Mario Kart 64 is the grand sequel to one of the most successful games on the SNES and was one of the first games for the N64! It was quite a feat for the game because it was the first Mario Kart that was done in 3D as well. Now came with depth and more identity to the characters and courses this time! Let’s attack this legendary game shall we?
At that time with the evolution of the game, I was expecting more, but we ended up with 8 characters again but there’s some slight changes. For some reason Koopa Troopa and DK Jr. were dropped for well….Donkey Kong and Wario (in betas, Kamek was going to be in the game, but was shot down for regular DK at the last minute). It was an OK list, could’ve had a little more to it, but what could you do.
Also, the characters all now use regular items, so no character specifics.
A lot of the items from the original make a return here like the Banana, Lightning Bolt, Green/Red Shells, Boo, Stars, and Mushrooms, but we got a lot of new ones too!
- Triple Red/Green Shells – Well it’s easy to figure out what these are right, three shells that circle around you and you can throw them back or forward (Green shells cannot be laid down, they’re just shot backwards).
- Triple Mushrooms – Same idea, but with 3 lol
- Banana Bunches – You get 5 bananas following you and you can lay them wherever or let your opponent run right into them.
- Fake Item Boxes – The first legit real item is Fake Item Box which is there to show some trollingness. Replace the spots with the regular item boxes but place one of these in its place and daaaaamn.
- Golden Mushrooms – So when you far behind in the pack, get one of these and you have a set time to boost your way to the front, as in repeated speed boosts!!!
- Spiny Shell – The infamous blue shell makes its first appearance! It sends itself forward and attacks the 1st place player.
If you’ve noticed they took out only two items, Cons and the Feather. The former because the coin system was actually dropped for the game and the Feather because I’m sure it would’ve been too cheap (or very unruly to use). Also CPUs lose the ability to use just one item and now can use them all.
The best upgrade in this game is the fact that all the tracks are different from one another, albeit there’s less tracks than in the original game (strange right?). Still the tracks were so unique and such a stretch of the imagination at the time that I just was awestruck with the 3D tracks. Let’s be honest, we had a LOT of memorable tracks to the point that with MK8, all but one track has been reimagined. If you must know, Wario Stadium, Bowser Castle, and Rainbow Road were favorites. of mine. There was some tracks that felt a bit meh, but they’ve gotten better in time.
Being as the first 3D Mario Kart, MK64 pioneered this system quite well. Overall, the main thing hasn’t really changed too much. The formula is mostly the same with some new ideas like drifting to boost, and a lot more shortcuts to boot and take advantage of more of the items. That being said, the game feels harder with these new inclusions and in fact the 150cc is just brutal for me, but not impossible to defeat. The rubberbanding is still kind of annoying but it isn’t craptastic at least to me. The driving aspect felt more slippery and kind of odd to get used to at first (worse for veterans).
Graphics / Sound
- Graphics: For being an early N64 title, it actually looked decent back in the day and with how Super Mario 64 was impressing everyone with its look, MK actually did the same for the kart racing genre (and really set off the motions for future wannabe titles). Today, the game does look like it’s starting to show its age and the looks of the tracks are kind of looking polygonal (thank god they’ve been redone, cept Wario Stadium). Still bright colors and the atmosphere is just quite awesome.
- Sound: I think that the sound is good, even today….of course the muffledness is there but the tunes were memorable in its own way (not as memorable like SMK’s). Plus they’ve started using actual noises for the characters which is a nice plus.
Other Things to do
- Cup Races – Just like the previous game, the main idea is to win these in the 50, 100, and 150cc, but really the interesting part is that when you do win all of them, you get Mirror Mode in which the tracks are basically switched from right to left and etc.
- Time Trials – Really, no difference, just try to get the best time!
- Vs. Races – Mostly the same, but with the included fact that up to 4 people can race!
- Battle Mode – Like the courses, the battle mode got a nice facelift. Sadly it’s still relegated to just 4 tracks, but I really like all of them and brought some interesting style over SMK’s selection.
You can’t deny that Mario Kart 64 really propelled the series with it’s sequel and boy did it fluorish throughout my childhood. Taking off my nostalgic glasses, it can’t be denied either that it really hasn’t aged well. The game’s control really makes the karts feel clunky and slip-slidy and the drifting is kind of hard to get used to (especially if you’re used to the way later iterations use this technique. Still, you gotta love the 3D tracks finally making each track their own identity. Battle Mode, while still very thin, was still loads of fun and even better with the multiplayer. I kind of wished there were more unlockables besides mirrored tracks, but I guess the had limitations. I wonder what the next installment will turnout like.