Super Mario 64 gets a Mario Maker-like romhack that runs on original hardware

In terms of longevity, influence, and jaw-dropping community projects, if there's a console counterpart to Doom, it's Super Mario 64. Nintendo's generation-defining platformer and its  timeless movement mechanics, adorable aesthetic, and a speedrunning community that occasionally leverages quantum mechanics to get faster clear times have ensured that Mario 64 has always remained relevant. 

But where Doom's community has long had tools to go beyond the hardware and software limitations enforced by its 1993 release, Mario 64 diehards have had only a few janky editing tools to work with. Even with such limitations, there's been no shortage of incredible romhacks for Mario 64 over the years, but there's always been a high technical bar to triple jump over when it comes to making custom stages. 

That bar can now be cleared with a well timed long jump, thanks to Rovertronic and Arthurtilly's Mario Builder 64, an in-depth, intuitive, thematically appropriate level editor that runs as a romhack. The trailer they dropped shows off a ton of variety in the levels that can be made with the editor, offering a huge variety of objects and interactables to arrange in a cuboid fashion, providing a quick and simple way to bang out some custom Mario 64 stages. 

You won't be putting together levels at the scale or visual intricacy of the ones that shipped in the base game, as you're limited to only placing down perfectly cubed blocks, but that's still a ton of flexibility. There's even potential for some light Minecraft-esque engineering that Rovertronic has managed to hack in, ranging from changing water levels, opening and closing doors, destructible walls, and tracks on rails. 

What I find most impressive about Mario Builder 64 that it's a romhack, meaning it can be run on both emulators and original hardware should you have an EverDrive64 lying around. 

It's an exciting month to be a fan of the N64, with Mario Builder 64 rolling out on the heels of a native port of Majora's Mask. There's already a native port of Mario64 floating around, but it might not be long before static recompilation gives us a legal way to play Mario Builder 64 in widescreen with dual analog controls. 

Nova Smith
Contributing Writer

Nova Smith is a freelance writer based out of Alberta, Canada. Nova's grab bag of non-gaming interests and passions includes Japanese mecha anime, miniature painting, as well as history, literature, and classical music. Nova also moonlights as a bureaucrat and amateur historian.