GoNintendo Thought: Should Nintendo tweak Super Mario 64 for a Switch release?

Messing with nostalgia

We're keeping the Mario theme going strong this week with a third feature on the mustached mascot. Today we dive into a touchy subject about porting one of Mario's greatest adventures. As always, thanks for reading.


Word on the street is that Nintendo is cooking up a Switch package they've dubbed internally as Super Mario All-Stars 2. This collection will include Super Mario Sunshine, Super Mario Galaxy, and the 3D one that started it all, Super Mario 64. Without the groundwork laid by Super Mario 64, who knows what the rest of the 3D Mario series would be like. Hell, Super Mario 64 was hugely influential to 3D game design in the industry as a whole! The game is an absolute icon, and remains a shining achievement of development.

If Nintendo does indeed bring Super Mario 64 to the Switch, there are no doubt long-time fans who'll happily dive into the game for a stroll down memory lane. Along with those players, there will be newcomers who've never had the chance to check out Mario's 3D debut. An interesting conundrum comes when you think of those two audiences as a singular group. With Super Mario 64, how do you make sure you don't strip the nostalgia old players have while still appealing to the sensibilities and expectations of modern gamers?

Nintendo has actually taken both approaches in the past. Super Mario 64 was brought over to the DS all the way back in 2004, and they decided to include some tweaks and new content. A few of the changes were pretty superfluous, with a bunch of mini-games thrown in, and a local multiplayer experience that let you take control of Luigi, Wario, and Yoshi. There were also some changes to how the in-game camera worked, allowing you to manipulate your view with virtual buttons, and control your character with the stylus or the DS wrist strap. All in all, a number of changes that were sometimes necessary, and other times throwaway.

Then you have the release of Super Mario 64 on the Virtual Console, which hit both the Wii and Wii U. That was pretty much a straightforward port of the original game, providing you with the purest Super Mario 64 experience you could get without firing up an actual N64. Yes, the game did run and look better on those platforms, but outside of that, you were getting the same game people got in 1996.

Again, if rumors are true, we'll have yet another way to play Super Mario 64 very soon. Seeing the game release as part of a package on Switch would be welcome indeed, but it begs the questions of what should be fixed, what should be left alone, and if new content should be added. There's no rule book for this kind of thing, and Nintendo will have to approach the situation very carefully. Diving back into players' formative gaming moments is a dangerous thing, and tampering with those memories can rile people up in an instant.

When it came to the first Super Mario All-Stars, every game in the package got a complete visual overhaul. The were given the Super Nintendo treatment, so everything had a lot more color, looked smoother, was more detailed overall, and certainly ran better. With that said, there was no option to play those classics with the visuals they originally had. You either had to deal with the revamped graphics, or stick to the NES and original cartridges.

Seeing as how Nintendo reworked the visuals and smoothed out gameplay in Super Mario All-Stars, it stands to reason they'd do the same with Super Mario All-Stars 2. I think everyone is on-board with the idea of making sure the game runs as smooth as silk. While it might be shocking for some to see the game play without framerate stutters or slowdown, I don't think anyone would say the change was for the worse. Having the game play smoothly from start to finish would make for a better experience overall.

Now when it comes to visuals, what in the world do you do? Do you just run with the original style of the game and show it off in high def? Super Mario 64 looked better on the Wii than N64 by a mile, and it looked better still on the Wii U than Wii. Making the jump to Switch could certainly dial things up a bit again, but we have to keep in mind the law of diminishing returns. If you're just going with a straightforward visual port, by and large, things will look pretty comparable between the Wii U and Switch versions.

Does Nintendo head in the direction of the original Super Mario All-Stars and give the game a complete visual overhaul? What visual style do you go in with that? Do you make something that looks closer to the style of Mario in Super Mario Sunshine or Super Mario Galaxy? Do you completely rework textures for an wholly unique appearance? Do you give players a bunch of different filters to apply that will certainly be noticeable, but aren't as ambitious as a reskin? It's a tough question, and whatever Nintendo decides to go with will certainly draw the ire of some fans.

The considerations continue when you move into the game's camera. The camera system was absolutely revolutionary for the time, but by today's standards it seems barbaric. The camera will seem too limited for newcomers who will compare the game to titles of the last 15 years. A revamped camera system could work wonders for some portions of the game, but it could end up causing major headaches in others. Super Mario 64 was built around its landmark camera system, and opening things up to a more free-moving camera could end up breaking the experience in ways that are hard to consider.

Should music get a bump up in quality as well? Could we have higher-quality versions of the original tunes, or is it time to completely rework the soundtrack? Should we have the same compositions with new instruments, or remixes of those classic tracks? Just as the game itself is revered for its gameplay, the soundtrack is held in equal regard. It may have used a rather limited set of samples, but the tunes we got are absolutely timeless. Would going all-out on a soundtrack revamp feel too out-of-place for the rest of the game?

There are even people out there who'll be upset if Nintendo goes in to squash some bugs from the classic title. If particular tricks don't work as they used to, and glitches can't be exploited as they've been all these years, a smaller subset of players might not get the same enjoyment out of the game. I think most would agree that the game's bug/glitch collection should be addressed to make for a better experience, but you never know what you'll miss until it's gone!

I can tell you one thing for sure. I wouldn't want to be in Nintendo's position when addressing a potential port. Walking that fine line between paying tribute to the original while bringing it up-to-speed for today's players is a dangerous, dangerous journey to take. That said, I'm not just going to drone on about Nintendo's woes and leave it at that. It's only fair that I offer up my own opinions on what I think should happen. I'll break each section down with quick bulletpoints.

Graphics: Leave the visuals as-is, but obviously take the high-res route. Throw in filters that change the style/mood of the game, but don't give me something that looks like Sunshine or beyond. The retro visuals are part of the game's charm.

Audio: While I would be curious to hear remixes, I think a higher quality audio experience with the original tracks is what I'd most enjoy. Those songs are forever ingrained in my memory, and hearing them in higher quality interests me more than remixes that could change the vibe.

Controls: While I know it could cause some major troubles, I think it's worth the effort to go in and tweak the camera. It doesn't have to be up to snuff with today's games, but it can certainly be a more modern approach overall. I think there's a good middle ground to find.

Bugs: To tell you the truth, I wouldn't mind one bit if the game retained all of its original issues. Some of those made the game more enjoyable!

Tech specs: I'm all for having the game running at 60fps in 1080p. That said, I don't think a true widescreen mode would work, and could actually end up ruining some of the game. Just throw in a healthy selection of borders and I'm good to go.

Again, those are just my suggestions for what I would like. Those picks may be completely off-base for other players, and that's totally fine. This is exactly why I wouldn't want to be Nintendo! If they really are bringing the game to Switch, these are all things they have to consider and then make a final call on. That's a big deal for any classic title, but when it's a historic, monumental game-changer like Super Mario 64, the stakes are that much higher.

To be honest, I think the best solution in the end is to make almost every new feature an option, instead of a default. Let players mix and match what they want. Old songs and new visuals, or new songs, old visuals. Classic 4:3 or widescreen with borders. Whatever additions and changes are made should be up to the player, which leaves the most wiggle room to make a majority of people happy. Now making sure the mix-and-match approach doesn't break the game in new ways would most likely be a programming nightmare, but I believe the end result would make for a better public reception overall.

Lots of things to consider, lots of fires to put out. Nintendo has their work cut out for them if they're taking on this port. The thing is, if any game in Nintendo's history is worth the trouble, it's Super Mario 64. It was, and still is an unbelievable achievement for gaming as whole, and the impact it made ripples through the industry to this day. I'd say that makes it more than worth the extra effort. Mario certainly deserves the royal treatment for his 35th anniversary, and I have a feeling Nintendo agrees.

Categories: Consoles, Feature
Tags: n64, mario, switch


Wed Apr 01 20 06:38am
Rating: 1 (Updated 2 times)

I’d rather a full remake, rather than an upscale, using Odyssey level visuals.

N64 graphics are ugly no matter how much you upscale.
It might look ok on the Switches small screen but N64 games look awful on a large TV nowadays. Sure many play well today, SM64 included, but their visuals haven’t aged well.

They’re will probably be the argument that “a remake would ruin the original”. No it won’t. The original will always be there in its original form.

The original will always be there in its original form.

Except on the Switch.

Wed Apr 01 20 03:07pm
(Updated 1 time)

It would still be a port or an emulation. It’ll never be the original. The original will always be there on N64. A remake, remaster, or rerelease won’t change that.

There’s a good chance ARM isn’t the best for emulating the N64 anyways so I wouldn’t hold out for N64 games on Switch like we have NES and SNES.

Wed Apr 01 20 05:01pm
(Updated 1 time)

So you're telling me the Switch can only get N64 FPSs? (Turok, Turok 2, Doom 64)

Wed Apr 01 20 05:29pm
(Updated 1 time)

When did I say that? Christ!

They ported Turok and others to Switch. They’re not emulated. The NES and SNES games you get with NSO are emulated. If you don’t understand the difference between porting a game to a system and emulating a game on a system then go do some research before you attempt to put words in my mouth.

There are home brew n64 emulators for Switch but pretty garbage performance right now. Is it possible? Probably. Is it more difficult to get quality performance compared to NES and SNES games? Absolutely. The n64 is notoriously unfriendly to emulation.

Yes they definitely could. As long as they release the original alongside with it. Or even release it in N64Online a the same time. Now if the supposed Mario 64 re-release is part of a package as some have predicted, then I doubt it will be anything else than a upscaled re-released.

Wed Apr 01 20 07:38am
(Updated 1 time)

Full remake, definitely. Go for the whole Crash N.Sane Trilogy/Spyro Reignited treatment. Odyssey quality graphics for Sunshine and Galaxy too.

Speaking of Crash/Spyro, I really hope these will be bundles rather than individual releases, either a trilogy of 64/Sunshine/Galaxy or two packs of 64/Sunshine and Galaxy/Galaxy 2 (if they do Galaxy 2 at all). If Activision can do it for Crash/Spyro then Nintendo can do it with Mario. Those trilogies were even budget priced at launch!

IF DONE RIGHT this could be very special. My gut worries it won't be done right, but I guess I will see. . . .

I have deep nostalgia for Super Mario 64 since I bought it and an N64 on launch day (I still remember my dad hemming and hawing when the register rang up the total of ~$275). I've played all the ports mentioned above (and actually really appreciated the DS version doing it's weird multiple characters thing and extra stars).

That's why I would love it if they, like others have pointed out, go for a Crash or Spyro styled remake of the graphics. If they COULD pull off a Halo Anniversary style remake where hitting ZR or whatever seamlessly swapped between the old graphics and new, that'd be fine too, but honestly I want them to go crazy with this. I still have my Wii U plugged in if I ever wanted to just play a nice port.

The real thing we need to address is that Sunshine is the worst 3D Mario game and that they should fix all bugs, and frankly, maybe do the DS thing of adding in some original content because it SUCKED having to get practically all the shines in one level in order to progress (as opposed to 64 where every couple of stars felt it unlocked a new door somewhere). The game's not awful, but it certainly needed more time in the oven and now they have the time to revamp it. I hope they do. It was a good game.

The Galaxy games are perfect and just need updated graphics.

It just came out recently that the smoke behind Mario when he gets burned is glitched and doesn’t look quite right and it is an easy fix In the games code. I’m not sure how u think widescreen would mess anything up it works fine on emulators

Do it like Mario Galaxy 2 where they remade Block Fortress in Galaxy 2's engine and updated the music. I wouldn't mind if they still go for a slightly blocky look for nostalgia sake.

They already did a remake of SM64. At this point, they just can port the classic.

Ever since that Throwback Galaxy in Super Mario Galaxy 2 I've been dying to see the rest of the game look that good! I'm all for a complete remake with new graphics.

Also, if we're going to talk the DS port, don't forget that it had all new graphics, The character models looked better, especially Mario and Bowser. There were all new and more detailed textures! And all four players were playable in single player, giving you lots of new options on how to tackle certain objectives! Not to mention 30 new stars! I'd like to see the DS content implemented into a game with better controls!

So yeah, I guess they certainly won't make everyone happy! Ha! But hey, no matter what, if a Super Mario All-Stars 2 really IS coming, I'll be thrilled no matter what it is.
...as long as it's not just an SNES ROM on a Wii disc. I'm looking at YOU, anniversary collection!

Given these choices I'd choose a full remake of Mario 64. I have several options for playing the original already. But a remake could fix some fundamental problems that exist in the game no matter how upscaled it is.

But what I REALLY want is a "Super Mario 64 2". In new and modern graphics, bring Mario back to Peach's painting-filled castle. Make it lush and detailed and even more explorable. And have the levels be all new levels. Just have it feel like Mario 64, but with many of the gameplay advancements we've seen in Mario Odyssey.

Give me a full remake in the Odyssey engine and art style. Ive played the original so many times already and the one on the DS so many times already, so give me a reason to care that it's on the switch.

-update the graphics
-update the controls
-fix the janky camera
-maybe add some new content

Wed Apr 01 20 09:35pm
(Updated 2 times)

Mario 64 having its own unique graphics for all the characters and items is part of its charm, I'm really not in the mood to see the game homogenized by giving Mario and Bowser and Goombas and Koopas and everyone else the same style of models we've been using since the Gamecube era

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