This mod for Mario 64 gives it a ludicrous 24-player mode

Twenty-one years ago, when you couldn’t move for people singing Three Lions or Wannabe, one rotund Italian plumber was wisely ignoring both Euro 96 and the Spice Girls. Mario 64 was a landmark game, and still plays surprisingly well today – which is perhaps why people can’t stop tinkering with it even now.

Super Mario Online 64 is the latest reimagining of the N64 classic and reimagines it as a massively multiplayer online game (MMOG). The original was a strictly single-player affair, but the adoptive developers weren’t content to limit themselves to the four controller ports of the console: Super Mario Online 64 allows 24 players to run, jump and spin their way through the entire game co-operatively. Many hands should make the work light, unless Toad decides to get in the way. It’s always Toad that gets in the way.

Alternatively, you can just mess around: do speed run races, play hide and seek or just beat each other up, like a low-rent version of Super Smash Bros.

Can you even name 24 Mario characters? I can manage around nine off the top of my head, and then I’m struggling a bit, trying to remember what the island residents of Mario Sunshine were called. Mario 64 Online doesn’t plumb those particular depths, however, allowing multiple clones of the same character to show up: just as well, given the game has given each one their own special characteristics, rather than being just a reskinned Mario. Peach can float across long gaps (probably explaining why she’s not still kidnapped, as the original’s plot dictates), while Toad dashes around like a caffeinated border collie.

As you can imagine from a game built on a ROM from a console that’s 21 years old, getting it up and running isn’t as easy as playing with friends on Xbox Live. And then there’s the sticky matter of what Nintendo will make of all this: the company has a history of ordering the takedown of ROMs, and has also been known to shut down fan projects. A fan project based on a ROM likely won’t last long, so get your unofficial Mario Party on while you can.

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