Playing Wave Race 64 was one of my fondest memories growing up. I had just got out from school for Christmas vacation, and my mom picked my bro and I up from school. We were still excited from getting the Nintendo 64 for our birthday a month prior, but were looking forward to playing a new game. My mom drove us to Blockbuster Video and we ended up selecting Wave Race 64! I felt like we had all the time in the world to play games as we had a whole two weeks off before having to return to school and no responsiblities. It was an amazing feeling and a great memory!
In terms of gameplay, this is a water racing game with tricks! There are a number of different modes, but all involve taking control of a jet-ski. The controls are tight with the control stick controlling the direction of the jet-ski, the Z-trigger accelerating the jet-ski, and the B button breaks and reverses. What’s amazing is that it really feels like you are driving through water and you jet-ski responds to the waves, and you can actually dive under the water if you take a jump!
The primary mode of the game is “Championship Mode.” In it, you select a racer and take them through a handful of races. As you progress in a race, you are required to drive between various yellow and red buoy. If you drive at the correct side of the buoy, you get a small boost of speed that stacks with consecutive buoy passes. If you fail, you get a speed reduction. If you miss more than five, you fail the race! Initially there are only 6 tacks, but as you compete and achieve first place in Championship mode, more tracks unlock for a total of 8 tracks. At the end, you also can unlock reverse mode which opens up even more track options.
While the game also has the self-explanatory time-trail mode, what made this game really stand out for me was the inclusion of “Stunt Mode.” In this mode, you can race through any of the tracks you have unlocked, but this time your goal is to collect as many points as possible. This is completed a number of different ways including going quickly, driving through rings (with more points awarded for more consecutive rings driven through), and finally by doing TRICKS! This was the Tony Hawk before it ever released! There are usually a couple jumps scattered throughout the levels, and once you discover the simple buttons combinations you can start doing barrel rolls and flips! As seen below, you can also do tricks like handstands – and while you get more points for doing them, it makes it harder to control. I loved this mode and actually ended up playing more of this mode than any other because of how different and fun it was!
The inclusion of a spit screen multiplayer mode was also awesome as it allowed my bro and I to play together, although I was a bit disappointed that was only for 2-players and not 4. In this mode, you could race competitively against each other on any of the tracks you had already unlocked. You unfortunately cannot compete in championship mode in multiplayer.
In terms of graphics, the game certainly has aged. At the time of its release however, it was one of the best looking games ever released. The characters looks realistic enough for a Nintendo 64 game, and the courses actually employ some impressive effects to make the water more realistic like wave physics! The variety in stages is also great ranging from beaches, lakes, harbours, and icebergs, with many of them changing depending on what lap you are on. For instance, some stages use a cool mist effect that lifts the further you progress in the race. The music is fine and gets the job done, but what really stands out is the awesome announcer! He makes every race run, and encourages you when you falter
In summary, Wave Race 64 is an awesome water racing game! The controls are tight, the courses fun, and the water looks awesome! The game is still fun and worth a pickup if you have a Nintendo 64. Just be warned that Nintendo 64 games probably don’t looks as good as you remember them! Overall, I give this game a final score of 8/10.
Final Score: 8/10