Diving back into Super Mario 64 takes on a whole new meaning when you set the swoopy N64 controller aside, get up off the couch, and play through the game by physically mimicking the mustachioed one’s hoppy, boppy platforming moves yourself. That’s just what one modder decided to do during the long, stuck-at-home days of the COVID-19 lockdown, cooking up a calorie-melting homemade motion control setup that’s literally impossible to play unless you really put your whole body into it.
YouTuber Super Louis 64, who’s already collected a cult following for crazy acts of gaming (like beating Dark Souls with a banana controller and using Nintendo’s Power Glove in hilarious ways the Big N never intended), issued himself the challenge of pairing the motion control powers of the Xbox 360 Kinect with Mario’s 3D platforming prowess.
With a little help from a fitness trampoline and a Nintendo Switch Joy-Con controller, the setup made for a sweaty-fun romp through Mario’s first swivel-cam adventure…and yes, Louis made it all the way to the big baddie, knocking Bowser off his pedestal in dizzying, heart-of-a-champion style:
Tired yet? Who needs dedicated fitness games when you can race penguins and out-swim giant eels? Louis says he was in good enough shape not to be too winded by the time he had everything set up — “I've been trying to exercise more often ever since I've been staying at home because of the current times,” he explained — but swimming through the water level, which ended up requiring a constant jump-pump motion he hadn’t accounted for during the mapping process, did test his limits.
“Oh, I was so defeated by the time we reached the water level,” he told SYFY WIRE. “I really thought you press the B button, not the A button my jump was mapped to, to swim. As hard as the spinning motion was, I think the hardest action to get down was Mario's ground pound. In order to do it, you have to jump and press the crouch button in sequence. On my Kinect, I had to crouch in real life in order to crouch in game. So in order to ground pound I needed to jump and quickly make a crouch position. It was very very awkward, but it worked!”
The challenge wasn’t all in the gameplay, of course. There was nothing intuitive or easy about marrying last-gen Microsoft motion tech to old-school Nintendo gear, and Louis says he pretty much had to forge his own path. Though he’s a fan of the Xbox 360 Kinect (it’s “a powerhouse of a controller,” he says), there was a lot to figure out.
“Making motion controls feel natural takes time as it's mostly trial and error,” he explained. “Once I got that down, I ran the Kinect through my own code to map the inputs to Super Mario 64. Compared to the other hacks I've done, I would say this wasn't the hardest one. I still have nightmares trying to get my Power Glove to work with Overwatch, or really any game!”
As he says in the video, Louis wouldn’t recommend tackling Nintendo’s first 3D Mario castle quest using his motion control setup. Though it all works swimmingly (ahem), it definitely takes a lot out of you. Plus, he’s come up with other mods that boost the cardio factor even higher.
“The Super Mario 64 Kinect mod didn't make me feel like I was in better shape, but it did help relieve stress and make me feel better as if I was at the gym again,” he said. “Lately I've modded other exercise controllers, like the Ring Fit Adventure, to play games like Zelda: Breath of the Wild or Dark Souls. With that controller, I have to run in order to activate my joysticks or squat to open up menus. I've been playing with the Ring Fit mod for about a month now, and I feel way more in shape than before, playing games with exercises.”
Hey, at least you don’t have to dress up in actual overalls just to nail Mario’s triple jump. If all this real-life leaping and spinning has you warmed up for more, you can check out Louis’ other zany mods over at his YouTube channel.