Super Trendsetter 64

19 years ago, the famous fictional Italian plumber appeared in a game that launched with the gaming system known as the Nintendo 64. Super Mario 64 was the plumber’s first 3D platformer and it was also the same game that revolutionized the genre of 3D platforming. As many of you know, the Super Mario series was filled with 2D platformers before the release of the Nintendo 64 game, so the transition was something completely different and unexplored.


N64 controller
The Nintendo 64 Controller. Analog stick is in the middle and the C buttons are the 4 yellow buttons.

Games before Super Mario 64 always had a camera that was fixed, so that player could not interact with it and change the angle while playing the game. Another reason for the fixed camera was the controllers that games used did not have a secondary method of inputting direction, but in Super Mario 64, you can control both Mario and Lakitu (the camera). You can make Mario move in more than just 8 directions with the help of an analog stick. The addition of an analog stick also added newer mechanics to the platformer genre to help you explore the vast worlds and levels that come with them. Some of these newer mechanics that Mario can use with the help of the new 3d environment are flipping, triple jumping, and few other acrobatic-like moves a break-dancing kick.

A GIF of Lakitu in action with the help of a mirror.

The camera helps with exploring the different worlds as well and in Super Mario 64’s case; it definitely helps with finding the right path to get the Power Stars. With it, you can zoom in and out and look up, down, left, and right with the help of the C buttons. That camera also moves on its own in order to get the best view for the player, so you would not have any problem with funky camera angles. You see these various mechanics in many 3D games today and many people love them and have no problem with them. However, for the people in 1996 who grew up with 2D games were a bit afraid to play games that were drastically different from their sidescrollers.

Eventually, the players transitioned over and got accustomed to being able to control the camera and other developers, like Rare for example, implemented the same camera control that Super Mario 64 used in their game, Conker’s Bad Fur Day. You can find where the developers talk about it in this video here here.


To conclude, without Super Mario 64 and the bravery to transform a 2D series into a 3D one, we would not have the fluid camera control and precise character control that we see and play in a lot of the game this generation. Imagine how you favorite 3D game would differ if it was a 2D game and how its mechanics would be limited.

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