Mario Kart 64 – Unlockables, Shortcuts, and Cheats

Our Mario Kart 64 unlockables guide details how to unlock every mode, discover every shortcut, and reveal all secrets and cheats.

Released back in 1997 on the Nintendo 64, Mario Kart 64 featured a small roster of eight playable characters. Nope, there aren’t any characters to unlock. A total of 16 race tracks and four battle courses give this classic a decent amount of replayability. The game was re-released on the Virtual Console for the Wii in 2007 and for the Wii U in 2016. Mario’s second golf outing is back once again with a release through the Nintendo Switch Online service on October 25, 2021.

Now onto the Mario Kart 64 unlockables. To be honest, not much to unlock. Outside the Extra mode featuring mirrored courses, the only other unlockables are a cool new title screen and ghost races. But! There is still plenty to learn about Mario Kart 64 and we’ve got the rundown on every course secret, all the driving techniques, and each shortcut you’ll want to keep in mind the next time you and your pals sit down to race.

Jump around our Mario Kart 64 unlockables page by hitting these links:

Unlockable Features

Like we mentioned before, not much to unlock in Mario Kart 64. No unlockable characters and no unlockable courses. The little there is to unlock will be detailed here!

How to Unlock Extra Mode

Earn a gold trophy in each of the four 150cc cups to unlock Extra Mode. Doesn’t matter which order, the new racing class will be available as soon as you return to the main menu. This fourth class mirrors all courses while maintaining the 150cc speed.

 

Getting gold in 150cc can be quite a challenge when you factor in the rubberbanding AI mechanics. If you get ahead of the other computer racers, the game will manipulate the aggressive computer characters so that they go faster than what’s normally possible, and in some cases, even teleport to catch up to you. It’s cheap, but it’s something you’ll have to be aware of as you speed away. Try to always have a defensive item (like a Green Shell or a Banana) behind you in case they have the audacity to throw anything your way. And if they try to pass you, drive in front of them and they’ll crash right into your item.

Alternate Title Screen

Just like unlocking Extra Mode, earn gold trophies in all four cups in the 150cc racing class. The new title screen features additional characters set across a golden desert landscape. A true mark of skill for all to see!

Ghost Time Trials

There are three hidden Time Trails ghosts in Mario Kart 64. Break a specific Time Trial record in Luigi Raceway, Mario Raceway, or Royal Raceway to unlock that course’s ghost. Now when you play these tracks in the Time Trials mode, a ghost will race alongside you. You don’t get anything for beating the ghost but it’s a neat way for the game staff to get a little more involved.

None of the other courses have a ghost to unlock. Here are the times you’ll need to beat:

Track Record to Beat
Luigi Raceway 1’52”00
Mario Raceway 1’30”00
Royal Raceway 2’40”00

After completing at least one Time Trial for Mario Raceway, you’ll have the ability to show off your high score by pressing R on the title screen.

Secrets and Easter Eggs

There are a number of cool secrets and neat Easter Eggs that not everyone is aware, even those who originally played Mario Kart 64 back on the Nintendo 64!

Peach’s Castle

While racing on Royal Raceway, make it over the giant jump across the lake. As soon as you land, look for an opening to the right and follow that path to find Peach’s Castle. Feel free to drive around the castle grounds, but don’t fall into the water!

4th Place Ending

You’ve seen the ending for getting 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, but did you know there is an additional ending for getting fourth place? Not as common as it sounds! You can’t continue a cup if you get fifth or lower in a race, so we recommend getting fourth place in every race. In the hidden ending, your character will get left behind before getting chased down by a Bob-omb.

Guaranteed Spiny Shell in Luigi Raceway

Near the start of Luigi Raceway is a hot air balloon that rises up and down. Below it is an item box that follows it. Inside is a guaranteed Spiny Shell. You can either wait underneath and jump when it reaches the lowest point, or get lucky and jump as you’re driving by.

Guaranteed Spiny Shell in Koopa Troopa Beach

Towards the end of the Koopa Troopa Beach is a giant mossy rock to the right of the waterfall. With a Mushroom in hand, blast up the ramp in front of the rock to reach the item box on top of the rock to get yourself a guaranteed Spiny Shell.

Character Stats

Which character should you pick? Once you’re comfortable with the controls and the racing mechanics, we suggest picking up a lighter character with faster top speed. In the chart below, stats are based on 150cc and characters are listed by speed. Check out TASVideos for a ton of additional details and stats.

Top Speed Turn Speed Weight
Yoshi 324 1.28 0.9
Peach 324 1.28 0.9
Toad 324 1.28 0.7
Mario 320 1.25 1.2
Luigi 320 1.25 1
Donkey Kong 320 1.15 2
Wario 320 1.15 1.8
Bowser 320 1.15 2.3

Driving Tips

Driving in Mario Kart 64, not the easiest! Read through these tips to maximize your speed and recovery throughout your chaotic races.

Start Boost

Blast off past your opponents at the very start of the race. Hit and hold A just before Lakitu’s light turns blue (as soon as the second light goes dark) to rocket past the the starting line.

How to Drift

Just as you are about to turn a corner, hit the R button to hop, then push the control stick into the turn to start drifting. If you have enough time, try moving the control stick back and forth between the corner and the other side. If you do it correctly, the white smoke should turn yellow. But that’s not enough! Try it again and your smoke should turn orange. Leaving the drift will boost your acceleration, and your character will cheer to let you know it worked.

Drafting

Position yourself behind another racer and maintain that spot for a few seconds to get a small speed boost. Careful not to run into any items they are trailing behind!

Lakitu Boost

Made a big blunder that sent you flying off the track? As Lakitu bring you back, hit and hold A when your character is about halfway to the ground. This will bring you back up to speed without the need to wait to accelerate.

Slip Recovery

Hit a banana or fumbled a drift? No problem! Just tap B and your character will straighten out and continue without crashing. Look for the music note icon to confirm you did it correctly! You’ll know your character is about to spin out when you hear the screechy tire sound effects.

Triple A Recovery

If you every hit an item or come to a complete stop, try tapping A three times to get yourself back up to speed. Wish someone told me this two decades ago!

Extra Bounce

While speeding towards an opponent, get behind them and hop just before you get in contact. If done correctly, you’ll land on top of them and bounce right over. You can even try this at the very start after your rocket boost!

Quick Spin

This is useful in battle mode. Going one way but need to go the opposite way quickly? Hold A and B together, then push the control stick either left or right to quickly start spinning.

Shortcuts

Knowing the courses is half the battle! Use the shortcuts to cut corners and skip sections to catch up to other players or leave them in the dust.

Luigi Raceway

Two massive and wide turns on either side of the map. Use a Mushroom or a Star to drift around the inner wall to significantly reduce the amount of driving.

Koopa Troopa Beach

Huge shortcut! Once you reach the ramps, look for a thin ramp pointing towards a hole in the rock wall. Use a Mushroom up the ramp (or properly time a jump) to enter the tunnel and come out the waterfall on the other side.

Water will slow you down, but not with a Mushroom or a Star. Use this to your advantage, skip turns and corners this way!

Kalimari Desert

Got a Star during the first or second lap? Hold onto it and turn left into the train track path at the second crossing. Just as you are about to enter the tunnel, activate the Star and ride through. Reach the middle of the tunnel to reach the next lap!

After the second crossing, use a Mushroom or a Star to ride alongside the train track fence to cut a decent portion of the track.

Frappe Snowland

After you pass the snowmen gathering, use a Mushroom or Star to make a beeline across the hills and avoid the upcoming twists and turns.

DK’s Jungle Parkway

Enter the cave near the end of the course and use Mushroom or a Star to ride up dirt hill bypassing the last turn.

Yoshi’s Valley

For starters, it’s fastest to go left, right, and left at the first three junctions of the course.

After you pass the rolling egg, use Triple Mushrooms or a Star to cut through the grass instead of following the normal path. You’ll still pass the finish line this way!

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