Super Mario 64 The Lost Dreams is a rom hack made by Xeraclom14 encompassing 50 stars over four courses and plenty of secret stars. One thing I always appreciate in these rom hacks is the creator puts a conscientious effort to create a story or reason to why Mario is in a foreign land or what’s going on and here it’s no different .Mario finds that his memories are slowly fading and he is forgetting everything, in turn he must venture out to find out why the castle doors are closed and who’s behind this!
While story is an important part of any video game, I’m here to talk about the gameplay of this rom hack and while it may be Super Mario 64 in physics, engine, and looks; it’s about the level design, minor changes, and overall FUN within the hack. In turn we are playing Super Mario 64, just think of ROM Hacks as DLC or expanded ports of that game, not new but not entirely old. Now, if you know Super Mario 64 you know this is where 3D platforming started and while many like to chastise the camera, I’ve personally never had any problems with it. Nevertheless, if you’re looking to PLAY Super Mario 64 ROM Hacks 99% of the time you’re just playing Super Mario 64, so most of your past gripes on tightly-timed wall jumps, awkward slow hill running, and randomly bad cameras and other points will probably be there. There will be a few hacks I will cover that change core gameplay elements, but this is not one of them.
The changes you will notice in The Lost Dreams start with Mario himself; with a cleaned up model, sound bites from his Super Mario Galaxy adventures, and a few new animations for moves like the wall-jump / kick. Think of it more as a Majora’s Mask kind of change, where he looks more stylish, but it overall doesn’t change the movement and gameplay. Besides changes to Mario, each enemy got a touch-up (my personal favorite is the Chuckya new model), coins have a more retro but 3D look, and each level has a custom song. The hub world is, in my opinion, too large, but it shows the length the creator had to bring his ROM hack to life. There are plenty of hidden worlds, areas that are effected by the amount of stars you have, and a nice ambiance to the over all world.
Level design for SM64 The Lost Dreams is honestly one of the better ones from the ROM hacks I’ve played, going from simple introductory level, to some intense levels later on, and an amazing special world that, while short lived, is really a treat for any Mario or Nintendo fan. Once you collect every star, you have access to play a Hidden Bonus world, which is definitely a ramp up on the difficulty spectrum for this hack. While it is not necessary to complete it, you’ll find yourself inclined to play or give it a shot, especially because it has that cool 80’s synthetic vaporwave vibe. Before I end it, I did want to mention that the “Mario cam” is the default camera in this game and has been tweaked to work way better than the original Super Mario 64 “Mario cam”. (This is done by pressing R on your N64 controller and going from the Lakitu fixed camera to a slightly automatic camera that turns when Mario goes left or right). It is the default in the game and I do recommend leaving it, since the creator designed the game with this style in mind.
Overall, Super Mario 64 and the Lost Dreams is one of the better Super Mario 64 ROM Hacks I have played and while it is not a must-play for first-timers; I do have to say it is a must for any Super Mario 64 veteran or for those getting back into the ROM Hack scene. I really appreciated the redone menu, the Galaxy additions, and the amount of effort put into the story and level designs.