We’ve been running and jumping as Mario for decades, but always from a third-person perspective. A recently-released mod tweaks Super Mario 64 to let you see the world from Mario’s eyes and in the process completely transforms the experience.
“First Person Mario 64” is a ROM hack by Kaze Emanuar that takes the in-game camera and sticks in more or less where Mario’s head is. As a result, you can play through the game in a way that’s so up close and personal it’s almost terrifying.
Emanuar is known for doing all kinds of stuff with Super Mario 64, including adding portal guns and online multiplayer (which Nintendo eventually filed a copyright strike against). The latest is both a more simple and fundamental remixing of the game, though. “This hack tries to follow Mario’s head’s movement as closely as possible,” Emanuar says in a video showing off the project. “With how elaborate Mario’s animations are, this results in a challenging romhack.”
While all of the same tricks, including back-flips, wall jumps, and diving slides still work, they’re almost dizzying to watch in first-person. In addition, since Mario 64 doesn’t render objects when they get too close, platforms and other parts of the environment tend to become invisible when walked over, adding to the sense of vertigo. Emanuar notes that the encounters with Bowser get especially wonky since one moment you’re staring at a giant, spiky green shell and the next you’re spinning around tossing an invisible King Koopa.
Mario 64 revolutionised the Mario series by taking it into from side-scrolling into 3D. The game’s camera system was a big part of this, helping the player look at different parts of the larger world while they navigated it. By taking the complex camera system and cramming it entirely inside Mario’s head (you can still shift the view ever so slightly using the C buttons), Emanuar’s latest project makes the game feel completely different without changing much at all.