Wilson: Mario Kart is Nintendo’s masterpiece

Peter Wilson, Staff Columnist

Many people have tried. Many more have failed. But the ultimate test of skills between friends is the infamous Mario Kart for the Wii.

No other game allows players of all backgrounds to come together with little prior knowledge and compete on equal footing with only a few test runs. The multitude of runs and unlockable vehicles adds to the task of beating your peers in seemingly the most basic of challenges: the race.

It truly is the perfect game to compete against your friends, regardless of skill level or amount of practice.  

There are a range of customizations for your character of choice, giving some players clear advantages over others. There are three types of characters to choose from, each with their own distinct vehicles. Large characters, being the heaviest, can easily bump smaller characters off the course. Conversely, small characters move faster, giving them the agility and speed to avoid the larger characters.

In addition, each character has their own selection of bikes and carts. Bikes are inherently faster than their four-wheeled counterparts, but carts have an advantage when it comes to handling. They are also heavier, which, once again, allows for some bumper cart action. No one choice is better than the other though, which leaves room for fun in your strategization.

Will Luigi, a medium-sized character racing in a fast bike, beat Donkey Kong, one of the largest and most solid characters, racing in a heavy cart? The outcome could be different with each race.

The vehicles aren’t the only equalizer, though. Item boxes lay all throughout each course, giving the character who picks them up an advantage over their counterparts. Red, blue and green shells, can be picked up and thrown in the direction of opponents to stop them in their tracks. Banana peels can be laid down to trip other characters up and slow them down. Mushrooms can be consumed to give your character a boost.

These items add small, distinct advantages to the players who pick them up, but the advantages can be quickly turned against them when their opponents pick up the same. The inclusion of item boxes provides parity for each race, and thus no player can truly claim to be immune to their effects.

But perhaps the single most important component of Mario Kart’s legend is the selection of maps. There are 32 different tracks to be unlocked, ranging from trivial to extremely difficult. Groups can choose from the easiest map, the uncomplicated ellipsoid that is Luigi Circuit, to the hardest and last unlocked Rainbow Road, which is slippery, convoluted and long.

The large number of maps means there is something for everyone, regardless of skill set. Each map holds different secrets and serves as a final equalizer between those with the most experience and those who have never played.

Because of its broad accessibility, Mario Kart is the perfect way to settle any argument. Not because it proves who was actually correct, but because no matter the outcome, both parties will have fun. It’s the perfect way to bond with your friends over some easy competition. The game entertains as much as it tests.

Sometimes, the experienced will be rewarded. Yet, the new bloods always have a fair chance to seize victory.

In the end, friends should just be able to be together, and Mario Kart for the Wii is the perfect vehicle for shared fun.

Peter Wilson is a second-year biomedical engineering student on the biomaterials track. He works in the Gustafson Lab and can be found on Twitter at @wpieltseorn.