A personal association of games with photography and film has been with me since the gift of a Nintendo 64 as a child. Super Mario 64 was the first 3D game I had ever played, quite a jump from my previous experience with the Nintendo Entertainment System and Atari. Super Mario 64’s immersive landscape and tricky moments — such as those requiring wall jumps and other maneuvers to progress and avoid or defeat enemies — required manual use of the build-in camera controls. These controls were embodied in the Lakitu, the camera-man who follows Mario/the player, through the game. While Super Mario Bros. 3’s curtains and hanging landscape elements evoked a theater stage play, the crucial presence of Lakitu in Super Mario 64 seemed to transform the game into a movie.
Some of my most beloved Nintendo 64 games required extensive manual camera fiddling or waiting for the camera to sort itself out. Playing them again years later, I wonder how I ever got through these games without endless frustration. Donkey Kong 64 and Castlevania 64 have notoriously bad camera controls and break a sense of immersion in the world, while a game like The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time has excellent handling, allowing easy maneuvers that encourage exploration.
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