When Super Mario 64 was released, it was a crowning achievement in 3D gaming, specifically with its camera and freedom of movement. Upon replaying it in the new Super Mario 3D All-Stars collection for the Nintendo Switch, the game held up. Read on to learn about the top ten stages in the game.
10. Big Boo’s Haunt
Many Mario games have a haunted house level filled with Boo’s and puzzles, and this one certainly didn’t disappoint. Firstly, it gets points for having a unique way of entering the stage with Mario having to ground pound a Boo near the fountain outside of Peach’s Castle. It has great atmosphere with its limited graphics and manages to have a genuine fright with the piano.
9. Jolly Roger Bay
Though this stage has its flaws with sluggish movement underwater and some of its stars leaving much to be desired, it still edges its way onto this list. A main reason why is the music, which is a beautiful calming song and one of the best off the soundtrack. I also liked the way the stage changed after you got the star in the ship, really opening it up.
8. Wet-Dry World
This stage used some really creative mechanics with what Mario is able to do changing with the water. The developers also put special care into making Downtown Wet-Dry World, which almost could have been its own stage. Despite the location of some stars being puzzling, this stage still offers a really fun challenge.
7. Tiny, Huge Island
This stage also offered a satisfying gimmick with Mario being able to warp pipe between a small and large version of the same place. You could tell the developers had a blast creating the stars for this level with the juxtaposition of the two sizes. The only thing holding this stage back from being higher is the 100-coin star, which the game does you no favors with.
6. Shifting Sands Land
Shifting Sands Land is a fun stage where Mario is offered many ways to get around kind of like Bob-omb Battlefield. It also works well as the first 3D dessert stage in a Mario game. The enemies in this level are also delightful with this stage having one of the only non-enemy but bigger bosses in the entire game. The pyramid was also a nice change of pace. This stage’s downside lies in its 8-red-coins star, which is infuriating as someone who doesn’t like the wing cap. That is why it lands at number six.
5. Whomps Fortress
It works very well as the second level in the game, as it is very linear compared to the sprawling Bob-omb battlefield. This serves to its advantage and through this becomes one of the only vertically oriented stages in the game outside of Tick Tock Clock. The idea for the stage is a good one as well with the Whomps seemingly going on strike because they aren’t appreciated enough. All in all this is a nice short stage landing it at number five.
4. Hazy Maze Cave
This one specifically is a guilty pleasure of mine, but really what’s not to love? The stage has a ton of fun stars and includes the adorable loch ness monster type creature which swims around in its little pool. The toxic maze is also fun despite the camera having trouble within it. Also, it’s the only maze I’ve ever been in where there are no real dead ends.
3. Bob-omb Battlefield
This was an excellent stage to begin on, and every star from it is iconic. This is also a good introduction to the pink bob-ombs who appear to help Mario throughout the rest of the game. But the real appeal of this stage is the size of it. You feel like you are in a sandbox where you can do anything you want. That is why it lands at number three.
2. Lethal Lava Land
This stage is the perfect difficulty. Each enemy seems significant, and each star is enjoyable, especially the ones gained from riding the Koopa shell, which is by far the most fun power-up in the game. The lava offers a very unique obstacle that the developers take full advantage of. Overall this level was a blast, which is why it landed at number two.
1. Cool, Cool Mountain
This stage is a joy all the way through, and really makes good use of the mountain motif with the ski lift and the different cliffs. The race with the penguin on the slide is the best star in the game, and the shortcut on the slide is also a nice touch. The star with the mother penguin is funny. It also happens to be one of the only other stages that really achieves the atmosphere it’s going for even 24 years later.