Mario Kart 64 (released in 1996) is a racing game for the Nintendo 64 and the sequel to Super Mario Kart. The game is the first game in 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 SpinyShell. The game also added several new modes and mechanics to existing modes.Oh, and the formula is all but unchanged from the original.
The game features examples of these tropes:
Always Night: Banshee Boardwalk, Rainbow Road, and it's always sunset at Toad's Turnpike.
Comeback Mechanic: 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.
The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: On 150cc, you'd better not let the 2nd place driver get too far ahead, or else they speed up so quickly that you'll never have a chance of catching up, short of repeated Lightning bolts in a row. Fortunately, the Rubber Band A.I. isn't as bad here as it is in other installments.
Yoshi Valley has so many paths that the game doesn't keep track of the positions and replaces it on the Heads-Up Display with ?s. You never know the positions until you reach the finish line on the last lap.
Early-Installment Weirdness: While this is the point where the series largely evolved to its final format, Nintendo were still working out some of the gameplay mechanics.
Most notable is the blue shell; in this game if someone fires it at you, it's possible to dodge it by quickly dropping down into second place and allowing it to hit whoever gets in front of you. This was dropped from the following incarnations, where there's no way to avoid being hit (unless you're invincible or finish the race first).
More subtle, but 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 breakers, as not only are they faster and can pick up quickly after crashing, they can also drive over terrain better than the other drivers. The only advantage that the heavyweights in this game (Bowser, Wario, and Donkey Kong) have are 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 Super Mario Kart for each weight class were reverted back in later games, starting from Mario Kart: Double Dash!!.
Fragile Speedster: Peach, Toad, and Yoshi are the fastest, but can be easily knocked around.
Shortcuts Make Long Delays: 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 Rainbow Road shortcut, capable of giving you an irreversible lead (against humans) if executed properly, will also take forever to recover from if you failed.
Suddenly Voiced: 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 Super Mario 64, and for Yoshi it was the final time he used his original vocal effects, which were ditched in favor of his own voice in the following year's Yoshi's Story. (Though the Mario Party series would continue to use Yoshi's old voice up until its fourth installment on the GameCube.)