Sunday, June 12, 2016

Mario Kart 64

Original Release Date: 1997
Played On: Nintendo 64

I did that thing this weekend that you should never do. I bragged that I was good at a game that I hadn't played in 15 years and the results were as expected.

After a long day of beers, a friend of mine dangled his hooked up Nintendo 64 in front of my wide eyes and said Mario Kart was already in the system.

We poured another sip of bourbon and sat cross legged in front of the TV, straining our eyes to see through the blurry attempt for the TV to up-res a system built for squarish low def TVs.

And after checking the sticks on all the controllers to make sure I wasn't about to get screwed with broken hardware, we booted up Mario Kart 64.

We started with a 150 CC Flower Cup. After both of us failing to place three times in a row in Toad's Turnpike, we should've taken that as a hint that we were in over our heads. #DontDrinkAndKart

But our egos were as strong as the booze on our breath and we championed on when my friend pulled off a solid 2nd place finish. (In our 5th attempt)

Frappe Snowland didn't give much trouble. He finished 4th and I finished a really tight 6th.

And then... then that bastard Choco Mountain came and I was stuck in an endless loop of taking the
hairpin turn and then falling down to the previous part of the course.

Seriously, it took nearly 30 minutes for me to finish this in a distant 8th.

After completing the Flower Cup with my buddy taking a surprising 1st place finish, we pumped the breaks and crawled back to the Mushroom cup.

This was one of my favorite grand prix circuits in all of Mario Kart. Luigi's Raceway and Koopa Troopa Beach are two of the best races in any Mario Kart and have been recreated in several Mario Karts since.

I still lost pretty badly, but this time I finished in 6th place overall. My buddy had a solid 4th place showing.

I started realizing shortly after starting that I didn't actually play much of this game outside of the battle mode in 1997 and even when I played battle mode, it was almost exclusively on Block Fort.

I start questioning if I was ever actually good at this game. I don't have memories of winning much, so that probably says a lot.

Most of my memories are around the steering wheel my cousin had set up for the game and being amazed by the 3d Mario Kart after playing too many hours of the SNES Mario Kart. Peppered between those memories is a lot of cursing when I continually fell off the second level of Block Fort.

There were other things I had forgot.

The Blue Shell was not always a weapon that just screwed the first place guy. It would scoot at high speeds up the track toward the first place kart, but it would destroy any karts that got in it's way on the way there. It's one of the few things I don't think is an improvement with the newer Mario Karts.

The red shell is so much more lethal now, than it was in 1997 too. If you're anywhere near a wall and you fire a red shell in 64, you just lost your shell son. Nowadays as long as you aren't riding the wall, you can fire that thing and it'll zero in immediately.

Seeing the trick item boxes' upside down question mark is nearly impossible on modern TVs. I hated these things in the past as I always fell for them, and I mega-loath them now as my drunk tired eyes tried to determine if the quickly approaching item was good or bad.

Not being able to cross drivers with specific karts also felt weird. I know my play style, it's with a medium sized guy like Yoshi and a quick kart. Having to choose based on one attribute or the other felt really weird since I've not had to play Mario Kart this way since 2001.

And I never once hit the starting line boost. It used to be natural, but I skidded out every race instead of charging ahead.

I don't think I am going to go back and try to re-learn Mario Kart 64 in the off chance I get challenged to another race some drunken night.

The real lesson I learned here was not to brag out loud that you're good at an old game unless you've played it recently and know for a fact that you can still ball.

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