Still my favorite Mario Kart game out there
The controls are just as fluent as I remember them to be, there is no awkward turns or stiffness at all. Most if not all other racing games I have on the Nintendo 64 have a few control-related flaws, but I can't complain here. One thing that annoys me though (I think it has something to do with my cartridge) is that my character is sometimes hit by an invisible obstacle, costing me precious time.
There are not a lot of stages, but the ones we have are very detailed and polished. It is really cool if you know where to find all the secret shortcuts and how to avoid dangerous areas. Each stage also feels different and has it's own music, compare this to Waverace 64 or Diddy Kong Racing where every stage has the same feel to it, isn't this much better.
Fighting each other in the four versus stages is pretty cool and is still one of the most amazing memories I have from my childhood. Even to this day, even though we are now much older, we still like to get together and throw turtle shells at each other for a few good hours. Matches can take very long and the level design is quite amazing for it's time. This proves the saying: Quality over quantity, there are only four stages, but they are perfect.
Making minor adjustments to your direction slows you down a little and the NPC's use this to catch up with you. This wouldn't be such a problem if I didn't suffer from perfectionism and could just ride with the karts normally. Sadly I always feel urged to ride perfectly straight, which is not as easy as it sounds.
Obstacles only show up when they are right in front of you and it's already too late to dodge them. A friend of mine left a banana-peel on a ramp which I had to jump over, I saw it too late and fell down, this instantly caused me to drop from second to last place. I did end up third, but I could have been first if it wasn't for the annoying pop-up.
The characters didn't look impressive than and twelve years hasn't changed that. Rather than having animated characters it looks like the characters from Mortal Kombat. The graphics just stand-out way too much against the very colorful and light level design. I also love the ceremony at the end of a race where the camera moves a little, but the characters always look straight at it and their cars also turn to the camera.
The Bottom Line
I already said at the start of this review that Mario Kart 64 is the best installment in this franchise. The level design is great and we still play this game after like twelve years. It takes quality over quantity which makes it stand-out as a racing game, especially on the Nintendo 64. Try it out if you haven't done so already before, this game is very unlikely to disappoint you.