Nintendo’s wet racer was one of the first Nintendo 64 games we got for the system back in 1997.
An arcade deal on jet skis, it wowed with its unprecedented water effects and still has a happy place in our cold, bleak, and remorseless hearts.
Wave Race 64
Yes, this is one of Nintendo’s games. Although it spawned a sequel on the GameCube, the Japanese gaming behemoth didn’t bother pursuing the series any further after that.
It first appeared on the Game Boy in 1992 as a simplistic racer.
But the arrival of 3D capabilities allowed the company to develop (for the time) incredibly realistic water and physics effects.
So, yes, obviously the new title needed to look better than that.
General manager of Nintendo’s planning and development, Shinya Takahashi, had to guide other staff through the new technology as they were used to working across the 16 bit, 2D worlds of the SNES.
Wave Race 64 did it again with the incredible water effects and an impressive physics engine.
The result was a technically very impressive looking racer with an emphasis on arcade-style gameplay.
Of course, the experience had to be bloody good as well—that little old thing called “gameplay” is all-important.
Beneath the surface, there’s an engaging racing game. One that’s challenging, with the water actively throwing your rider around with gusto.
Issues? Yes. There really aren’t that many tracks. At the time, it wasn’t so much of a big deal.
Now, through technological advances, it’s more of a problem compared to how colossal modern games are.
And it’s a bit disappointing to race against only three others: one woman, another slim bloke, and an obese guy.
When you’ve mastered Wave Race 64 you do tend to run rings around the others and that limits the whole thing somewhat.
But a two-player mode adds extra fun and it’s still great fun to return for a nostalgic trip to take on those bloody waves.
Overall, we have a lot of happy memories with this title and consider it a minor classic. An impressive achievement back in the day. Now, a solid racer that stands the test of time.
Wave Race returned to the Nintendo 64’s successor (the GameCube) in 2001.
We didn’t pick up the game and it met with mixed to favourable reviews at the time. It’s since gained something of a cult following.
It’s difficult for us to comment as we never played it, but our research pinpointed issues with the difficulty and its similarity to the N64 outing.
And that also appears to be that for the series. Nintendo hasn’t touched it in almost 20 years – don’t go expecting a Switch version soon.
Yet… don’t feel sad! There’s Riptide GP: Renegade—a cheap indie game available across most platforms and PC.
Although it’s as daft as they come (seriously, the narrative in this game seems put together by a five-year-old), there’s still some fun racing action.
It’s one of those, “I’m aware of the game’s flaws, but really don’t care—this is fantabulous and stupid!” type romps. So it’s there should you want to relive those Wave Race 64 days.