I was never NEARLY as enamored as many were with this game, and I'm not super nostalgic for it, even though I was still pretty young (teens) when it came out. Part of the reason for that, is that I've always preferred 2D Mario, and 2D gaming in general. So I wasn't madly in love with Mario's jump to 3D, as personally I would have been happier with a 2D "Super Mario Bros. 5" instead. The OTHER major reason, is that a couple of my friends played the damn game SO much (including at demo kiosks in stores, before the system had even LAUNCHED), that I frankly just got burnt out on seeing it. I played through and beat it myself, eventually, but I had already seen most of it, so my friends kinda "ruined" it for me.
That said, it IS still a wonderful game. As much as I hear some people complain about the dated blocky graphics and the camera, etc., in all blunt honesty outside of its direct clone Banjo-Kazooie, this is basically THE best 3D platformer that would come along, in my opinion, until Mario Galaxy over a decade later. Meaning I don't think there was a single 3D platformer, on any system, that controlled, had better physics/mechanics, or certainly better CAMERA (3D games had notorious bad cameras forever, many still do), than Mario 64.
This game was the blueprint for 3D gaming, as much as Super Mario Bros. was for 2D gaming, and that's not up for debate. Nintendo hasn't always been perfect (in fact they've gotten far less so as time goes on), but when it comes to literally shaping video games as an art/entertainment form, they've probably done more than any single company. Super Mario Bros., Metroid, The Legend of Zelda, Super Metroid, A Link to the Past, those games alone did SO much to show the way for other games, its insane. And Mario 64 and Ocarina of Time can also be counted among those, for the 3D era.
Hardly one of my FAVORITE games, but I still give it 4 stars because it deserves it. I like it, and I would be super on board with them giving it a full on HD remake. In fact, the one remade stage in Mario Galaxy 2, honestly made me wish they had just made a full Mario 64 remake on Wii with Galaxy graphics, instead of Galaxy 2. If you want great 3D platforming, it doesn't get too much better than this.

Reviewed on Sep 21, 2022