• Wave Race 64 Kawasaki Jet Ski


  • Racing


  • Ape


  • Nintendo

Release Date:

  • July 27, 1989 (JP)

On Wikipedia:


  • NES


  • Hit five buoys in a row.

This is an updated version of the original 2021 review.

Similar to Super Mario 64 (previously reviewed here), Wave Race 64 Kawasaki Jet Ski (as it was even in Nintendo's official console game list c. 2003 under that title) was somewhat of a lost relic for years. Introduced to me along with Super Mario 64 in that same era (and personalized with all racers renamed to my cousins' names, except for D. Mariner, who was retitled as "Fat Man)".

The first track, "Sunny Beach", is easy.

It was a personal "lost relic" to me because I like my games to be as close as the original as reasonably possible, other than minor improvements like resolution, compatibility, or QoL features, which is where the open source ports of Pangea games or Super Mario 64 shine...and I couldn't play the game on the Wii Virtual Console. The Wii Virtual Console had some great titles but none of the original licensees were renewed so everything had licenses became the watered-down version. So no Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!!, you got Punch-Out!! Featuring Mr. Dream, a butchered Tecmo Bowl (no detail on TCRF unfortunately), and of course Wave Race 64, which did not have the Kawasaki license, and to make things worse, redid the in-game banners to remove the Kawasaki branding and replace them with (decidedly not in the 1996 release) Wii and Nintendo DS Lite banners, as well as stuff with the Wii-era grey Nintendo logo. It may have seemed minor but for me was a deal-breaker.

Like Stunt Race FX's "Kings Forest", the fog clears by the third lap.

Eventually I was able to get a working N64 emulator that ran it fine (some had issues with the renderings of Drake "Milky" Lake's trademark milkiness) and was able to get the same experience again. At the end of the day, it requires a lot of zigging and zagging to get the mechanics of the games down, in addition to working with the waves, you have to go to the left or right of buoys (don't miss more than four) to win the race.

Furthermore, the Nintendo 64's technical limitations make it a bit difficult to see where the track actually goes (even without split-screen). Unless you know the layout of the tracks by heart, I botched a few races because I thought a wall was a ramp or entrance. In terms of racing games for the Nintendo 64, I prefer Mario Kart 64...but more on that another day.

I should that there is a decomp project on Github but it's still stuck at around 5% at this point, so no point in wishing for a PC port.