After a surprise announcement earlier in the week, Nintendo has finally dropped the checkered flag for the Nintendo Switch Online port of Wave Race 64.
As part of the growing library of Nintendo 64 titles being added to the Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack membership tier, this “what is old is new again” release of the hit classic aquatic racer has been well-received by many fans.
Produced by the legendary Shigeru Miyamoto and the rest of the team at Nintendo EAD, Wave Race 64 marked the series introduction into the realm of 3D, after it originally got its start on the Game Boy all the way back in 1992.
With this jump to a new dimension, along with it was brought a whole new level of gameplay and presentation. Wave Race 64 features four unique characters that each have their “own abilities and style”, offering players different ways to nab the top spot in Championship Mode.
But, Wave Race 64 isn’t all about putting the “jet” in the name “jet-ski”.
Rather, it also leads players to hone their stunt skills, as is the focus in Stunt Mode.
A dedicated Time Trials mode is also available which challenges the skill of each player to shave precious seconds off their lap times as they strive to complete each of the nine available courses as fast as possible.
Despite having released all the way back in 1996, Wave Race 64 does happen to feature some modern features for its time, such as beautiful water presentation with realistic physics, and even a crude dynamic weather system that has an effect on the water’s behavior.
Such elements are pretty standard in modern racing titles, but early 3D racers such as this are often seen as being so primitive. Thus, it’s interesting to see just how early developers started paying more attention to such minor details.
Wave Race 64 was succeeded by Wave Race: Blue Storm on the Nintendo GameCube a few years later in 2001. Although fans have been requesting it heavily, Nintendo has yet to make GameCube titles available as part of the Nintendo Switch Online service.
Time will tell to see if such a feat is achieved, but at least the release of Wave Race 64 would provide some hope of its successor being a part of that lineup.
Since then, however, Nintendo has not really touched the franchise much at all. It’s ported Wave Race 64 in the past to both the Wii Virtual Console and Wii U Virtual Console services (the latter of which is shutting down in 2023), but that’s all that’s really been done in terms of actual work with the franchise.
Nintendo has never really spoke of returning to the concept in recent times, either.
Even so, it’s clear that there’s at least a few folks at Nintendo who have some recognition of the series’ legacy. So, perhaps in the near future the motors will roar again.
Remember, you’ll need the Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack membership in order to play this. That costs $49.99 (USD) for 12 months; there is no monthly subscription option.