Mario Kart 64
Mario Kart 64 is the second main installment of the Mario Kart series. It is the first game in the series to use three-dimensional graphics; however, the characters and items in this game are still two-dimensional, pre-rendered sprites. It was released for the Nintendo 64 in 1996 and later became available for the Wii's Virtual Console in 2007 and the Wii U's Virtual Console in 2016.
The gameplay expands on that of its predecessor, Super Mario Kart. Players must steer with the Nintendo 64 Controller's control stick, holding down to accelerate. is used for braking, and it also allows the players to reverse by pointing the Control Stick down. Items can be used by simply pressing the trigger. When players press the trigger, they hop, allowing the kart to turn around tight corners. While players are drifting, the Control Stick can be used to make the turn wider or tighter, but keeping the Control Stick in the opposite direction of the turn to widen it for a long enough time results in the kart skidding and losing the Mini-Turbo charge. If a Banana is hit while the player is driving straight, the character will skid for a while before spinning out. If the player presses the button, a musical note (♪) will appear over the character's head, therefore nullifying the effect of the item (this effect is also included in Mario Kart: Super Circuit). This does not work all the time, however, because sometimes, the player can skid out immediately after driving into a Banana if the Banana is hit while turning. Similarly, in 150cc and Extra Mode, steering in one direction and then immediately in the opposite results in the kart skidding and then spinning after a short time, and even in this case, braking results in the spinning being avoided with the musical note appearing.
As opposed to in the previous game, a standard race now has three laps rather than five due to the much longer raceways compared to those found in Super Mario Kart. Additionally, the racetracks have elevation and feature different forms of terrain. To get items, the character must get an Item Box. Once the character gets an Item Box, an item roulette appears with medium sound, and when it stops, it "dings." Players can press the item button during the roulette to stop the roulette early. Also, unlike in Super Mario Kart, players can now try again as many times as they wish after they finish in 5th or below (this was removed in later games for unknown reasons, though likely as a means of making the game more challenging for the player).
The main mode of the game, Grand Prix involves racers racing one another in four cups, designated as Mushroom Cup, Flower Cup, Star Cup, and Special Cup, with four races in each cup. These cups are further divided into three different difficulty settings of 50cc, 100cc, and 150cc. An unlockable Extra, known as Mirror Mode, allows players to race courses in 100cc, but flipped vertically, which sometimes increases difficulty. In order to unlock this feature, players must win the Gold Cup on all the cups in 150cc. When the title screen changes, it means that the player has unlocked Extra.
Grand Prix can only be chosen during a one- or two-player mode.
In Time Trial, players must race for the highest time. After setting a record, players can challenge that record and race against themselves, represented by a Ghost of their character-of-choice. The Ghost will be saved only if the player does not crash into an obstacle, does not drive in reverse or does not fall off the road during the race.
Versus Mode involves two or more players racing each other on selected racecourses of their choice. After the players finish a selected racecourse, a point is given to the first place winner as a tally, and players can race again or select another course. There is no set number of races, and the points do not signify anything. When two or more players are racing together, Mini Bomb Karts will appear on the courses.
In Battle Mode, each player starts with three balloons and loses a balloon when hit by any item or if they fall off-track. It is also possible to lose a balloon if a heavier player, such as Bowser, hits a lighter player, such as Toad, with great enough speed (more details here). When a player has lost all balloons, the player loses and becomes a Bomb Kart. The last surviving player wins the round.
Nintendo 64 / iQue Player
Wii Virtual Console
The original release of this game on the Nintendo 64 used 123 pages of the Controller Pak to record Ghost Data, which would occupy all the space in the Controller Pak. However, later versions of the game used 121 pages on the Controller Pak, leaving only two pages free.
If the player holds before turning on the console, there is a Controller Pak manager built-in the game, which will show all saves from other games that use the accessory. When the player holds while opening the iQue Player release, this does not appear.
Because none of the available controllers have a Controller Pak Slot, it is impossible to record Ghost Data on the Wii or Wii U Virtual Console versions of the game.
The rival system in this game is the more common 2 Rival system seen in most similar games, whereupon two randomly selected rivals will fight with the player and will use the "Handicap" feature to situate themselves on level with the player. They will always stay the same, no matter what the championship standings are.
On a side note, when the player plays the 150cc or Mirror Mode, two random CPU racers may receive a huge handicap, and even when hit with an item such as a Red Shell, they will recover rapidly. Sometimes there is also one player that receives an even larger handicap, and when the player is ahead, it becomes very challenging for them to stop.
The game uses rubberbanding AI, meaning that no matter what weight class, the AI drivers can recover and return to speed faster than the human player.
Characters are divided into three classes depending on their weight: Light, Medium, and Heavy.
* indicates that the character is a New Driver for the Mario Kart installments overall.
Lightweight drivers have the highest acceleration and highest top speed in the game. They receive the most speed from Mini-Turbos and lose the least amount of speed when off-road. Additionally, lightweights (and the heavyweight character Bowser) get the greatest benefit from the triple-tap acceleration recovery technique (tapping the gas button three times and then holding to accelerate more quickly after spinning out or otherwise losing speed). A major downside to lightweight characters is that they spin out more easily from contact with heavier characters, which puts them at a disadvantage in Battle Mode. Toad in particular spins out when "bumped" by any other character. Another downside is that they have the widest turning radius on or off-road and they lose the most speed from turning without drifting, which gives them the worst handling in the game. As with their weight, however, this disadvantage is negligible outside of Battle Mode.
Middleweight drivers are described in the instruction booklet as having no "extreme pros or cons," but they actually have the slowest acceleration of all the weight classes and have the same top speed as the heavyweights. Their acceleration diminishes at a constant rate as they approach their top speed, unlike drivers in the other weight classes, whose speeds change more erratically. They also get the same increase in speed from Mini-Turbos as heavyweights. They are faster off-road than heavyweights, however. They can also turn corners better than the other characters without drifting, losing less speed than lightweights while covering the least ground of all weight groups. This can be useful in Battle Mode or Versus Mode on tracks with hairpin turns, and allows them the best overall handling in the game. Lastly, Mario is slightly heavier than Luigi, and will thus win head-on collisions.
Heavyweight drivers have slower acceleration than the lightweights, and initially have lower acceleration than middleweights, but reach their velocity faster than the latter after 2.8 seconds. Their top speed is tied with the middleweights. They lose the most speed off-road, but lose the least when cornering (even when they aren't drifting). They also have a tighter turning radius than lightweights. Of the heavyweights, Bowser is the heaviest and largest. As mentioned above, he is also the only non-lightweight that gets a maximum recovery from the triple-tap technique, although his rate of acceleration is slightly different. Donkey Kong is the "smallest," but is slightly heavier than Wario. DK and Wario receive the least acceleration from the triple-tap technique, but still will reach their top speed faster than Mario or Luigi, albeit in a smaller window.
★ - Can be used multiple times.
The following chart is reported in the Nintendo Player's Guide of Mario Kart 64 and indicates the probability of obtaining a certain item with letter codes that range from A (frequently obtained item) to D (unobtainable item).
Differences in multiplayer modes
When playing with two or more players, some changes have been made to make the game run as smoothly as possible.
Three and four players
Pre-release and unused content
Kamek was originally intended to be one of the playable characters, but ended up being replaced by Donkey Kong. The Character Select screen was also different, the characters faced the player, and Kamek can be seen in Donkey Kong's space. The working title of this game was Super Mario Kart R. Boos from Banshee Boardwalk also had a different look, the HUD was different from the final version, and item boxes were also completely black with colored question marks on them. The Cape Feather, which was in Super Mario Kart, was also intended to be included, as seen in a certain screenshot of Super Mario Kart R. This particular screenshot can be seen on the back of the packaging of the Nintendo 64 system.
Bounce Over the Wall
This glitch works in any mode with any character on Wario Stadium. On the first hill after the start of the race, the player should drive into the wall, they should be able to bounce over it. Next, they should do a 180-degree turn and aim for the starting pole. The player then should hop over the wall again and make sure to land to the right of the starting line. Once the player crosses the starting line after they regain control of their kart, Lakitu should hold the second or Final lap sign, depending on which lap the player was on previously, or he will wave the checkered flag, if the race is finished.
The same trick can also be performed on Choco Mountain. By driving straight toward the gray wall just before the loop with the falling boulders, and jumping just as the player hits it, they can clear the wall. The guard rail in 50cc and Time Trials only has single-sided collision detection. Alternatively, players can also simply drift into the wall and jump as they hit it to clear it.
To perform this glitch, the player must start a battle on Double Deck. The player must then park one of the characters over an Item Box and make sure that the character doesn't receive a Boo or Star. Then have the other character(s) lose their balloons. On the Battle Ranking screen, keep pressing on the controller for the character that is on the item box. Eventually, the game will freeze with the music still playing.
In the Japanese version, Luigi, Toad, Princess Peach, and Wario have different voiceovers than in the international versions; the Japanese voiceovers were eventually used overseas in the first two Mario Party games (aside from Peach's) and Mario Kart: Super Circuit, with Toad's voiceovers also being in Mario Party 3. Also, Toad, Donkey Kong, and Bowser are referred to as Kinopio, D. Kong, and Koopa, respectively. Additionally, the title screen features Japanese children shouting, "Mario Kart!" with a generic narrator used as the system voice. In the international releases, Mario shouts, "Welcome to Mario Kart!" on the title screen, and he is also used as the system voice.
"Raceways" are known as "Circuits" in the Japanese version ("Mario Circuit", etc.); however, "Royal Raceway" is known in Japanese as "Peach Circuit" instead of "Royal Circuit."
The billboards in the Japanese version use parodies of real-life companies which were sponsors of Formula One races at the time. These include Marioro (a play on Marlboro), which was changed to "Mario Star"; Luigip (a play on Agip), which became "Luigi's"; Yoshi 1 (a pun on Mobil 1), which became "Yoshi" with a pawprint replacing the "1"; Koopa Air (which parodied Goodyear, including the blue-and-yellow color scheme, which was changed in international versions); and an orange 64 ball (which was a reference to the 76 gas station chain, though the ball's color was changed to blue in the international versions).
The Japanese version has collision on the grass above the tunnel on Luigi Raceway, which can be reached by bouncing off another racer and flying over the wall; this was removed in international versions. Also, whereas English-language credits sequences exist in both the Japanese and international releases, the Japanese version also contains a Japanese-language version of the sequence that is seen when a player clears the Special Cup in Extra.
In the Chinese version, the Special Cup was renamed the iQue Cup, and most '64' references were removed.
References to other games
References in later games
Name in other languages