With Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled right around the corner and Team Sonic Racing just in the rear-view mirror, kart racing games are currently enjoying somewhat of a resurgence. You can’t beat these classic kart racers in our eyes, though.
Look at that hectic, team-based goodness!
Chris | Mortal Kombat: Armageddon - Motor Kombat
Whilst Mortal Kombat: Armageddon's Motor Kombat isn't a fully-fledged kart racer, it does have all the necessary traits to qualify, including the use of a K where a C would suffice. Mechanically, it plays just like a toned-down version of Mario Kart (which one might expect from a mini-game which is, essentially, a toned-down version of Mario Kart), with death traps, shortcuts and power-ups.
There are ten available characters to choose from, each with their own special ability that can be unleashed after grabbing a pick-up, similar to more child-friendly titles starring plumbers. These abilities are based on the characters' special attacks; Scorpion drags an enemy back with his spear, Sub-Zero freezes someone, Johnny Cage lobs a useless ball of green goo… you get the idea.
The limited number of tracks and racers would work against Motor Kombat if it was a full release, but as a side activity in a fighting game, it's perfect for some light relief between bouts. The one criticism I could throw its way is the choice of racers - in a game featuring just about every Mortal Kombat character of its time, having Bo' Rai Cho as one of the featured ten is baffling.
Everyone's favourite character is in the back there.
Liam | Mario Kart DS
One of the best Mario Kart DS features - apart from being a great accompaniment to the footy - was the ability to play local multiplayer matches (albeit with limited tracks) with only one copy of the game.
As cash-strapped teenagers relying on handouts and birthday windfalls, this was a godsend back in the day. It allowed me and my few DS-owning friends to compete in epic tournaments without having to splash out on multiple copies of the game.
It was also the only entry in the series where you could add a self-designed emblem to your kart, introducing a personal touch to proceedings. I'm still rocking the badge I came up with nearly 14 years ago (based on a private joke between me and my brother) and whenever I boot up the game and see it splashed across the front of Luigi's bonnet, it always elicits a childish smirk.
Its age, plus the fact it wasn't a full home console release, might make it easy to forget, but some of the biggest features we take for granted in modern entries - re-imagined retro tracks, alternative kart designs and online multiplayer - debuted in Mario Kart DS, making this unassuming entry a pioneer in the series' history.
Mario Kart: Teaching kids to dodge oncoming traffic since '92.
James | Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
I've been playing Mario Kart for years. From the twists and turns of Toad's Turnpike to the cunning boost shortcuts of Dry Dry Desert, the quintessential kart racer has brought many fond memories. If only there was some way to revisit them all in the same game...
Thanks to Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, you can do just that, hopping into the two retro courses mentioned above along with fistfuls of others, including classics from as far back as the SNES!
This entry isn't just a nostalgia-fuelled victory lap though, also boasting plenty of new courses alongside new features like auto-drive and auto-accelerate, finally making Mario Kart fool-proof for even the youngest of Nintendo fans. Like Super Smash Bros. Ultimate after it, there's a whole host of characters here as well, including the Bowser kids nobody’s ever even heard of.
The easily shareable, totally authentic driving experience of playing multiplayer with just a single Joy-Con (clipped into a plastic wheel holster, if you're a true pro) makes Deluxe tons of fun across both conventional races and a host of battle modes.
Put your foot down now, ladies and gents, 'cause this one leaves its competition in the dust.
Mario Kart 8 introduced elements from The Legend of Zelda for the first time.
Rob | Mario Kart 64
This one’s an easy choice for me: Mario Kart 64 stands atop the infamous Choco Mountain, far above all other karters.
Playing solo had its share of lovely moments, but multiplayer is where the game really shines. I grew up sharing a room with my boisterous older brother, and when we weren't mimicking WWF (WWE) wrestlers at home, we were playing Mazzer Kart 64.
Grand Prix's were always a highlight, as we struggled to muscle each other and AI out of the way, off the track completely, or into unfortunate obstructions like penguins, gofers and crabs. Every now and then my younger sister would join in as well, as together we attempted to exact revenge on older bro for whatever shitty nicknames he'd given us that week.
It also came in handy on a night out a few weeks ago, when yours truly was challenged to a race by a rather menacing drunk at a bar in Brighton. Thankfully, he was dispatched so beautifully that he calmed right down and offered to buy me a pint!
Moral of the story? Mario Kart 64 isn’t just for 1997 - it's for life.
Split-screen Mario Kart 64 holds fond memories for many.
Which is your favourite kart racer? Is it another Mario Kart game, or something more exotic? Let us know in the comments.