Product Type: Nintendo Nintendo 64 games
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Mario Kart 64 (N64)
Mario Kart 64 (N64)
Member Name: thole09
Mario Kart 64 (N64)
Advantages: Graphics, Audio
Disadvantages: Short lived single player experience
"Mario Kart 64" is a racing video game. It was first released for the Nintendo 64 in 1997 by Nintendo. In the United States, the game received a guidance rating of "K-A" which deemed it appropriate for all ages.
Serving as a sequel to the popular Super Nintendo release titled "Super Mario Kart", Mario Kart 64 returns to the track and pits popular licensed Nintendo characters against one another in a kart style race. In conforming to the genre, the races are fast, special items are in a great abundance, and the experience is fun to play through.
Mario Kart 64 offers two gameplay modes for single players and three gameplay modes for two or more. The bulk of the game is concentrated into the "Grand Prix" mode which contains three levels of difficulty distinguished by kart engine sizes; 50cc, 100cc, and 150cc. After selecting a difficulty setting, the player will be brought to a driver selection screen which presents eight popular characters including Mario, Yoshi, and Donkey Kong. From there the player must select a tournament, or "cup", to compete in which each include four different race courses. The tracks are arranged from shortest to longest, and the cups themselves are arranged similarly with the quickest tournament being the "Mushroom Cup" on the far left and the longest tournament being the "Special Cup" on the far right. Time trials allow any single course to be selected and it is the player's objective to race against him or herself to set the quickest possible time. The third included mode for multiplayer is the "battle" mode. Here, each active player is equipped with three balloons and must use special items against their opponents to dislodge them.
The racing experience is what one may expect from a kart based video game. Players must navigate their way through a series of bumps, hills, jumps, and other racing platforms while collecting items represented by multicoloured diamonds. Driving through these colourful objects will randomly generate an attack item, such as heat seeking turtle shells or slippery banana peels, and the Z button arms it. Successful use of these items will temporarily incapacitate an opponent which grants the player a competitive advantage in being able to pass the disoriented character. Despite being a fun gaming experience, I found it to be very short lived. Due to there only being a total of 16 courses available, I easily whizzed through the title in a single afternoon and felt little reason to play it afterward. The battle function when a second player is present continually breathes new life into the video game as the unpredictability of a human player is always challenging, however I do not feel compelled to play the game very often when on my own.
The graphics are presented from a trailing view of the player's character. While the player does not often see the faces of the drivers in play, I found the telltale characteristics of their attire to provide an easy enough way to identify them. Mario includes his typical red plumber's outfit and Browser is accented by a variety of spikes in his back, for example. The animation frame rates are smooth and I did not notice any obvious areas of slow down. The soundtrack provides an interesting listen though suffers from repetition on longer courses which is especially noticeable throughout the Special Cup. The musical scores are quick to loop, however the transition from end to beginning is soft and requires intentional listening to notice when a loop occurs. The sound effects are lively and light hearted, and are suitable for a kart based racing game.
As a single player video game, I would be hesitant about recommending Mario Kart to prospective buyers. The game provides too few incentives to regularly play it as players will simply be repeating tournaments and courses. It is otherwise an excellent audio and video package which could be found useful in a multiplayer setting.
Summary: Thumbs in the middle