How Super Mario 64 changed 3D gaming forever

The peerless N64 launch title that helped transform the industry

Respected industry figures join our friends at Retro Gamer to look back on Mario's 3D debut as his influential masterpiece turns 25 years old...

1. It made everyone realize 3D was the future of games

"After seeing Mario 64 we knew 3D worlds were going to be the future," says Gregg Mayles, designer on Banjo-Kazooie. "... being the first of its kind, that became the de facto place to look for inspiration," adds Playtonic's Chris Sutherland. 

2.PS1 games couldn't compete with Mario when it launched

"The graphics were jaw-dropping," remembers Mark R Jones, a former artist for Ocean. "I'd only really played a few 3D games on PlayStation and this was a massive improvement." 

3. Mario captured a joy of movement like nothing else

According to ex Rare dev Chris Seavor, Mario 64's controls haven't been topped. "Slick, tight, great animation and totally intuitive. The first attempt at such controls and Nintendo nailed it for the ages."

4. Nintendo proved 3D platformers could work... and then some

"Back then, it was more or less accepted 3D plaformers don't work," says Paul Davies, who was editor of CVG magazine in 1996. "Mario 64 had you running, skipping, backflipping... Nintendo had done the impossible." 

5. Mario 64 removed the restrictions of space

The then peerless freedom Mario 64 gave players removed the traditional restrictions of 3D movement. "The freedom made the worlds a joy to explore," says Mayles.

6. It had a solidity that placed it ahead of the competition

Thanks to techniques like perspective-correct textures and z-buffering, Mario 64 was graced with a world and characters that felt far more solid than anything the PS1 could produce at the time. 

7. It left an enduring legacy 

Be it influencing Lara's swimming, or paving the way for 3D platformers like Banjo-Kazooie, the legacy of Mario 64's controls and camera can still be felt today.

For an in-depth look at Mario 64's 25th anniversary, head to...