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Mario Kart 64

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Reviewed by Timothy Tripp Although I had the game reserved at a local Toys R' Us, they didn't have it yet and said it might not be in until Thursday (ack) but I passed a Best Buy on the way home and lo and behold they had about 40 of the carts in stock ($59.95 same as TRU, the N. Richland Hills, TX Best Buy before I get swamped with e-mails demanding that info...). I just finished almost 5 straight hours of playing and I now hold at least the silver cup in all the circuits at 100cc. My family and I also played the 3 and 4 player modes (I managed to snag the last two SharkPads at a local KayBee Toys - I highly recommend them BTW). I should also add that this is the only game I've been able to enjoy with BOTH my wife AND my three year old(!) let alone with all of us playing at the same time! But I digress, on to the meat... I only played the SNES version twice and the digital control frustrated me. The control in SMK64 is very smooth and they take good advantage of the analog control. You will feel the lack of an analog button almost right away, but that's something they should have put into the controller, there's nothing the game could do about it. I do have to say that it is hands down the best control I've seen a game have outside of an actual steering wheel. The tracks are very diverse and they handle very differently, especially with characters other than Mario and Luigi (Peach, Yoshi and Toad are "lightweights" who don't decelerate too badly on grass and sand, while Kong, Wario and Bowser are "heavyweights" who "sink" into the grass and sand, slowing them down off road but they turn better and don't lose much velocity around turns). Terrains range from sand to ice and snow and different characters weights make big differences on the textures. As I mentioned before, the characters are grouped into three weight classes. The other differences between the classes are that in collisions the higher the weight class, the less chance of being knocked into an oncoming semi, and the lighter classes seem to have noticeably lower top speeds, and slow down a lot around turns, unless you "slide" which is invoked by holding the ever-reliable R button while turning (sliding is very difficult to control, but you don't slow down in the turns). Maybe it's just me but in the four player mode I didn't notice the infamous "slow-down" that I've heard about. There were other problems with four player mode, namely that the lack of screen real-estate makes it much harder to see what's coming at you and 320x200 divided by four is only 160x100 each, even with anti-aliasing (which is on-par with Mario 64) that's not a lot of resolution for details on the horizon. Basically, though, in this mode you are competing with other people, and everyone's playing with the same limitations. I found the 3 and 4 player modes to be a blast. I don't anticipate having more fun playing a 4 player game until (possibly) when Star Fox 64 comes out.

GRAPHICS: 9 (out of 10)

+ Tracks are excellent + Framerate was very good, even in 4 player mode. Much better than I had expected based on other reviews + Characters look great at normal distances - Characters (and some trees) look a little too blocky for the N64 when REAL close.


+ Players taunting you as they drive by adds great atmosphere + The cars sound great - Not all, but some of the characters sound a little off, sort of like one or two people did all the voices then distorted the samples.


+ Best racing control outside of a steering wheel I've used yet. - A little too easy to get stuck. I think they could have had the B button act as brake and reverse without having to hold back on the control stick to have eliminated this gripe.


+ Haven't had this much fun since SM64. Sidenote: Wave Race could have been this much fun if they had a four player mode.


+ This is one cart that won't be gathering any dust as long as you can manage to keep two or three friends around.

OVERALL: 9.5/10

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