A Mario Kart game came out recently, and some people at Kotaku said it’s the best ever. Others disagreed. This quickly leads to jokes about Mario Kart DS, the merits of balloons and arguments over just how close to perfection Double Dash got.
To appease the great Pecking Order, then, and to settle the debate it has thrust upon us once and for all, this is a list of Mario Kart games, ranked worst to best. So the ones at the top are the least amazing, while the one at the bottom is the most amazing.
Note that this is my list. Not Stephen’s, not Tina’s, not Kirk’s, not Jason’s, not anyone’s. You got a problem with it, you take it up with me. Also note that, in the interests of inclusion, I’ve left out the arcade games, both for their similarities to existing titles and since so few of us (or you) will have played them.
Eh. I thought the bikes were a bit naff, and the motion controls sucked. Get past those, and the nostalgia factor of so many retro courses, and there’s not much there that lives on in the memory. Not a bad game by any means, but up against this kind of world-beating competition, something had to come last.
The Game Boy Advance was, in my mind at least, supposed to be a way I could play SNES games on the go. This was nowhere near as good as the SNES Mario Kart. I am, however, one of the only people on Earth to actually like its visuals. They make it look like a really fantastic Mario Kart bootleg game for the Amiga.
I know, it was the first one most people got to play with three other folks. But whatever. I never liked it that much, maybe because I never liked the N64 controller that much. Some absolutely classic courses, some making better use of 3D terrain than more modern entries, but boy, the game just looks gross now.
Nobody saw this coming. It should have been another weird handheld port. Instead, it was an almost perfect combination of nostalgia and pioneering features. It would take years for Nintendo to release another game this enjoyable when played online, an amazing feat considering this was released in 2005.
Fuck you, Ghost Valley.
It’s almost as though Mario Kart Wii was a test, so that Nintendo could see what worked and what didn’t when it came to the levels of innovation necessary in each Mario Kart game. Those lessons have since been applied, and they were first applied here, with the addition of long-overdue features like custom karts. Also, gliding: looked stupid in trailers, was awesome in the game.
Further proof that Nintendo has this down to a science. It’s almost a shame it’ll be remembered mostly for a meme, since everything else it did was the kind of perfection in execution and design that only a Nintendo at the top of their game can pull off.
Remember, this is my list. Double Dash has its problems, sure. But it was so brave, and I love it for that. The co-op abilities gave the game’s most basic act of driving around and throwing stuff a level of depth and tactics it hasn’t seen since. It also has the single best collection of original tracks the series has ever seen, from the insanity of Baby Park to DK Mountain’s strategic perfection to Mushroom Bridge’s rush hour madness.