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When most people think of the greatest racing games of all time, they often think of racers on wheels such as Gran Turismo 2. It should be noted, however, that not all the best racing games involve concrete roads, or killer car upgrades. Some come in the form of cart racers, or in the case of Wave Race 64, jet skis. Wave Race 64 takes gamers for a serious wild ride on the water.

Wave Race 64 is made up of four different game modes; championship, time trial, stunt, and Vs. mode. The first being the main focus, in championship you take your rider and his/her jet ski through different the various challenging courses. There are only four racers to choose from, but this really doesn't hurt the overall enjoyment of the game. You can even customize your jet ski on handling, engine and grip. The water physics in this game are incredible. Waves will toss your jet ski up in the air and depending on which difficulty you're playing on, the waves can range from medium to down right nasty. You can even go to the option mode and adjust the conditions of the waves. Once you beat the game on Normal, the game adds more courses on the Hard and Expert settings. You'll have to obtain a certain amount of points to qualify for the next race. If you fail to meet the point expectations, its game over. But if you're not feeling confident enough to race with the big boys (and one girl) just yet, you can spend as much time as you need in the warm up, which is only available on the Normal setting.

The tracks are magnificent. Obviously they are all on water, but still pack amazing design. One track in particular, Drake Lake has no waves whatsoever, but the way the the water reflects the environment in which you're racing in is simply incredible. The tracks are littered with different routes, tunnels, ramps, and of course, lots of waves.

Controlling your jet ski is a breeze thanks to the smooth analog stick. The controls do a great job of adding a certain feel to the game that just isn't possible in other racing games. In a word, the controls are smooth. You can also pull off a plethora of stunts with the proper dexterity. But then again, Wave Race 64 isn't about stunts it's about racing. Besides, the stunts should really be saved for the stunt mode.

Even though Wave Race 64 is an old game, it still looks good. The racers do have that very edgy polygonal look to them but the overall visual package is still nice. The tunes are good, but the same can't be said for the announcer. As excellent as Wave Race 64 is, the game is plagued by what is quite possibly the most annoying announcer in all of video games. The way this guy's voice sounds is enough to make you stuff your ears with cotton. Not only is the announcer irritating, he tells you painfully obvious things like ''You're in fourth,'' when you can pretty much figure that out by looking at the top of the screen to see your position.

Despite the annoying commentary, Wave Race 64 is still an astounding game. This is some of the finest game design ever seen and is what we've come to expect from the pros at Nintendo. In case you haven't figured it out yet, Wave Race 64 is one of my favorite games on the N64 and one of the best games I've ever played. There really isn't much to unlock, but the gameplay is topnotch, the water physics are spot-on, and the design is unparalleled. What we have here is one of the finest games ever crafted. If you have an N64, and don't own Wave Race 64, then what are you doing still reading this? Go out and hunt this one down now. It should be in every gamer's collection.

FUN: 9


Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 06/20/01, Updated 06/20/01

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