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Mario Kart 64

Developer: Nintendo | Publisher: Nintendo
Players: 1 to 4 Player Game | Release Date: 02/10/97 | Genre: Driving

Well talk about money makers, when it comes to Nintendo's platforms the Mario Kart game line has been one of the best. Super Mario Kart for the SNES was the first game to bring, us, at the time Super Mario addicts, a racing game featuring the Italian Plumbing duo. This game featured characters ranging from speedy Yoshi, to the evil mass, Bowser. Tracks that seemed to be lifted straight from the Mushroom Kingdom helped complete the gaming genre crossover. As if it weren't enough though, specialty items included carry-overs like, mushrooms, shells, and the invulnerability of the star power up, which plays the original 'star music' when lit. This game was a fantastic way for Nintendo to expand their success with the Super Mario Bros. game titles. When the new Nintendo 64 came out, the people at Nintendo gave their Super Mario Kart fans, who had been so good to them, Mario Kart 64.

MarioKart 64 delivers us a sequel that does live up to the original. Being a Players Choice Million Seller, MarioKart has really benchmarked well against the original. Taking advantage of the great technology in the 64-bit N64, MarioKart 64 has well thought tracks, fun characters and excellent gameplay.

All the original characters return except for Koopa Troopa, who gets bumped in favor of Wario. Each character, just like in the original, have different racing characteristics. Yoshi's kart is still the most agile and has best acceleration, while at the other end Donkey Kong and Bowser are still the bruisers they used to be.

Power items are still the wise racer's friend. There are a few changes to the Kart arsenal. Rings of 3, green or red shells and strings of banana's can be acquired. There is an addition of a deadly 'blue' shell that seeks out 1st place. Lightnings and ghosts return to do damage but Nintendo not keeping the feather power up, is a disappointment.

All 16 new tracks have an air of familiarity. Especially familiar should be, "Banshee Boardwalk" complete with pestering ghosts, "Moo Moo Farm" with annoying jumping moles and an expanded "Rainbow Road". Some tracks have monster "boost jumps" that give way to strategy when someone has paralyzing lightning.

GP racing is great for practicing, but can get boring after mastery. Battle mode adds another dimension to this racing game. It's the same format as in the original except with 4 new tracks. Versus mode gives players the best racing experience. This game's great replayability comes from competing against other human players. Taking advantage of all four controller inputs, four player action is where this game stands out. No one race will ever be the same. Making this a must have for gamers who like simultaneous multi-play. Playing four player Kart is highly recommended!

Anyone who has played Super Mario Kart should be just at home with Mario Kart 64 the instant they powerup their system. Controls are simple and crisp. Graphics and Sound are at the N64 standard, but obviously these aren't the game's strength. A good rent if you don't have access to more controllers or players. A definite buy for those who do, this game is fun and engaging for a long time. A million gamers can't be wrong...

By Steve Looi - 08/14/00
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Screenshots for Mario Kart 64

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