There’s a popular idea on the internet that your favorite Mario Kart title is likely to be the first one you played. That’s true of me, since Mario Kart 64 is my first and favorite in the series. Now, new insight on this classic title is coming to light for English-speaking audiences. Beloved (by me) translation website Shmuplations has provided a translation of an interview with key Mario Kart 64 staff conducted for the game’s official guidebook in 1996. The interview provides a few surprising facts about cut content that you won’t find on a wiki.
Perhaps the most interesting reveal comes from Tadashi Sugiyama, Visual Director of the game. He talked about two cut levels, a parking garage and large city respectively:
There were a number of courses we had to drop, too. One was a big, multi-story parking garage-like structure, which you’d race around and around as you ascended it. At first, we thought it would be a nice, realistic track, and that it would be really fun, but when people actually played it the constant turning and turning as you went up quickly made them feel sick. (laughs) We also made a big city track, with a castle, and a nice pond, where you got to race around all these different houses and buildings. Unfortunately, it was a very large map, and it took too much time to race through. So we cut it.
Another tidbit comes from Producer Shigeru Miyamoto, who needs no further introduction. He explained that Mario Kart 64 originally featured a “no item” mode, where the game became strictly about skilled racing and was intended to appeal to F-Zero fans. However, when Nintendo demoed the game, virtually no one wanted to play the “no item” mode, so they threw it out. Miyamoto reasoned that — even though having no items was normal in other racing games — it must have “felt kind of cheap” to have no items in Mario Kart.
One more amusing insight comes from Kenji Yamamoto, Programmer. He stated that they originally produced a prototype for Mario Kart 64 that used real car physics and mechanics. But ultimately, it just wasn’t any fun to play! Then they reverted to the traditional kart racing style we know today, but they kept the physics they had developed for things like friction and grip.
The full interview has even more details. A lot of it consists of Nintendo just praising the Nintendo 64’s upgraded hardware, but they also talk about stuff like the origins of mini-turbos. You should check it out if you have some time this lazy Sunday. I know I’ve spent delightful hours perusing the site’s catalogue of translations in the past.