I'm in love with a video game all over again. For the last few days I've been playing one of the greatest video games of all-time: Mario64. Only this time it's on yet another innovative new game console, the Nintendo DS. What I am finding is that I am rediscovering the game in the same manner in which it captured my imagination back in December, 1996.
From the opening screen's familiar "kaBling!" to the "whoooshing" of the star and its trail of magical particle effects zooming around the two screens, until finally breaking into the steel band sound of the familiar Mario64 theme, goosebumps is the only way to describe the sensation I get.
There are four (4) playable characters in the updated DS version: Mario, Luigi, Yoshi, and Wario. You start out playing as Yoshi, and then later find keys to unlock the others. Beginning in the courtyard of Princess Peach's castle, Yoshi (actually it's Mario, Luigi and Wario—Yoshi is asleep on the roof of the castle where he was at the end of Super Mario 64) comes flying out of the green warp pipe exactly as Mario did 8 years ago, that is, if playing the main adventure mode. There is also a multiplayer VS. mode for playing against others using the built-in wireless communications, and a Rec Room filled with charming little mini-games that are pure gaming goodness.
So far the touch screen of the DS has taken only a short time to get used to, and many aspects of Mario64 DS take advantage of it well. It seemed awkward at first to move Yoshi around with the stylus while pressing the buttons to control his actions. Fortunately, Nintendo offers several different control configurations that you can choose from depending on how you are handling the handheld. I like the dual-hand mode.
I am especially fond of the two-screen design and find it very easy to get used to. I am very excited about what the future has in store for this little console if this first outing from Nintendo is an indication of where its games are headed. Familiar and yet refreshing and new, Mario64 DS offers a bit of nostalgia packaged in a brand new offering that has rekindled my love affair with one of my favorite video games ever. Bravo.