I can't say that Super Mario 64 is my favorite game of all time, in fact I'm having more and more trouble coming to the decision of what that game is. What Super Mario 64 is is something that transcends a label such as that.
 It's not better than some of the other games in my favorites library, but it's not worse. It is more of a milestone in my gaming life, just like it is a milestone in the gaming industry. Super Mario 64 will live on as one of the fondest video game experiences of my entire life, and I experienced that back in December of 1996. 
Regardless of the amount of time this game has weathered since then, it remains an icon that stands above the games that are a available to me today. The shiny, high-def virtual worlds that I get lost in, outshine Mario's Nintendo 64 iteration, but they will never captivate me in the way that the outdated Super Mario 64 will. 
Christmas morning, 1996, that's when's I saw that big rectangle shaped present under the tree. It was in shiny red wrapping paper, placed inconspicuously amongst the other presents that I didn't deserve. I had no idea what it was, in fact I don't remember exactly asking for a Nintendo 64, but I showed great interest in video games as a six year old and my mother knew this would only add to that interest. 
After opening a few presents, I grabbed the shiny red box. Me and my brother slowly tore into the treasure and a crescendo of excitement culminated in joyful screaming at the sight of the contents. A brand new Nintendo 64 lay before me. I looked at the box many times, taking in the bold Nintendo font on the front of the box and flipped it over to get a glimpse at the games that I would soon be playing. To me, even looking at the box of a console at my young age evoked pure happiness. I couldn't stop looking at it. 
After opening the rest of my presents I came back to the Nintendo 64. Before the Nintendo 64 I played my Super Nintendo religiously. Super Mario World, Super Metroid, Donkey Kong, the list goes on. All those games engulfed me in a world full of fantasy that I couldn't find in the reality around me. It was my two dimensional escape. I even dabbled in the original Nintendo, as well as the Sega Genesis. Little did I know that I would fall further into the video game dimension with this new system.
I opened the box finally to reveal its contents. The new console smell wafted into my nostrils and I was as elated as a child could be with this Christmas plunder. I pulled everything out and plugged it up, grabbed the Super Mario 64 cartridge that came with it and popped that in. I flipped the television over to channel three and turned the 64 on. There was a Nintendo chime and Mario's voice crackled to life, "It's a me, Mario!" I was ecstatic. Then Mario's three dimensional face popped up on the screen and I figured out that I could manipulate it. Which I did for quite a while, and I enjoyed it so much. 
Finally, I snapped out of my child like stasis and pressed start. I started my new game and there it was, 3-D Mario in a 3-D world. The grass, the climbable trees, the castle. I took it all in like I had never seen it before, and in a virtual world, I hadn't seen this before. It was unlike anything I had ever played. Mario could jump around, punch, kick, he even had vocals for his actions. I wasn't the only person laughing at the super realistic new Mario. My whole family was reveling in this new experience. 
Once the shock of this new world left me, I began to explore. The levels were so immersive, I felt like I could go anywhere and do anything. I jumped on goombas, threw around bob-ombs, collected stars like there was no tomorrow. My battles with Bowser were equally breathtaking and always put me on the edge of my seat. Chunking Bowser onto a bomb was so fulfilling. I was in love with Super Mario 64. I felt like I was waist deep in the goomba infested future of gaming, and I loved every minute of it, or every hour rather. 
From then on, I knew that I would never love another game more than this one. Of course this changed. I obviously expanded my Nintendo 64 library. Star Wars:Shadows of the Empire, Doom 64, Goldeneye, Duke Nukem; so many games went in and out of my 64. It was a way of life for me. 
Time went by faster and faster and eventually my new Nintendo wasn't so new. The new Playstation took the Nintendo 64's place at center stage, then the Sega Dreamcast (RIP), the GameCube, Playstation 2, the list goes on and on. My Nintendo 64 collected dust as well as Super Mario 64. I played it off and on until I finally got my Playstation 3, which is when I almost totally abandoned all my older systems. 
Now the dull, unpolished polygons of Super Mario 64 look so aged to me. The worlds I once loved no longer seem so magical. Nothing from my six year old past wows me like it did then. It makes me sad that I feel that way, but that is how the video game world goes. 
New games come and go. Things that were once innovative, are now archaic. Graphics that once entranced me, look like a virtual mess. Yet, something sets the dusty Super Mario 64 apart from what I play today. It's no longer as beautiful like it was then but it has memories attached to it. Memories that are priceless and irreplaceable. It also harkens back to a time when Video games were more than just a way to release your aggression on people you didn't know, I'm looking at you Call of Duty. 
Super Mario 64 was a world that created wonderment that I no longer find in even the best of today's video games. I love some of the games that I have in my library today, they also entertain me to the point that I add them to my favorites list, but they don't do what Super Mario 64 did, they never will. It's like how a drug addict is always chasing that first high, it's unobtainable. I'm not saying that all current generation video games do not have the heart of my first Nintendo 64 experience but I feel that they lack the love for it's players that I found long ago. 
Super Mario 64 will always be a nostalgia trip for me. Every time I play it, I can almost be like my six year old self. I loved video games then, and I still do. But it's more like an affair than a true love. Super Mario 64 will always have my heart, and the six year old in me will always try to find that love that I found back then.