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Fave Five... Mario Kart Games

by James Charlton - March 3, 2012, 8:53 am EST
Total comments: 28

Regardless of which Mario Kart game is your favorite, we can agree that the Blue Shell stinks.

Because we can't get enough Mario Kart in our olives, this week's Fave Five celebrates the prestigious multiplayer franchise. James Charlton has compiled his top five Mario Kart games.

5- Mario Kart 64:

After being initially disappointed with this "sequel" to one of my favourite SNES games, I grew to appreciate the four-player battle mode and racing with friends. What the tracks lacked in character, they made up for in variety. No longer were tracks limited to a few themes, they were set in various places in the Mushroom Kingdom, even places we'd never seen before like in front of the Princess's castle! The battle mode felt so different from the original game at the time that it took me a LONG time to adjust, shooting red shells from high places to hit people on the ground never seemed to work well enough for me, but the new items such as the spinning red/green shells really added a lot of strategy which I liked and eventually got used to. Power-sliding got a great upgrade and took skill, and a lot of practice, to get right—nothing is more satisfying than seeing that smoke change colour as you glide gracefully around a long corner. Not a game I go back to, but one I have fond memories of playing with high school friends after we got bored of Goldeneye, good times!

Mario Kart 64

4- Mario Kart Wii: 

With the Wii's lackluster (at best) online structure, I didn't have high hopes for anything with Mario Kart when it came to the console, but I ended up being pleasantly surprised. Not only could you race online with friends, you could exchange ghosts easily with them, see rankings on each track of who had the best time, and even go online with someone sitting next to you. The online part of it also extended the life of the single-player game by supplying weekly tournaments, which reused assets from the main game in new ways. To this day this is the only use of Nintendo Connect 24 I've ever had; the blue light flashing on the Wii meant I had a new ghost challenge or a new tournament to try.

Another thing I love is being able to download and view ghosts from the top players in the world, letting you in on their secrets—something bizarrely missing from MK7. All this kept me playing the game every week for the best part of 2 years, something no other Mario Kart has managed to do to this day. The controls are great for bringing in new players. My wife, for example, loved playing with the wheel—finally, a racing game that responds to the controller being moved left and right! (Anyone with a little sister or girlfriend knows what I'm talking about!) For me, this game got the balance between family friendly and Mario Kart diehard just right.

Mario Kart Wii

3- Mario Kart: Super Circuit: 

After sampling the game through a download play session with a friend’s version, I quickly decided to get the game myself. The moment I played it I thought, this is the true sequel to Super Mario Kart I’ve wanted. It was literally that game plus a whole lot more. The new tracks were awesome, and it was faster, smoother, and more visually pleasing than the SNES one, while still sticking to its Mode-7 roots. My power-sliding skills from the first game could quickly be adapted to Super Circuit; the speed and accuracy with which you can slide around a turn-heavy track like Luigi's Circuit is so satisfying and fun, yet still lets you feel like you're totally in control. The four-player system link up is so much fun; even when my friends at Uni didn't have copies of the game, we could still each play with Yoshi only. You can also turn off items and just have a straight up race, or keep them on and enjoy blasting each other with shells. For any old school guys still out there, this is one of the purest skill-based Mario Kart games available. Anyone who says the controls are loose doesn't know how to play the game. God bless the Ambassador program!

Mario Kart: Super Circuit


2- Super Mario Kart: 

This game plays a huge part in my gaming history. After Super Mario World, it was my most played game ever during the 16-bit era, mainly thanks to friends who also had the game and were equally good at it. Before the invention of the Internet, we'd compare track times, set up tournaments, swap shortcut tips, and battle each other at any opportunity we could. Mario Kart Wii is the closest I've come to recapturing that feeling, thanks to online, but nothing beats the actual real life banter that happens playing this game even now. Sure the power sliding is limited by today's standards, but if you get into the zone, you can hop and glide your way around the track like some kind of go-kart ballerina. Also if you're a fan of retro game music, pretty much every song in this game is still a classic. (Just to let you all know where I'm coming from, I also prefer Donkey Kong Country to Donkey Kong Country Returns and Mario World to Mario 64.)

Super Mario Kart

1- Mario Kart DS: 

This game gets my number one spot because of its divine combination of everything I love about the other four games on the list—all in one game.The power sliding is a perfect blend of SMK and MK64, the tracks are an eclectic mix of exciting new tracks and brilliant old ones, and the local multiplayer is the most fun and least hassle to set up. Four systems, no cables, and one copy of the game are enough, and you're ready. Sure, online is filled with cheaters, but why play with unknown weirdos when you can play with friends anyway. Mario Kart 7 does some of this a lot better for sure, but with the amount of things taken OUT of the game, I can't include it in my favourite five. The mission mode is a work of genius, taking elements of the single-player game and making them into bite-size objectives, all of which can help you become a better player. Let’s hope it makes a comeback in the next iteration.

Mario Kart DS



1takauchihaMarch 03, 2012

Please, blue turtle shells are the reason family and friends can't have a nice, quiet game.

5kytarMarch 03, 2012

Double Dash is the best fo' sho'! I love the two player co-op. That's the best.

I expressed this in a staff e-mail when JC submitted this.

I disagree with this. A lot. Double Dash FTW. Super Circuit sucks.

TJ SpykeMarch 03, 2012

I'm sorry, but any list where Super Circuit is ranked higher than another game in the series in insta-fail IMO.

ShyGuyMarch 03, 2012

Give me Double Dash or give me death!

SMWizMarch 03, 2012

I'm sorry, but I can't endorse a list that includes Mario Kart Wii while ignoring Double Dash!!. While Mario Kart Wii did have a lot of fun tracks, the addition of bikes in a kart was, in my opinion, unwelcome. And the blue shell, which is supposed to be a rare item, would appear up to four times in a three lap race! Mario Kart Wii, over all, is a fun game, but it had some serious issues. I'll take Double Dash!! over it any day.

Why do I get a feeling that the future of this series of features is never to create any sense of consensus amongst commenters? LOL.

KlonoahedgehogMarch 03, 2012

My favorites are Mk64, followed by MKWii, and my all time fave is MK7.

NWR_pap64Pedro Hernandez, Contributing WriterMarch 03, 2012

Quote from: Kairon

Why do I get a feeling that the future of this series of features is never to create any sense of consensus amongst commenters? LOL.

Well, it wouldn't be a successful list without people complaining about it :p

NinSageMarch 03, 2012

Complain about the Blue Shells all you want, the series wouldn't be what it is without them.

As for this list? I'll try to be nice here ... it's not great.


1. MKWii
2. MK7
5. SMK

Never played: Super Circuit ... heard I'm not missing much.

AdrockMarch 03, 2012

Quote from: NinSage

Complain about the Blue Shells all you want, the series wouldn't be what it is without them.

There would definitely be far less cursing.

I'd probably go 7, DS, Wii, 64, Double Dash, with a pretty huge gap between 2 and 3. I wasn't a huge fan of Wii, but I still like it better than any other console iteration of the series.

house3136March 03, 2012

I learned what the soul of Mario Kart is while growing up on MK64, so that will probably always be my favorite. Mario Kart 7 has a lot of memorable retro tracks (classic rainbow road) blended with some really interesting new tracks (new rainbow road). The level of control and that ultra-smooth 60fps make it a honorable second for me.

AdrockMarch 03, 2012

I have one really awful memory of Double Dash which drops it several spots. Otherwise, I liked it especially since I got to be Daisy and Paratroopa in the same game. I was never fond of Supet Circuit. It harkened back to the original but was worse in almost every way. Boo-urns.

I'd probably rank my top 5: 7, DS, 64, Wii, Double Dash.

NinSageMarch 03, 2012

Quote from: Adrock

Quote from: NinSage

Complain about the Blue Shells all you want, the series wouldn't be what it is without them.

There would definitely be far less cursing.


buttleMarch 03, 2012

My favorite is double dash.  And for items, I'm fine with the blue shell.  Since the 1st place player isn't getting hit with other items like the players behind them.  What I hate is stuff like bullet bill.  It causes too much damange for players in 4th or 5th place who are having to deal with a lot already.  And it's too tough to defend against.

famicomplicatedJames Charlton, Associate Editor (Japan)March 04, 2012

Nice to see people submitting their own lists, not just destroying mine!
I think that's the purpose of this feature, get people talking about their own fave fives!  ;D

The reason why Double Dash isn't on my list is because I found it the most tedious, while I agree MKWii has some of its "DNA" in it, the lack of online and all the other cool stuff MKWii makes it incomparable in my opinion.
Other annoyances are the fact that it doesn't have many (any?) shortcuts (an aspect I love about Mario Kart games) in fact it has superfluous longcuts!
The much-heralded co-op only works with two pro players, anyone else it's just annoying "fire...now, no NOW!".

Blue shells suck in every game, except Super Circuit, where they are very fairly handed out and quite rare, as they should be. Super Circuit is a real "racers" Mario Kart, the way you get a boost is by doing a perfect powerslide, no waggling back and forth or waiting for something to change colour - it's pretty neat.
Not only that, it has some very cool shortcuts.

I made the decision that I haven't had as much time with MK7 as the others as of writing this, but right now I might put it at No.5. I want to see if it stands the test of time, cos right now I feel there is a LOT missing from it, and it might not hold up as well as MKDS did. Listen to Famicast 8 for my thoughts on that!

The arcade games would be at No.99 and No.100, ROM hacks and fan made flash games coming way before them.  :P:

I'd say... Wii, DD, 7, 64, DS

1-5: 64, DS, SNES, 7, DD.

Come at me bros, but at least the Blue Shell in this game was an equal opportunity mother****er.

SarailMarch 04, 2012

Here goes for me...

Top 5 Mario Karts
1. Mario Kart 7
2. Mario Kart DS
3. Mario Kart: Super Circuit
4. Mario Kart 64
5. Super Mario Kart

I really do love Super Circuit. I don't give a flying fark that a good portion of NWR's staff hates the game. It's got such a unique control style, and because of that, it takes a bit more skill to become great at it. And I am. So, nyah. Plus, it sorta brings back Mode 7... and you can't go wrong with that! :P

Also, I've played little of MK7, but what I've played does seem a bit sharper than MKDS, thus why I rank it higher. As for the beloved Double Dash!!? There's only ONE good thing about that game -- Baby Park. The rest of that game is shat. Sorry, I just don't like it.

I do love the bikes in MKWii, though. Fun stuff.

Ian SaneMarch 05, 2012

Mario Kart Wii is when I finally stated "oh the fuck with this" and pretty much wrote off Mario Kart forever.  So, yeah, it would not go in my list.  The game might as well be a fuckin' coin flip for all the "skill" involved in determining a winner.  If you suck, you are rewarded; if you're good, you are punished.  Real life has enough of that bullshit.  I don't need that in my videogames.

Though I only got it like a year ago, Super Mario Kart is my favourite.  I find that I've never liked the Mario Kart series as much as I feel I should.  Everyone says it is awesome.  It sure SEEMS like it should be awesome.  Yet, there is always something "off" about it.  Well I've now learned that it's because the series is notorius for being blatantly rigged.  The computer cheats in EVERY game and "balance" is achieved by handicapping.  SMK is old enough that these trends had not gone overboard yet so it feels the most "legitimate".  The computer blatantly cheating with custom power-ups that the player can't access is the only bad part of it.  But the computer doesn't rubber band and there are less over-the-top power-ups.

iqreyesMarch 06, 2012

Hey where's Double Dash??????
This REAL top five of mario kart:
1.- Double Dash
2.- MK DS
3.- MK 7
4.- MK Advance
5.- MK Wii

greyhoundkillinMarch 08, 2012

The ACTUAL top 5

1. MK7




5. SMK

Mop it upMarch 08, 2012

Mario Kart Wii is about the only game in the series that I like, and I really like it. It just fixed or improved all the issues I had with the previous games that held them back. I'll always maintain that anyone who thinks it's more luck-based than previous games (except Super Mario Kart) didn't take the time to learn the new mechanics.

famicomplicatedJames Charlton, Associate Editor (Japan)March 09, 2012

Maybe our favourite Mario Kart is linked with a favourite or memorable period in our lives?

I mean, we only get one game per system, and we associate systems with certain points in our life, maybe that's why we have such wrong differing opinions on what should be No.1?!

I mean I may have put MK7 at my No.5 above MK64, but the fond memories of Secondary (High) School playing the N64 game made me think again!

It might be the case for other games too, I mean I know I have fonder memories of SMW than Galaxy 2, even though I loved the heck out of (and would gives both 10's to) both of those games!

Just trying to rationalise a world in which people could put MKDD at No.1 of any list  ;)

StogiMarch 09, 2012

I love MK64 the most as it is my most played game. Even in my old(er) age, I still go back to it every now and then to play Drunk Driving.

UncleBobRichard Cook, Guest ContributorMarch 09, 2012

I love Double Dash - but it wouldn't be my #1 - the dual riders thing is just too confusing for new ("casual") players to get into in short bursts.  It makes trying to arrange GCN BBA Play a pain in the butt. :(

DEDwyer64March 11, 2012

Hey! At least Nintendo put in the feature to only have certain items in online communities in Mario Kart 7. But the feature isn't very useful in that you can only pick a certain type of item to play with. (For Example: Only shells, only mushrooms)

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