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Wave Race 64 Package Art
GENRE
Racing
DEVELOPER
NST
PUBLISHER
Nintendo
NUMBER OF PLAYERS
1-2
CONTROLLER PAK
yes
RUMBLE PAK
no
RAM PAK
no
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Wave Race 64

Sure, Wave Race 64 has been out for over a year now, and the racing genre is pretty much saturated on the Nintendo 64 market but Wave Race started it all, and with a bang. Join me as I bring you back to what has been one of the greatest N64 releases thus far, and one of the greatest games ever conceived.

visuals

It's pretty hard to describe the graphics and the effects of WR64 even after playing it for months and months. I can tell you the ocean design is almost flawless, crashing waves to calm lakes, the effect is here and in full fluid detail. Even to this date Wave Race 64 puts all of the arcade water racing games to shame, and Wave Race is unchallenged everywhere in the video game console and PC industry. Anti-aliasing, mip-mapping, filtering, whatever... it's been used here and the visuals show it. The dramatic lighting and sunray soaked aquas will inspire you in Sunset Bay, the calm, foggy, and fish filled lakes of Drake Lake will make you wonder if you're looking at a Bob Ross painting, and the night time casino-light show style of Twilight City knocks your sockies off. It's breathtaking, it's detailed, it's like nothing anyone ever expected.

In the 2 Player Vs. mode the frame rate drops slightly, the waves extend only somewhat in front of you instead of all the way to the horizon, and there is a tiny bit more fog. All of the stuff that usually gets thrown in multi-player modes of other games is here for the same reason, to keep steady framerate for the same amount of action.

The Jet Skis and racers are made up of sufficient polygons, but are a little on theblocky (GoldenEye style) side. The textures exhibited show a varied and lush habitat for the racers... tiny trace of the cartoony Mario world is perceivable, but not majorly. And the addition of advertisements is a major plus for a realism nut. Graphics good, nuff said.

audio

The tunes in Wave Race 64 are definitely forgettable, exceptmaybe for the title theme. They come right out of the PilotWings 64 mold, synthesized garbage that just barely has rhythm. But the effects keep the sparkle of Wave Race 64 alive. The crashing and the bashing of the waves is fantastic, life-like stuff here, the jet-skis hummmmm, and the slams into the wall sound pretty painful (not that I would know.) However, make sure you turn the announcer off for a little more enjoyment, he bites. He says the obvious events, and insults you, somewhat, when you're down. I could have done a better job for announcing, instead we get a hyper "Get Ready... Set... Gooooooo" in some puberty morphing, game show-host voice. Ugh.

gameplay

Thankfully, Wave Race 64 is a game in which you can play for months and months and still yet to master it completely. I've had it since it's '97 November release and the value is still there. Nine courses keep it challenging(if you include Dolphin Park) and a set of four racers with two color schemes. All vary in technique and attributes, but are fully customizable by Handling, Acceleration, and Grip...plus you can save those jammies to your Controller Pak to go whip some friendly butt in a two-player match-up. Let's Discuss the modes now, shall we?

Championship is split up into Practice and then three difficulty levels: Normal, Hard, and Expert. The Practice brings you to Dolphin Park where you can practice your turning, jumps, stunts, and everything else that's possible in the game. When you actually choose a difficulty setting you are transported to the racing circuit where a number of races are presented to you (the number varies by difficulty) which you compete on against three other racers. Three doesn't seem like a lot but they compete pretty heavily and faulter sometimes as well, a good sign of intelligent AI. In each track there are Red and Yellow buoys which you must slalom around in order to keep your speed, if you miss 5 buoys, however, you retire the circuit and must start over from the beginning. Go for the gold, or all first places in Expert if you want to get any respect.

Stunt mode consists of the same tracks found in Championship, but in this mode you compete solo and with a sole purpose of racking up stunt points. There are 7 different stunts to perform, by yourself or with the aid of a ramp/steep waves. These stunts consist of a handle bar handstand, spin, base stand, full flip, nose dive, helicopter flip, and a ramp roll. The nicer the combos, the more points you land yourself. In addition to performing stunts you should also make another priority, which is going through the stunt rings scattered about the main route of the stunt tracks. If you pass through the rings successively you earn more and more points with each progressing ring, very cool... but very tough.

The best part about Wave Race 64, however, isn't it's options, modes, graphics, or sound... it's the fact that the gameplay physics of real dynamic water is implemented. Everything is influenced... the wake of your jet ski may affect an approaching jet-skier's direction, it may affect the way a nearby buoy bounces and that bounce may or may not hit you. It all connects, and that's what makes WR64 amazing, intuitive, and everlasting. Sometimes there's harsh water conditions, other times it's completely calm, and that's one of the cool options WR offers as well. In the options menu you can set the wave conditions to Random, Harsh, Calm, or Normal... neato! A surplus of changing tracks, shortcuts, and extra-special touches plaster the icing on this cake. Dolphins swimming by underneath you, Whales making large waves in the distance, rising and falling tides, and victory/failure celebrations after each race compose the "Miyamoto" goodies we've come to love.

The bad parts of the gameplay, well, the 2 Player Vs. mode is pretty boring after a few races, but it's more fun to drag your friend(s) into a Stunt War. Compete alternatingly in an intense match of quick skills.

multiplayer

See Gameplay above.

overall

Classic. Unparalleled. Fun. Three words that best describe Wave Race 64. It has the whole package, and the fact that I can say this more than a year later is astounding. I anticipate the next Wave Race type game, 1080 Degrees Snowboarding, with greasy fingers, but for now... Wave Race 64 suffices. Well done, Nintendo.

final score 9.0/10





WRITER INFORMATION
Staff Avatar Mikey Veroni
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