Still, Nintendo's expertise at sucking players into the game world is strongly evident, and Mario Kart 64 offers enough challenges to keep players (especially casual gamers) entertained. Placing a familiar Nintendo personality behind the wheel of a sputtering kart powered by a 50, 100, or 150-cc engine, the game lets players race computerized opponents or up to four other players on a variety of well-designed tracks. Because karts lack the power and speed of race cars, drivers must focus on collecting power-ups and nonlethal weapons rather than negotiating hairpin turns on two wheels. Grabbing and using on-track items is the heart of the game's fun: a strategically-placed banana peel sends the unlucky victim into a spin, nailing an opponent with a turtle shell launches their vehicle skyward, and a rocket provides a quick boost to near-breakneck speeds, if only for a moment.
The multiplayer mode provides enormously chaotic fun for up to four players--flip it on at a party and watch the guests congregate around the screen. --Eric Twelker
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