SM64: Last Impact reminds us that Nintendo should make a sequel to Super Mario 64
Nintendo has been a popular topic of discussion since finally revealing its next platform. The Switch, formerly NX, was unveiled in a three-minute long trailer that showcased the console's big screen and portable capabilities, controllers, and a few tentative games. One game tucked away in that console trailer was a new 3D Mario platformer. Naturally, that caused folks to get excited, especially since the few seconds of the game that we saw looked pretty awesome. Before this Switch Mario title appeared, though, Nintendo's mascot was the subject of conversation due to a fan-made project titled SM64: Last Impact.
I'm not one to get overly stoked about fan games. While I think they can make for cool ideas, a lot of the time they tend to fall short of expectations. Remember Sonic Fan Remix several years ago? That was less an original game and more a collection of classic stages sporting a new coat of paint. It was unoriginal and underwhelming. SM64: Last Impact, on the other hand, looks and sounds like Super Mario 64 (a fan favorite to this day), but it introduces entirely new worlds. As such, it's easily one of the most ambitious fan games to come along in recent history.
Heart and Soul
From the moment it begins, SM64: Last Impact feels like a special game. Seeing the new overworld and hearing the music start as I prepared to take control of Mario took me back to when I first I played Super Mario 64. This game genuinely looks like a product of the late '90s, like a Nintendo 64 title that would've garnered mass attention. Had this been released back in, say, 1998 as Super Mario 64 Part 2, players would've happily returned to the Mushroom Kingdom for another 3D Mario adventure.
Creator Kaze Emanuar undoubtedly put a lot of effort into creating SM64: Last Impact. The game includes a whopping 130 Power Stars spread across a number of massive levels. There are new enemy types and brand new bosses. There are also more power-ups. The original Super Mario 64, though amazing, was light in the power-up department, but SM64: Last Impact has a staggering 12 power-ups. These include the Fire Flower, Frog Suit, Bee Mushroom, Yoshi, and even F.L.U.D.D. But there are also new power-ups, such as the Flat Mushroom and Spider Mushroom.
Seeing the Fire Flower in a game like this is awesome, because that's one of the many power-ups that were sorely missed in Super Mario 64. And the inclusion of other classics like the Frog Suit and F.L.U.D.D. essentially turns SM64: Last Impact into a sort of “greatest hits” of Mario abilities. It's fun to be able to ride around on Yoshi, especially after his not-so-significant (okay, pointless) appearance in the original Super Mario 64.
It's Not Perfect, But It's Admirable Nonetheless
Unfortunately, SM64: Last Impact is far from being the perfect Super Mario 64 sequel. The controls are a bit too wonky and not nearly as precise as they were in the game that this fan project is based on. This makes for an often unwieldy experience that's not always fun. It's a shame, too, because the levels themselves are really great and just beg to be explored.
The camera is also an issue. Camera issues were common in platformers of the '90s. Even the recent Ratchet & Clank reboot suffered from a few camera stutters here and there. SM64: Last Impact, however, is plagued with far too many camera problems to be overlooked.
Sadly, the aforementioned issues have kept me from finishing SM64: Last Impact, and I doubt I'll ever play through it all. It's a bit too frustrating falling off the same ledge over and over just because the camera abruptly swings into a wall. And due to the janky controls, it's not uncommon to send Mario straight into an enemy or down a pitfall.
Regardless of those issues — and it must be stressed, they are huge issues — SM64: Last Impact is still a compelling game. It's a project that's full of ambition, but it's also teeming with admiration for the original source material. Kaze Emanuar wears his Mario fandom on his sleeve, and though his labor of love isn't always the most playable game, it's not without motivation and enthusiasm. It's also a sore reminder that we never got a Super Mario 64 Part 2, which is kind of disappointing.
Super Mario Switch
Though we didn't get a direct sequel to Super Mario 64, we still got plenty of great 3D Mario games. Super Mario Sunshine (an awesome game in its own right) was technically the successor to the Nintendo 64 classic, but upon playing it, fans discovered several elements that drastically changed the formula. Then there were the Super Mario Galaxy games, which are among Mario's finest adventures but also set themselves apart from the 1996 platformer. And of course, we can't forget about Super Mario 3D Land and Super Mario 3D World, two more amazing games that change things up significantly.
But now we know of a new Mario game — a 3D platformer filled with bright colors and endless possibilities. Will this be the Super Mario 64 sequel that Nintendo never gave us? Will it be something completely different? As a Super Mario 64 fan, I kind of hope it's the former. But as someone who's enjoyed practically every Mario platformer that's come along, I'm just really excited to get my hands on it regardless of what kind of game it ends up being, because chances are I'll have an amazing time either way.