Wave Race has both the honor and the unfortunate position of being one of the first N64 games released. While the floodgates have yet to open, one could say a hole has been drilled in the dam and Wave Race is the first thing to trickle out. And if that's the analogy, it's one hell of a water drop.
The scenario for Wave Race is fairly simple - jet ski racing through a variety of water courses. The game offers three different modes: time challenge, championship circuit, and stunt mode. Each has its own merits, but the championship circuit is the game's bread and butter. A two-player, split screen mode also makes for fairly good competition, but the smaller play area detracts from the drama.
When it comes to graphics, Wave Race shines. The water looks clean, clear, and smooth, and the animation is quite fluid (no pun intended). Players move in a very human fashion, and the physics of the game are realistic (although most of us have nothing to compare them to). And while Wave Race fully showcases the Silicon Graphics technology used in the system, it doesn't overdo it. If anything, the graphics are a practical application of textured polygons.
In terms of gameplay, Wave Race makes the best use yet of Nintendo's analog stick. It's exhilarating to feel the water under the jet ski, as it slaloms through beacons on the way to the finish line, with jumps providing truly visceral landings. Most games only dream of the advanced play control of Wave Race. Once players fully explore the nine courses, they'll really come to appreciate their intricacies. Wave Race may not have the long-term challenge that Mario does, but gamers will find themselves itching to play it for some time. This is a very solid game, in many ways the best racing game ever seen on a home system.
Wave Race 64 is the first in what is sure to be a series of superior N64 titles. The graphics are better than what you'll find in 95 percent of games, and the analog stick makes play control a breeze. With the release of the N64, gamers everywhere are salivating in anticipation of getting their hands on each succulent title as it hits the shelves. Delays are causing a number of titles to be pushed back, and gamers may be frustrated that so few titles are coming out. To combat that hunger, buy Wave Race - it will satisfy your appetite nicely.