Review by WhatTheDeuce92
"I absolutely loved this game 10 years ago."
Mario Kart 64, one of my favorite Nintendo 64 games when I was a kid. Ah, how the years have gone by. It's amazing how some games remain to be great games no matter how long they have been out for. I honestly wish I could say this for Mario Kart 64 because sadly, over the past 10 years, Mario Kart 64 has truly shown its aged and isn't as enjoyable(at least to me) as it used to be.
Now, to start off, in case you haven't figured this out, this game is a racing game featuring eight Mario characters to race as. Now, like most racing games out there, there isn't a story to this game. The story of a game is usually one of the main factors I use to help determine what score I should give a game. However, this game doesn't have a story, so I can't use it as a factor in reviewing this game.
Anyway, let's get down to the meat and bones of the game, shall we? This game has three basic modes of playing: Grand Prix, Time Trials, and Multiplayer. Now, in Grand Prix, you have four cups to choose from, and each cup has four courses on it. This means that you get 16 racetracks to choose from. There are four difficulties in Mario Kart 64: 50cc, 100cc, 150cc, and Extra. Basically, 50cc is easy, 100cc is medium, and 150cc is hard. Extra mode you unlock once you get a gold trophy on all cups in all difficulties, and basically all it is is all of the courses mirrored. So, Extra mode is the same thing as Mirror mode from Double Dash and Mario Kart DS. In Time Trials, you play whichever track you want to play, and you try and beat your time, same as any other racing game. One thing that will disappoint people is that in the VC version of Mario Kart 64, you can't save your ghost data like in the original version. Multiplayer is probably the reason why you should get Mario Kart 64, because it's really the only reason why you'll play the game after you've gotten gold in all the cups in Grand Prix. In fact, Multiplayer is pretty much the gem of Mario Kart 64. If two people are playing, you can do the Grand Prix in multiplayer. However, if there's three or four, you can't. However, in anywhere from two to four players, you can go head to head in Versus mode, which doesn't have any computer-controlled characters racing against you. Also in multiplayer, there is Battle mode, which has different tracks from Grand Prix, and that is because you don't race on them. Instead, the people playing each have three balloons, which are basically lives. Once one of the other people playing hits you, you lose a balloon. The person left with the most balloons wins.
When I played this game again after purchasing the game on VC, the controls seemed a little weird to me. However, I think the reason for this is because Double Dash and Mario Kart DS improved on the controls, but this could just be me. Like every other N64 game that's on the VC, Mario Kart 64 can be played using either the GameCube or Classic controller. I myself haven't played this game using the Classic controller, as I don't own one and don't plan on getting one until a game pops up that makes using it a necessity rather than a luxury, so I don't know the controls using the Classic controller. However, this is fine because if you have a GameCube controller, there really is no need to play this game using a Classic controller as the GameCube controls are just fine. If you've played Mario Kart: Double Dash for the GameCube, the controls for Mario Kart 64 should click with you right away. A is to accelerate, B is to break, Y or X is to use items, Control Stick is to steer, and L and R are used to slide. Basically, when racing, you drive along the track, and you can use items to put a hurting on other racers who get in your way. The items in Mario Kart 64 are excellent, ranging from bananas to turtle shells, even to mushrooms and lightning bolts. As for the steering, this is where I was saying about how I thought the controls were "weird". It just felt uncomfortable turning and using power slides, and in my opinion they've been improved in the two games that followed. I've heard people who say power sliding in this game was the best, but my opinion is that they're not, so you can judge for yourself.
One question popped into my head when I saw the graphics in this game: "Did the graphics really look this bad in the original game?" Well, this isn't entirely true for the look of everything in the game. Some of the environments are rather pleasant to look at, but the models of the characters are not exactly a great sight to see. I mean, come on people, Mario definitely didn't look this bad in Super Mario 64. Now, I remember playing this game as a kid and I thought the graphics were great, but after 10 years and playing it again, I was sadly disappointed. Then again, back then graphics in a game weren't as good as today's standard of graphics, but still, basically put, the graphics of Mario Kart 64 aren't one of its better things about it.
One good thing is that the music in Mario Kart 64 is still as memorable as it was 10 years ago. Unlike the graphics, if you enjoyed the music of Mario Kart 64 10 years ago, you'll still enjoy it just as much if you play it today. The music from tracks such as Moo Moo Farm, Bowser's Castle, and Rainbow Road will bring back memories and stick in your mind once again. Also, remember when you successfully hit someone and your character makes a little noise that basically says "yay!"? Well, that's still in the game, too. Nothing like hearing that from your character after someone slid on the banana peel you threw onto the track.
As for the play time of the game, to be honest, it won't take you long to beat this game. A good 5-8 hours at most should get you the Gold trophies you need from all four cups in all four difficulties. Also, it's not like you really need to play anything over again, because there is absolutely no unlockables in the game, except for Extra(or Mirror) mode, and that really isn't considered to be an unlockable. There is no characters to unlock besides the eight that are already given to you, no extra tracks, and no carts for the racers, but then again, there is only one cart for each racer. Also, for the replay factor of Mario Kart 64, there really isn't any replay to it, except for Multiplayer. I haven't really found a purpose to keep playing the game by myself because I have all Gold trophies. However, if you have friends over, or even some family members that will play games with you, Mario Kart 64 is a great game for multiplayer, and it will provide you quite a few fun hours of gaming.
So, now the big question: Should I buy this game? Well, if you've been buying VC games for nostalgic purposes, then Mario Kart 64 is a definite buy for you. If you want a great multiplayer VC game, Mario Kart 64 is a definite buy. However, if you're looking for a great, solid game that you'll want to play for a while, you may or may not want to get this game. If that's the case, it's really up to you. Here are my opinions:
+Controls are easy to learn
-Steering/turning rather bad(objectionable, though)
+Some environments are well done
-Everything else doesn't look as good as it did 10 years ago
Play Time/Replay: 7
+Everything in the game can be excellent for nostalgic purposes(which will keep you playing)
-Kind of short
My final score Mario Kart 64 is 28/40, which is 7/10. Get the game if you want it for nostalgia or multiplayer, but the single player isn't as good. If I was judging this based on how I liked it 10 years ago, it would've gotten anywhere from a 9 to a 10, but sadly, 10 years have aged this game and it's not as good as it used to be. However, it is still a fun game and a classic.
Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 04/05/07, Updated 12/10/12
Game Release: Mario Kart 64 (US, 01/29/07)
Got Your Own Opinion?
You can submit your own review for this game using our Review Submission Form.