I was doing some maintenance on my laptop today when I decided I needed something to fill the time. But what to do? I could read, but I had been doing that all morning. I could play a video game, but the one I’m playing right now is on my laptop, and I didn’t really feel like starting a new one. I could put something on Netflix, but I didn’t want to get too engrossed into anything. So I sat there for a few minutes, on the floor in the basement (that’s where the easiest network cable was), waiting for my computer to finish adjusting partitions and installing Linux Mint. Then it hit me.
For some random reason, I had been thinking about Super Mario 64 earlier this week. As I sat in front of my computer, my eyes traveled over my game collection. “Hey,” I thought, “I still have my Nintendo 64. I could totally play something on there while I wait! I’ve already played the game, so it’s not like I’m going to get too attached or engrossed.”
So I reached over, pulled out the requisite cables, and inserted the Super Mario 64 cartridge (no blowing required!). Nostalgia ho!
The first thing that struck me was how odd using a wired controller felt. Most of my console gaming recently has been done on my Xbox 360, for which I have wireless controllers. But with the N64, I had to pay attention to whether or not things would reach to the chair. Plus, the cable exerts an ever-so-slight pull to the back of the controller. The funny thing is, I remember missing that tug of the cable when I first switched to wireless controllers, but now going back seems weird.
And that wasn’t the only thing that felt odd. Super Mario 64, while still a 3D game, is a very early 3D platformer. A lot of the things are the same, but much like the differences between Shakespearean English and modern English, some things are just off. And no, I don’t think that’s solely because of the weird three-lobed N64 controller.
I found myself missing the second analog stick that has become so standard on modern games. It felt almost like my right thumb had nothing to do. Sure, it had to operate the face buttons, but when it came time to change the camera angle it got confused. The relatively low usage of the shoulder buttons was also a little odd, but since I don’t play many shooters on consoles, it’s not as bad as it could have been.
But it wasn’t all weirdness and differences. I was quite surprised how much I remembered of the game, and it’s one I never even really played that much! Ocarina of Time, for instance, is a game I’ve basically memorized. But I found myself slipping just as easily into old, comfortable habits with Super Mario 64. I knew exactly where to go in the first level. I even found myself trying to get to hidden places that I hadn’t unlocked yet. It was definitely fun.
In the end, I didn’t play for very long. My computer finished doing its thing, and I moved back upstairs to surf the Internet and play some System Shock 2. But the N64 is still hooked up downstairs, and I imagine I will be returning to it soon.
Even if my nice HTDV isn’t kind to the poor thing.