Wave Race 64 Review

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In 1992, Nintendo released “Wave Race” for the Gameboy. The popularity of the original Wave Race spawned a sequel four years later for the Nintendo 64. In 1996, the jet ski racing game Wave Race 64 was released to commercial and critical success helping launch the N64 into popularity. Let’s hit maximum power in this Wave Race 64 review!

Wave Race 64 Plot:

You don’t need a story for a jet ski racing game! Just compete in the championship tournament and win your races!

Wave Race 64 Gameplay:

You can take control of four different racers, three guys and one girl. I personally always chose the third racer named M. Jeter, who wore a blue and red water suit, which looked like the typical “white guy”. The other racers include an Asian guy, a fat guy, and a blonde girl. The first thing you’ll notice is the brightly colored graphics instantly grab your attention. The crystal clear blue water and the colorful outfits and scenery put a nice touch on the game, making you feel like you’re in the environment of a jet ski race.

There are a few modes you can try your hand at. Championship mode will have you racing against the other three racers in a series of courses. I chose “Normal” mode, which gives you six courses. The hard mode will give seven, while the expert mode has eight courses. There’s also “Time Trial”, which I didn’t try, and “Stunt Mode”, which sounds really fun but again, I didn’t try it. Perhaps I’ll go back and play stunt mode, that sounds like something fun to do, but I never was any good at pulling off tricks and stunts during the races. I was just concerned with achieving “max power” and making my way around the buoys to power up my jet ski just to hear the announcer scream “Maximum Power!”.

Wave Race 64 has a cheerful tone for the entirety of the game. From the colors to the announcer who screams enthusiastically when you win the race or receive maximum power. It’s fun to listen as you race along. During my playthrough for the Wave Race 64 review, I even found myself in a better mood!

But don’t think that you’ll just be racing through crystal clear waters. One of my favorite courses is “Drake Lake”, a foggy race around a lake that you’d find down South complete with ducks flapping around the screen when you zoom by the corners. In the advanced races, you can race near an ice glacier, a few naval yards, and even an island that has a killer whale that flops around the water. Some of the courses even have obstacles, like floating water spikes or wooden poles sticking out of the water that you must avoid. Each course is unique, and this game would fit perfectly into an arcade scene.

Wave Race 64 is the perfect game to play on the couch with friends. Multiplayer might be more fun than the single-player runs as I imagine racing would get intense between friends. The controls can take a while to get used to, and the N64 controller will never feel “right” in my hands, but after some races, you get used to the steering and resistance of the water and waves.

When I completed my championship run on “Normal”, it was a decent challenge, and there were a few times I got lucky at the end of the race, but overall it wasn’t extremely difficult. I didn’t feel the need to try the “hard” or “extreme” modes for this review, but I imagine I wouldn’t fare too well on those settings. Something I wish I had the opportunity to do was play Wave Race 64 with friends. Racing games can be fun, but I’d love to shove first place in the face of my friends.

I don’t have any memories of Wave Race 64 growing up. I was a PlayStation kid, but a few of my friends had the N64, but I don’t recall ever playing Wave Race 64 with them. I was aware of the game, so it must have been popular to some degree.

The only memories I have are the ones I just made a few months ago when playing it for the first time.

Wave Race 64 Review Score:

Extreme sports games were very popular during the 90s, and I bet Wave Race 64 had a lot to do with that. Do you remember games like Coolboarders, Sledstorm, and Tony Hawk Pro Skater? Those games probably owe a little nod to Wave Race 64 for making extreme sports games popular and showing that they can be commercially successful.

I’m sure many people have fond memories of Wave Race 64 whether it was playing it late into the night or racing against siblings or friends. The game was a massive success, which is why I’m surprised we’ve only received one sequel since then. Nintendo has recently renewed its copyright for Wave Race, so there could be something in the works for a future game. As for the N64 version, Wave Race 64 is a superb unique racer. I can’t say I remember other jet-skiing games that had an impact as it did. The colorful graphics, the cheery announcer, and the unique courses all help shape Wave Race 64 into a fun game. There will be plenty of people who complain about the score I give it, but I don’t have the memories of this game growing up. All I can do is grade the game based on how I played it for the first time a few months back. Once you complete the championship run, I don’t see much replay value in the game except when friends come over. So, what is my final score in this Wave Race 64 review?

Wave Race 64 scores a 7.5 out of 10.

What would you write in your Wave Race 64 review? What did you think of Wave Race 64 when it first came out? Am I giving the game too low of a score? What’s your favorite course or race? Let me know your thoughts and memories of Wave Race 64, I’d love to read them!

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