Review by CasaDeJoey
"The greatest arcade racer of all time can't be found in an arcade -- and may be the only reason to buy an N64 if you don't already have one."
It took me a very long time to realize just how great Wave Race 64 was. I got it in early November '96, shortly after its release. I almost didn't buy it, but since Blockbuster was all rented out, I figured "why not" and bought it anyway. I am so glad Blockbuster was out of it! Had I just rented it, I would have never bought it, and would have missed out on a great long-term experience like no other.
It wasn't until about eight months after I got WR64 that I first started to see just how amazing it really was. I had only beaten the first two set of courses, normal and hard, and had barely learned how to do all of the stunts without messing up and crashing into a wall, at the least.
That's when I started playing it again, in the summer of 1997, and got hooked. I was determined to tower over every high score in stunt mode, and I was determined to completely master the game's controls and make it out of almost every, if not every course without a single mistake.
And after another four months of hard work, I just about did. I got the reverse courses, I finally was able to do any flip in the air, any dive, everything on the thumbstick without a single mistake. I also mastered turning -- I could hug those corners as if they were an ice bank sending me straight down without a bump on the side. I was almost perfect...
But even after having my initials replace all of the others in the game on stunt mode and everything, I still wasn't stasified. That's when I continued to play and get an even higher score! Hanging outside of the handle bars backwards or standing on top of them and flipping backwords onto the seat of the jet ski, I had mastered everything but the final course on reverse mode.
Coupled with excellent music, ingenius track design (which isone of the reasons it took so long to master!) the most perfect controls a racer has ever had, beautiful, full-flowing water that even put Voodoo 2 to shame and and endless amount of replay value that made this the best one player game -- as well as a kick-butt two player game, for anyone that even "slightly" likes racers.
Did you know that Wave Race 64 is the first (and probably last) N64 game to not disappoint me in any way but its ending? Other than that, (which I really can't blame it for since all racers have lousy endings), I wasn't disappointed in the least bit. What's to disappoint? The never-ending replay longevity? The perfect (not near perfect, perfect) controls? The well-composed (but in midi form) music? I use to turn on WR64 just to play the sound test and listen to my favorite tune! I would have been willing to buy the game's soundtrack had there not been a sound test.
Armed with a thumbstick and a controller that was almost too small, I entered the world of Wave Race 64 in early November 1996, a world that would suck me in and not let me back out for a very long time.
Pulling off barrel rolls, back and forward flips, dives, hand-stands and every other whacky thing you can do on your jet ski is set up in an "easy to learn, hard to master" way of doing things. You may learn the barrel roll in a day, you may think you have mastered it (or you may truly have), but I honestly doubt it. This is a game that takes time, patients, and a true racing fan, something I once use to be. If you don't love racing games and never have at one time or another, you probably won't get as much as I did out of Wave Race.
Sounds of splashing waves and crashing jet skis are nothing new, but the interestingly detailed music that goes along with it, is. You'll pinch yourself at times, wondering if you're dreaming, "how can this be true, an N64 game with perfect music?" So what if the quality it's in is bad, the music itself stands out as the best on the system overall.
Mario 64 had a great water theme, as well as an addictive castle song and some memorable jingles we'll all be listening for in Mario 2000. But when you count all of the great tunes and pit them against WR64, Mario doesn't stand a chance. The mixed song during the ending credits is a combination of the intro theme and some other beats, the only song you can't hear on the sound test.
I love everything about this game, even the annoying announcer that keeps yelling "one chance left!" in your ear everytime you've missed four pass points doesn't bother me. I find it hilarious that Nintendo Power thought that, THAT was annoying, and yet the combersome voice of a snowboarding child in 1080º (that was supposed to be an adult!) didn't annoy NP one bit.
I wanna touch the water! It looks and moves so real. It still looks like a video game, but is a vast improvement over what other systems have presented us with in the past. Crash 3 tried mimicking the effect with its very own jet ski level, which borrows heavily from a certain Nintendo 64 title. Usually it's Nintendo who copies...
However, even in Crash's brightest moments, they still weren't bright enough to match Wave Race. Up until last fall, there still had not been a system released anywhere in the world that could power WR64. Only Nintendo 64 could do it, which shocks me, since it seems like everything else Nintendo puts out, someone else can do better. It's kind of funny that the same team that developed F-Zero X is responsible for Wave Race.
Not just the water, but the movement of the computerized humans, blocky, but moved in a very realistic matter, every motion made was fluid, not choppy or glitchy in any way.
The score says it all. This game one of the perfectional few that can reach the high standards that only the likes of a Namco game can reach. Namco sets the standards, now more than ever. Nintendo set two new standards in 1996 though, so at least we have those two great creations -- Tetris Attack and WR64, to remember them by. I sure am going to miss you Nintendo, but at least I can still enjoy the classics you left us with... Nintendo isn't dead yet in terms of how much money they make, bit in terms of overall quality, they've been gone since 1997. Sorry if I'm a little off topic, but what happened to 1999's release list? It's slowly disappearing, just like 1997's. History repeats itself, so... don't expect Donkey Kong 64 until next year.
Should I buy Wave Race 64?: Yes!
At $39.99, it's a best buy for all you non-owners out there. And believe me, there's at least 8,000,000 N64 owners that don't have WR64! Crazy, isn't it? How could you possibly pass up a great game like this? Forget Episode I Racer (even the name gives me chills), thoughs thrills come at a price, but WR64's do not, because they are true and real to the Nintendo name.
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 11/01/99, Updated 08/07/01
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