Some of you may have seen the underexplained lists that were posted by Jay Sanin over on Betspin yesterday for Mario Kart 64 Characters and Race Tracks. Now, Jay seems like a perfectly friendly guy and all-around decent human being, so I'll try to go easy on him by saying that those lists were the most offensive things I've ever seen in my life, and they were an affront to anyone with any Mario Kart 64 knowledge whatsoever.
The only proper course of action here is to try to help poor Jay out by re-ranking both the characters and tracks myself, and providing him (and you!) with a little explanation along the way.
MARIO KART 64 CHARACTERS, RE-RANKED
1. Toad - Well, at least Jay got off to a good start by giving Toad the #1 spot. Fast, stable and dynamic - Toad really is the total package behind the wheel.
2. Yoshi - Once again, Jay got this one right too. Yoshi's oversized head compromises his low center of gravity a bit, and this was enough to keep him out of the #1 overall spot. However, Yoshi's speed and relative stability are still enough to keep him in the upper echelon of Karters.
3. Peach - Here's today's lesson for all of you - when you're Karting, there is nothing more important than speed. Peach is fast. Really fast. Sure, she's prone to spinning out more than the other lightweights, but the girl can fly. If you have a problem controlling Peach behind the wheel, that's not a her problem, that's a you problem.
4. Mario - Again, speed is key in Kart, and this fat little plumber is no lightweight, but he's still fully capable of staying within striking distance of the lightweights on the track.
5. Luigi - The #4 spot was really a toss-up between Mario and Luigi, but I knocked Luigi down to #5 for personal reasons that very few of you could possibly understand. He's essentially the same thing on the track as Mario.
6. Wario - The lightest of the heavyweights, Wario will have a tough time seeing any of the lightweights beyond the first turn. On the bright side, at least he'll be able to get a lot of stars and lightening bolts to help him catch up.
7. Donkey Kong - He's really stable and easy to control, which is nice. Unfortunately, that comes at the expense of anything remotely resembling speed. This guy can't even keep up with Mario, which is just embarrassing.
8. Bowser - People who pick Bowser in the hopes of winning are the same people who bet on 75/1 horses and really believe they have a chance. Slow, inarticulate, pathetic - Bowser is a person who's spent his entire life getting his ass kicked by an Italian plumber, and now you want to put your faith him behind the wheel of a kart? Have fun with that, idiots.
MARIO KART 64 TRACKS, RE-RANKED
1. Sherbet Land - I'll be honest, folks. It wasn't until I saw that Jay had this ranked dead last that I felt compelled to sit down and write these lists. This track brings out the very best from every karter that dares to race on it. Blind corners, mobile obstacles, icy racing surface - this track has it all. It's not for the faint of heart, but those who rise to the challenge will cross the finish line as better human beings than they were when they started.
2. Mario Raceway - Short, fast and technical - this track provides very little margin for error. If you fall too far behind, your red shells become useless. This is a track where precision leads to victory.
3. Royal Raceway - This track isn't just for good technical drivers. This is a track designed for strategic drivers as well. Few other tracks provide the opportunity for "great lays" with bananas that Royal Raceway does. A few well-planned peel drops can make all the difference between being 1st or 4th. It's a chess match on a race track.
4. Choco Mountain - For many of the same reasons as Royal Raceway, Choco Mountain offers a technically demanding track with very little margin for error. Certain areas turn into minefields of banana peels by the end of the race, and all it takes is one slip up for the perfect race to turn into a complete debacle.
5. Yoshi Valley - This track is a true test of courage and confidence. If you think you can quickly navigate the far left route without going off the cliff, you will be rewarded with victory. However, failure to do so will result in a long plummet to fourth place.
6. DK's Jungle Parkway - Not much to say here. It's important to stay on track, especially if you're hit with a lightning bolt, but besides that, it's a pretty standard race.
7. Bowser's Castle - I don't have a whole lot to say about Bowser's Castle either. It's a perfectly fine, yet utterly forgettable track.
8. Kalamari Desert - There's nothing that particularly stands out about this track. Some might argue that the shortcut that a star or mushrooms can create through the desert is too substantial for a Kart track, and that's a fair point. I've benefited from the shortcuts and lost because of them as well.
9. Koopa Troopa Beach - This race ultimately comes down to the success rate of each racer on a single jump on the track. If you happen to get a mushroom or star, congrats, you'll probably do pretty well here.
10. Frappe Snowland - This would be a really nice track except for the exploding snowmen that hang around certain turns. Even then, if they did just hang around, that wouldn't be too bad, except for the fact that they fucking move around all over the place! There's no way to plan for variance in every lap like that, especially when you're heading into blind corners where the snowmen are sitting right in your line, waiting for you to destroy them.
11. Luigi Raceway - I have absolutely nothing to say about Luigi Raceway other than to use your stars and mushrooms through the grass in the first half of the track. Besides that, it's as bland as anything you'll find in Mario Kart 64.
12. Toad's Turnpike - Toad's Turnpike really plays up the traffic gimmick. Especially if you're one of the lead racers. Eventually, you'll have to navigate some semi-trucks driving side-by-side, while the karters behind you get to make up ground in clear traffic. The box situation on this track is a complete debacle as well, but if you get a star, congrats, you probably just won.
13. Moo Moo Farm - If you want to succeed in Moo Moo Farm, I suggest you practice getting a lot of stars, or being lucky as hell. Otherwise, random gophers will pop up and fuck you over every chance they get. Luck plays entirely too big of a role on this track.
14. Banshee Boardwalk - This track is a paradise for people that have TV's with super-bright color contrasts and love getting screwed over by random bats and slippery crabs. If you don't fit this description, then you'll probably hate it, just like I do.
15. Wario Stadium - If you feel like arguing about the integrity of the game in Mario Kart, challenge your friends to a race on Wario Stadium. The first shortcut is a breeze, the second one is slightly more difficult, and there's always some idiot who thinks he'll be able to win if he just drives the track normally, but he always ends up losing. If everybody agrees to a "no shortcuts" stipulation before getting started, this really isn't a bad track at all. That is, it isn't bad until the guy in 4th place uses the shortcut on the 3rd lap anyway and then all hell breaks loose.
16. Rainbow Road - Here's a story for all of you. When my friends and I do a "Quick 16," (race every track, in order. 5 points for each victory, 3 for each 2nd place and 1 for each 3rd place) if the "16" hasn't been decided by the 16th race (Rainbow Road) we call a random friend and have them give us a number between 1 and 15. Whatever number they choose, we re-race that corresponding track. Nobody wants to race on Rainbow Road. That'd be like challenging somebody to a foot race and then telling them that you're actually going to be running a marathon instead. It's long, boring and all-around uneventful.