Welcome to an entirely new section for OHO where two of our contributors (Ian and Matt) will debate which of two games should appear in our brand new gaming Hall of Fame (basically a constantly updating list of the winners, nothing fancy). In round 1 each contributor will make an opening statement as to why their game is superior. Round 2 will be a chance to refute any criticism aimed at their game from the oppositions opening statement. Round 3 is a simple closing statement. Jack is a perfect choice for our judge as a) he’s training to be a barrister and b) he doesn’t know or care about gaming, as such his judgement will be entirely based on the arguments we present – nothing more. Right, let’s get started!
Mario Kart 64 vs CTR: Crash Team Racing
Matt: Mario Kart 64, released 24th June 1997, was the successor to Super Mario Kart (a hall of fame worthy game itself). MK64 featured four player racing, improved sounds and graphics, expanded character rosters and more tracks. Furthermore the n64’s mode 7 allowed for elevation, pit falls, bridges and walls. The game was also the first in the series to introduce weight classes. MK64 also added the mirror mode, for the first time in the franchise. The joy of Mario Kart isn’t in facts and figures. The joy of Mario Kart is lining up that green shell, and bouncing it off the wall and right into your smug friend as he turns the corner. You then swerve around him and laugh. Then just as you think you are safe, and the finish line is in sight, a blue shell blasts you off the edge of the track and the third friend, who was miles back, goes past both of you. He then spends the rest of the day smugly taunting you. Tell me what other game can be that frustrating but also so fun? None I tell you, except for another Mario Kart game *cough* Double Dash *cough*. On top of all of that it also has a badass soundtrack. Now it’s up to you Ian. Dispute me!
Ian: Well let me start by saying that no Mario Kart game has ever impressed me. Never. Not once. Why? Because I grew up playing CTR: Crash Team Racing. Lets get the obvious stuff out of the way first; the Crash series is far better than the Mario series and the PlayStation is superior to the N64. As such the Crash karting game is superior to the little fat plumber’s racing game. CTR has things that MK64 just doesn’t, like graphics that still to this day look amazing due to their focus on bright visuals and contrasting colours. The controls are also dead on and utilise the DualShock controller to its fullest. Whereas the N64 had a pitchfork for a controller with a half working analogue stick resulting in less than precise control over your character. But you know where CTR truly kicks MK64’s arse? Single player. Like, it actually has one. CTR has a full story mode with animated and voiced cutscenes, not only that but along the way you have boss battles, time trials and gem collecting. MK64 has a few 4-track championships and that’s it. CTR has this as side-feature. Every time I’ve played a MK game I’ve felt after a week that I’ve seen everything there is in it. With CTR I can still play it today on PS3/Vita. Why? Because not only does it have tonnes of content and amazing controls, it’s also incredibly fun. Matt, your move.
Matt: My first point is a nice and simple one. Though Mario Kart does lack an actual story, the controls may not be as refined and the game may be brighter and more colorful. However Crash Team Racing lacks the same thing that the entire Crash series lacks as a whole; the pure attachment you have to the characters and the environment. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Crash series, well most of the early releases anyway, but you don’t get the same feeling from a Crash game as you do a Mario game. Sure the tracks are there and the weapons and power-ups are effective, but where is the great soundtrack? The environments that you have spent the last 28 years playing through, with various characters and various scenarios? The thing is Mario Kart 64 is a great game that captures the true essence of the Mario universe. It may not be a perfect game, and it may have been far surpassed by later entries to the series, but that is besides the point. What we are here to discuss is whether Mario Kart 64, or Crash Team Racing should be inducted to our Hall of Fame. Both are great games, and both serve their purposes well. However I would argue that no gamer can place Crash Team Racing in the Hall of Fame, at the expense of Mario Kart 64. Oh and your statement about the N64 being better than the PlayStation is not relevant to this debate and I want it stricken from the record
Ian: I totally disagree with the idea that you can’t have an attachment to the Crash universe. These are PlayStation 1 games and yet they still fill me with joy and wonder whenever I fire them up on my PS3. In fact Crash Bandicoot was the first game I ever owned by myself and didn’t have to share with my brother. To the PlayStation generation these games mean so much, and trust me there are a lot more PS1 owners out there than N64 owners. The difference between the universes is that Naughty Dog has moved on to bigger and better things whilst Nintendo has become stale and merely repeats the same thing over and over (Mario Kart 64 is the same as MK DS which is the same as MK Wii which is the same as MK 7). The mushroom kingdom is old and decaying; if the castle were real it would have actual mushrooms, mold and fungi growing on it, this does not therefore mean that the point of people playing the series for 28 years counts. They’ve been playing it for 28 years because it’s all that has been put out for Nintendo consoles. And finally yes I do think CTR can easily take the place of MK64 in the hall of fame. Today, right now, go play both games and you’ll no doubt agree that I’m right. CTR is the kart racer for the PS/N64 era just as Super Mario Kart is for the SNES/Mega Drive era.
Matt: It all comes down to one point. Both Mario Kart and Crash Team racing are good games, both have merits and demerits. The thing is Mario Kart 64 was a stepping stone, for what became the jjuggernautt of the Karting genre. Alls that Crash team racing did was spawn two inferior sequels that failed to capture the imagination of the original.
Ian: It does come down to one point but its not the arse gravy that Matt just spewed. It’s whether you grew up with a PS or an N64. I owned both. Not only did I own both but my N64 had a Pikachu on it and its little cheeks lit up when the power turned on whereas my PS was grey and boring. Yet when it comes to sheer joy the Crash Bandicoot series is what really truly loved gaming. CTR is the best kart racing game ever made in my opinion. Get a PSP, PS3 or Vita and download it (hell, get an emulator for your smartphone or PC), play it and love it.
Jack: Right the heavy task of deciding which game has made it into our Hall of Fame, Mario Kart 64 or CTR: Crash Team Racing, has fallen to me. I have to declare an interest first of all I had a Nintendo 64 and Mario Kart 64 was one of my favourite games, but that’s not the point of this article. My decision is going to be based on the arguments that Matt and Ian have made, it’s best of three rounds so let’s see how it goes.
Round 1 goes to Ian. This was a close round for me because Matt made an excellent point about the frustration but at the same time fun element of Mario Kart. I must admit to going from last to first in the last lap and then gloating about how awesome I was for weeks after, even though it was pure luck. However the point Ian make about the single player mode is important. Mario Kart only really works when you have lots of friends round, where as CTR can be played individually without becoming repetitive.
Round 2 goes to Matt. The key deciding factor in this round is the characters, whilst the Crash franchise has withered and died without Naught Dog at the helm Mario is still going strong. This is an argument between two games individually, I’m not too sure it matters what happened to the series after these games were released. Lets face it though, as Matt says, the Nintendo characters and setting are much more recognisable and iconic. Even as I’m writing this I’m singing the Mario music in my head which speaks volumes.
Like an awful TV talent show I’ve left this on a knife edge at 1 round a piece. As Matt pointed out Mario Kart is still continuing as strong as ever and CTR has gone down hill (becoming the awful Crash Tag team Racing). But strangely it’s for that exact reason that I’m going to give Ian the final round. Mario Kart 64 was good, as have been the majority of the sequels, but that means it is difficult to distinguish it individually as a hall of fame contender. The original CTR was the best which is why as Ian says its still perfectly playable today, whereas I guarantee that there aren’t that may people who turn on Mario Kart 64. Most people would simply play Mario Kart Wii or Mario Kart 7.
Ok so 2-1 to Ian which means CTR: Crash Team Racing goes into our Hall of Fame. If anyone disagrees, agrees or has any further points to make please feel free to comment to your hearts content and we will try and respond, but your comments will in no way affect my decision. This is a brand new feature on OHO and we hope you’ll like it, if so we will carry on and create a Bona fide Hall of Fame.
Thanks for reading
Matt, Ian and Jack