The arrival of Wave Race 64 on Switch as part of the Nintendo Switch Online Expansion Pack has been the cause of much celebration in the Nintendo Life office. Those water physics have the power to impress some two-and-a-half decades on, and it still handles like a dream.
If you’ve never played the game — or if you’re a PAL gamer and only ever played the 50Hz version — we urge you to dive in and give it a try. We’d even suggest that it’s worth subscribing to the higher tier service for, if only temporarily. Check out our updated retro review for why we’re such huge fans.
This classic’s appearance on Switch has also resurfaced an old debate: Which Wave Race is best — 64 or the 2002 GameCube sequel, Wave Race: Blue Storm?
There’s no argument as to which one looks the best, with the generational leap of the ‘Cube’s tech offering a far prettier experience in Nintendo Software Technology’s US-developed entry. Wave Race 64’s chunky polygons — highlighted all the more on Switch thanks to a higher resolution output — look adorably primitive by comparison.
Still, handling-wise, Nintendo EAD’s 64-bit entry still feels nigh-on perfect. This writer has always preferred the more precise feel of the N64’s spindly analogue stick, too, even if it’s only an imagined difference. The analogue mechanism of the N64’s pad — a proper stick! — versus the ‘ball’-style GameCube equivalent always felt more responsive to racing line micro-adjustments. And those tiny inputs can make the difference between cresting a wave perfectly or barrelling into a buoy and ruining your race. It’s the same with F-Zero X versus GX, although that old chestnut is for another article.
They’re both great games, then, but which one is your favourite? Let us know in the poll below and we’ll settle the matter once and for all.
Oh, and of course there’s also the original top-down Game Boy racer that kicked off the series in 1992. Don’t get us wrong, Wave Race is a fine game in its own right (especially if you’ve got a link cable and three pals) and we’ll include it in the poll below. However, we’re under no illusions as to where it’ll rank on the podium. Feel free to surprise us, though!
Have you been enjoying the N64 game on Switch? We’ve got a sneaking suspicion that the game didn’t arrive in the first wave of Expansion Pack games thanks to Drake Lake and emulation foibles that messed with how fog and mist effects appeared on Switch. Fortunately, Nintendo put the work in and improved the emulator. Let us know your thoughts below!