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Mario Kart 64 Review

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Developer: Nintendo Publisher: Nintendo
Release Date: February 10, 1997 Also On: Wii

Super Mario Kart on the SNES was an unqualified success, so, what is the virtually inevitable result? With the N64 came Mario Kart 64, and, as with many games on the N64, Mario Kart 64 made the transition to 3D. With this transition also came the transition to four-player multiplayer. Were these changes enough to add Mario Kart 64 to the good tradition set by its predecessor? Read on to find out.

Graphically, Mario Kart 64 was an early-era N64 title, and it showed. And yet, for it’s time, it didn’t look too bad. Compared to Super Mario 64, it looks pretty good, and the graphical style of those two games looks appropriately similar. Overall, therefore, I can’t make any significant negative comments about the graphics.

The sound effects in Mario Kart 64 are pretty standard Mario Kart fare, so there’s little need for me to comment on them. The music in the game is really quite good for the most part, especially the themes for Moo Moo Farm and Choco Mountain. So, good but not overly impressive sound effects are made up for by great music, making the sound very good overall.

In terms of gameplay, if you’ve played one Mario Kart game, you’ve played them all. There are four sets of four courses that you must race through against seven other opponents. These sets of courses can be raced through at three different skill levels. This makes for a decent amount of single-player play time, and the game is particularly fun due to all of the items in it.

These items are truly what determine your position in a race. Driving well is only going to keep you with the pack most of the time, but the items are where you can pass your opponents (or them you). This game consists of green and red shells (the difference being that red ones home on to opponents), bananas and upside down question marks that can be dropped behind the kart, or leader-seeking blue shells, all used to attack your opponents. There are also mushrooms in this game meant to give you a speed boost, but I don’t think they work as well as they’re supposed to. Still, the one-player mode will last you a decent amount of time.

In terms of multiplayer, up to four people can join together and race through the courses. Other than that, you can engage in a balloon battle where every time you hit your opponent they lose a balloon. This mode can be worth the cost of the game by itself if you have a lot of friends that enjoy the game. Mario Kart 64 only has only 8 characters, but, that’s not really that big of a deal since who you choose makes little difference. You basically have big, average, and small characters, and it is that size that matters. Even then, the differences aren’t significant. The big characters are slower to accelerate but can move faster, and the small ones are the opposite. The big ones can make the small ones spin out also. But, other than those two things, character selection makes no difference.

In conclusion, if you don’t already have a Mario Kart game somewhere in your collection and you have an N64, Mario Kart 64 is a game well worth picking up, whether in its original cartridge form or on the Wii Virtual Console. Ten years later, it isn’t as great as Mario Kart DS, but it may be worth a significant amount of time nonetheless.

Graphics: 7
Sound: 8
Gameplay: 8
Creativity: 7
Replay Value/Game Length: 9
Final: 7.9
Written by Martin Review Guide