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Splitting Down The Middle – Mario Mania #5

Good-bye 2-D platforming, hello 3-D polygons and analogue sticks.

The Nintendo 64 emerged in 1996 as one of the most powerful consoles of its time, producing 3-D visuals that not even the Playstation or Sega Saturn could produce. At a time when franchises were attempting (and often failing) to make the jump to 3-D, along came Super Mario to save the day yet again.

Except saving the day didn’t come so easily. According to archived Nintendo Power magazine articles made shortly around Star Fox’s release in 1993, EAD was rumored to have begun work on Super Mario FX and would use the same polygon graphics engine. Around this time, research and development had begun on Project Reality, which would later be known as the Nintendo 64. With the SNES proving to be inadequate for a 3-D Mario adventure due to its lack of power, development was shifted to the N64. From 1994 to 1996, under Miyamoto’s watchful eye Mario’s world was slowly evolving into 3-D.

Team leader for the project was Yoshiaki Koizumi, who first joined Nintendo in 1990. He lent his writing chops to the Zelda series' 16-bit debut, Link to the Past, and the Game Boy Zelda title, Link’s Awakening. Koizumi finally got his hands on the game designing job roles, and from this point onward, the 3-D debuts of Nintendo’s most iconic series had the Koizumi touch.

So what is Mario 64 still like, after all these years?

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