Super Mario 64 is a Nintendo 64 platform game released in 1996. It is the first Super Mario game to incorporate 3D gameplay, mixing typical Super Mario gameplay, visual style, and characters in a wide-open environment. It was developed by Nintendo Entertainment Analysis and Development and released by Nintendo. But did you know that Mario was not the first character they introduced in the game?
The first character you would see in the Super Mario 64 game is Lakitu, Mario’s camera operator. Developers of the game intended to teach the players that they were in control of both Mario and the camera.
What was the Reason Behind Introducing Lakitu First?
Contrary to what people may think, Mario is not the first character you would meet in the Super Mario 64 game unless, of course, you are counting the disembodied figure of his face at the start of the screen.
The opening of the game starts with swirls around the moats and towers of Princess Toadstool’s castle and ends with Mario leaping from a green pipe. But before the dramatic entrance, and just right at the beginning of it all, the spotlight focuses on a lowly Koopa, floating on a cloud with a camera dangling on a fishing pole. This is where Mario’s first 3D adventure truly begins.
The game then precedes to inform the player that they need to get acquainted with Lakitu since they are going to be working with him a lot. Signaling the key reason why he was introduced first.
I do have memories of fighting that camera, Alex. It’s such a memorable part of the experience that in my view, Mario 64 is the game that established the camera as a de facto enemy—a mostly unseen nuisance that stands in the way of your quest as much as any Goomba or Thwomp. In that light, it’s appropriate that Nintendo assigns cinematography duties to that bespectacled Koopa you mentioned, Lakitu. Players first encountered Lakitu in Super Mario Bros. on the NES, where he hurtled bright orange creatures of spiky death from his cumulonimbus perch.John Teti
(Source: AV Club)
Was Super Mario 64 the First 3D Platform Game?
While Super Mario 64 was not the first of its kind, it was the most influential. It was the game that dragged the whole 3D genre out of its infancy and created a standard by popularizing critical components of design and gameplay.
The interactive camera system gave players a new responsibility of adjusting their own point-of-view while they were in play. Most games before Super Mario 64 moved with a fixed viewpoint. Putting the player in charge of what they were seeing, changed the way games traditionally worked. (Source: AV Club)
Was It Hard for the Developers to Explain the Concept to the Players?
The game developers thought of different ways to introduce the concept to their players, and the solution they came up with is to incorporate a literal cameraman in the game who served as a fourth-wall-breaking sidekick.
The function of the cameraman in the game didn’t only dabble with the gaming perspective, but also supplied a wider view of the area and even handle possible obstructions while playing. At this point, the developers started to think like filmmakers and use composition to their advantage to make the whole gaming experience more memorable. (Source: AV Club)