Mario Kart 64, one of the first games released for the Nintendo 64 platform, is an updated translation of the very
popular Super Mario Kart for the Super NES (SNES). And while the game clearly takes full advantage of the graphics
power and speed of the N64, a few components that made the original so compelling have been left out of this release.
Still, Nintendo's expertise at sucking players into the game world is strongly evident, and Mario Kart 64 offers enough
challenges to keep players (especially casual gamers) entertained. Placing a familiar Nintendo personality behind the
wheel of a sputtering kart powered by a 50, 100, or 150-cc engine, the game lets players race computerized opponents
or up to four other players on a variety of well-designed tracks. Because karts lack the power and speed of race cars,
drivers must focus on collecting power-ups and nonlethal weapons rather than negotiating hairpin turns on two wheels.
Grabbing and using on-track items is the heart of the game's fun: a strategically-placed banana peel sends the unlucky
victim into a spin, nailing an opponent with a turtle shell launches their vehicle skyward, and a rocket provides a
quick boost to near-breakneck speeds, if only for a moment.
The multiplayer mode provides enormously chaotic fun for up to four players--flip it on at a party and watch the
guests congregate around the screen. --Eric Twelker
* Well-designed tracks
* Simple controls
* Strong multiplayer appeal
Cons: * Computerized opponents sometimes pull off questionable feats