Unlike the original Super Mario 64, you start out this game using Yoshi. I don’t know why, but I suppose some people may like this. I personally like to stick with Mario, so it’s a good thing you can get him fairly early on in the game. Besides Yoshi and Mario, you can play as Luigi (without doing all the work needed to unlock him the secret way in Mario 64) and Wario (apparently Wario is now Mario’s friend or something…whatever. Donkey Kong did it, I guess Wario can, too).
This game has all of the fun of the original game, plus a ton more stuff to do. There are a whole bunch of new stars to collect in each of the old levels and many new, secret levels hidden in the castle. In addition to the main game, there are also many different minigames to play, several of which are unlocked by playing the main game. There is also a versus mode, where you compete against your friend to see, once and for all, who can run around and get stuff the best.
The audio is pretty much exactly the same as in Mario 64, and they don’t seem to have screwed up any of the voices like they did with some GBA Mario games. Yoshi sounds like Yoshi should, with his constipated groan when he does that floaty jump thing, Mario sounds like Mario should, etc. The music is good and fits wherever you are very well.
The visuals keep a lot of the same flavor of Mario 64, but don’t look all crappy compared to other DS games. They seem to have found a good balance.
The controls are reeeeally annoying. Most of the time playing this game my biggest challenge is controlling my own character. Personally, I think the bosses should be challenging because of their strategies and stuff, not because I can’t stay on a damned platform because Mario won’t stop running when I let go of the D-pad. Also, I like to constantly be holding the run button, so that whenever I move I will just be running. Unfortunately, when you are standing still and hold the run button, your character charges up and then does some mad dash in whatever direction you were facing. Not cool at all.
In case you are completely unfamiliar with the story of every Mario game ever, pretty much, I will fill you in before I wrap up: The princess is captured. Mario has to save her from Bowser, a.k.a. King Koopa.
The replay value is added to by the extra modes and stars, and this is the type of game you can come back to and play for any amount of time whenever you are in the mood. If you happen to have a DS, I recommend that you pick this up.