Extreme-G is one of the most balanced games out there for the Nintendo 64. It doesn't put all of its eggs in one basket, as the game is nearly equal on all levels -- graphics, sound, control, gameplay and replay value. Call it a Wipeout clone if you want, but any way you slice it, Extreme-G is a very good racing game.
Extreme-G can best be described as a futuristic combat racing game that is played at mind-numbing speeds. It's kind of like a combination of F-Zero and Wipeout, except the game is much wilder, with its roller coaster-like tracks and high-tech weaponry. The action takes place across 12 levels (four worlds with three levels) as well as four special battle arenas.
Each of the tracks -- they take place in the desert, in mines and canyons, in a city, and on a space station -- is a wild ride with numerous loops, jumps, twists, sharp turns, and branching paths. You can initially choose between eight bikes that are rated in the attributes of acceleration, speed, cornering, shield, and fixed weapon. The bikes have different fixed weapons, but Extreme-G is also packed with special weapons that are picked up on the track. These range from missiles to mines to rear weapons to defensive weapons. At the bike select screen, you can press the R button to change the controller configuration to anything you want and you can also enter your name. If you're like me, you'll probably want to change the default button configuration.
There are many modes of play in Extreme-G. The main mode in the game, the Extreme Contest, can be played by one or two players simultaneously -- thank goodness. This is the mode in which you race against the computer. There are a total of eight racers on the track at one time, too. In addition to the Extreme Contest, there are many others additional modes. For instance, in the single-player mode, you can also participate in Practice, Time Trials, and Shoot 'Em Up. And in the multi-player mode, which is for two to four players, you can choose from Head-to-Head, Cup Challenge, Battle Arena, or Flag Game.
As a racing game, Extreme-G ends up being one of the most enjoyable on the system. The Extreme Contest, the meat and potatoes of the game, is where you can find all the action. The object of this mode is to acquire enough points to qualify for each successive track. Fortunately, the game tells you what place you need to finish. And if you're playing this mode with another person, only one of you needs to qualify.
Forgiving game design also makes sure Extreme-G is fun to play the game at extreme speeds. So that means you can run into walls, sides, etc., and still be able to move pretty quickly. There are occasional places on the track where you can fall off, but the game puts you back into the action quick enough. Add in an allotment of three nitros per track and the "Nitro Haze" that boosts you ahead and you have a racing game that is actually fast, fun, and exciting.
Additionally, the multi-player modes of Extreme-G are fast, smooth, and furious. Head-to-Head lets you and your friends battle against each other but not the computer. The Cup Challenge is a tournament for up to 16 players in which two players compete against each other by themselves. The Battle Arena should be pretty decent in theory, since it's like Mario Kart's Battle Mode, but the execution isn't very good because the bikes were designed for straight-ahead movement. Finally, there's the Flag Game, which has players collecting flags by riding into them. You can also shoot enemies to make them drop their flags. The player with the most flags at the end wins.
The aural and visual elements of Extreme-G are both appropriate and impressive. Because of the futuristic nature of the game, the graphics are composed of lots of dark and neutral colors, and you'll also find lots of lighting effects associated with the terrain and weapons. There is some of the infamous N64 fog in the game, but it doesn't detract from the game one bit. In fact, that helps the game run at blinding speeds. The music and sound effects in Extreme-G also capture that futuristic feeling. The background music is all techno-based and is composed well, but I'm not a big fan of techno. Some of the sound effects of the weapons are also very cool.
Be forewarned: Extreme-G is not for the faint of heart and is not for those who get motion sickness easily. If you can actually stomach all the wild colors, loops, twists, and speed, you'll find that Extreme-G is just a solid racing game. With a lot of other N64 racing games being too slow, having terrible two-player modes, or just being boring, Extreme-G fills a nice void in the N64's lineup.
Graphics: 7.8 out of 10
Sound: 7.6 out of 10
Control: 7.6 out of 10
Gameplay: 7.8 out of 10
Lastability: 7.8 out of 10
Overall: 7.8 out of 10