Super Mario 64 Shindo
Image: Nintendo

By now, we’ve surely all seen the news that Super Mario 64 is finally arriving on Switch as part of Super Mario 3D All-Stars, joining Super Mario Sunshine and Super Mario Galaxy in a limited-time bundle. Long rumoured to be making the jump, fans are undeniably ecstatic to see it emerge on Nintendo’s hybrid machine, packed with a higher resolution at 720p in both handheld/docked modes.

Whilst Sunshine and Galaxy are mostly identical between their regional releases, Super Mario 64 has a few more defined differences and shortly after the announcement, debates emerged about which version we’ll receive. Right now, signs point towards this being the “Shindou Pak Taiou” edition used, a Japanese-only re-release that launched in 1997. It’s a name speedrunners and die-hard fans will know, but for more casual players, you might wonder just what this version entails.

With 3D All-Stars launching next week, here’s what you need to know about this obscure edition of Super Mario 64 and why people are suddenly talking about it again.

What’s The Shindou Edition About?

Just under a year after Super Mario 64’s launch, Star Fox 64 released with its much-touted Rumble Pak support. Helping popularise force feedback vibration in controllers, most controllers have included it as standard ever since and Nintendo were looking to capitalise.

Come July 1997, they re-released Super Mario 64 with rumble support as the “Shindou Pak Taiou” version, coming out alongside Wave Race 64's own Shindou edition. Based on the American version, Shindou is best described as an "international" edition of Super Mario 64, retaining that English voice acting and translating text back into Japanese. It made a few extra tweaks but as you’d expect, those primarily regard Rumble Pak functionality.

If connected to your N64 controller, it would vibrate when hitting enemies or if Mario got attacked, also providing feedback when using ground pound moves or forward diving. Seeking a wider means of using the Rumble Pak to justify the Shindou re-release, that included more mundane uses of it, too. From choosing a game file, picking up items like red coins or extra lives or messing with Mario’s face during the title screen, these also activated this newly-added feature.

How Many Versions of Super Mario 64 Are There?

Keeping it strictly to the original N64 release, there are four in total, excluding China’s exclusive iQue release, Virtual Console re-releases and Super Mario 64 DS. When Super Mario 64 was launched in America in 1996, it wasn’t quite the same game Japan received several months prior. Numerous issues were fixed like the 1000 Coin Glitch, Mario was given more voice lines, some levels had slight design alterations and more.

It wasn’t particularly groundbreaking; it was more a case of Nintendo of America tidying up some present issues before launching it. Europe/Australia’s release also added further changes on top of NOA’s version, but outside a slower framerate and changing Mario’s jump sounds, this was pretty minimal.

Are There Any Other Differences in Shindou?

Super Mario 64 Shindo

Most other updates are minor like text changes or some audio-visual adjustments. One notable Easter egg, also present in the iQue edition, can be located during the Title Screen. When Mario’s head appears, if you push down the Z button during this, a whole series of Mario faces suddenly emerge behind him, moving in sync with his head in slightly unnerving fashion.

Shindou’s other major change is why it holds such prominence within the speedrunning community. Even now, 24 years after release, Super Mario 64 garners active interest amongst speedrunners as they find new ways to play, competing to see who can finish it quickest and 3D All-Stars’ version will likely see similar interest.

These attempts generally involve exploits and within the Shindou edition, Nintendo removed the game’s most famous one, "Backwards Long Jump".

Why Is This A Big Deal?

For the uninitiated, Backwards Long Jump is a glitch that allows you to exploit Mario’s movement speed, letting players circumvent doors and walls. To perform this, upon reaching any long stairs, Mario must turn around and perform a long jump, holding the control stick backwards and rapidly tapping the jump button. This allows Mario to move backwards at a high pace, thus breaking the game.

It allows players to bypass significant chunks of the game and as such, this specific glitch is an essential element in Super Mario 64 speedruns. It meant they could avoid the 70 Stars requirement before reaching Bowser’s final battle, letting Mario break through those Endless Stairs that’d otherwise block your progress. By capping his movement speed, Shindou makes this feat impossible.

Why Is This Version Rumoured Specifically for 3D All-Stars?

Within the 35th anniversary broadcast, Super Mario 64’s section showcased a few clips of gameplay running off the Switch, ending with that iconic scene of Mario throwing Bowser into bombs in the Dark World. Normally, upon launching Bowser, Mario will shout “So Long, Kinga Bowser!” (yes, that’s definitely what he said) but instead, he shouts "Buh-Bye!". That may not seem like much alone but, outside of Super Mario 64 DS (Which we can rule out here), this dialogue does not appear in other editions.

Super Mario 64 Shindo
Image: Nintendo

Furthermore, we already know 3D All-Stars’ versions of each game are remastered ports, rather than a new one. Considering Nintendo previously pushed the Switch Joy-Con’s HD Rumble, Shindou’s rumble support will likely factor into their decision, too. Adding further to this, Nintendo also tweeted footage of SM64’s opening on Switch, showing a blue ™ logo that matches Shindou, whereas other releases featured different colours.

It’s certainly an interesting footnote in Super Mario 64’s history, though truthfully these differences aren’t particularly vast outside Rumble Pak and BLJ. Speedrunners will understandably be disappointed by this decision but ultimately, we’re still seeing Super Mario 64 finally land on Switch. Whether you’re a first-time player or a seasoned N64 veteran, there’s a lot to be excited for come September 18th.

Are you an Super Mario 64 Speedrunner? Would you be disappointed if that’s the version used or is it a non-issue? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.