[[caption-width-right:240:Mario Kart gets [[StealthPun N]] the 3rd dimension.]]

Mario Kart 64 (released in 1996) is a racing game for the Nintendo 64 and the sequel to ''VideoGame/SuperMarioKart''. The game is the first game in [[VideoGame/MarioKart the series]] to be in 3D, and allows up to four players to play.

New items were introduced to shake things up such as triple shells, triple mushrooms, banana bunches, and the infamous [[ComebackMechanic Spiny]] [[ScrappyMechanic Shell.]][[note]]The Spiny Shell cannot be used by computers.[[/note]] The game would be the first to introduce "Extra", the original name for Mirror 150cc where tracks were flipped horizontally.

Oh, and [[StrictlyFormula the formula is all but unchanged from the original.]]

Every track from this game with the exception of Wario Stadium has shown up in one incarnation of this game from ''VideoGame/MarioKartDS'' onwards.
!!The game features examples of these tropes:

* AlwaysNight: Banshee Boardwalk, Rainbow Road[[note]]Justified in this game, since it's in space, but not in ''Mario Kart 8''.[[/note]], and it's always sunset at Toad's Turnpike.
* AmazingTechnicolorBattlefield: Rainbow Road, complete with the neon characters in the background and of course the road.
* AntiFrustrationFeatures:
** If you get any place lower than 4th, the game will allow you to retry the course again with no penalty. This is extremely helpful in beating the 150cc races.
** The game is programmed to give better items to stragglers than to those in first place so that you can make a comeback if you're falling behind.
* BananaPeel: Now with the probability of getting a trail of five bananas.
* BigBoosHaunt: Banshee Boardwalk, although there are just bats and giant Cheep Cheeps as hazards
* BonusFeatureFailure: Time Trial ghosts. First, ''any'' major crash, enemy collision, course-out, or even ''pausing'' will disqualify your ghost from being recorded.[[note]]Taking too long will also ghost-DQ you, but that's a more understandable restriction for memory reasons.[[/note]] Second, a single ghost takes up ''121 pages'' on the 123-page Controller Pak, meaning that the only other thing that will be able to fit on your Controller Pak afterwards is a single small-size file for another game.
* BottomlessPits: Due to limitations in the game's engine, there were no true Bottomless Pits; every hazard that would force Lakitu to be summoned and respawn the player onto the track would be some form of liquid (water, freezing water, or lava) or a solid surface (such as the bottoms of Yoshi's Valley and Rainbow Road, which take forever to recover from if you fall in since it's a long way down)
* BraggingRightsReward: Get first place in all tracks in Grand Prix mode to get Mirror Mode, which also comes with a nice new title screen.
* CarFu: Battle Mode.
* CaveBehindTheFalls: Koopa Troopa Beach's shortcut, which requires either a lightweight racer with good jumping skills or a Mushroom to reach.
* CherubicChoir: In the credits music and the Bowser's Castle theme.
* ComebackMechanic: The Spiny Shell (a.k.a. the Blue Shell) makes its introduction here, a powerful item reserved for stragglers that screams through the track to hit the racer in first place and anyone unfortunate enough in between, becoming the bane of veteran Mario Kart fans everywhere. Thankfully it's only seen in human vs human races and is not programed to be used by computers.
* TheComputerIsACheatingBastard:
** When a player is in 1st, drifting or not, there will usually be one or two CPU drivers that trail behind the player, ready to take the lead once they wipe out. It becomes jarring when the player plays as a lightweight and has a heavyweight in either the first or second CPU positions who are able to reach speeds they otherwise can't achieve without drifting.
** If you have a cheat enabled that allows a human player to be controlled by a CPU, you can see that the computers get almost permanent drafting bonuses while they drive, and the ability to use Bananas, Fake Item boxes, Boos, Stars, and Thunder without driving over an Item box (in fact, players must manually trigger a CPU-controlled human's item box if they obtain an item).
** On 100cc and 150cc, you'd better not let the first CPU driver get too far ahead, or else they speed up so quickly that you'll never have a chance of catching up, short of very fast corner-cutting or Lightning.
** If off-screen, the CPU-drivers appears to recover from falls, obstacles and weapons faster than any human player can.
* ContinuityNod: Royal Raceway is home to Peach's Castle, which looks nearly identical to its appearance in ''VideoGame/SuperMario64.'' You can drive into the courtyard of the castle which is also a dead end; causing it to be barricaded off in the ''Mario Kart 8'' version of the track.
* ConvectionSchmonvection: Bowser's Castle and the Big Donut battle stage.
* DamnYouMuscleMemory:
** Extra Mode mirrors all the courses horizontally, which will screw you up at least once. Once you tackle Toad's Turnpike in Extra, now you have to face ''oncoming traffic'' rather than following it.
** Yoshi Valley has so many paths that the game doesn't keep track of the positions and replaces it on the HeadsUpDisplay with ?s. You never know the positions ''until you reach the finish line on the last lap''. [[note]]This has also been downplayed when the track reappeared in ''Mario Kart 8'', so now it keeps track of the positions.[[/note]]
* DeathMountain: Choco Mountain and Yoshi Valley, with the latter having multiple path ways in both versions.
* EarlyInstallmentWeirdness: While this is the point where the series largely evolved to its final format, Nintendo was still working out some of the gameplay mechanics. The lightweight characters (high acceleration/low speed) are actually ''faster'' than the heavyweights (high speed/low acceleration). Using the lightweights (Peach, Toad, and Yoshi) properly can make them potential {{Game Breaker}}s, as not only are they faster and can pick up quickly after crashing, they can also drive off-road better than the other drivers. The only advantage that the heavyweights in this game (Bowser, Wario, and Donkey Kong) have is that they can bash the lightweights and the middleweights off the road or make them spin out. The original advantages and disadvantages that were present in ''VideoGame/SuperMarioKart'' for each weight class were reverted back in later games, starting from ''VideoGame/MarioKartDoubleDash''. And on another note, like ''Super Mario Kart'', you still can't advance to the next race if you place 5th or lower (though there's no lives system anymore).
* ExitPursuedByABear: If you fail to make the podium, a bomb goes after your character as they drive away.
* FragileSpeedster: Peach, Toad, and Yoshi are the fastest, but can be easily knocked around.
* GoKartingWithBowser: Mario and the Princess don't seem to mind a friendly round of kart-racing with the jerk who just kidnapped her last week.
* GravityBarrier: Plenty, but Rainbow Road has a nice steep drop at the beginning.
* GreenHillZone:
** All of the "Raceway" tracks (known as Circuits in Japan).
** Moo Moo Farm is literally a bunch of green hills.
* ItsAWonderfulFailure: The player who ends up in 4th place or lower at the end of a Grand Prix gets to watch the top 3 take the winner's podium and gets chased by a bomb.
* JackOfAllStats: Mario and Luigi.
* JungleJapes: DK's Jungle Parkway.
* LethalLavaLand: Bowser's Castle.
* LettingTheAirOutOfTheBand: Placing lower than the top 3 at the end of each Grand Prix nets one in the award ceremony, where it airs out a bit when it shows your character driving away from the courtyard of Peach's Castle, then finally stops when the Bomb Kart arrives to further humiliate your character.
* MarathonLevel: Rainbow Road. It takes about 2 minutes to complete one lap, and is the longest track in the series. (Long enough that when the track was brought back in ''VideoGame/MarioKart8'', it was formatted as one lap divided into three segments)
* MightyGlacier: Bowser and DK have the worst acceleration and off-road handling, but can shove lighter racers out of the way.
* MinskyPickup: At the start of Moo Moo Farm.
* NintendoHard: 150cc and especially Extra, mostly for the [[TheComputerIsACheatingBastard computer]] [[RubberBandAI drivers]].
* PalmtreePanic: Koopa Troopa Beach.
* ParodyNames: The Japanese version had billboards with parodies of real life companies like Marlboro (Marioro) or the Mobil 1 motor oil (Yoshi 1).
* PunnyName: "Kalimari Desert" (the infamous track with the train) is a pun on both "calimari"[[note]]Squid that you eat.[[/note]] and on the real life "Kalahari Desert" in Africa.
* RiddleForTheAges: What do you think that green Thwomp in Bowser's Castle did to deserve the solitary confinement?
* TheRival: In each Grand Prix, you are given at least two of these, and they will be the main abusers of RubberBandAI of that GP.
* SandBridgeAtLowTide: Koopa Troopa Beach uses this trope as a shortcut.
* SequelDifficultyDrop: This game is ''much'' easier to play and beat than the original ''Super Mario Kart'', even in 150cc mode.
* ShaveAndAHaircut: One of the car horns does this in Toad's Turnpike.
* ShiftingSandLand: Kalimari Desert.
* ShortcutsMakeLongDelays: The shortest route through Yoshi's Valley is a narrow, windy path with no railing, falling off will cost you several seconds of recovery time. The [[LeapOfFaith Rainbow Road]] shortcut, capable of giving you an irreversible lead ([[TheComputerIsACheatingBastard against humans]]) if executed properly, will also take forever to recover from if you failed. Same goes for a similar shortcut in Royal Raceway, which ''will'' make you fall into the water; the hard part is getting the game to register your landing in a way that Lakitu deposits you ahead of the section following the ramp and near the finish line, rather than back on the ramp.
* ShoutOut: Sherbet Land is named after a world in the original ''VideoGame/WarioLand''.
* SlippySlideyIceWorld: Frappe Snowland and Sherbet Land.
* SnowySleighBells: Sleigh bells ring though the [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t7NepeWLuTU theme]] plaing in the frigid Frappe Snowland and Sherbet Land.
* SpritePolygonMix: The backgrounds and some objects are 3D, while the racers and most of the hazards are DigitizedSprites (which looks pretty weird when the camera pans around the parked characters in the award ceremonies). The reason they used this was because they wanted the game to maintain a consistent framerate while having all 8 racers on screen at once, which at the time would have much harder to pull off if they were all polygon models.
* SuddenlyVoiced: Luigi, Toad and Wario are voiced for the first time. The other characters stick with the same voices or vocal effects they had in the SNES era or ''VideoGame/SuperMario64'', and for Yoshi it was the final time he used his original vocal effects, which were ditched in favor of Kazumi Totaka's voicework in the following year's ''VideoGame/YoshisStory''. Though the ''VideoGame/MarioParty'' series would continue to use Yoshi's old voice for some time (the first two games, in fact, used voice clips from the Japanese version of ''[=MK64=]''), while his old voice was heard at all times in ''VideoGame/NewSuperMarioBrosWii'' and ''VideoGame/NewSuperMarioBrosU''.
* TitleScream: Done in two different ways depending on the version. In the Japanese version, a group of Japanese children is heard yelling "Mario Kart!", while in the overseas releases, Mario yells "Welcome to Mario Kart!".
* VideoGame3DLeap: Since it's part of a racing series, the leap is only aesthetic.
* WackyRacing: Par for the course. The only rule in the competition is: Reach first place. The means are irrelevant. Many weapons can be used to attack other racers and get past them. And if they fall into water or a pitfall, Lakitu will bring them back to the course with no punishment (there are no Coins in this game) other than wasting precious time.