Pacing the Cage

All about old-school video games. Reviews, lists and more.

Bad camera! Go to your room!

Posted by ptcgaming on April 30, 2009

Wait a minute... I thought this was a LINEAR level?

Wait a minute... I thought this was a LINEAR level? (Screenshot from Wikipedia)

I recently purchased and downloaded  a copy of “Super Mario 64” to my Nintendo Wii. I remembered playing the original on an actual Nintendo 64 console, and I even own the updated DS version, which isn’t as fun without an analog stick for control. So I almost immediately booted the game up and began playing, and less than five minutes into it I was reminded of a harsh reality.

The camera on this game is really bad.

That’s right, I’m looking at you, Lakitu Cam. You shifty, unpredictable little turtle, you. While this game originally received high marks overall, this quirky camera style was the one thing many reviewers were critical of. It moves, shifts, zooms and rotates on whim while you’re moving, and there’s no telling what it’s going to do next.

Seriously. I ran up the same ramp 10 times once, and the camera angle was different almost every time. This is great when you’re trying to move across a narrow bridge, jump over an opening or complete one of those linear levels scattered throughout the game. And switching to the first-person “Mario” camera angle doesn’t help either, because even though it stays directly behind you, it zooms in close to, well, Mario’s behind.

Fortunately the camera issue was fixed by the time “Super Mario Galaxy” was released on the Wii.

Now don’t think I’m just picking on “Mario 64,” because this is truly a great game. I don’t know how good or bad the other console versions are, but the camera on the GameCube version of “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” is even worse. In some places where Harry is shimmying across a ledge against a wall, if you recenter the camera for a better view all you see is the back of the wall. And in some places the camera can’t even keep up with Harry, kind of like in those old “Sonic the Hedgehog” games where Sonic would either run or jump out of the screen because he was too fast.

It is true that a bad camera can ruin a game. The Lakitu Cam tends to give me a headache after a while, and it frustrates me when a bad camera angle causes me to fall in a hole or miss a jump. Fortunately, Nintendo seems to have seen the error of its ways and fixed the problem.

Thanks, guys. You saved me from a recurring headache.

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