Fans Harness the Power of Super Mario 64 with Ambitious 'Mario Builder 64' Mod


Fan-Made 'Mario Builder 64' Lets Creators Craft Their Own N64 Levels

While Nintendo's official Super Mario Maker games have allowed fans to craft side-scrolling platformer levels, a new fan project is taking that creative freedom into the 3D realm of the Nintendo 64 era.

Called "Mario Builder 64," the ambitious ROM hack serves as "a toolbox letting you fulfill all of your SM64 dreams," according to its creators Arthurtilly and rovertronic. Much like Super Mario Maker, it provides a user-friendly interface for designing custom levels - but this time within the classic 3D sandbox of 1996's Super Mario 64.

Using low-resolution textured cubes reminiscent of Minecraft, creators can construct their own labyrinthine 3D worlds populated with sprites, items, enemies and even custom music from the N64 game. The possibilities seem vast, with no hard limits on objectives like the number of red coins required to earn a star.

To use Mario Builder 64, players must patch an existing Mario 64 ROM file following the developers' guide. From there, the modded game can run via emulator or on original N64 hardware using a flashcart device.

While still new, the project has already spawned a community sharing user-made levels via sites like Level Share Square. Early footage highlights delightfully bizarre Mario 64 recreations dreamed up by fans.

However, the lifespan of passion projects like Mario Builder 64 is always uncertain. Nintendo has recently taken a harder stance against emulators and fan works utilizing its IP, securing a multi-million dollar settlement against Switch emulator Yuzu and forcing the removal of two decades of Nintendo content from Garry's Mod.

Still, as Mario Builder 64 remains squarely focused on extending the gameplay of a decades-old game rather than illegally distributing new releases, some fans are hopeful it could avoid the Kyoto gaming giant's legal crosshairs.

"It's just doing Super Mario 64 stuff, so maybe it gets a pass," posited YouTuber Shesez in a video exploring the new mod. "But that probably depends on Nintendo's plans for the Mario Maker series."

Whether a short-lived novelty or an expansive new platform for Mario creators, Mario Builder 64 is already providing an intriguing new way to experience - and rebuild - the iconic 3D worlds of the Nintendo 64 classic.