Mario Kart is a classic. It has been a staple when it comes to multiplayer video games since its first release almost three decades ago. It has evolved in many ways but the game’s basis is fundamentally the same, and remains timeless. I’m going to give a brief rundown of the history of all the different releases. My overview at the end will be based on the Nintendo Wii version because that‘s the one I‘m most familiar with.
Early Mario Kart
The original Mario Kart game was released on the SNES in 1992, which was before I was born, followed by Mario Kart 64 on the Nintendo 64. My family didn’t have an SNES but my older brother had an N64 in the late ‘90s/early ‘00s and would occasionally allow me to play Mario Kart with him, but never win. My memory of that time is understandably hazy, but I revisited the nostalgia back in 2012 when a housemate wired up his N64 and four of us played Mario Kart like we were kids again.
Those early games were clunky but simple, and the fun hasn’t diminished at all. Even with all the leaps and bounds in game development and design over the last 20 years, I can see why Mario Kart gets regularly overhauled and re-released. I recently played the original SNES version on a virtual console (Nintendo Switch) and it was an absolute blast!
Gameboy Advance, DS and 3DS
There have been releases of the game on all Nintendo consoles since the SNES, including their handheld gaming devices, excluding the Game Boy Color. The Game Boy Advance version was, arguably, the hardest to play as a multiplayer game. The function to have 4 people playing from one cartridge exists, but only if you each have a device and the necessary cables. You can see how much of a pain that was here.
When it comes to later handheld devices like the Nintendo DS and 3DS the connectivity is much easier because they are all wi-fi enabled, but again, each player needs to have their own console. None of that is really in the spirit of Games For Two.
Mario Kart Wii
My brother sold his Nintendo 64 in 2004 and I didn’t play Mario Kart again until it was released on Nintendo Wii. Incredibly, I only purchased my own copy of the game less than a year ago! I used to play it at friends’ houses and I have always been awful at it. Playing against my four year old makes me feel like a master but I’m really not. I think the over-sensitive handling is part of the charm of the game; it would be a travesty if they made it easier now, after all these years.
The particular charm of Mario Kart Wii was the controllers and the steering wheel attachments. The game was, and still is, perfectly suited to the console. It makes the game slightly more intuitive to play, for children especially. We have been having so much fun playing it alone, with two or with three players.
In 2017 Nintendo released Mario Kart 8 Deluxe for their groundbreaking console, the Nintendo Switch. I can’t comment on the game itself because we don’t have a Switch (yet?). I am sure, with their stellar track record, Nintendo have produced an excellent game that‘s fun for all the family. Just like the Wii version, the Switch version has a steering wheel attachment for the controllers. Although the game is compatible with Switch Lite, the multiplayer function is online only.
How many people can play? 1 to 4
How difficult is it to play? 3/10 – gameplay is very easy, winning is a little harder!
Is it child friendly? Absolutely 100%
How can I play? There are so many different versions of this game, but for the Wii you just need one console, one copy of the game and 1 to 4 controllers, steering wheels are optional but a whole lot of fun!
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