Mario Kart 64 (sometimes misspelled as MarioKart) holds the distinction as the first great Nintendo game featuring a playable ensemble cast. Sure, Super Mario Kart came first on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, but the 1996 Nintendo 64 classic is the one that took couch multiplayer sessions to the next level.
While much can be said about the concept of luck in Mario Kart, each of the eight characters have their own distinct capabilities and positive qualities for every sort of player. From novices to enthusiasts, every character lends a unique set of skills that will help any player pass the finish line at the front of the pack.
Here are the specialized skills that make each of these brave Mario Kart characters good.
Without Mario, there would obviously be no Mario Kart. The leading man in nearly all of Nintendo's most iconic games within the Super Mario canon is the best playable character in the N64 iteration of the Mario Kart franchise--for beginners, that is. Mario is a jack of all trades. He is easy to handle, has admirable acceleration and speed, and is one of the most balanced racers in terms of stats. He is one-half of the middleweight class in the game. He isn't the fastest out of the gate, but he reaches his top speed in just over five seconds, and maintains his ease of handleability even after being subjected to a Koopa shell or a banana peel.
Mario is good, if not slow, around winding turns, but he is comforting for the novice player, especially when avoiding walls and falling off tracks like Rainbow Road. While avid Mario Kart enthusiasts ditch the titular Italian plumber after a few Grand Prixs and rounds of couch multiplayer, Mario remains the most well-rounded player for beginners and otherwise non-game players, and offers the most rewarding and reassuring ride because of his splendid and superb mediocrity.
Poor Luigi, always overshadowed by his more famous brother. Even when Nintendo has given the reigns to the green-hatted, taller and slimmer plumber, they have placed him in situations of frights and terrors--Luigi's Mansion and its sequel, Dark Moon--but that doesn't change the fact that he is a decent option in ensemble cast games like Super Smash Bros. and, yes, Mario Kart 64. It's no surprise that Luigi shares many of the same attributes as his brother, but their differences in the N64 racer are enough to give credence to the idea that Luigi may actually be better suited for some players than his genetic counterpart.
Although Luigi reaches upper and top speeds at longer intervals than the other middleweight, Mario, his key mark is his initial speed on the throttle. This is particularly useful for novice players who tend to tap the brakes more vigorously at wide turns, as Luigi can get back on course, and often surpass Mario to the straightaways. Therefore, Luigi is best suited for the novice player that is perhaps a little too cautious. His smaller frame also makes him less prone to targeting as a middleweight driver.
Mario's love interest (or Luigi's, depending on who you're asking) is one-third of the lightweight drivers in the game. While Princess Peach has only ever received one main adventure of her own, Super Princess Peach for Nintendo DS, she is not to be mistaken as a mere damsel in distress in this kart racer. As the only female character in this game, Peach is probably the best introduction to the lightweight class due to her similar handling and same top speed as the aforementioned twins.
Her acceleration is her main positive, as she reaches mid, upper and top speeds at rates that are more than a second quicker than the middleweight racers, without compromising her handling too much in the process. For lightweight racers that are prone to being spun out from contact with heavier drivers, her stellar control is what makes her a great lightweight racer for novices.
Everyone's favorite dinosaur has been a beloved staple in Nintendo's classic universe since his role as Baby Mario's protector and savior in Yoshi's Island. His time spent lugging the little hero around has apparently made him light on his feet, as Yoshi is one of the two fastest characters in Mario Kart 64. Also, he is arguably the most popular because of his speedy nature. Yoshi's best feature is his ability to hit top speed faster than all other characters in the game, meaning that for the best players, he is a sure fire pick to remain ahead of the pack out of the starting line.
Although Yoshi is more likely to fall off ledges and run into walls because of his feathery stature, his acceleration allows him to get over this detriment and get back into the race after a Shy Guy sets him back on course.