Mario Kart 64 (styled as MARIOKART 64 abbreviated to MK64) is a racing game developed and published by Nintendo for the Nintendo 64 video game console. It was released in 1996 in Japan and 1997 for the rest of the world. It is the sequel to Super Mario Kart and features a move to 3D computer graphics and the inclusion of four-player support. Players take control of characters from the Mario universe, who race around a variety of tracks with items that can either harm an opponent or aid the user. The move to three-dimensional graphics allowed for track features not possible with the original game's Mode 7 graphics, such as changes in elevation, bridges, walls, and pits. However, the characters and items remained 2D pre-rendered sprites. The introduction music for Mario Kart 64 is loosely based on the original Super Mario Kart theme tune. The game is compatible with the N64 Controller Pak, but only to save track ghosts in the Time Trial mode. All other data is stored in-cartridge. This was re-released on the Wii's Virtual Console, but it cannot be played with the Wii Remote. This is the second Mario Kart game in the series. This game is also the most broken Mario Kart game in the series.



The title screen.



Players choose from a roster of eight characters that vary in weight, speed, and acceleration. These characters race in a variety of tracks based upon different locations in the Mario world. Each track has a unique shape and can contain various obstacles, hazards, and short cuts. Eight characters participate in each race. Up to four of them can be human characters, while the rest are computer-controlled (for one to two players only). Three and four-player races have no computer-controlled racers.

On a track, various actions can be performed to change the flow of a race. Items can be acquired by hitting an item box, a rainbow-colored box with a spinning question mark. The items' uses include acting as projectiles to impede the opponent, speed up the user, or stop opponents through other means. One can earn a small turbo boost by drifting, which one can perform by hopping and tilting the control stick back and forth three times. However, AI-controlled racers do not use any kind of shell.

There are various modes of play such as the Mario Grand Prix where one or two human players compete with computer players in a group of eight around a series of four courses per cup - Mushroom Cup, Flower Cup, Star Cup, and Special Cup respectively. A player selects one of the four cups at the beginning of the game as well as a difficulty level, measured by engine size (50cc, 100cc, or 150cc). After a gold trophy has been acquired for each cup on the 150cc level, the Extra difficulty level is playable, where the tracks are mirrored. The player can also race on a track alone while recording a time (Time Trial mode), and trying to beat this time on subsequent races. There are two modes where players can face each other. The VS. mode allows you to race with each other, and Bob-ombs are thrown in each track. The Battle Mode allows players to compete in one of four special arenas filled with item boxes; each player has three balloons attached to their kart which are lost if any damage is done to the kart, with the winner being the last remaining player. If three or four players are participating, then the first one or two players without balloons transform into bombs on wheels that can crash into the remaining karts.

One of the major flaws of the gameplay revolves around the computer "cheating". When hit with weapons, the computer characters can stop for half a second and then continue at full speed. This is possible in Mario Kart Wii when you are a player. This is at odds with a player-controlled character being thrown into the air and coming to a complete stop. Also, the computer can seem to catch up with the player-controlled character, regardless of the lead the player has developed (especially when said player is not drifting).
H2x1 N64 MarioKart64 image1600w


Mario Kart 64 has eight drivers from which the players can choose. Koopa Troopa and Donkey Kong Junior, both of whom appeared in Super Mario Kart, did not return for Mario Kart 64 and were replaced by Donkey Kong and Wario. In pre-release screenshots, a Magikoopa was playable, but before the game's final release the Magikoopa was replaced by Donkey Kong and Wario was kept.

The racers from the lightest to the heaviest are Toad, Yoshi, Peach, Luigi, Mario, Wario, Bowser, and Donkey Kong. Unlike the other Mario Kart games, the racers of a lighter weight class have higher top speeds just like their acceleration. However, lighter weight racers are more prone to spinning out in a collision with heavier weight racers and can lose a balloon in Battle Mode from that collision.

MK64Mario MK64Luigi MK64Peach MK64Toad
MK64Yoshi MK64Bowser MK64D.K. MK64Wario
Donkey Kong


Mushroom Cup Flower Cup Star Cup Special Cup
Luigi Raceway
also in Mario Kart 7
Toad's Turnpike
also in Mario Kart 8
Wario Stadium DK's Jungle Parkway
also in Mario Kart Wii
Moo Moo Farm
also in Mario Kart DS
Frappe Snowland
also in Mario Kart DS
Sherbet Land
also in Mario Kart Wii
Yoshi Valley
also in Mario Kart 8
Koopa Troopa Beach
also in Mario Kart 7 and Mario Kart Tour
Choco Mountain
also in Mario Kart DS
Royal Raceway
also in Mario Kart 8
Banshee Boardwalk
also in Mario Kart DS
Kalimari Desert
also in Mario Kart 7 and Mario Kart Tour
Mario Raceway
also in Mario Kart Wii
Bowser's Castle
also in Mario Kart Wii
Rainbow Road
also in Mario Kart 8

Battle courses

Big Donut
also in Mario Kart 7
Block Fort
also in Mario Kart DS
Double Deck
also in Mario Kart Wii


Item Pictures Item Names Description
Mushroom - Mario Kart 64 Mushroom This item can be used to generate a speed boost for a limited time.
Triple Mushroom - Mario Kart 64

Triple Mushroom

This item is the same as the Mushroom, but instead of one, the player has three.
Golden Mushroom - Mario Kart 64

Golden Mushroom (new)

This item is the same as the mushroom, but it has unlimited uses for as long as the item is in the player's possession. The item's countdown timer begins as soon as it is first used.
Green Shell - Mario Kart 64

Green Shell

An unguided shell that can be launched into racers. If a racer or other suitable object is not hit, the shell will bounce around the course. It can also be fired backward.
Triple Green Shells 3 - Mario Kart 64

Triple Green Shell (new)

A belt of 3 green shells that circle your racer. They can be fired one at a time or used as protection. If a shell comes into contact with either a racer or an item, it will break a shell but knock out the racer or item, depending on the item. They cannot be fired backward.
Red Shell - Mario Kart 64

Red Shell

A guided shell that when launched will seek the nearest racer to the front of the racer. If you are in the first place, the Red Shell will continuously cruise the entire circuit until it hits any racer that collides with its course.
Triple Red Shells 3 - Mario Kart 64

Triple Red Shell (new)

A belt of 3 red shells that circle your racer. They can be fired one at a time or used as protection. It is recommended to wait until the target recovers from their tumble before using another shell or the shell will break and not cause any additional damage. It can be also used to cruise the entire circuit until it collides with any racer if you are in the first place.
Blue Spiny Shell - Mario Kart 64

Spiny Shell (new)

The be-all-end-all weapon. The Spiny Shell (or Blue Shell) will seek out the person in first place by tearing across the middle of the track. Anyone in the direct path of the shell will be knocked out of the way. This shell cannot be stopped except by a Star or if you are invisible.  his shell can be destroyed if it hits a wall. This shell can also correct itself if it flies off of the course and it can do so, such as on Banshee Boardwalk.
Lightning - Mario Kart 64


The Thunderbolt will shrink anyone who isn't under the effect of a Boo or Star. This will slow down everyone affected and make them crushable.
Banana - Mario Kart 64

Banana Peel

The Banana Peel will cause any racer who runs it over to spin out. This item can either be thrown forward or set behind the racer. It can also be dragged along to absorb an item hit or to spin out a racer who is riding on your tail.
Banana Bunch - Mario Kart 64 Banana Bunch This item releases and drags a row of 5 bananas behind the racer. They can absorb incoming items or spin out racers. If an item hits it, one banana is destroyed. If a racer collides with the bunch, it breaks off all of the bananas and scatters them everywhere. They can be thrown forward or dropped behind.
Fake Item Box - Mario Kart 64

Fake Item Box (new)

The troll box. This item box is hard to see at a distance, but as you come closer the color shifts and the ? in the box is upside down. Since CPU racers don't know which is which, they won't steer toward or away from it. If trying to hit a CPU player, place it in the middle of the track. If trying to hit a player, the best option is to throw it around an immediate corner or place it in a line of item boxes, possibly on top of a legit one.
Boo - Mario Kart 64 Boo This item will steal an item from another player and make you invisible. This is one of the few ways to avoid a Spiny Shell.
Starman - Mario Kart 64


This item will increase your speed, acceleration and make you invincible. Any player you hit will spin out. This is one of the few ways to avoid a Spiny Shell.

Item Probabilities

Grand Prix

Grand Prix races, drivers controlled by players
Item Rank
1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th
Banana - Mario Kart 64 30%
Green Shell - Mario Kart 64 30% 5%
Banana Bunch - Mario Kart 64 5% 5%
Triple Green Shells 3 - Mario Kart 64 5% 10% 10%
Red Shell - Mario Kart 64 5% 15% 20% 15% 10%
Fake Item Box - Mario Kart 64 10% 5%
Boo - Mario Kart 64 5% 5%
Mushroom - Mario Kart 64 10% 5% 5% 5% 5%
Triple Red Shells 3 - Mario Kart 64 20% 20% 20% 20% 20% 20% 20%
Lightning - Mario Kart 64 5% 5% 10% 10% 15% 20% 20%
Starman - Mario Kart 64 5% 10% 15% 15% 20% 30% 30%
Triple Mushroom - Mario Kart 64 15% 20% 20% 25% 25% 10% 5%
Golden Mushroom - Mario Kart 64 5% 10% 10% 10% 10% 10% 10%
Blue Spiny Shell - Mario Kart 64 5% 5% 10% 10% 15%

Production Credits


  • Oddly, the word "Circuit" was switched with "Raceway". For example, Mario Circuit is the name of Mario's track in the Japanese version, and in the American version, it's switched to Mario Raceway.
  • This is the first appearance of Donkey Kong and Wario as playable characters in the series.
  • Luigi, Peach, Toad, and Wario have different voices in the Japanese version. Their voice clips would later be reused in Mario Kart: Super Circuit, Mario Party, and Mario Party 2.
  • In production, its original name was Super Mario Kart R, but was changed, likely because it was too similar to Sonic R's name (a Sonic racing game).
  • This Mario Kart game has fewer unlockables than any other game in the entire series; its only unlockable content are "Extra" Mode (Mirror Mode) and an alternate title screen change of Yoshi, Peach, Luigi, Donkey Kong (holding a Green Shell), and Mario on Kalimari Desert (both unlocked by beating all cups with 1st).
  • Kamek was originally going to be a playable character in the game, however, he was scrapped in favor of Donkey Kong.
  • This is the only Mario Kart game where Yoshi uses his sound effects from Super Mario World and Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island.
  • This is the first game where you can play with 4 players.
  • Every track in this game has made a reappearance in another as a retro track except for Wario Stadium.
  • This game is known due to large skips on lots of courses in the game, pretty similar to Mario Kart Wii.
Mario Kart games
Main Titles Super Mario Kart (1992, SNES) • Mario Kart 64 (1996, N64) • Mario Kart: Super Circuit (2001, GBA) • Mario Kart: Double Dash!! (2003, GameCube) • Mario Kart DS (2005, DS) • Mario Kart Wii (2008, Wii) • Mario Kart 7 (2011, 3DS) • Mario Kart 8 (2014, Wii U) • Mario Kart 8 Deluxe (2017, Switch)
Arcade Titles Mario Kart Arcade GP (2005) • Mario Kart Arcade GP 2 (2007) • Mario Kart Arcade GP DX (2013) • Mario Kart Arcade GP VR (2017)

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