If you’re a gaming fan, you had quite a nostalgic moment on Monday: it was the 20th anniversary of what might just be the greatest racing game ever made: Super Mario Kart.
For those in the dark (or too young to remember the game), Super Mario Kart launched in 1992 on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System and is the first in the go-kart racing series. It featured all of today’s Nintendo favorites, including Mario and Donkey Kong, and kept gamers engaged for hours at a time.
I can still remember breaking Super Mario Kart out of the box and playing the game for the first time. At the time, it was state of the art. And after playing it for minutes, I knew that it was special. I was rounding corners with ease, picking up items, and enjoying it with friends. It was the very best option out there for what I needed at that time.
Super Mario Kart became the inspiration for many games over the years. In just a few short months, other developers were lining up titles that would, in one way or another, try to compete with Nintendo’s.
But as we all know, none of those games, including Sega’s Sonic Drift or later titles, like South Park Rally, could match up. Super Mario Kart delivered the right mix of fun and excitement, and its graphics and control for the time were unmatched.
As time went on, the Mario Kart series became a huge revenue-getter for Nintendo. The franchise made its way to the Nintendo 64 and GameCube, and had a strong showing on the Nintendo Wii. Simply put, the franchise is an icon in the gaming industry. And most gamers will readily acknowledge the indelible mark it has left on the gaming business.
It takes a special video game to elicit strong emotions 20 years after its launch. And I can honestly say that out of the thousands of video games I’ve played over the years, few have been able to leave such a mark on my life the way Super Mario Kart did.
You see, the game wasn’t the best looking I’ve every played nor did it come with the best story. What Super Mario Kart did was help friends bond. Everyone I knew wanted to come over the house and play Super Mario Kart. And when I headed over to a friend’s house, it was the first game we popped in for years.
How many games can you find in your history that did the same? Surely the first time you played a Mario game, you were entranced, and chances are, the original Halo impressed you to no end. But how many more games have delivered such an impact? Moreover, how many more games have delivered that impact for 20 years?
Call me crazy, but Super Mario Kart is one of those games that, when pressed for something to play, I’d still consider booting up.
So, happy birthday, Super Mario Kart. You’ve officially entered the pantheon of old-time gaming greats. And in my book, you’re still in the top ten.