Formula E’s AWESOME tribute to Mario Kart

August 27, 2018

The all-electric single seater series pays tribute to 26 years of Mario Kart with choice graphics, big bullets, and the friendship-ruining blue shell.

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On this day, 26 years ago, one of the most legendary video game franchises of all time – Mario Kart – was launched on the Super Nintendo. And had the development team stuck to their original guns, things could have been very different.

Incredible as it may seem, Mario and his crew weren’t even in the original prototype. It was only when initial feedback on the early ‘star’ of the game – a generic driver wearing a helmet and overalls – was considered a flop that Nintendo inserted its biggest cash cow. This simultaneously opened the door for weapons boxes and more cartoonish level designs based on pseudo-three-dimensional Mode 7 graphics.

The original plan was always multi-player, producer Shigeru Miyamoto at first adamant that two players should be displayed on the same screen simultaneously. Limitations to the SNES software though meant Miyamoto and director Hideki Konno ultimately went the simpler – and much, much, MUCH better – route of split-screen, their desire for a two-person racing game in contrast to launch games F-Zero mercifully still intact.

Even realistic cornering – for 90s gaming, anyway – would eventually be scrapped when Miyamoto and his designers decided the more light-hearted fun of go-karting dynamics was the right way to go after a research outing (ahem…) to a local amusement park. Launched in 1992, Super Mario Kart went on to sell nine million copies and become the 4th best-selling SNES game of all-time.

1997’s Mario Kart 64 though is the inspiration behind this fantastic tribute video from the all-electric Formula E single seater series. Featuring actual footage from the recent 2017-2018 season, the homage features a 3D, 32-bit loading screen, the starting line (with series CEO Alejandro Agag replacing the cloud-based Lakitu), and, of course, plenty of weapons.

DS Virgin Racing’s Sam Bird is wiped out by a banana dropped by Dragon Racing’s Jose Maria Lopez in Zurich. Venturi’s Stephane Sarrazin is punished for jumping the countdown at the Monaco e-Prix. Plus, eventual series champion Jean-Eric Vergne blasts Mahindra’s Felix Rosenqvist into the tyre wall with a big bullet en-route to the (32-bit) trophy and top step of the podium.

And, of course, Venturi’s Edoardo Mortara is taken out by a bastard blue shell by Rosenqvist in Hong-Kong. Those of us pushed to the limit of rage quit by blue shells, Dr Robotnik’s final boss in Sonic 2, and Goldeneye 64’s Natalya in the mid-90s truly feel your pain Edoardo.