Mario Kart 64

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Mario Kart 64
MK64 Cover.png
Developer(s) Nintendo EAD
Publisher(s) Nintendo
Platform(s) Nintendo 64, Virtual Console (Wii, Wii U)
Release date Nintendo 64:
Japan December 14, 1996
USA February 10, 1997
Europe June 24, 1997
Australia January 8, 1998
China December 25, 2003 (iQue Player)
Virtual Console (Wii):
Europe January 26, 2007
Australia January 26, 2007
USA January 29, 2007
Japan January 30, 2007
South Korea April 26, 2008
Virtual Console (Wii U):
Japan January 6, 2016
Europe January 21, 2016
Australia January 22, 2016
USA December 29, 2016
Genre Racing
ESRB:ESRB E.svg - Everyone
PEGI:PEGI 3.svg - Three years and older
CERO:CERO A.png - All ages
ACB:ACB G.svg - General
USK:USK 0.svg - All ages
Mode(s) 1-4 players simultaneous
Nintendo 64:
Media N64 icon.png Cartridge
iQue Player:
Media DL icon.svg Digital download
Media DL icon.svg Digital download
Wii U:
Media DL icon.svg Digital download
Nintendo 64:
iQue Player:
Wii U:

Mario Kart 64 is the second 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, and later became available for the Wii and Wii U's Virtual Console.


The gameplay expands on that of its predecessor, Super Mario Kart. Players must steer with the Nintendo 64 controller's control stick, holding A Button down to accelerate. B Button is used for braking, and also allows the players to reverse by pointing the control stick down. Items can be used by simply pressing the Z Button trigger. When players press the R Button trigger, they hop, allowing the kart to turn around tight corners. While 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 B Button button, a music 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 Mirror 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 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 will appear 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 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).

Game modes[edit]

Grand Prix[edit]

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 150cc 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.

Time Trial[edit]

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.


Luigi and Wario racing each other in versus mode.

Versus mode involves two or more players racing each other on either a Grand Prix or selected racecourses of their choice. After the players finish a selected racecourse, a point is given to the first place winner as a sort of tally and players can race again or select another course. There's no set number of races and the points don't signify anything. When two or more players are racing together, Mini Bomb Karts will appear on the courses.


Donkey Kong and Peach battling each other in Battle Mode.

In Battle Mode, each player starts with three Balloons and loses a balloon when hit by any item. It is also possible to lose a Balloon if a heavier player such as Bowser hits a lighter player like Toad or Yoshi 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[edit]

  • A Button - Accelerate/Rocket Start
  • B Button - Brake
  • Camera up Button - Zoom In/Out
  • Camera left Button/Camera right Button - Switch screen positions
  • Camera down Button - Use items, stop Item Roulette
  • START Button - Select option during the Menus/Pause or resume during gameplay
  • Z Button - Use items, stop Item Roulette
  • R Button - Drift
  • L Button - Lower music volume
  • Control Stick - Steer
  • +Control Pad - change option during the Menus

Wii Virtual Console[edit]

Classic controller[edit]

  • Classic Controller a Button - Accelerate/Rocket Start
  • Classic Controller b Button - Brake
  • Classic Controller y Button - Use items, stop Item Roulette
  • Classic Controller x Button - Use items, stop Item Roulette
  • +Control Pad - change options during the Menus
  • Classic Controller Left Control Stick - Steer
  • Classic Controller Right Control Stick up - Zoom In/Out
  • Classic Controller Right Control Stick left/right - switch screen positions
  • Classic Controller Right Control Stick down - Use items, stop Item Roulette
  • Classic Controller L Button - Use items, stop Item Roulette
  • Classic Controller R Button - Drift
  • Plus Button - Select option during the Menus/Pause/Resume during gameplay
  • Classic Controller ZL Button/Classic Controller ZR Button - Lower music volume

GameCube controller[edit]

  • A Button - Accelerate/Rocket Start
  • B Button - Brake
  • Camera stick up - Zoom In/Out
  • Camera stick left/right - Switch screen positions
  • Camera stick down - Use items, stop Item Roulette
  • START/PAUSE Button - Select option during the Menus/Pause/Resume during game play
  • X Button - Use items, stop Item Roulette
  • Y Button - Use items, stop Item Roulette
  • Z Button - Lower music volume
  • R Button - Drift
  • L Button - Use items, stop Item Roulette
  • Control Stick - Steer
  • +Control Pad - Change options during the Menus.


Controller Pak Manager

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 2 pages free.

By holding START Button 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 holding START Button 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 on 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 ahead, it becomes very challenging for the player 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. They receive the most speed from Mini-Turbos and lose the least amount of speed when turning or drifting. Additionally, only Lightweights (and the heavyweight character Bowser) can use the triple-gas acceleration recovery technique (tapping the gas button three times and then holding to accelerate more quickly). The single downside to lightweight characters is that they can spin out from contact with heavier characters.

Middleweight drivers actually have the slowest acceleration of all the weight classes and have the same top speed as the heavyweights. They do have better handling than heavyweights and are faster off-road, however. While they lose more speed when turning than the other weight classes, they can corner better if they aren't drifting, which is more useful in Battle Mode.

Heavyweight drivers have a slower acceleration than the lightweights, but faster acceleration than the middleweights and share the same top speed as the middleweights. Their initial acceleration is the worst of all weight classes but as they approach their top speed, they experience a burst in speed that lets them reach that speed more quickly than middleweights. They lose the most speed off-road and their cornering capabilities without drifting are the same as lightweights.

Analysis and Tiering of the above weight categories are demonstrated on this document.

  • Additionally, players can drive a Mini Bomb Kart when all their balloons disappear in battle mode. The Mini Bomb Kart can drive around and explode on other players, but it only has one use for exploding before completely disappearing.


Name Course Appearance(s) Description


Banshee Boardwalk A swarm of Bats flies towards the racers, slowing them down if they drive directly into a member of the swarm.

MontyMole MK64.png

Moo Moo Farm Chubbies peak out of holes and then jump, posing as obstacles for the drivers.


Rainbow Road Chainless Chomps that are embedded into the track, chomping around at random. If a racer collides with one, they will be launched into the air.


Koopa Troopa Beach Crabs are stationed on the sand, spinning players out of control if driven into them.


Sherbet Land Penguins are found either sliding or walking around an icicle. Both varieties will spin racers out of control if collided with.
Piranha Plant


Mario Raceway Piranha Plants pose as obstacles on the race tracks, spinning drivers out of control for a brief moment.

Porcupine Sprite.png

Yoshi Valley Porcupines walk side to side, spinning out a racer that collides with them.


Frappe Snowland Snowmen are situated on the track, launching the player into the air if they drive into them.


Bowser's Castle Thwomps appear as enemies, performing their trademark slam attempt at the drivers below. Additionally, some Thwomps move side to side on the ground. These Thwomps will laugh ominously at racers.


It has been requested that additional images be uploaded for this section. Remove this only when the image(s) have been uploaded for this section.

Name Course Appearance(s) Description


Banshee Boardwalk In addition to being items in the game, Boos appear at certain parts of the race and make their trademark noises. These Boos are merely there, and are not hazards nor obstacles.
Bowser Statue

Bowser StatueMK64.png

Bowser Castle Bowser Statues breathe continuous flames, having no impact on the racer.
Cheep Cheep


Banshee Boardwalk Cheep Cheep jumps out of the water over the track. It makes no interaction with the racers.

MK 64 Lakitu.PNG

All courses Lakitu acts as the referee for the game, as well as fishing out racers that fall off the course or go out of bounds.
Moo Moo


Moo Moo Farm Moo Moos are abundant in the background of the track, only posing as onlookers.


Name Course Appearance(s) Description
Choco Mountain Boulders that fall from the edge of a mountain, spinning out racers in their path.


Kalimari Desert Cacti are stationary objects that cause the player to spin out of control when hit, similar to trees.
DK's Jungle Parkway Fruit are thrown at racers that go off-road, slowing them down until they return to the main track.
Kalimari Desert Two trains circle around the course, sometimes passing through an intersection with the track. When this happens, all racers before the train must wait for it to pass, including CPU racers. Failure to wait will result in the racer being launched in the air multiple times.
Toad's Turnpike Vehicles drive down certain lanes. If a racer collides with one, they will be knocked into the air. In Mirror mode, the vehicles drive opposite of the player, making them harder to avoid.
Yoshi Egg


Yoshi Valley A giant Yoshi Egg that spins around, flattening any racer in its path.


Race courses[edit]

MK64-MushroomCup.png MK64-icon-LuigiRaceway.gif
Luigi Raceway
717 m
Moo Moo Farm
527 m
Koopa Troopa Beach
691 m
Kalimari Desert
753 m
MK64-FlowerCup.png MK64-icon-ToadsTurnpike.gif
Toad's Turnpike
1036 m
Frappe Snowland
734 m
Choco Mountain
687 m
Mario Raceway
567 m
MK64-StarCup.png MK64-icon-WarioStadium.gif
Wario Stadium
1591 m
Sherbet Land
756 m
Royal Raceway
1025 m
Bowser's Castle
777 m
MK64-SpecialCup.png MK64-icon-DKsJungleParkway.gif
DK's Jungle Parkway
893 m
Yoshi Valley
772 m
Banshee Boardwalk
747 m
Rainbow Road
2000 m

Battle courses[edit]

Big Donut
Block Fort
Double Deck


Image Name Description
MK64Item-Mushroom.png Mushroom Gives a racer a short speed boost.
MK64Item-TripleMushroom.png Triple Mushrooms Spawns three mushrooms, providing the racer with three speed boosts.
MK64Item-SuperMushroom.png Super Mushroom Allows numerous speed boosts for a period of time.
MK64Item-FakeItemBox.png Fake Item Box An item that appears the same as a normal Item box. When colided with, however, the racer will be launched instead of getting an item.
MK64Item-Banana.png Banana Drops a banana peal, making racers spin out when run over.
MK64Item-BananaBunch.png Banana Bunch Summons five bananas behind the racer.
MK64Item-GreenShell.png Green Shell Shells that can be thrown in a straight line at other racers. If one hits, the racer will spin out.
MK64Item-TripleGreenShell.png Triple Green Shells Summons three green shells into a barrier that surrounds the racer that used the item. The player can either throw each shell, or use it as a shield to other items. Thrown shells have the same effect as green shells.
MK64Item-RedShell.png Red Shell Shells that can be thrown at other racers, much like green ones. Unlike green shells, however, these will automatically lock on to the racer directly in front of the item user.
MK64Item-TripleRedShell.png Triple Red Shells Summons three red shells into a barrier that surrounds the racer that used the item. The player can either throw each shell, or use it as a shield to other items. Thrown shells have the same effect as red shells.
MK64Item-SpinyShell.png Spiny Shell A shell that automatically follows and targets the racer in first place.
MK64Item-SuperStar.png Super Star Makes racers invincible, rendering them impervious to obstacles, other items, or other racers.
MK64Item-ThunderBolt.png Lightning When triggered, all racers except for the one that used the item will shrink, slowing them down and allowing them to be run over.
MK64Item-Boo.png Boo Unleashes Boo, who turns you invisible for a brief time, making you impervious to enemy attacks, and steals an opponent's item.

★ - Can be used multiple times.
× - Do not appear in the Battle Mode.

Item Chart[edit]

The following chart is reported in the Nintendo Player's Guide of Mario Kart 64[1] and indicates the probability of obtaining a certain item with letter codes that range from A (frequently obtained item) to D (unobtainable item).

Mode Position MK64Item-Mushroom.png MK64Item-TripleMushroom.png MK64Item-SuperMushroom.png MK64Item-Banana.png MK64Item-BananaBunch.png MK64Item-FakeItemBox.png MK64Item-GreenShell.png MK64Item-TripleGreenShell.png MK64Item-RedShell.png MK64Item-TripleRedShell.png MK64Item-Boo.png MK64Item-SpinyShell.png MK64Item-ThunderBolt.png MK64Item-SuperStar.png
GP 1 C D D A C C A C C D C D D D
2 C B C D C C C C B B C D C C
3 C B C D D D D C B B D D C C
4 C B C D D D D D B B D C C B
5 C B C D D D D D C B D C C B
6 D B C D D D D D D B D C B B
7 D C C D D D D D D B D C B A
8 D C C D D D D D D B D B B A
VS (2P) 1 C D D B C C A C C D C D D D
2 D B B D C D D C C B D C C B
VS (3P) 1 C D D A C C A D C D C D D D
2 C B C C C C D C B B C D D C
3 D B C D D D D D C B D C C B
VS (4P) 1 C D D A C C A D C D C D D D
2 C B D C C C C C B B C D D C
3 C B C D C C D C C B D C C C
4 D B C D D D D D D B D C C B

References to other games[edit]

  • Super Mario Kart - The introduction music in Mario Kart 64 is an elongated remix of the theme from this game. In the music for the track Banshee Boardwalk, a part of Ghost Valley's music can be heard.
  • Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island - Yoshi's sound effects were taken from this game.
  • Super Mario 64 - In the track Royal Raceway, there is a part where the racer can turn off the road and arrive at Princess Peach's Castle exactly as it appeared in this game. It is also where the awards ceremony is held.
  • Donkey Kong Country - This is the first appearance of the Donkey Kong Country version of Donkey Kong in the main Mario franchise. In fact, the sprite resembles the one Donkey Kong had in that game.

References in later games[edit]



For a complete list of media for this subject, see List of Mario Kart 64 media.
Audio.svg 3 Raceways & Wario Stadium - The music for Luigi Raceway, Mario Raceway, Wario Stadium and Royal Raceway
File infoMedia:MK64-Music-Raceways.oga
Audio.svg Choco Mountain - The music for Choco Mountain, Block Fort and Double Deck
File infoMedia:MK64-Music-ChocoMountain.oga
Audio.svg Victory Lap - The music for the credits
File infoMedia:MK64-Music-VictoryLap.oga
Help:MediaHaving trouble playing?


Main article: List of Mario Kart 64 staff

Executive Producer[edit]



  • Hideki Konno

Music Composer[edit]

Pre-release and unused content[edit]

Main article: List of Mario Kart 64 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 been seen on the back of the packaging of the Nintendo 64 system.


Main article: List of Mario Kart 64 glitches

Bounce Over the Wall[edit]

This glitch works in any mode with any player 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.

Freeze glitch[edit]

To perform this glitch 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 Z Button on the controller for the character that is on the item box. Eventually the game will freeze with the music still playing.

Regional differences[edit]

In the Japanese version, Luigi, Toad, Princess Peach, and Wario have different voiceovers than in the Western localization; the Japanese voiceovers were eventually used overseas in the first two Mario Party games and Mario Kart: Super Circuit. Also, Toad, Donkey Kong, and Bowser are referred to as Kinopio, D. Kong, and Koopa, respectively. Additionally, the system voice is a generic narrator in Japan, while the North American and European releases used Mario as the system voice.

"Raceways" are known as "Circuits" in the Japanese version ("Mario Circuit", etc.); however, "Royal Raceway" is known in Japan as "Peach Circuit" instead of "Royal Circuit." Also, the billboards in the Japanese version use parodies of real-life companies which were sponsors of Formula One races at the time; these were changed during localization for legal clearing reasons. 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 Western 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 Western ROMs, for some reason, the Japanese ROM also contains a Japanese-language version of the sequence that is seen when a player clears the Special Cup in 150cc.

In the Chinese version, the Special Cup was renamed to the iQue Cup, and most '64' references were removed.


For this subject's image gallery, see Gallery:Mario Kart 64.

Name in other languages[edit]

Language Name Meaning
Japanese マリオカート64
Mario Kāto Rokujūyon
Mario Kart 64
Korean 마리오 카트 64
Mario Kateu 64
Mario Kart 64
Chinese 马力欧卡丁车
Mǎlìōu Kǎdīngchē
Mario Kart


  • This is the one of two Mario Kart games to have the Special Cup available right from the start, the other being Mario Kart 8 Deluxe.
  • If more than two players are playing in VS. and Battle Modes, the background music will not play on any course, due to the 3D vertex and sound processing working on the same DSP of Nintendo 64's specifications.
  • The lightning effect was changed in release on the Virtual Console to a less intense flash, most likely to prevent seizures.


  1. ^ Mario Kart 64 Nintendo Player's Guide, page 94