Wave Race 64 is a racing game for the Nintendo 64 that was released on September 27 1996 in Japan and on November 5 1996 in North America. In Wave Race 64 the player races on jet skis in many different weather conditions, on a variety of different courses. The game was sponsored by the Kawasaki Heavy Industries brand. Wave Race 64 was released August 6, 2007 for the Wii Virtual Console in North America. In PAL territories it was released on the 17th of August. It is the sequel to Wave Race for the Game Boy.
The objective of each race is to not only to beat the other racers but also to successfully weave the jet-ski through various buoys. There are two types of buoys: red colored, which are signified by an R on them and must be passed on the right side, and yellow buoys, which are marked with an L and must be passed on the left side. Each time a buoy is correctly passed, a power arrow will light and the jet-ski will gain speed. Up to five arrows can be lit in order to obtain maximum power.
Failure to do either of these will result in a loss of power (though the arrows can be lit again) and missing five buoys over the course of a race will result in disqualification. Leaving the course (either by leaving the area limited by pink buoys or by leaving the water altogether) for more than ten seconds will also result in disqualification.
The game modes are:
- Championship: the player must beat a series of tracks and win the first place. Up to four levels of difficulty can be chosen: Normal, Hard, Expert and Reverse (the last being basically Expert with the tracks oriented backwards). Hard, Expert, and Reverse initially need to be unlocked. Also, the difficulty determines the number of courses played (six in Normal, seven in Hard and eight in Expert/Reverse). Each track has a specific set of points that the player must achieve in order to move to the next track. If the required quantity is not met, the player will be disqualified and the game will be over. The ranking the player finishes each race in determines the amount of points given: first place receives 7 points, second place receives 4 points, and third and fourth places receive 2 and 1 points, respectively. Players who are disqualified during the race do not receive any points.
- Warm Up: In this mode, the player trains to use the jet-ski in a special course known as Dolphin Park. In the bottom of the screen a prompt will indicate a set of instructions to control the vehicle, though the player can ignore it and practice by him- or herself. The player can also start Championship mode from Dolphin Park if they decide to.
- Time Trials: the typical time-attack mode in order to perform the best times, which are recorded in the game's data. Only the courses that have been unlocked can be played.
- Stunt Mode: In this mode the player plays solo in order to earn points by executing stunts and passing through hoops. The points depend upon how many hoops the player passes through without missing, as well as the class of stunt that has been performed, in which conditions it was executed, and the frequency that particular stunt has been done (the more times a single stunt is successfully completed, the amount of points awarded decreases). The game keeps track of the best scores. Only the unlocked courses can be played, and the warm up level, Dolphin Park, is also available.
- 2P VS.: A versus mode with a second player. The screen is vertically divided into two sections by a horizontal line. Like in other modes, only the unlocked tracks can be played.
The options menu allows the player to check audio, look over and erase records, and manage saved data from either the game itself or the Controller Pak. The names of the characters and the racing conditions (required laps, wave conditions, etc.) can also be changed.
Wave Race 64 was originally developed as a racing game featuring futuristic speedboats that changed forms by retracting or expanding itself, as shown in footage from the 1995 Nintendo Shoshinkai show. Because of its similarities with the then still-in-progress F-Zero X, the game took a drastic turn in its concept. Shigeru Miyamoto once stated that Wave Race 64 "taps 80% of the N64's power" and remains one of the most advanced N64 games ever released. The game features accurate wave physics, which are notorious for being difficult to program. Tomonobu Itagaki, the creator of the Dead or Alive series, included a jet-ski mode on the game Dead or Alive Xtreme 2 because he is a great fan of Wave Race 64. Kazumi Totaka, song composer for the game, has a hidden song in many games for which he composes the music, but it is unknown whether or not it appears in this game.
Wave Race 64 only has four characters, and they are:
- Ryota Hayami (18 years old, Japan): the most balanced character, Ryota can be used by beginners and experts alike.
- Dave Mariner (32 years old, USA): the biggest, thiccest, and fastest character, Dave has poor handling, grip, and acceleration due to his weight, is recommended for advanced players.
- Ayumi Stewart (21 years old, USA): the only female character, Ayumi is the smallest, skinniest, and slowest character, but has the best handling and acceleration. She is recommended for beginners.
- Miles Jeter (24 years old, Canada): the only character who was absent in Blue Storm, Miles has the quickest steering responding and worst grip, but is average in all other categories. He is recommended for intermediate to expert players. His skills are especially very useful in the stunt mode thanks to his quick responding controls and tight cornering.
Every character's categories may be customized before starting the race. However, this will only change the skills of the character in a limited tolerance. For example, even setting Dave Mariner to maximum controllability, this will not result to an equal controlling experience as with Miles Jeter.
Wave Race 64 comes with 9 courses, one more than it's successor. They are:
- Dolphin Park - The introductory course and warm up stage featuring the game's Dolphin mascot from that course. This course is not available in any Championship or Time Trial but is in Stunt Mode.
- Sunny Beach - The first and most basic course of the game. Racers ride around an oval shaped sand island were the course is oval shaped also very tight to the border of the island. This course is very good for beginners wanting to practice against the computer.
- Sunset Bay - The second course. The setting is as described in the name before the sun sets. It is a moderate curving stage with boats and sandy inner areas.
- Drake Lake - The third stage set in a lake somewhere. The course starts with a foggy setting but completely clears out after the second lap making it easy for riding. The course is quite challenging in Expert specially for Dave as it employs complex buoy positioning. Unlike Aspen lake in Blue Storm, the wood planks at the end of the course are unbreakable and will knock off rides when hit.
- Marine Fortress - The fourth course set around a Keep or sorta castle over the water. The course has many floating planks and boxes that will dis balance or knockdown riders when hit. The course has a shortcut that opens up upon completing the first lap much like Strongwater Keep in Wave Race Blue Storm but this shortcut practically cuts half of the stage.
- Port Blue - The fifth course and next to last in Normal Championship. The course is set around ships and platforms of cargo. It is divided in 3 routes depending the Championship were the course is regular in Normal, the route returns and a complex shortcut in Hard and the shortcut only without the normal route accessible in Expert.
- Twilight City - The sixth and next to last course in Hard Championship. The setting of the course is around a Nighttime city surrounded by boats and cement & metallic walls alike. The course is a bit long and is not available in Time Trial under Normal Difficulty.
- Glacier Coast - The seventh and next to last course in The Expert Championship. It is one if not the hardest of the courses. The frigid setting has the racers jumping over ice and "skiing" their jet-ski over patches of solid ice to complete the course. It is not available in Time Trial under neither Normal or Hard Difficulty.
- Southern Island - The last course in all the Championships (sixth in Normal, seventh in Hard and eight in Expert). The course features an abandoned boat in the middle of the course and has some of the meanest waves in the course. It also has a bridge like appendage that can be submerged over or raced under it depending the tide.
Wave Race 64 was rated the 127th best game made on a Nintendo System in Nintendo Power's Top 200 Games list.
Like Super Mario 64, Wave Race 64 was also re-released in Japan in July of 1997 as Wave Race 64 Rumble Pak Support Version. This re-release took advantage of the Rumble Pak accessory.
Wave Race 64 was released on the Wii Virtual Console on August 6 2007. Unlike almost all other Virtual Console games, Wave Race 64 was modified, with the in-game Kawasaki banners removed, most likely owing to an expired licensing deal. The replaced ads show Wii and Nintendo DS advertisements instead. The Jet Skis themselves have also been slightly modified and bear no Kawasaki logos. In the Wii U Virtual Console version of Wave Race 64, the Kawasaki advertisements were restored, suggesting that the sponsorship deal was renewed.