Nintendo needs to make a "true" Super Mario 64 Switch sequel
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Super Mario 64 was the first 3D Mario platformer, one of the launch titles for the Nintendo 64 in 1996. Even today, it still stands as one of the best Mario games created. It's time for Nintendo to make a "true" sequel to Super Mario 64, a sequel, not just a remake or port.
Super Mario Odyssey pays tribute to Super Mario 64, but how about a "true" Super Mario 64 sequel?
This was Mario's first foray into a 3D open world environment, when you look back at this game, it's a far more pure platforming experience. In Super Mario 64, Mario can throw a punch for the first time, along with new jumps - the double/triple jumps, backflips and long jumps which have become a staple in most of his subsequent adventures to rescue Princess Peach from Bowser.
In most of Mario's 3D adventures since Super Mario 64, there always seemed to have new abilities or allies added in so it wasn't just Mario by himself on his journey. If Nintendo is going to make a "true" Super Mario 64 sequel, they should revisit keep things simple and have Mario without a major add-on or gimmick. It's been two decades but SM64 still has an excellent gameplay mechanism. It's time to go back to basics. It's unfortunate that Super Mario 64 2 had never made it off the drawing board.
In Super Mario Sunshine for the GameCube, Mario was equipped with F.L.U.D.D. (Flash Liquidizer Ultra Dousing Device) - an anthropomorphic water pack that seemed to come with around 500 different nozzles that can shoot water in a variety of ways. For the most part you will be using the water pack including to hover over distances, Mario can't do a long jump here! Also, Sunshine has primarily a resort-type feel with a totally different environment, it just doesn't feel like you are playing something in the Mario universe.
In the Super Mario Galaxy duology for the Wii, he had Luma, a star-like creature that hides in Mario's cap, he gives Mario a spin attack that can attack some enemies. Unfortunately now that he has Luma to do an attack, he lost his ability to punch, and Luma also enhances Mario's jump ability by allowing to do a secondary jump while in the air. Overall, the Galaxy games play pretty closely to Super Mario 64 despite level design that had more linearity.
F.L.U.D.D. in Super Mario Sunshine and Luma in Super Mario Galaxy
Super Mario 3D Land for the 3DS and Super Mario 3D World for the Wii U see the return of the sidescroller power-ups like the Super Mushroom, Fire Flower and Tanooki Leaf. In these two games, it marks an end to the "open world" concept and they play more like 2D games. Unless he has a power-up, Mario can just run and jump - it did feel refreshing that the gameplay was more simplistic and basic. However, the stages are all linear, where you have to reach the flagpole at the end. The stages simply don't have the depth compared to what is found in previous 3D games.
Now we're onto Super Mario Odyssey for the Nintendo Switch, in the intro, Mario's cap was destroyed by Bowser, and we are introduced to Cappy, a hat-like creature that is able to transform into Mario's cap, along with numerous other types of hats! Mario and Cappy are partnering together, and Mario's able to throw Cappy at enemies to capture them - the new mechanism in this game.
Mario and Cappy partnering together in Super Mario Odyssey
It was a great gesture that Super Mario Odyssey paid tribute to Super Mario 64, and it often played like it. However, Odyssey felt more like a treasure hunt or collect-a-thon at times, with random moons popping up all over the place. The capture mechanism also completely changes the way how the platforming experience.
For Mario's next 3D adventure, it will be nice to circle back and with the game design in the same vein as Super Mario 64 - in other words, a true Super Mario 64 sequel. Mario doesn't need to be equipped with an add-on or gimmick at all times. It's great that Nintendo has been creative coming up with unique companions for Mario and they were all great in different ways, but the simplicity that was found in Super Mario 64 is something they should return to. A 3D platformer that is basic - just running, jumping and punching.
The "sequel" to Super Mario 64 be a gimmick free experience and should play like Super Mario 64. No more saving yourself while jumping in the air using F.L.U.D.D., Luma, Cappy or similar pals. If Mario is falling down a cliff, he's going to fall, no more backup plan.
Outside of the mechanics, perhaps it's time for Nintendo to come up with a new plot as well. In 2019, it just feels really outdated and old fashioned to have Princess Peach captured again by Bowser. Perhaps they can come up with a new story and bring back old foes like Wario, or even go a step further and develop a character like Waluigi as well.
Super Mario 64 was by no means a perfect game, there were many challenges - mainly the camera, but developers have largely refined the in-game camera so it has become a smooth gameplay experience.
An enhanced port of the original game (pranked by SM128C on April Fools Day 2019) would be nice to have, but a "true" Super Mario 64 sequel for the Nintendo Switch is something that is long overdue, it's definitely time for Mario to return to his 3D platforming roots.