- Release Date: 1996
- Platform: N64
- Developer: Nintendo
- Genre: Racing
Let's be honest, nobody ever fell in love with Wave Race 64. Despite hailing from the same stable as Super Mario and company, this Jet Ski racing game with its four identical riders just doesn't have the personality for that. The visuals don't help either. Superficially, Wave Race 64 is even a bit-- whisper it-- annoying.
Yet the game made a splash (I apologize deeply for the lame pun) on release and, unlike many other older games, it's still worth checking out on its own merits, irrespective of its historical value (which isn't much; the game spawn no great lineage of Jet Ski titles). It's all about the realistically modelled water, and the joy of steering your craft upon it. The N64's innovative control stick had already proved that analog was the future, thanks to the fin control it afforded Mario in his N64 debut, but Wave Race 64, itself a very early game for the console, was an even more convincing demonstration. As you steer your bouncing craft across the choppy surf or pull a hairpin turn, you can almost see the old two-dimensional, on or off era sinking beneath the waves.
The game is structured as a conventional racing game, albeit all at sea. In most races, you need to beat your fellow skiers around an island in various weather conditions, while also steering your craft past navigational buoys. Correctly passing a buoy boosts your speed, and at maximum power you really fly. Championship, Time Trial, and Stunt modes round out the package, and the mandatory two-player mode is also good fun, despite the somewhat restricted view afforded by the split-screen implementation.
Wave Race 64 remains one of the best water-based games you can play -- although admittedly that's a genre with limited competition.