Perhaps Trent forgot inflation when he gave a 6.4.

User Rating: 8.2 | Mario Kart 64 N64
If there is any video game that Gamespot should seriously consider giving a regrade, Mario Kart 64 is undeniably one of them. I understand each and every criticism our fellow Gamespot reviewer, Trent, gave to this game, and as a critic, I actually agree with a few of them, but I cannot support a rating of a 6.4 from any video game publication for this game. Even with the reasons he gives, Mario Kart 64 should have received a score in at least the 7 range, as guidelined by Gamespot. Even if it might be a videogames.com to Gamespot issue, this fact should just make the regrade that much more necessary. While the game is by no means flawless, it is at least a game whose "strengths outweigh its weaknesses [, but] tends to have noticeable faults" (definition of a game in the 7.0-7.9 range). As a premiere title for the N64, Mario Kart 64 does its job as a multiplayer game that gets friends and family hooked on purchasing the console. While it's true that the gameplay doesn't offer that much depth, that's the same reason why anyone from a 10 year-old kid to a full-fledged adult can pick it up. Similar to NFL Blitz, Mario Kart 64 has the quick rush of simplicity and rewarding fun that allows it to be so justifiably popular. Just like it's predecessor, Super Mario Kart for the SNES, the game essentially features a grand prix mode and the all-important battle mode. While the battle mode supports up to four players, the grand prix mode can only support one or two. There is an exhibition-esque VS mode where up to four players can compete on one track at a time, but, if possible, it would have been better if grand prix mode could have supported four players (but that's a minor gripe). The main flaw of Mario Kart 64 is, indeed, the single-player grand prix mode, and more specifically, the rubber-band computer AI. Even in the 50cc division (100cc and 150cc are more difficult), the computer players are given an extra boost of speed if you're in the lead. This is just a cheap way to make the game engaging and the developers know it. The previous incarnation for the SNES allowed players to forge into the lead and stay in the lead without any real fight from the computer players, albeit on the easiest difficulty setting. Indeed, it is rewarding and engaging to see how skillful you have become as you wave at the 50cc computer suckers. Here, instead, the computer player in 2nd place becomes an undeniable pest that is able to catch up to you no matter how many bananas, shells, or lightning bolts from heaven descend upon it. Furthermore, completing the game by obtaining each gold cup is simply not rewarding - all you get is a mirror mode (one great hoo-ha-dilly) and, perhaps, a comment by your friends near something on par with "oh, wow, you got a Gold Cup on Special Track on 150cc... ... ...(sigh)". However, the sixteen tracks are very much appreciated. It would have been easy to just slap-dash whatever amount of tracks together where each track looks and feels the same. On the contrary, Mario Kart 64 delivers sixteen tracks that graphically gives a distinct mood and environment as well as track designs that are dissimilar enough from each other to make each of them unique and interesting. While the graphics themselves are not all that spectacular and pop-up and fog show up now and then, there is a palpable vision and concept to each track. Bowser's Castle is like a labyrinth of blocks, lava, and right-angle turns; Rainbow Road is a colorfully straightforward and wide track; and everything from penguins and moles to trains and coconuts get in your way. In addition, the music, while not particularly memorable, does fit each track rather well, and the sound effects are adequately done. As a side note, the comment made about the tracks being too wide has some merit, but it's more of a matter that the tracks were not narrow, which I find more appropriate in a jovial game such as Mario Kart 64. Besides, the frequency of overtly wide tracks diminishes as you progress to the more difficult Star and Special Cups. On the issues of control and weapon selection, they are both executed quite nicely. The consistent framerate complements the responsive and intuitive controls. While there is a lack of depth in the actual racing part of the game, there is some depth in weapon usage. Beginner players will fire willy-nilly, use their weapons only when necessary, or fail to discard fairly useless items. However, expert players will learn to fire green shells backward, hold the Z button to drag the shells, bananas, or upside-down question mark behind them, and will also learn how to slide effectively. As before, the lightning bolt fits its role as the holy "oh-crap..." weapon, though I never understood what lightning has to do with miniaturization. Nonetheless, the weapons provide the bulk and intensity in Mario Kart 64 in lieu of in-depth racing mechanics. The true value of Mario Kart 64 lies solely in its multiplayer grand prix and battle mode. Frankly, the VS mode and the time trial mode are dismissable. While playing grand prix by yourself is more likely to be a tiring and drawn-out experience, playing it with a friend is not. Players can start to protect each other with weapons and preventing the rubber-band AI from occurring by always keeping the computer players in sight. That alone keeps the game fair and, thus, more light-hearted in nature. The battle mode is also quite engaging - players have three lives represented as balloons and each hit or slip-up removes a balloon. As a result, tactical warfare, weapon hogging, and dodging the green shells on the lower floors, all come into play. The fact that players will find themselves going around for one or two minutes without engaging each other is all a part of the multiplayer experience. On the other hand, the diversity of battle tracks is appalling. Namely, there are four, but, excuse me, Big Donut doesn't count. However, for what it's worth, the other three tracks definitely keep the replay value high - you may indeed find yourself playing this game just for the multiplayer years from now. While not exactly addicting, Mario Kart 64 is one of those games that N64 owners will play at least once a week (or once a need-for-vintage-gaming trip), and thus, is worthy enough for anyone's gaming library.

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