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Mario Kart 64

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Reviewed by Mr. Smooth Well, I (along with millions of other gamers across the globe) have been waiting for the release of this game for A LONG TIME. Practically everyone who owned an SNES owned the original Mario Kart, and practically everyone who owned Mario Kart loved it to death. It was that good. Can the N64 version compare? Umm....well, that all depends on your point of view. Read on and see if you agree or disagree. Don't be afraid to e-mail me your comments.

GRAPHICS 8.5 out of 10

I'll admit it right now, my head still hurts from when I banged it into the wall 100 times upon hearing Nintendo's decision to make Mario Kart 64 with pre-rendered sprite racers. I was shocked, disappointed, and a little betrayed. After all, I had shelled out the BIG TIME money for this new N64 and I didn't want OLD sprite based racers! Even PRE-RENDERED ones didn't satisfy me. Well, after playing this game for hours upon frustrating hours (we'll get into that later) I must say I am a little impressed and a little disappointed. Yeah, the sprite racers WERE necessary to maintain frame rate levels in 4 player mode (which doesn't have a great FPS regardless) and yeah, they make the game run at a silky smooth FPS that Nintendo will try to tell us is OVER 60 but we have no way of testing for sure. (Note: I am not complaining about the frame rate, it is good). Occasionally the racer's sprites get blocky or smudgy but it would be 1,000 times worse if not for N64's anti-aliasing (sp?) capabilities. Other than that I am done complaining. As for the rest of the game I have nothing but positive comments. The tracks and textures are just plain great. I am constantly amazed at the beauty of Mario's Raceway which has wonderful textured grass and brilliant all around layout, design, and cartoonish feel. The water looks great in Mario Kart 64, the tracks are all beautiful and that's it. I have nothing more to say about the graphics.

SOUND 10 out of 10

I was very impressed with the music in Mario Kart 64. I want to get that off my chest right now. I still remember the tunes of some of the tracks, and the opening and closing themes to the game are great. It's no Shadows of the Empire in the recognizability of the soundtrack, but it's just as good in it's own right. The sound effects are done well when you can hear them. The big ROAR of the mushroom turbo boost is great and adds to the overall effect of the mushroom. I would have loved to hear some screech of metal when the kart's crash or bang into walls but all we get are dinky sound thumps. Ohh well. Not much else to say about the sound except it's damn good music, and damn fine sound overall.

GAMEPLAY 7 out of 10

Ahh yes, gameplay. This will be a biggie I bet. Let's start off with what I feel is the biggest problem in the whole game. The cheap Artificial Intelligence. It's so cheap that you can be in first on one corner and in 8th if you take your finger off the gas for a fraction of a second. No joke. I have MAJOR problems with this area. MAJOR. Remember the original Mario Kart? Remember how you could (if you were good enough) practically lap the computer by power sliding and taking super arrow boosts around the courses? Well you sure as hell can't do that in this game. The computer uses lighting (which is an everyday occurrence in this game now), spiked shells, and the whole damn arsenal of stuff on you. You can fire a super mushroom 11 times, take a shortcut through the woods, hit the jump, land perfectly, do a super mini-boost slide, and hit the second place player with a red shell and guess what.... he's caught RIGHT back up to behind you in a matter of minutes/seconds. WHY did Nintendo do this? Did they figure it was BETTER this way? WHO were the play testers that didn't notice this FATAL FATAL flaw?!?! Please give me their names and addresses so I can go to their houses and shoot them. Let's move on to Battle Mode. I loved Battle Mode. Key word here: LOVED. I no longer love Battle Mode the way I used to. I LONG for a FLAT course with no stupid sides to fall off, no dumb buildings to climb, and no god-damn multilevel mazes. PLEASE give me one. It's just not as fun anymore. I haven't played a four player battle mode, my experience is only with two players, but from what I can tell, the levels are too big, the corners to sharp, the drop-offs to plentiful and those damn upside down question blocks get me EVERY time. Arghg. Battle Mode is definitely NOT what it used to be, but perhaps with four players it would be more fun. Someone PLEASE e-mail me and tell me their four player experiences. The key to this game is VS. You HAVE to play VS. Battle Mode is all right for two players, but the real game begins in grand-prix and vs because THERE the action heats up and the courses come alive. My only complaint would be the LUDICROUS handicap mode that you can't turn off. By handicap mode I mean where a player is behind so he automatically gets a super mushroom, 3 red shells, spiked shell, lighting, or star. The first place player gets banana peels, upside down question blocks, and retarded green shells. There's NOTHING worse than being ahead by sheer skill and determination and loosing because some idiot lucked out and got 3 or 4 lighting in one course. I hate that. It's frustrating.

REPLAY VALUE 9 out of 10

Yeah, you'll get a fair amount of replay value for your buck in this game, but how much will you REALLY want to play again? If you're like me, you will probably spend a good day or two completing 150CC to get the "Extra" (mirrored tracks) and then NEVER touch 1 player grand-prix again. It's just too frustrating and cheap. The rest of the game consists of multi player VS, battle mode, and multiplayer GRAND PRIX. That's it. YOU NEED A FRIEND TO PLAY THIS GAME. Trust me, you won't be playing for very long if you just have yourself. It's cheap and frustrating enough to make you go insane and pull your own hair out. Ughg.

OVERALL 7.5 out of 10

I know this review has been mostly negative, but that's how I like to keep my reviews. You've probably read so much stuff about Mario Kart 64 and how this area is good, and the graphics are great, and so on. I wrote my review intending to point out the little things that make this game such a frustrating experience to play. You can't read that in most reviews. I'm just an average everyday Joe gamer who wants to put his 2 cents into the Mario Kart 64 pot and let you know what he thinks is wrong. I hope you at least rent this game for a few days to try it out, I mean who knows, you might like it more than I did. It's not that I hate Mario Kart 64, it's just the little things in the game that made me want to turn my N64 off. It's funny how you can make a great game and completely screw it up by just forgetting a FEW key elements that make the game go from AVERAGE to GREAT. Mario Kart 64 missed this mark, and because of that it will probably go down as a great Multiplayer game but a lousy one player experience.

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