what you've done with the place.
Wow, Peach, I love what you’ve done with the place. (Image: Reddit: u / Mark041891)

We knew, even when we were kids, that Nintendo games were full of secrets, surprises, and hidden tricks. From Warp Whistles and the evil Wave Race commentator to Chris Houlihan’s Zelda Room, many of these tricks were found accidentally when we were kids or the result of experimentation, and the answer to the question “I wonder what would happen if I did this? …? “

The fact that Nintendo has always encouraged that question shows that they are still children at heart, in the absolute best way. Rewarding curiosity is one of the ways their games bring us so much joy and why people still find little details in Breath of the Wild four years after its release.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to look at the sun, in case it opens up a new level where I can fly.


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