Thank you so much-a for to playing my game!
This is the list of At the Buzzer’s top 25 games of all-time, as voted on by the main ATB cast members and other friends of the show. We’re now getting serious in the top 10. For more information on how this whole thing works or for the other games on the list, check out the Related Links at the bottom of this post.
10) Super Mario 64 (N64)
Chris: In 1997, I got my first look at Super Mario 64, and it was difficult to ever go back to two dimensions.
Some of you might be thinking to yourself that SM64 came out in 1996, not 1997. And that’s true. Even though I got an SNES right around launch date, it took me almost a full year before I had a chance to try the Nintendo 64. Luckily, I had a couple things going for me: 1) It was before the Internet went mainstream, so I knew absolutely nothing about the game before sticking in the cartridge for the first time, 2) It was a rental during summer vacation, so me and my friend Joe had every reason to devour the game in a three-day span.
(On a related note: Yes, there was a time when you could rent entire game systems, and I was fortunate enough to have an aunt who was willing to put down a $300 deposit for a pair of 12-year-olds.)
If anything, taking turns playing through Super Mario 64 made the memories even better for me. There was just something magical about exploring a level and fighting your way to a boss, or accidentally discovering a star when you were searching for a different one. The platforming was air-tight and encouraged players to play the game in their own style — maybe you use the backflip to get some height, then wall kick your way up an area, or maybe you long jump constantly just to be a little bit faster. All of it happened in a world with bright, vibrant colors and a terrific soundtrack that incorporated classic Mario themes and plenty of new ones.
It’s possible that Super Mario Bros. was the most important video game of all-time. It’s also possible that Super Mario 64 was the most influential. It’s an amazing game that was years ahead of its time.
Shaun: I’ve never wanted a game as much as I wanted Super Mario 64. To this day, it remains one of my most indelible gaming experiences. From the moment I saw the famous plumber dashing around a three dimensional space and catapulting off trees, I became fixated on the single goal of buying a Nintendo 64 and playing it.
I voted Mario 64 as the second greatest game ever on my personal list not because of nostalgia, however, but because of what it was able to accomplish. Mario 64 changed the face of gaming forever. It didn’t raise the standard of 3D platforming; it WAS the standard. It demonstrated what could be done in a three dimensional space, and what could be achieved if the mechanics were tight enough, the gameplay fun enough.
From the hubworld of Peach’s castle, Mario can jump through paintings and enter the finest collection of worlds in the series, each one feeling unique and inspired. Mario’s search for the 120 stars was filled with memorable moments and brilliant secrets that encouraged curiosity and experimentation. Completing unique tasks for rewards was such a departure from the previously linear “complete all the levels and beat the castle” formula, and it reinvigorated the franchise and the character for generations to come. Super Mario 64 was the blueprint for 3D platforming gaming and, I’d argue, most of modern gaming in general.