Mario Kart Ranked
Posted June 3, 2014
Mario Kart is serious business.
Don't be fooled by the happy smile on Mario's face or the joyful hollering from Toad. The kart racing series from Nintendo creates a competitive fire inside kids and adults alike. Bringing up "Mario Kart 64" in casual conversation will spark memories of late night college dorm room tournaments and controllers thrown to the floor after getting stung with a red shell.
You thought Kobe Bryant's "death stare" was cold? Check out Luigi giving another driver the business.
Because everything eventually turns into a list or power rankings, Mario Kart is not immune. Here's how I'd rank the games.
8. Mario Kart: Super Circuit (Game Boy Advance)
Updated 2D sprites and the original Super Mario Kart tracks available in a portable package sounds great, but the actual execution came up a little short. Super Circuit's biggest issues are related to the Game Boy Advance itself. Colors are washed out and the controls are too loose.
7. Mario Kart Wii (Wii)
Considering Mario Kart Wii is the best-selling version of the game, it might be jarring to see it ranked this low. Blame the Wiimote steering wheel. Despite the addition of new gameplay wrinkles like bikes, the motion controls made the game a little too casual and somewhat easy to unlock everything in the game. Mario Kart Wii is also the first time the series started to look stale, but the blame once again falls on the hardware.
6. Mario Kart DS (Nintendo DS)
A very polished portable edition of the series with added modes to keep players occupied, but the real pull of Mario Kart DS was the introduction of online multiplayer through Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection.
5. Mario Kart 7 (Nintendo 3DS)
In retrospect, this game feels like a testing ground for Mario Kart 8. Nintendo added kart customization so players could squeeze out the best lap times and gliders changed course dynamics for the first time since Mario Kart 64.
4. Mario Kart 64 (Nintendo 64)
Nostalgia is tricky. In our minds, this should be the greatest Mario Kart of all time. Expect the years have not been kind to the second game in the series. The computer controlled characters essentially cheat through "rubber banding" and Nintendo was still figuring out driving through 3D space. What keeps Mario Kart 64 near the top is its superior 4-player split-screen battle mode.
3. Mart Kart Double Dash (GameCube)
What it lacks in circuit variety it, Mario Kart Double Dash makes up for it with a twist on driver strategy. Instead of one character who drives and holds onto a single power up, the karts are equipped for a swappable passenger who can hold on to another power up. Want to save a boost mushroom or red shell? Just switch drivers and pick up another power up down the road. For some reason, Nintendo hasn't dusted off this feature since.
2. Mario Kart 8 (Wii U)
Take the best elements of the previous Mario Kart games, bring the visuals up to modern standards, refined controls and throw in deceptively addictive replay highlight sharing. Now Nintendo has a game that might actually get folks to buy a Wii U system, even if the battle mode isn't up to par.
1. Super Mario Kart (Super Nintendo)
Yes, the original from 1992 still gets it done today and really shouldn't be compared to the other games in the franchise. The 2D pixels and "Mode 7" gimmick make this less of a driving game and more about pure timing skills. Drivers are rewarded for well placed jumps and drifts, rather than a reliance on power ups such as stars and shells.