Mario Kart 64

mariokart64box.jpg (11676 bytes)Game: Mario Kart 64
System: Nintendo 64
Release Date: 1997
Price: $19.99 or less

 Mario Kart was one of the few great Nintendo 64 games, if not one of the only multi-player titles. It managed to prove that there was indeed a lot of potential in Nintendo’s corvette-love child, despite rumors it just plain sucked. The N64 never really became more than a “children’s toy” here in the US, but Mario Kart helped to attract some older players with its strong sense of visual style, and out and out fun. 

mariokart3.gif (16710 bytes)The premise of Mario Kart is simply an extension of it’s Super Nintendo predecessor. Take a slew of the most recognizable characters from the Mario universe, and put them in a bunch of lawnmower-engine powered go-karts. You have a gas button, a brake button and a “hop” button. The latter giving you the advantage of a short jump while racing, which is helpful to avoid traps, obstacles and even other racers. You can also pick up weapons, power-ups and other goodies by driving though the multi-colored cubes floating about the racetrack. These weapons come in everything from the form of a turtle-shell, which can be launched, to the Starman, which grants invulnerability, to Lightning, which shrinks everyone to mini-size (Super mariokart4.gif (17053 bytes)Mario 2). 

The racetracks are well-varied and well thought out as well, ranging from very familiar Mario locations, to worlds from games like Donkey Kong Country and Yoshi’s Island. There are plenty of secrets to discover within the game, given you take enough time to do so. There are also a few secret tracks as well, like in the original game, the final one of which being the Rainbow Road, which is a real pain in the ass. It’s just hard! 

Mario Kart was a million-seller here in the US, and frequently made Player’s Choice lists at Nintendo Power. You should be able to find it in most major retail stores. It’s definitely worth a purchase. Just remember to go easy on the controllers, and your friends!