Mario Kart 64 Review – Definitive 50 N64 Game #10

The list so far: The Definitive 50 N64 Games

Super Mario Kart was a revolutionary game that arguably spawned the entire kart racing genre. But its successor, Mario Kart 64, was also a game changer – bringing the franchise into 3D and giving us 4 player split screen chaos.

Mario Kart 64 takes what its predecessor did with the pseudo 3D of the SNES’s Mode-7 effect to full polygonal 3D… well, almost. Mario Kart 64’s environments are polygonal, but strangely enough the racers themselves are pre-rendered sprites, which makes for a bit of an odd look.

That doesn’t really matter though, because it’s what this tech allows for in the courses themselves that counts. No longer limited to a flat plane, racers can take all kinds of wild rides up and down rugged terrain like jungles, deserts, even farms.

Mario Kart 64 features some of the most iconic and straight up best courses in Mario Kart history. Who could forget the train of Kalimari Desert, the twists of Yoshi Valley, the bats of Banshee Boardwalk, or the game’s sprawling 6-plus minute long take on Rainbow Road?

Then there are the Battle Mode courses. All four, Big Donut, Block Fort, Double Deck, and Skyscraper are classics, and represent endlessly replayable fun.

Mario Kart 64’s selection of modes are only all the usuals. Grand Prix across three difficulties and a Mirror Mode, Versus Mode, Time Trial, and of course Battle Mode. But that’s all you really need, it’s the courses that make it… that, and the players.

Mario Kart 64 not only introduced 4-player split screen to the series, but as an early N64 game, was many player’s first experience with the setup. Battle Mode, in particular, benefited massively from this shift, doubling the level of chaos previously possible.

The racer line-up changed only slightly between the first two Mario Kart games, with DK Jr. being swapped out for Donkey Kong himself, and Koopa Troopa dropped in favour of Wario.

Items received a much more dramatic overhaul. Where only single items would be dispensed at a time in Super Mario Kart, now batches of bananas, mushrooms, and shells could be found. The Gold Mushroom and Fake Item Box were also added. Perhaps most importantly, and most unfortunately, the dreaded Blue Shell was also created for the N64 game – it’s been the bane of first place Mario Karters ever since.

It goes without saying, but the Mario Kart franchise lives on as one of Nintendo’s best, and most popular, series.

Let me know what you think of Mario Kart and the Definitive 50 in the comments section below. Don’t forget to like this video, share this video, and subscribe. Check back next week for entry #9 on the Definitive 50 N64 games.