Sunday, October 11, 2009

Rank Up! - Mario Kart

A little while we ranked the Mega Man X series from best to worst with the original X taking the crown. Today we'll be continuing this Mario Kart weekend with Rank Up! Mario Kart edition. Put the pedal to the metal, and let's get racing. We've got six competitors duking it out for the number one spot. One of the following games will make the others eat its dust.

Here are the games we'll be ranking:

Super Mario Kart (SNES)
Mario Kart: Super Circuit (GBA)

Mario Kart 64 (N64)

Mario Kart: Double Dash!! (GCN)

Mario Kart DS (DS)

Mario Kart Wii (Wii)

Since its inception on the Super Nintendo, the Mario Kart franchise has appeared on every major Nintendo platform without fail. Each game in the series brings something new to the table more often than not whether it's full 3-D, a partner element, portability, online play, or motion control. Without further ado, let's get this race started.
Get ready.... Get set... Go!

6) Mario Kart: Super Circuit (GBA)

Let's preface this by saying that there is no sour apple in this bunch. All Mario Karts have one thing or another that make them great. Super Circuit brought the Mario Kart series to portable form with sixteen, new, colorful tracks and Mode-7 visuals. In addition to that, Super Circuit had all of the tracks from the original Mario Kart as an added bonus. That's more than double the tracks. The thing that keeps Super Circuit back in the pack is that multi-player can only happen with two people owning a GBA and a copy of the game each. This isn't as lucrative a prospect as it seems.

5) Mario Kart 64 (N64)

Super Circuit brought Mario Kart to portables, Mario Kart 64 brought the series to true 3-D. Up until Goldeneye 007, Mario Kart 64 was the ultimate destination for multi-player mayhem. What puts 64 second-to-last is a problem that would plague future entries in the Mario Kart franchise-- rubber-band AI. No, the items wouldn't be your downfall, your opponents would just gain insane bursts of speed to keep up with you. It makes the single-player action less than thrilling and more on the side of frustrating. As for the tracks, there's several memorable courses from the majestic hills and hairpin turns of Royal Raceway to the absolute best incarnation of Bowser's Castle.

4) Super Mario Kart (SNES)

The one that started it all, Super Mario Kart originated the kart racing genre and did it in style. With Mode-7 graphics, allowing faux-3-D on the Super Nintendo, a colorful cast of Mushroom Kingdom all-stars (and Donkey Kong Jr.), and multiple cups filled with hazards, twists, and turns, and Super Mario Kart reigns supreme as a terrific kart racer that outshines imitators to this day.

3) Mario Kart Wii (Wii)

The best-selling Mario Kart of all time, Mario Kart Wii took everything we loved about the series and added cheap item assaults to anger long-time fans. Despite this, the Wii version of Mario Kart had wonderful new tracks from dodging traffic on Moonview Highway to weaving through construction in Toad's Factory. Online play was added which remains one of the best online infrastructures on the system. Characters could choose between karts or bikes, and players could choose between motion and traditional controls. There was a host of unlockable characters, sixteen retro tracks from past Mario Karts, and enough curse words from losing first place to spiny shell to make Bowser blush.

2) Mario Kart: Double Dash!! (GCN)

Two times the characters for twice the fun. The main gameplay elements of Double Dash!! was placing two characters per kart. One character steered while the other was in charge of using items. This brought a whole new package full of strategy with it. Double Dash!! was also the first and only Mario Kart to feature LAN play, double item boxes, and character-specific items such as fireballs and bob-ombs. The selection of tracks is one of the series' best with the hectic and busy seven-lap Baby Park, not-your-mama's-Sunday-drive Mushroom Bridge, the Yoshi-shaped Yoshi Circuit, a ride down the slopes of DK Mountain, and the sharp twists and turns of Wario Colosseum. Double Dash!! takes second place as the catch-up AI was nowhere near as apparent as it was in the following game. In fact, it was hardly there at all. The addition of unlockables and the All-Cup, allowing players to race all sixteen courses in succession, made this Mario Kart one of the best.

1) Mario Kart DS (DS)

But not the best. The most complete Mario Kart? It certainly felt like it. Mario Kart DS was a ton of firsts: first for online play in the series, first for a mission mode where you battled bosses and collected coins in various challenges, first for a retro cup where sixteen courses from past Mario Karts were revisited and raced on from Mario Circuit on the SNES to the N64's Choco Mountain, and first for emblems to be proudly placed on karts (for better or worse). The new tracks weren't about to be upstaged by the retro ones, however. They ranged from simple (Figure-Eight Circuit) to complex (Bowser's Castle, Peach Gardens, and Rainbow Road). All of these features plus local play with two friends owning a copy of the game each makes Mario Kart DS first on the podium.

And we've arrived at the finish line tonight. Is this list to your liking/disliking? Let us know in the comments section.

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