Video Game: Mario Kart 64

Mario Kart gets N the 3rd dimension.

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 Spiny Shellnote . The game would be the first to introduce "Extra", the original name for Mirror 150cc where tracks were flipped horizontally.

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

The game features examples of these tropes:

  • Always Night: Banshee Boardwalk, Rainbow Roadnote , and it's always sunset at Toad's Turnpike.
  • Amazing Technicolor Battlefield: Rainbow Road, complete with the neon characters in the background and of course the road.
  • Banana Peel: Now with the probability of getting a trail of five bananas.
  • Big Boo's Haunt: Banshee Boardwalk, although there are just bats and giant Cheep Cheeps as hazards
  • Bottomless Pits: 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)
  • Bragging Rights Reward: Get first place in all tracks in Grand Prix mode to get Mirror Mode, which also comes with a nice new title screen.
  • Car Fu: Battle Mode.
  • Cave Behind the Falls: Koopa Troopa Beach's shortcut, which requires either a lightweight racer with good jumping skills or a Mushroom to reach.
  • Cherubic Choir: In the credits music and the Bowser's Castle theme.
  • 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. Thankfully it's only seen in human vs human races and is not programed to be used by computers.
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard:
    • When a player is in 1st, drifting or not, there were 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.
    • The CPU-drivers appears to recover from falls, obstacles and weapons faster than we do.
  • Continuity Nod: Royal Raceway is home to Peach's Castle, which looks nearly identical to its appearance in Super Mario 64. 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.
  • Convection Schmonvection: Bowser's Castle and the Big Donut battle stage.
  • Damn You, Muscle Memory:
    • 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 Heads-Up Display with ?s. You never know the positions until you reach the finish line on the last lap. note 
  • Death Mountain: Choco Mountain and Yoshi Valley, with the latter having multiple path ways in both versions.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: 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 Breakers, 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 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.
  • Go-Karting with Bowser
  • Gravity Barrier: Plenty, but Rainbow Road has a nice steep drop at the beginning.
  • Green Hill Zone:
    • All of the "Raceway" tracks (known as Circuits in Japan).
    • Moo Moo Farm is literally a bunch of green hills.
  • It's a Wonderful Failure: 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.
  • Jack of All Stats: Mario and Luigi.
  • Jungle Japes: DK's Jungle Parkway.
  • Lethal Lava Land: Bowser's Castle.
  • Letting the Air Out of the Band: 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.
  • Marathon Level: Rainbow Road. It takes about 2 minutes to complete one lap, and is the longest track in the series.
  • Mighty Glacier: Bowser, DK, and Wario are relatively slow (they can be pretty fast, actually; it's just that their acceleration sucks), but have the best handling and can push lighter racers out of the way.
  • Minsky Pickup: At the start of Moo Moo Farm.
  • Nintendo Hard: 150cc and especially Extra, mostly for the computer drivers.
  • Parody Names: The Japanese version had billboards with parodies of real life companies like Marlboro (Marioro) or the Mobil 1 motor oil (Yoshi 1).
  • Palmtree Panic: Koopa Troopa Beach.
  • The Rival: In each Grand Prix, you are given at least two of these, and they will be the main abusers of Rubber-Band A.I. of that GP.
  • Shifting Sand Land: Kalimari Desert.
  • Shout-Out: Sherbet Land is named after a world in the original Wario Land.
  • 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. 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.
  • Slippy-Slidey Ice World: Frappe Snowland and Sherbet Land.
  • Sprite/Polygon Mix: The backgrounds and some objects are 3D, while the racers and most of the hazards are Digitized Sprites (which looks pretty weird when the camera pans around the parked characters in the award ceremonies).
  • 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 Kazumi Totaka's voicework in the following year's Yoshi's Story. Though the Mario Party series would continue to use Yoshi's old voice for some time, while his old voice was heard at all times in New Super Mario Bros. Wii and New Super Mario Bros. U.
  • Video Game 3D Leap: Since it's part of a racing series, the leap is only aesthetic.
  • Wacky Racing: 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.