Many longtime Nintendo fans have fond memories playing Super Mario 64, particularly the way the newly released Nintendo 64 controller felt in their hands. The analogue stick was spot on, suggesting legendary designer Shigeru Miyamoto custom built the device for that experience alone.
That was 1996. Fast-forward to 2004, and Super Mario 64 reappeared on DS as the system’s premier launch game.
Can you imagine beating this guy using a virtual stick? What a potential nightmare.
Super Mario 64 DS was great, no question, but the lack of a true analogue stick somewhat marred the game’s appeal. Nintendo attempted a workaround with a thumb strap that players dragged across the touch screen, but it simply failed to replicate the original control scheme. As a result, most turned to the d-pad, which wound up being the lesser of two evils.
If you played Super Mario 64 on both N64 and then DS, you already understand why porting this game to the App Store would probably be a questionable decision.
Would it make smart financial sense? Probably. This may sound odd, but millions have yet to experience the 15-year-old smash hit, so putting the game on the iPhone and especially the iPad would only generate tons of cash for Nintendo.
At the same time, using a virtual analogue stick to guide Mario may prove disastrous.
To be fair, countless 3D games exist on the App Store, and some virtual sticks are better than others. In fact, developers continue to make strides in offering responsive controls that come close to mimicking the familiar sensation of those rubberised nubs.
We say “come close”, because a virtual stick will never meet or surpass the tangible sensation of physically tilting a right or left analogue on the Wii, Xbox 360 or even PlayStation Vita.
For that reason, Super Mario 64 iOS would likely receive similar criticism compared to its DS counterpart, resulting in possible negative reviews from Nintendo’s hardcore fans.
Analysts and shareholders don’t seem to care. They want the big N to enter the smart phone market by any means necessary, and the easiest way would be to port classic games to those devices.
Thing is, aside from a few misfires, Nintendo has done a wonderful job preserving its library of hits, carefully porting them to newer systems and keeping the original controls intact, be it d-pad or analogue stick.
Now for all we know, the company may eventually cave to those demands and enter the iPhone arena, similar to former rival Sega. We just hope that if/when that day comes, technology has advanced to such a degree that a game like Super Mario 64 doesn’t suffer.