Review by Fastkilr
"Nintendo's premiere racer for the N64."
There have been times when I've picked up a gaming console at launch, fully expecting the best experience it could deliver. When the Super Nintendo launched, we received Super Mario World along with Pilot Wings and F-Zero on day one. Even that had seemed impressive to me. However, when the Nintendo 64 fell into greedy U.S. hands, everything fell into place. There was Mario in 3D for the first time, Pilot Wings had received a breath of fresh air, and most importantly of all, two months later a not-so-little game by the name of Wave Race 64 made the biggest splash of all.
Firstly, I have to mention an under-achieving game that goes by the name of Jet Moto. Jet Moto was horrid. It had sloppy controls, the graphics looked like dirt, and it was just a terrible game all around. Overcoming the shock of the Playstation's potential power, Nintendo released Wave Race 64 within a matter of days after Jet Moto was released. Putting Sony to shame, Wave Race 64 was the premier racing game of the time. It was unstoppable, a force to be reckoned with, a game that will forever stand the test of time.
The spirit of Wave Race 64 is competitive. Starting with the one-player challenge-mode, you'll race against three other Jet-Skiers for dominance of each course, until you've propelled yourself into prime position for the first place trophy. Once you've acquired your first trophy, a Hard difficulty opens, followed by Expert. Upon beating Expert difficulty, you will be racing the tracks in Reverse. While this may sound like a lot of work, all four difficulties can be completed within a few sittings. Multi-Player is split horizontal, and then can be focused into two equal squares once two players enter the mix. There's also a stunt mode in which you'll get some practice, and learn some mind-blowing tricks.
On the count of three, all four Jet-Ski jockeys begin revving up their engines. The announcer bellows out in the most overblown way possible "GO!!!!", and it's now a high-risk race to the death. For the most part, gameplay consists of balancing out your craft, finding a proficient way to turn corners, knowing the level, and following the left-or-right buoys which direct you throughout the level. If you don't follow the directions on the color-coded buoys (red means right, yellow means left), and miss them five times, you'll have to retire your craft which may result in you restarting the circuit, if you're playing one-player.
Ahead of its time, Wave Race 64 allows you to tweak with the water conditions, and your Jet-Ski's controls. The control you have over the water will be primarily attributed to the waves. You can either make them tsunami-like, or level them out to a hush gel-like smoothness. As far as your watercraft goes, you can adjust only the handling, the speed and the grip. When you're flying from wave-to-wave, trying to sway over to insure you won't miss a left-or-right marker, these adjustments may prove valuable.
A treat on the hands, the eyes, and the ears, everything about the game is smooth. There's such attention to detail that you can't help but point out how realistic the water looks. My first reaction when playing Wave Race 64 was, "the water looks so beautiful under that sunset!" This is one of those fond memories that you get from nostalgia. Nintendo really is on top of their game here, and everything from the announcer, the attractive tunes, and the well-built characters is here to prove it. Congratulations on a nearly perfect game, Nintendo!
For what it's worth, Wave Race 64 is viable to be in every Gamer's collection. It's that amazing. You'll find no better racing experience on neither the PS1, nor the Sega Saturn. Jet Moto couldn't even hold its own against Wave Race 64, and I am unsure that any Jet-Ski game could ever live up to what expectations have been established here. If you want an N64 game that's perfect for experts, and is also a natural play, then I think you've found your match. As smooth as butter, and refreshing as the wide-ocean, top-notch games of this ilk are few and far between.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 12/09/05, Updated 12/12/05
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