Mario Kart 7
Nintendo 3DS – 2011
Take to the skies (or the seas!) with Nintendo’s third handheld entry in the Mario Kart series. It’s fun, fast and frantic. Karts are unlocked by collecting coins and playing online with friends is enjoyable (and satisfying if you’re better than them!). The game has a large selection of tracks to pick from, with both new and old favourites returning. Due to the new hang-glider and under water mechanics, these old tracks have a new spin on them. The roster is smaller than Mario Kart Wii but it does see the return of a lot of classic racers, as well as some newbies. The on track controls are solid, as you’d expect, and the new air and water controls are surprisingly easy to grasp.
Mario Kart Wii
Nintendo Wii – 2008
I love Mario Kart but I wasn’t a fan of motion controls at the time so I missed out on this when it was first released (boo, hiss). However, going back to it with a classic control made me realise how enjoyable this game really is. It has a wide variety of drivers and karts to pick from, as well as introducing bikes. With 32 tracks, it definitely has some depth to it. Now you can race against 11 other drivers, which can sometimes cause it to descend it absolute carnage. My only disappointment was that traditional GP is not available in multiplayer.
Mario Kart DS
Nintendo DS – 2005
Rev up your engines for another amazing entry into the Mario Kart series. Battle through Grand Prix mode to unlock some unique racers, including R.O.B. Playing online with friends was also a treat. They could play along even if they didn’t have their own game cartridge. The game utilises the Dual Screen well, displaying a map for you on the bottom screen. The game also has some classic tracks for you to conquer so there’s plenty to keep you entertained. The visuals and music are excellent, which is something we’ve come to expect from Mario Kart.
Mario Kart: Double Dash
GameCube – 2003
It’s time to team up with a buddy to take on 16 unique courses. Being able to switch drivers so you can get two items is a strategy you’ll need to utilise to win on the more difficult speeds. In multiplayer, you can team-up with a buddy so one of you controls the car and the others takes care of the items. The tracks are well laid out, with some having different paths to navigate. There’s also a Grand Prix that has all 16 races in it, which will definitely put your skills to the test. There is a nice selection of characters in the game that you can pick to make unique combinations and, for the first time, you can select your kart. These come with their own stats that can affect the gameplay Also, it has Petey Piranha so that’s a bonus.
Mario Kart: Super Circuit
Game Boy Advance – 2001
Mario Kart’s first foray in to the world of handheld racing is a memorable one. A bright and colourful games that’s still a challenge. While the course may be a bit more simple than its N64 counterpart, they still have memorable moment. You ca also unlock the Super Mario Kart tracks, which is a nice bonus. The cars control surprisingly well and each racer has their own stats so you should be able to find one to suit your style. I’d recommend playing this on a GAB SP or through the Game Boy Player on GameCube so you can truly experience the charming visuals.
Mario Kart 64
Nintendo 64 – 1997
There are few games that can trigger nostalgia for me quite like Mario Kart 64. Late nights sat around a screen with three friends playing a variety of the game’s modes, or just replaying Bowser’s Castle by myself again and again. The game is probably one of the few on the N64 to have aged well. The graphics still look good and the controls are as responsive as ever. Moving the AI characters away from unique specials to using the same item boxes as you makes the game easier and, in my opinion, more enjoyable. The two negatives I’d have are that it introduced the Blue Sell (although it couldn’t fly just yet) and Rainbow Road is probably the most boring in the series.
Super Mario Kart
Super Nintendo – 1992
Where it all began. To this day, the title music is ingrained in my brain. The amount of hours lost (or well spent, you decide) on Balloon Battle with friends is staggering. The game itself is a solid racer that makes excellent use of the Super Nintendo’s Mode 7 graphics. Going back now, however, exposes some flaws in the game. The other racers have their own specials that they can use whenever they want (God help you if you get stuck behind the Mario brothers) and you can often get knocked around the place. The game is definitely more challenging than those that came after it and I don’t know how may times Donut Plains 3 ended my run for a cup in the Special Cup (Donut Plains 3 is the first track!).
Marvel Ultimate 3: The Black Order
Nintendo Switch – 2019
The final game (to date) in the Ultimate Alliance series is a solid entry. The four player co-op is back but the new Infinity Trials add a bit more depth to the game. Sure, the previous entries did have a Simulator but this one uses the rifts for unlocking characters, costumes and unique ISO-8 crystals. The rifts can be quite challenging so it’s worth grinding a bit to level up your characters. The costumes so far have been a bit disappointing. In previous entries, they were different outfits but now they’re just pallet swaps. Perhaps the most notable change form the second entry is the art style. While MUA2 had a more realistic setting, MUA3 goes for a more comic book look.
Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2
Xbox 360 – 2009
Set during Civil War, MUA2 has players pick sides in the conflict. You can either side with Iron Man and the Pro-Registration side or Captain America and the Anti-Registration heroes. Depending on your choice, you’ll have a different hub, different characters and some different missions. The game-play itself is an action RPG with you controlling a party of four (which up to three friends can join you). Like the other games in the series, characters can be unlocked by progressing through the story or finding hidden items. Thor is probably one of the characters you’ll want in your party as his abilities can make the game a breeze, even on the harder difficulty levels.
Marvel: Ultimate Alliance
PlayStation 2 – 2006
Taking the game-play from X-Men Legends II and throwing in a whole range of Marvel characters can only be a good thing, right? Absolutely. The game also has additional objectives and choices that can affect the endings you receive. The game is a fun beat’em, especially in four player, but it sticks to the same tried and tested formula of the two X-Men Legends games. It’s probably worth looking out for the Gold Edition on the Xbox 360 so you can play as the additional characters.