Wednesday 26 August 2015

Wave Race 64 (N64 review)

Developer: Nintendo EAD
Publisher: Nintendo
Released: 1996

Wave Race 64 is a jetski game that was produced by the legendary Shigeru Miyamoto.

The main mode is Championship which consists of 6-8 tracks against three CPU opponents and the winner is the rider with the most points at the end. There's four jet skis and they're customisable in terms of handling, engine speed and grip. Once a race starts you must correctly pass the yellow buoys to the left and the red buoys to the right. Each one you miss will lower your Power metre (although it can be topped back up) and you'll be disqualified if you miss a total of five in a race. The courses are brilliantly designed with scenic backdrops like sunsets by the bay and tropical beaches. Other standout courses include Drake Lake with its fog that decreases visibility and Twilight City with its neon lights and futuristic setting. The gameplay is fast and exciting and the water physics feel surprisingly accurate for such an old game. The controls are a bit over-sensitive to start with but a light tap of the analog stick is all that's required to turn. Once you've completed Normal mode (six courses) the A.I. becomes much more aggressive and the increased difficulty forces you to rely on shortcuts in Hard (seven courses) and Expert (eight courses). The courses are repeated in each difficulty class and the latter two only have one exclusive course each; as a result you'll be playing the same courses over and over again. The other modes are Time Trials (race against the clock), 2P Vs. (multiplayer) and Stunt Mode (compete for points). The latter requires you to pull off tricks and navigate through hoops to get the highest possible score. The whole stunt idea feels a little tacked on and it likely won't hold your attention for long.

Wave Race 64 is an extremely fun racer but it's too light on tracks to have any long-lasting appeal in single player mode. The gameplay is exciting in short bursts though and it's worth a try if you're looking for something a bit different to Mario Kart 64.

Random trivia: The game was re-released on the Wii Virtual Console in 2007 but all advertisements for Kawasaki and Fanta were replaced with banners for Nintendo systems.

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