5) Crash Team Racing (PS1)
Sony usually does what Nintendoes, so why not follow Rare's example of making a kart racer? That's exactly what Sony told developer Naughty Dog when crafting Crash Team Racing. The game had a story mode similar to Diddy Kong Racing where players competed in cups, races, and gathered the letters "C", "T", and "R" to vie for first place. From Crash Cove to Blizzard Bluff, the track design was quite good, offering up a plethora of clever shortcuts.
4) Mario Kart 7 (3DS)
The most recent game on our list, Mario Kart 7 may not exactly get the item balance right, but it's still an enjoyable kart racer all the same. With sixteen new tracks (my personal faves being Rainbow Road, Wario Shipyard, and Mario Circuit) and sixteen retro tracks (featuring the best choices for retro tracks in series history), an abundance of modes such as Battle, Time Trial, Grand Prix, and Nintendo's best online attempt yet, Mario Kart 7 is a great racer in its own right. The addition of kart customization, amphibious and airborne portions of track, and a first-person mode make for an interesting shake-up to the series.
3) Mario Kart: Double Dash!! (GCN)
Mario Kart: Double Dash!! possessed the first true change in franchise history: two participants per vehicle. The pair of karters could exchange places at any given time during a race. One person would drive while the other would aim and chuck items. Each individual racer had their own specialized item such as Mario's fireballs, Bowser's big shell, or Wario's Bob-ombs. The course design was especially well-done featuring drives through prehistoric jungles, sandy beaches, sunny cruise ships, amusement parks, and much more. This was the first game that the blue shell could be used by the computer-controlled characters. However, this did not happen often making Double Dash!! number three on my list.
2) Mario Kart DS (DS)
The ultimate Mario Kart experience, Mario Kart DS was the first game to feature a retro cup, sixteen old tracks from past Mario Kart games. The new tracks were no pushovers either with races through Tick Tock Clock, a fleet of airships, a trip through Luigi's Mansion, a snowy alpine pass, and a race through a pinball machine. This was the first time that Mission Mode reared its head, offering up a variety of challenges and boss battles against familiar foes. Add in twelve unique racers with a myriad of kart variations, and online play, and you have a hit on your hands with Mario Kart DS.
1) Diddy Kong Racing (N64)
While the DS remake was less than spectacular, the original Nintendo 64 version of Diddy Kong Racing remains my favorite kart racer of all time. It introduced to the genre an adventure mode where players partook in races against bosses, silver coin challenges, and normal races across twenty courses from areas such as Dino Domain and Future Fun Land. With two players and a cheat code you could participate in the adventure mode with a friend. With a colorful cast of characters such as Diddy, Timber, Banjo, Conker, Pipsy, Tiptup, and Krunch as well as two secret characters, Diddy Kong Racing is the bee's knees when it comes to kart racing games.
The rare Saturday list has been completed. What say you? What are your favorite kart racers of all time? Present your list in the comments section along with any words you'd like.