When Super Mario 64 was released for the Nintendo 64 in 1996, it became revolutionary for offering an exciting adventure in 3D. Having three-dimensional graphics would become commonplace soon thereafter, and the game itself would remain a beloved classic for years to come. Nintendo wanted to give the game a sequel, and in the late 1990s, they had a sequel in development for a brief time. Entitled Super Mario 64 2, it likely would have become another masterpiece in the Mario series, but it ended up being canceled before anyone had a chance to play it. Not a lot of information about the game is available, but what few details there are is what I will share with you now.
One known fact about the game was that, unlike the first game, Luigi would have been included, and would presumably have become playable at some point. What is not known is if his moves would be slightly different from Mario’s as has become the tradition of the series (i.e. he would have a higher jump but worse traction) or if he had his own challenges that Mario could not access. Still, seeing Luigi in action after his absence in the original game would have been a blast. Unfortunately, players would have to wait until Super Mario Galaxy for a chance to play as Luigi in a 3D Mario console game, although he was also playable in Super Mario 64 DS.
The game was also slated to have a multiplayer mode of some sort, and the only demo level ever made was a multiplayer stage. Presumably, players would work together to try and complete the level. Doing this would surely have made for hours of multiplayer fun, and it would not be out of the question for Nintendo to implement a similar feature at some point. Maybe if they made a Super Mario Galaxy 3, they could have a multiplayer mode with one player as Mario and the other player as Luigi both trying to collect a specific star. Whether or not other multiplayer modes such as mini games or battle modes would have also been included outside of the main adventure is unknown.
Also unknown is what the levels would have been like had production on the game continued. Would they be free roaming worlds like in the first game, or would they have been more linear courses as was the case for most of the worlds featured in the Super Mario Galaxy games? Would the Power Stars return, and would there have been 120 to collect once more, or perhaps even more beyond that? As for the game’s story, would it involve the usual plot point of saving Princess Peach from Bowser, or would there actually be something greater at stake? Could even more features that were not included the first time show up during the game? They could have come in the form of giving Mario classic power ups such as the Fire Flower or the Cape, or allowing him to ride on Yoshi in some levels. It has been hinted that features intended to be featured in Super Mario 64 2 would end up being included in later 3D Mario games, but it is unclear what features besides those already mentioned are shared between the released games and Super Mario 64 2.
As to why the game ultimately never saw the light of day, it was because not a lot of progress was made on it, and also because a specific add-on to the Nintendo 64 had failed in Japan. The add-on in question was the Nintendo 64 Disk Drive, or the 64DD. As I stated in my article about the unreleased version of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time Master Quest known as Ura Zelda, the 64DD could add content to other games as well as play games that were intended for that add-on instead of being released as stand-alone Nintendo 64 cartridges. Unfortunately, it kept being delayed and was not released until 1999, by which time interest for the Nintendo 64 was gradually dwindling. It turns out that Super Mario 64 2 was meant to be a 64DD game, but the failure of the add-on practically sealed the game’s fate, and Nintendo opted not to work on a cartridge version of it. As such, players would have to wait until 2010 for a second 3D Mario game to be released on a single console.
Would Super Mario 64 2 have become another amazing entry in the Mario series? I feel certain that it would have been the case. Even from what little information exists about the game, it sounds as if it would have been an even better game that Super Mario 64, not that the latter game was not great, although even in 1999 when the sequel was first announced, it was starting to feel a bit dated when compared to other 3D platform games, particularly those made by Rare. I would have loved to play as Luigi and cooperate and/or compete with a friend in the multiplayer mode. Nintendo rarely makes a bad Mario game (Super Mario Sunshine being a notable exception, at least in my opinion), and as such, I am sure that this game would have become one of the most beloved Mario games of all time. It is unfortunate that we will never know for sure just how great of a game it would have ultimately become.
Super Mario 64 2 should have remained in development far longer than it did, and as such, it would have surely become a masterpiece. It is sad that it will never be released as it was intended to be, as it is as close to a direct sequel to Super Mario 64 as we are going to get. We have been fortunate to receive three other 3D Mario games-the aforementioned mediocre (at best) Super Mario Sunshine and the wonderful Super Mario Galaxy and Super Mario Galaxy 2-that supposedly have features that were meant to be included in the canceled sequel, but even so, I still think that it should have been finished and released. Perhaps someday, Nintendo will work on a direct sequel to the game, whether it ends up being on the Wii or on another system. That way, we would finally get the chance to play what would likely be an amazing direct sequel to a revolutionary game.