Shifting Sand Land is the eighth course in Super Mario 64 and Super Mario 64 DS. It consists of a desert with a pyramid in the middle. The pyramid can be entered via the doorway on the near-bottom front side of it and there are Power Stars to obtain both outside and inside of it.
This level is called the Shifting Sand Land due to the fact that much of its ground terrain appears to be a type of quicksand. This course is the first one to have its entrance disguised as a wall; it is followed by Snowman's Land. Four Pillars stick out of the ground at different points in the level. Three of these pillars can be reached via sand, while the other one is located in quicksand and has to be reached with either the Wing Cap, Koopa Shell, Luigi's backflip, or a well-placed long jump. The most prominent feature of the level is the great pyramid in the center. Three Power Stars can be found inside the pyramid. One of these is in the possesion of Eyerok an ancient spirit (in the form of two stone hands with eyes) which lives inside the pyramid. Eyerok serves as the boss of the level. To reach him, Yoshi, Mario, Luigi, or Wario has to first stand on top of each of the four pillars that can be found in the Shifting Sand Land.
Other notable locations include a small oasis (consisting of a palm tree, a small pool of water, and one Red Coin) located north west of the pyramid. A stone gazebo can be found near the beginning of the level, under which are two Goombas and on top of which is a Red ! Block (Red ? Block in the remake). There is also a maze path which rests on top of dark quicksand and is traveled on by Tox Boxes. This maze is one of a few ways to traverse from the east to the west side of the level. Other ways include a Wing Cap, Luigi's backflip, the Tornadoes, and the Crazed Crate at the beginning of the level. Common enemies in this course include Fly Guys, Pokeys, Tox Boxes, and the infamous cap-stealing Klepto (in the N64 version, this course is Klepto's only appearance while the DS version also includes him in Tiny-Huge Island and Sunshine Isles).
Star 1: In the Talons of the Big Bird
For this Star, Mario must grab the Star away from Klepto, who is seen flying around in the entire level but is mainly seen flying around the pyramid. Once Mario bumps into Klepto, usually by standing on top of the pillar closest to the Oasis, the Star will be his.
Star 2: Shining Atop the Pyramid
As the name states, Mario must now head toward the top of the pyramid to get this star by following a path that goes around it that gets narrower as it gets higher. Alternatively, Mario can use the Wing Cap to fly directly to the Star.
Star 3: Inside the Ancient Pyramid
Mario must now head inside of the pyramid. Once there, Mario must carefully navigate through the course on the inside and avoid Grindels and other potential threats as he climbs up the Pyramid, as he climbs, he will encounter Spindels, Amps, Goombas, and Grindels on each floor which he must avoid and stay on that same path to eventually reach the Star at the highest point of the pyramid.
Alternatively, Mario can stand on the four pillars, enter the pyramid from the top and grab the Star much easier.
Star 4: Stand Tall On the Four Pillars
For this Star, Mario must run across the four large pillars that surround the pyramid. One misstep will land Mario in the treacherous quicksand so the Wing Cap is the safest way to reach the top of the pillars. Once Mario has done so, the top of the pyramid will explode leading to a new entrance. Mario must descend using the elevator until he reaches a room where he must fight Eyerok, the guardian of the pyramid. To defeat the Eyerok, Mario must hit each hand's eye 3 times. After one hand is down, the other one will make an attempt to push Mario off the edge so you must be quick to attack before this happens. After defeating Eyerok, Mario is awarded with a star. In the DS remake, it is possible to reach this Star without standing on the Pillars, use Luigi's backflip spin and reach the alcove to Eyerok's room. Yoshi can also defeat the Eyerok with sweep kicks and by breathing fire at it with the use of the nearby torch.
Star 5 (DS): Tox Box Switch Star
Only playable in Super Mario 64 DS, this mission requires the use of Wario. Make your way across the platforms on the quicksand while avoiding the Tox Boxes (before doing this, it is recommended you take care of the Tox Boxes as Wario can defeat them by jumping inside one) and then reach the top right section near the Cannon. Break open the Black Box to reveal the Star Switch race to the oasis with a series of long jumps (but be sure to avoid the Tox Boxes as well as the quicksand) and then grab the Star which is located at the oasis.
Star 5 (N64) Star 7 (DS): Free Flying For 8 Red Coins
Mario must search the entire level for the red coins.
- The first one is located at the very edge of the level, behind the starting point.
- The second one is found inside of a block under where the first Wing Cap is found near the start.
- The third one is found on the stone walkway teeming with Tox Boxes near the cannon.
- The fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh ones are found in the air between each of the stone pillars.
- The eight and final one is located near the two pillars on the left side of the pyramid, in the oasis.
The Star Marker can be found at the same location where the second red coin is collected.
In the DS remake, this Star was moved to Star 7.
Star 6: Pyramid Puzzle
This star is considered by many to be one of the most notoriously difficult stars in the game. Mario must navigate himself inside of the pyramid and follow the same path that he followed in Inside the Ancient Pyramid. Only this time, he must make a tiny jump off of the side of the final platform just before the corresponding star to locate a very small platform. Said platform holds a coin that triggers a number when collected; this coin is but one of five necessary to complete the Pyramid Puzzle mission and spawn the star-- much easier said than done.
After collecting the first coin, Mario must calculate his next jump to the left of the platform barely past the sandfall to locate the second platform and thus collect the second secret coin. The third and final platform is located at the lower right side of the second platform and again is barely past the sandfall. The third secret coin lies there. Then, Mario can simply walk to the left of the platform and fall safely off to find a trail of slow quicksand created by the aforementioned sandfall and follow said trail to collect secret coins #4 and #5. Mario can still drown in the quicksand, so he must jump continuously while following the sand path. Once the player collects all five secret coins, the star will finally spawn just at the very end of the quicksand trail. The quicksand trail hinders Mario's jumping abilities and in turn makes it easy to miscalculate the jump for the star; doing so causes Mario to fall off of the trail and plummet directly into quicksand below, costing Mario a life and wiping the player's entire progress. It is recommended to enter the pyramid from the top (by standing on the pillars) and then jump to reach the platform with the first coin much easier.
In the remake, this Star was changed to a Silver Star mission making it much more manageable. The Silver Stars are in the same locations as the coins but their larger hitbox makes them easier to obtain. Aditionally, the Star at the sandfall is now in a sphere making it much easier to obtain.
- Fly Guy
- Tox Box
- Fire Spitter (N64 Only)
- Fire Chomp (DS Only)
- Eyerok (BOSS)
- Shifting Sand Land is one of the levels in the game that doesn't contain a true painting leading to the level, the others being Big Boo's Haunt, Dire, Dire Docks, Snowman's Land and Rainbow Ride.