Mario Kart 64 (Nintendo 64) Review

By Ross Morley 03.09.2003

Review for Mario Kart 64 on Nintendo 64

Back in the summer of '92, we saw the start of what was to be another fantastic series of games for Nintendo. Super Mario Kart was released, and those that had criticised Ninty for obviously trying to make the most out of the Mario franchise suddenly realised why they shouldn't judge too soon. Super Mario Kart was a perfectly balanced game, all who loved it admired its range of characters, track design and superb handling. Many of these fans then, hoped that Mario Kart 64 would follow in the same line of thought.

So, many expected Nintendo to take the 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it' approach. But, they didn't. The first thing that struck you when you picked it up was how different it was to the Super Nintendo game. Allow us to explain how the gameplay differed...

First of all, track design. Gone were the tight, twisty little channels of racetracks that made the previous incarnation so challenging to play. Instead, we were faced with large, wide tracks that could often be linked to a six-lane highway. 'Okay, so it's easier', you're thinking, 'but that's no problem if the handling works in the same way as in the SNES version'. Unfortunately, the tweaks don't stop on the design front. The karts actually started to grip the tracks extremely well (shock, horror) and power sliding was no longer necessary.

Screenshot for Mario Kart 64 on Nintendo 64

Artificial Intelligence didn't seem to be that much smarter than in Super Mario Kart, another big disappointment. After running a perfect race, we still squealed when Princess Peach overtook us on the final corner, her track state having obviously been enhanced by the computer. Why on earth Nintendo hadn't corrected this flaw we shall never know, but we were constantly fighting off competitors who appeared behind us again fifteen seconds later.

So far we haven't stopped complaining about this game, but we like it. Why? Well, for a start we must point out that much of what we have criticised thus far has come about due to us comparing Mario Kart 64 to the SNES version. So, now we can tell you why this game is really quite good...

Screenshot for Mario Kart 64 on Nintendo 64

It's fair to say that we dislike the design of the tracks as they, combined with the handling of the karts, make a less adrenaline filled title than we might have hoped for. However, the circuits do have some nice features on them. Statues of Yoshi carved from ice, moles leaping out of their burrows in the track, and penguins sliding across on their bellies right in front of you are just some of things that give this game its charm. Trackside scenery is nice enough too, we're not complaining here. Certain circuits incorporate clever ideas, such as racing down a motorway and squirming through Bowser's castle. Aesthetically at least, the design isn't too bad.

To put it lightly, battle mode is ******* excellent in this edition of Mario Kart. Taking balloons away from the opponents kart will never be so much fun. The brawls take place on four multi level arenas which are designed to do their job very well indeed. Battle mode is a funfest of skill, knowledge and wit. The game just comes alive so much in this mode, which is why we believe it to be the very best aspect of Mario Kart 64. Grab three friends and enjoy one of the N64s top multiplayer experiences. It's that good.

Screenshot for Mario Kart 64 on Nintendo 64

This title may have its faults when compared to Super Mario Kart, but the fact is it's still great fun simply because it is Mario Kart. The weapons alone mean you can't really not like this game, and you've got to smile at the little touches here and there that can only be found in Mario games. With sixteen tracks to race through across four cups, and then verses and battle mode, there's plenty to do as well.

This game is definitely worth the money you pay for it. It may not have the same depth in terms of gameplay that Super Mario Kart had, but you'll always enjoy it regardless. You may be disappointed that there's no feather power up, no Koopa Trooper and less challenge, but to say that's put you off buying the game would be a tad silly. Who knows, you may even like the new style. If you've never played the SNES version there's nothing to be disappointed about.

Screenshot for Mario Kart 64 on Nintendo 64

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

This title is far more controversial than its SNES brother. We love it, but if you were brought up into the SNES era and owned Super Mario Kart you may be upset to find how much the gameplay has changed. Still well worth a buy though.









C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10 (9 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


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