June 30, 2016- Sara Barton
As journalists, it’s our job to chase after a scoop, yet sometimes the stories find us. I was passing through Washington Sq. Park; when I spotted something out of the ordinary. A group of people playing Nintendo’s Mario Kart 64 (N64 version) next to the large fountain near the Washington Sq. Arch.
Retro video games are making a comeback. The hunger for childhood nostalgia has lead to the creation of bar & arcade chain, Barcade, the low key LES joint, Two-Bits Retro Arcade, Modern Pinball NYC; and the meetup group Retro Game Night NYC (just to name a few). It’s a fitting tribute, since these classic games made their debut in dive bars during the 1970’s.
Retro Game Night NYC, (sponsored by Video Games NY), hosts their events mainly at the East Village’s, Bar None and uses the original gaming systems (N64, Sega Genesis, NES, among a few others). Nevertheless, aside from being alfresco and child-friendly; this set up is ingenious. Mario Kart 64 was broadcast via a projector/film screen, the game is hosted on raspberry pi (a small emulator), which is powered by a cell-phone battery. It’s a light and compact system; talk about mobility!
Welcome to Kart in Park, found by Nico Martiny, who simply wanted to spread joy and whimsy. “Who wouldn’t want to play video games outside?”, as he playfully put it. Kart in the Park has hosted 5 events and is planning on expanding to Madison Square Park and Bryant Park. Nico hopes to feature other classic games, such as: the N64’s beloved Super Smash Bros. and The Simpsons Arcade.
It’s been 20 years since the N64 was released and video game technology has come a long way. The N64 lacks the fluidity and cruise control of the Nintendo Wii. However, Kart in the Park is about the experience. I played alongside a variety of players and we had a blast. At the end of the night, having fun is what really matters.
Kart in the Park’s schedule can be found on their FB page.