There is no consensus regarding video games. The Internet provides us with the most outlandish opinions to any given topic. No matter how plausible your stance may be, you’re bound to encounter opposition somwehre on Twitter or Reddit. But if there is one opinion every gamer over 30 seems to share, it is this one:
“Mario Kart 64 really isn’t the best part of the series, but back in the days, we had such a good time with it! Actually, we only ever played Battle Mode. Block Fort, remember that? It never got as good as that ever again. Oh, I wish Nintendo would finally return to form and give us a decent Battle Mode. It can’t be that hard. I don’t want anything fancy – Block Fort in HD and I’m good.”
Let’s take a brief look at the courses: Big Donut is a… Donut. Going in circles, randomness in your face. No strategy, nothing. No one played the Big Donut more than once. 100 euros on it.
Skyscraper is hardly any different. Some grids were added to the circular layout so you can move into the center of the arena. Still way too chaotic. You could also draw straws to determine the winner. No one played Skyscraper more than four times.
And then there is Block Fort. Everybody loves Block Fort. They all played 37.698 matches of Block Fort. The nostalgia is strong, the love boundless. A non-representative poll on a discord server with little potential for consensus resulted in 100% pro Block Fort. A consensus. Hallelujah.
Block Fort? Your consensus is Block Fort? I guess it’s time to provide a forum for my outlandish opinion: Block Fort has nothing going for it. More than Big Donut, of course. but what kind of standard are we talking about?! Still, I paid almost as little attention to Block Fort as I did to that abomination of an arena. Why? Because I was way too busy loving Double Deck!
Double Deck is not the best arena ever. Double Deck is the best thing ever. You think superlatives are overused? So do I. Because only Double Deck deserves superlatives! The incarnation of the frenetic adrenaline rush that is helplessly described with the inadequate term “couch multiplayer”. Double Deck. Two floors, two times two floors to be exact. That’s four floors for you. Block Fort has me driving around a lot of open space without much enemy contact and passing overrated bridges. Double Deck the terrain of the hunt. Those who know their way around are as deadly as a lynx on steroids. A ninja in the night. The cold flash of bloodlust.
The color code of the blocks in Block Fort is clever, they say, because it allows you to peek and spy on the position of the others. What for? To arrive there 16 seconds later where everyone is long gone? Anyone who thinks so simplistically has no business on the deadly Double Deck battlefield. You are not cut out for the real deal. You are overwhelmed with this three-dimensional death cube that is Double Deck. In a blink of an eye you can be everywhere thanks to tight turns and strategic drops. You all know nothing of the thrill of escaping again and again, switching from flight to attack in seconds to completely confuse and mercilessly bite your blindsided prey. With a turtle shell. You bite them to death with a turtle shell.
Block Fort is slow, drab, trivial. Brightly painted blocks of boredom. A mere shadow of the possibilities offered by the game.
I don’t want anything fancy. Double Deck in HD and I’m good. So what does the wiki of the “Mario Kart Fandom” has to say about Double Deck?
“As of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, this is the only Mario Kart 64 battle track that hasn’t been installed in a later title.“
That’s right. The Big Donut has been remade.
Why do I even bother?
If you want to play Double Deck, you no longer need a functional N64 with four controllers and Mario Kart 64 (1996). On the Switch, you can even play it online. But that seems inferior to me. After all, you want to see your prey trembling on the couch.
Ich am not completely alone.
This article is part of an ongoing series of texts on 30 games from 30 years.
This post is also available in: German