Mario Kart 64

Mario Kart 64

Mario Kart's first foray into 3D and the second game in the series, featuring an assortment of various power-ups and characters with a distinct Mario vibe.


The game's title screen.
The game's title screen.

Mario Kart 64 is a Mario themed go-kart racing game developed by Nintendo for the Nintendo 64, released in 1996. It is the sequel to Super Mario Kart for the SNES and features characters and track locations from the Mario universe. Mario Kart 64 made the leap from Mode 7 to full 3D computer graphics, which allowed for complex track designs. The characters, however, remain 2-dimensional sprites. The game was a huge success, selling millions of copies and eventually became a Player's Choice title.


Bowser in Mario Kart 64
Bowser in Mario Kart 64

At its most bare-bones, Mario Kart 64 only requires the player to press the accelerate button to drive and use the analog control stick to control the kart's direction. More experienced players will be able to use drifting and Mario themed weapons and items such as Turtle Shells and Mushroom Boosts to get the advantage over their opponents. Items are scattered in rainbow colored boxes across each track and as the items in each box are random and potentially very powerful, they add a certain level of uncertainty to each race. The drifting mechanic is performed by hopping and turning in mid air which allows a player to take sharp turns without losing speed, and if done correctly one can obtain a speed boost.

The game is separated into four play types, Grand Prix, Versus, Battle, and Time Trial. In each of these modes the player chooses from 16 race tracks and 8 playable racers, each of which have different attributes such as speed, acceleration, and weight. These attributes affect how each character handles. The Grand Prix mode has four difficulties, 50cc, 100cc, 150cc, and Extra, each progressively faster with more difficult opponents, or in the case of Extra, mirrored versions of all of the tracks. The 16 tracks are divided into 4 cups, and the player is tasked with racing these cups to win trophies. If they achieve all gold trophies in all the cups in each difficulty, they are rewarded with a new title screen. Versus and Battle mode allow players to compete with up to four of their friends via split screen. Versus allows friends to race together on any of the single player tracks, and battle allow players to fight in large arenas using items. Time Trial has a player racing against the clock. This mode will display a " ghost" of the best time, which is a translucent recording of the previous best lap.


The playable characters by category are:




Player select screen
Player select screen

Lightweight racers have quick acceleration and excellent handling, but have slow top speeds and are easily knocked around. Middleweight racers are good all around racers with middle of the road attributes. Heavyweight racers have high top speeds and are very difficult to bully, but have slow acceleration and can be difficult to handle.

An early version of the game featured the character Magikoopa instead of Donkey Kong.


The 16 tracks in Mario Kart 64 are:

Mushroom Cup

Sherbet Land
Sherbet Land
  • Luigi Raceway - A simple course that slightly resembles a Nascar track.
  • Moo Moo Farm - A bumpy dirt course that circles a farm pasture. Watch out for jumping Monty Moles.
  • Koopa Troopa Beach - A sandy beach island course. A rocky interior is to one side and the ocean to the other.
  • Kalimari Desert - This course is a desert course that weaves across train tracks. Make sure to stop for trains.

Flower Cup

  • Toad's Turnpike - A simple freeway made difficult by oncoming traffic. Avoid getting hit at all cost.
  • Frappe Snowland - A snowscape littered with explosive snowmen and thick snow dunes.
  • Choco Mountain - Race along chocolate cliff overhangs and dodge falling boulders.
  • Mario Raceway - A twisty thin track with piranha plants and a huge green pipe tunnel.

Star Cup

  • Wario Stadium - Resembles a dirt bike race course. Many great jumps and full of shortcuts.
  • Sherbet Land - An ice course around a freezing lake. Avoid the sledding penguins big and small.
  • Royal Raceway - Windy and thin asphalt course. Watch for the hidden Mario 64 castle.
  • Bowsers Castle - Filled with menacing traps and hazards.

Special Cup

  • DK's Jungle Parkway - A Jungle course with a large jump across a river. Watch out for the ferry.
  • Yoshi Valley - A thin twisting multi-path course. It has many bottomless pits.
  • Banshee Boardwalk - A rickety wooden course with ghosts and a haunted house full of bats.
  • Rainbow Road - A long course in space made of rainbows.


The soundtracks to Mario Kart 64 were composed by Kenta Nagata.

Mario Kart 64 Greatest Hits Soundtrack

Mario Kart 64 Race Tracks
Mario Kart 64 Race Tracks

Released: March 1st, 1997

Total length: 31:44

  1. Mario Kart 64 Theme
  2. Circuit Select
  3. Moo Moo Farm
  4. Koopa Troopa Beach
  5. Frappe Snowland
  6. Koopa Castle
  7. Kalimari Desert
  8. Rainbow Road
  9. DK's Jungle Parkway
  10. Toad's Turnpike
  11. Battle 1
  12. Results Theme
  13. Trophy Presentation
  14. Victory Lap

Mario Kart 64 Tracks

  1. Mario Kart 64 Theme
  2. 3 Raceways/Wario Stadium
  3. Moo Moo Farm/Yoshi Valley
  4. Koopa Troopa Beach
  5. Kalimari Desert
  6. Toad's Turnpike
  7. Frappe Snowland/Sherbet Land
  8. Choco Mountain/Battle Arenas
  9. Koopa Castle
  10. DK's Jungle Park
  11. Banshee Boardwalk
  12. Rainbow Road
  13. Star Power
  14. Setup and Kart Select
  15. Battle Arenas
  16. Winning Results
  17. Losing Results
  18. Time Trial Results
  19. Trophy Presentations
  20. No Trophy for You!
  21. Victory Lap

Bonus Tracks

  1. Start Your Engines
  2. Finish Trial
  3. Final Lap
  4. Finish First
  5. Finish OK
  6. Finish Out
  7. Finish Last
  8. Voice Collection


Mario Kart 64 initially received relatively positive reviews. Some reviewers found fault with the gameplay depth and single-player experience, but rated it fairly well overall. Commercially Mario Kart 64 is one of the most successful Mario Kart games in the series. It sold 5.5 million copies in the US and 2.24 million in Japan.