Mario Kart 64 (styled as MARIOKART 64 abbreviated to MK64) is a racing game developed and published by Nintendo for the Nintendo 64 (N64) video game console and the second installment in the Mario Kart series. It is an upgrade of Super Mario Kart, featuring a similar base where players can select a character from the Super Mario franchise to drive in a kart, using items to help themselves or hinder the other drivers. Mario Kart 64 also has expanded game play, such as Mini-Turbo boosts, which players can get from drifting, and the ability to play with up to 4 players.

Due to the game's move from Mode 7 to 3D, Mario Kart 64 is the first game in the series that allows elevation, advanced collision physics, more camera control, walls that obscure views, and increased fidelity. Despite this change, the characters, items, and some course obstacles remain as pre-rendered two-dimensional sprites.

Unlike Super Mario Kart, Mario Kart 64 has more unique track designs instead of having repeats of the same track, as well as introducing tropes that would later become staples of the Mario Kart series, an example being Luigi Circuit as the first track.

For the first time in this game, Wario and Donkey Kong are playable characters and items, such as the Spiny Shell and the Triple Green Shell, were also introduced.

Gameplay

The title screen.

Gameplay

Gameplay

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. 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.

Game modes

Grand Prix

The main mode of the game where up to two players race against computer-controlled opponents across four tracks in each of the four cups. They are divided up into three different difficulties depending on the engine size: 50cc, 100cc, and 150cc. 50cc is the slowest, while 150cc is the fastest. When a race is finished, players receive points depending on how well they placed in the race. If players finish in 5th place or worse, they are forced to restart the race. However, in two player mode, if one player finishes in the top rank while the other finishes in a low rank, both players will continue on to the next race.

Unlike Super Mario Kart, players have an infinite amount of tries to retry a race should they fail to qualify. At the end of the Grand Prix, players receive a trophy depending on their overall rank, with bronze for 3rd, silver for 2nd, and gold for 1st. In 50 and 100cc, the trophy is skinny, but in 150cc, the trophy is large and has two handles.

If players place 4th at the end of the Grand Prix, a cutscene will play as their character watches the top three ranked players go to the podium while they drive away. A Mini Bomb Kart will come out of nowhere and attack the player, following with the message; "What A Pity! You placed <4th-8th>. Maybe Next Time!"

If the player gets all Gold trophies in 150cc, a new mode, named Extra, which would later be known as Mirror Mode, is unlocked. Here, players race in vertically flipped courses in 100cc. Upon unlocking Extra, the title screen changes.

The notable feature of Mario Kart 64 is its rubberbanding AI, meaning that regardless of the weight class, AI drivers can speed up significantly than the human player. There are two rivals per Grand Prix that fight with the player for first place and use a Handicap to situate themselves with them. On an additional note, in the 1500cc and Extra modes, two CPUs are given a large handicap and when they're hit by items such as the Red Shell, they immediately recover. Sometimes, there is one AI racer that gets a huge handicap. When they're far ahead, it's very challenging for them to stop.

Racers

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.PNG MK64Luigi.PNG MK64Peach.PNG MK64Toad.PNG
Mario
Medium
Luigi
Medium
Peach
Light
Toad
Light
MK64Yoshi.PNG MK64D.K..png MK64Wario.png MK64Bowser.png
Yoshi
Light
Donkey Kong
Heavy
Wario
Heavy
Bowser
Heavy

Tracks

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 and Mario Kart Tour
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 and Mario Kart Tour
Royal Raceway
also in Mario Kart 8 and Mario Kart Tour
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

Bigdonutmap.jpg
Big Donut
also in Mario Kart 7
Blockfortmap.jpg
Block Fort
also in Mario Kart DS
Doubledeckmap.jpg
Double Deck
Skyscrapermap.jpg
Skyscraper
also in Mario Kart Wii

Items

Item Pictures Item Names Description
Mushroom - Mario Kart 64.png Mushroom Gives the user a quick burst of speed.
Triple Mushroom - Mario Kart 64.png

Triple Mushroom

Gives three Mushrooms, providing the user with three speed boosts.
Golden Mushroom - Mario Kart 64.png

Golden Mushroom (new)

Gives the user an infinite amount of speed boosts for a limited time.
Green Shell - Mario Kart 64.png

Green Shell

A shell that, when thrown, bounces off walls and will disappear after it bounces enough times or hits another racer. If it hits, the racer will bounce on the ground several times before they can drive again.
Triple Green Shells 3 - Mario Kart 64.png

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.png

Red Shell

A shell that homes in on racers ahead of the user. Unlike Green Shells, if a Red Shell bounces off the wall, it will be wasted.
Triple Red Shells 3 - Mario Kart 64.png

Triple Red Shell New

Summons a set of three Red Shells that double as a barrier. When thrown, they have the same effect as a Red Shell.
Blue Spiny Shell - Mario Kart 64.png

Spiny Shell (new)

A powerful shell that, when fired, goes after the current leader of the race. Racers must be careful with this item, as it travels in a straight line, then goes down the track in the middle of the road.
Lightning - Mario Kart 64.png

Thunderbolt

When used, the Thunder Bolt shrinks everyone, except the racer who used it, as well as slowing their karts down and allowing them to be flattened. Items are not lost as a result.
Banana - Mario Kart 64.png

Banana Peel

A banana peel that spins the racer out should they drive over it. It can also be used to defend the player from incoming attacks.
Banana Bunch - Mario Kart 64.png Banana Bunch New Spawns five Bananas behind the racer that can be thrown forward or backward. If another racer runs into the bunch, the bananas will spread out and the racer in question being spun out.
Fake Item Box - Mario Kart 64.png

Fake Item Box (new)

An item that looks similar to a normal Item Box. When ran into, the racer will get thrown into the air instead of receiving an item.
Boo - Mario Kart 64.png Boo When used, Boo will steal an item from another racer and turns the user invisible, making them impervious to all attacks.
Starman - Mario Kart 64.png

Star

Makes the user invulnerable for a few moments, making them impervious to everything. If the player runs into a cliff or steep slope, this item's power will immediately end.

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.png 30%
Green Shell - Mario Kart 64.png 30% 5%
Banana Bunch - Mario Kart 64.png 5% 5%
Triple Green Shells 3 - Mario Kart 64.png 5% 10% 10%
Red Shell - Mario Kart 64.png 5% 15% 20% 15% 10%
Fake Item Box - Mario Kart 64.png 10% 5%
Boo - Mario Kart 64.png 5% 5%
Mushroom - Mario Kart 64.png 10% 5% 5% 5% 5%
Triple Red Shells 3 - Mario Kart 64.png 20% 20% 20% 20% 20% 20% 20%
Lightning - Mario Kart 64.png 5% 5% 10% 10% 15% 20% 20%
Starman - Mario Kart 64.png 5% 10% 15% 15% 20% 30% 30%
Triple Mushroom - Mario Kart 64.png 15% 20% 20% 25% 25% 10% 5%
Golden Mushroom - Mario Kart 64.png 5% 10% 10% 10% 10% 10% 10%
Blue Spiny Shell - Mario Kart 64.png 5% 5% 10% 10% 15%
Item No. Positions Obtainable Total Average
Banana - Mario Kart 64.png 1 30 30%
Green Shell - Mario Kart 64.png 2 35 17.5%
Banana Bunch - Mario Kart 64.png 2 10 5%
Triple Green Shells 3 - Mario Kart 64.png 3 25 8.33333333%
Red Shell - Mario Kart 64.png 5 65 13%
Fake Item Box - Mario Kart 64.png 2 15 7.5%
Boo - Mario Kart 64.png 2 10 5%
Mushroom - Mario Kart 64.png 5 30 6%
Triple Red Shells 3 - Mario Kart 64.png 7 140 20%
Lightning - Mario Kart 64.png 7 85 12.1428571%
Starman - Mario Kart 64.png 7 125 17.8571429%
Triple Mushroom - Mario Kart 64.png 7 120 17.1428571%
Golden Mushroom - Mario Kart 64.png 7 65 9.28571429%
Blue Spiny Shell - Mario Kart 64.png 5 45 9%

Production Credits

Trivia

  • 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. He can be seen in trailers of early builds.
  • 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.
  • This is the first game where every character has a course named after them.
  • This is the first game in the series to have a gate at the Start/Finish Line.
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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