Games used polygonal graphics and 3D environments before the 1996 release of Mario 64, but it's safe to say Nintendo's work proved these new types of experiences wouldn't just be awkward curiosities—they would be the future.
I know because I was there. I played plenty of 3D games before Mario 64, but it was the first one to feel right. And while it may be an easy target, you only have to look at the wretched Bubsy 3D to see how things could have turned out for Nintendo. Of course, the designers of Bubsy 3D weren't trying to make a bad game—like many developers of the mid-90s, they were struggling to figure out the essential rules that hadn't quite been created yet. NIntendo just had the benefit of hiring industry changing visionaries whose talents weren't limited to a certain style of game; remember, the folks who made the first Mario also made the first Zelda. (And the same is true of Mario 64 and Ocarina of Time.)
But I don't really think you need me to tell you Super Mario 64 is important—and if you do, the following 90-minute podcast should really come in handy. Of course, that's not the entire point of this episode: By the end, you should come out the other side with a new appreciation for this 1996 classic, and know more than you ever needed to know about the ins and outs of its primitive 3D world. (That's the Retronauts Difference.)
Joining us on this one is Polygon's Danielle Riendeau, who we managed to nab before she moved away from the increasingly expensive Bay Area, and Henry Gilbert, who hosts the comic book podcast Cape Crisis on the Laser Time Network. As always, you can keep up with the latest Retronauts news via our Twitter and Facebook accounts, and check out some of our video content over on our YouTube page. And, in case you forgot, Retronauts is fully funded by our Patreon campaign, so if you can afford to donate even a dollar a month, please consider it! Every little bit really helps our cause.