Nintendo may have thrown a fit about Super Mario 64 being reverse engineered and ported to the PC, but the controversy has definitely been worth it based on the amazing improvements that modders have been adding to the original game. The latest comes from a duo by the names of Daríosamo and Render96, who have managed to transform the visuals of the classic 1996 platformer dramatically thanks to the implementation of ray tracing and much higher-quality models. Digital Foundry has shared a video demonstrating just how great Mario looks with the new models and lighting, especially after wearing the invulnerability-granting metal cap.
The ray traced version of Super Mario 64 is very early on in development and sees the developer replacing the entire lighting system with an RT rendition that delivers full real-time global illumination with very convincing light bounce, right down to shades Mario’s costume shading his skin. […] Beyond that, some of the original game’s scenery elements were originally 2D bitmaps which aren’t a good fit for ray tracing. This is where the Render96 project makes a difference in our build, so aspects of the game including trees now receive full 3D models, designed to mimic the SGI renders of the time period and reminiscent of the style seen in shows of the era, like Reboot.