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Mario Kart 64 - Not a whole lot changed from the previous SNES outting, but still a hell of a lot of fun.

I originally wrote this review on Gamespot, but I decided to put it up on here and update it a little bit. At least here it'll get lost in my own content rather than the typically horribly written reviews done by the people who tend to frequent that site.

Mario's 2nd kart racing game is a blast to play (especially when you get 4 people going) and has stood the test of time exceedingly well. But if you haven't played it yet, and you've already got the Gamecube rendition of it, you won't be seeing a whole lot different here than on any other version of the game. Including the SNES. Other than the horrible dual character mechanic on the Gamecube version.

Now, when I review this, I'm comparing it to the SNES version that came out before it, not the versions that came out later. So bring yourself back to around the time the Nintendo 64 was hot when you read this. I know the Gamecube version is superior graphically and whatnot. I'm kind of at somewhat of a limitation seeing as how my Mario Kart 64 cartridge is broken and I can't play it. :\ Yeah yeah yeah, I could just fire up an N64 emulator on my PC or the Xbox, but it's just not the same. There's nothing like playing that game with an N64 controller in your hands. I say hands because the damned thing is so awkwardly shaped and weird it's impossible to use two hands.

Graphically, Mario and the gang have never looked better. The game is in full 3D, the tracks look great, when you get up to 150cc the speed is awesome considering it's a kart game. The characters themselves are 2D sprites, using rendering similar to what was done in Donkey Kong Country and Killer Instinct. Unfortunately, there isn't a lot of animation in the characters themselves other than what's needed for turning and the rotation. So they don't have a lot of personality. And they're rather blurry, which isn't really a big deal ... but it is a little off putting sometimes ... and seem to look worse than they're SNES counterparts to me personally. To the system's credit, there are some parts in some of the stages where it has the little screen (on top of the tunnel in the first race for example) that is kinda for a crowd watching the race. That was a nice touch for me, and tends to distract me every time I go under the thing. The frame rate keeps a good pace, even when there are 4 players going all at once.

The powerups are all here. Especially the legendary blue shell. I love that thing. And the default setting using the Z trigger on the back of the controller is the perfect way to use them. My aim isn't so good with the green shell, but hey.

As far as the tracks go, you have 4 different cups. Mushroom Cup, Flower Cup, Star Cup and the Special Cup. The tracks are excellent and diverse with the typical hazards you come to know and love from Mario games. And the Rainbow Road is flat out a site to beheld in ANY rendition of the game, and it's no different here. And it's still an insane bitch to race on as well. But it's still fun slamming into a buddy and sending him flying off the track.

The sound and music are great. Catchy tunes, good clear sounds from the karts and characters. The only fault I find with it is it gets a little irritating hearing the same yells over and over, but I personally just kinda tune them out and use them rather than hear them.

The gameplay is where it has it's good and bad points. The game controls perfectly. Powersliding is a blast to do, even though there are a lot of people who abuse it and don't want to actually play the game. Some of my friends are accused of that. It's a "technique" called "Snaking", and that alone is one of the reasons I only played Mario Kart DS when I had it a few times online before I just gave up. Although it is great for those of you who don't believe in actually playing the game. But in a local game, you're likely just to get punched in the balls for doing such a lame "technique". It's a game. F*cking play it. But back to what I was saying, the gameplay doesn't feel any different than it's SNES counterpart. Both games are a blast to play, there's just nothing new with it regarding gameplay. The analog stick on the system is the big change, and makes it much MUCH easier to play and do things in the game, even though it gets a bit tough to let loose a banana behind you when you're doing a turn, but that's a minor thing that I'm not even sure is worth mentioning. It just took a bit of practice from me.

All in all, if you see this game, pick it up. Or download it for the Wii, either way, it's a hell of a fun game. Especially when you get a friend or three in the action. Long live the blue shell. ;)

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