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Mario Kart 64 – Nintendo 64

Mario Kart 64 – Nintendo 64

Mario_Kart_64boxPlatform: Nintendo 64

Developer: Nintendo EAD

Publisher: Nintendo

Release Date: February 10th, 1997

Genre: Racing

Nerd Rating: 8 out of 10

I grew up in the era of the Nintendo 64 and one of my favorite games of the time was Mario Kart 64. Now, like many others, I am guilty of letting my nostalgia corrupt my view of my old favorites, giving them an almost god-like place in the video game world. Today, I am re-visiting Mario Kart 64 and pushing my nostalgia aside in an effort to find out; is it actually that good?

mario_kart_64_4It is no secret that much like Super Smash Bros, Mario Kart 64 was developed with multiplayer in mind, thus being a major detriment to the single-player modes. The single-player mode is pretty much just multiplayer without any other real players. There is no “goal” other than to beat every circuit and to beat your own records in the time trials mode. However, with that said, being able to unlock “mirror mode” (all the maps backwards) gives you at least a little incentive to beat each circuit. While I feel like there could have been more work done to improve the single-player mode, keeping the same design as multiplayer entirely was good for those who did not have friends or family interested in playing. The biggest detriment to the single-player mode was simply the fact that it was too easy, which was also the case in Super Smash Bros.

39946-Mario_Kart_64_(Europe)-4A popular complaint of Mario Kart 64 was that there was very little difference from its predecessor, Super Mario Kart, and I have heard different arguments in support and against this claim. Due to the fact that I have never gotten my hands on a SNES, I have not actually had the privilege of playing Super Mario Kart, so I can’t comment on whether or not this claim has any standing.

However, from my research and discussion with other people who have played the original, including Nerd Bacon founder Nerdberry, it seems that the biggest difference was the introduction of 3D gameplay. One could say that the graphical updates are obvious, but this three dimensional change makes the world of a difference in gameplay. The much-improved visual design enhanced the feeling of speed and intensity, which when paired with the improved controls creates an enjoyably frantic experience. Much of the game’s improvements over its predecessor can be attributed to the hardware’s technology being vastly superior to that of the Super Nintendo. Being that I haven’t played the original Mario Kart, I felt compelled to find the soundtrack online. The soundtrack for Super Mario Kart was great but it lacked the catchiness of Mario Kart 64, which is undoubtedly brilliant as it showcases that famous Mario-esque sound.

gfs_14047_2_44As previously stated, multiplayer was the developer’s focus when it comes to Mario Kart 64. It is the first game in the series to allow four different players to go head-to-head in a race, and it is regarded as one of the best multiplayer titles for the Nintendo 64. Even by today’s standards, Mario Kart 64 is still a lot of fun with friends. The ‘battle’ mode was also a great addition to the game as it gave you and your friends something to do when you got tired of racing. The Nintendo 64 was one of the greatest systems when it comes to multiplayer, and Mario Kart 64 was near the top of the list of multiplayer games that made it great.

maxresdefault3I can’t review Mario Kart 64 without talking about the design and technical upgrades as they are a huge selling factor of the title. Firstly, the game is beautiful for its time, and I feel like it’s aged surprisingly well. Obviously it isn’t Mario Kart 8 and wouldn’t sell very well on today’s markets, but it still isn’t by any means “ugly,” just slightly outdated. It is the first game in the series to have used actual three-dimensional graphics, which is a big jump from its predecessor, Super Mario Kart. Mario Kart 64 also outdoes most other racing games of the era when it comes to map creation and character design. This was mainly due to the fact that most racing games of the era, like Gran Turismo, went for realism and seriousness, while Mario Kart 64 embraced its creativity.

Mario-Kart-64_Mar26-10_59_03Before I finish this review and give my final thoughts, I would like to talk about some of the things about Mario Kart 64 that made it a truly loved and respected game. Mario Kart 64 had almost universal appeal, and it was able to bring in fans who may normally not even play or like video games. The game’s simplicity and easy control scheme made Mario Kart 64 a game that even your grandfather could pick up and play… AND COMPETE! The multiplayer aspect in Mario Kart 64 has created memories and nostalgia in hundreds of thousands that simply cannot be replicated. Not even the countless sequels in the Mario Kart franchise can tough Mario Kart 64‘s fame and legacy despite being superior in many ways. Not only did Mario Kart 64 age surprisingly well, but it has created a long lasting franchise with almost endless longevity, so much so that the most recent title in the franchise, Mario Kart 8, won the 2014 Video Game Awards for best sports/racing game of the year.

Mario_Kart_Series_InfographThere is no doubt that Mario Kart 64 is a good game, and the fact that it is still played and respected today is a testament to its development and quality. That being said, however, I feel like our nostalgia has put Mario Kart 64 on too high of a pedestal. Personally, if I had to choose a game from the era to award the “King of Racing,” it would have to be Rare’s Diddy Kong Racing, a fun and unique racing game featuring notable Nintendo characters from the Donkey Kong franchise. However, it is important to note that Diddy Kong Racing was created after Mario Kart 64 and took a lot of inspiration from it. Diddy Kong Racing also had the unfair advantage of seeing what Mario Kart 64 did wrong and fixed it. Although Mario Kart 64 is flawed in certain areas, those flaws are not deal-breakers in the least.

diddyvsmario-790x592What do you think of Mario Kart 64? Feel free to share your own opinions in the comments, or even some stories from your days as a special cup winning champion speeding down Rainbow Road!

Written by Justicescooby


Hello, I’m Justicescooby! I’ve been playing video games since I was a little kid, and recently I made the switch to primarily PC gaming. I have my own YouTube channel where I upload gaming videos daily, and I am an active member of many gaming communities/forums. I enjoy writing, whether it be my books I never seem to finish, or writing reviews or articles. I am also an aspiring singer and actor, and currently take singing lessons.


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