Review by WhatTheDeuce92
"Jetski racing at its finest."
Wave Race 64 was one of my favorite racing games when I was younger. Sure, it didn't quite match up with some of my other favorites, like Mario Kart 64 or F-Zero X, but it was still fun and it was different; and now, I got the chance to experience it all over again on the Wii's Virtual Console.
What sets Wave Race 64 apart from other racing games is that while most other racers are in some sort of car, this has you racing on a jetski. This gives Wave Race 64 a different kind of racing experience than other games, and I think it's a fun change. In the game, you race three other racers on 6-8 different courses, depending on the difficulty you play on.
A huge distinguishing feature in the racing of this game comes in the form of markers throughout the courses though. It's not a simple matter of which racer can get to the finish line first -- Wave Race 64 really forces you to master navigating your jetski. You'll come across markers as you're racing that tell you to drive either to the left or right of them, and if you're not on the correct side of it as you're passing, you'll get a miss. If you get five misses on a course, you automatically lose it. This brings an extra feeling of challenge to the game, and a greater sense of accomplishment for when you win. It feels great when you're finally able to win a race by passing out your opponents and expertly navigating your jetski through the tricky maneuvers on a course.
In my opinion, Wave Race 64 has just the right balance between fun and challenge. It doesn't ever become so difficult that it ceases to be fun, but it's also not so easy that you'll breeze through the game in a couple hours. There's four difficulty settings for you to master, and each one bumps the difficulty up just the right amount. You're most likely going to lose quite a few times on the higher difficulties, but all it takes is practice for you to learn the best way to maneuver through the courses.
The graphics really need to be commended here too. While I never think it's the most important aspect of a game, it's a treat when a game looks really great, and Wave Race 64 really is one of the better looking Nintendo 64 games out there. It's character models maybe aren't the best, but the courses you race on look absolutely fantastic, even to this day. The water effects are great, and each course has a completely different look to it, so there's a surprising amount of variety. I don't have much to say about the sounds and music about the game really, so I'll just say they're fine. There's nothing bad about it, it's just not one of those games that has a memorable soundtrack or anything like that. It just does what it needs to do.
The replay value of Wave Race 64 is entirely subjective. There's not a whole lot of different modes, but there's enough. You have the championship races, which like I said are 6-8 courses on four different difficulty settings. There's a Time Trial mode for you to beat your times, if you're into that. There's 2 player versus if you have a friend that wants to play. And there's also Stunt Mode, which has you going through the courses trying to score as many points as possible by driving through rings and performing tricks. Other than that, there's not really any unlockables or anything like that. You just have to be the judge yourself whether or not that's enough content to keep you playing for long or not. Still, at the price of $10 on Virtual Console, that's not a bad deal.
Wave Race 64 is definitely a fun game. I do think there are better racing games out there, but there aren't many games out there that are like this one. I'd still recommend Wave Race 64 to anyone that's looking for a different kind of racing experience.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 07/17/12
Game Release: Wave Race 64 (US, 08/06/07)
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