I have not kept up with Nintendo after the N64. The Gamecube seemed fun, but I jumped over to PC gaming pretty quickly. Even now, I have still not kept up with the console market as a whole. Years passed as I watched my favourite games get sequels of high acclaim. Mario Kart is definitely high up on that list.
From the SNES incarnation, you could always count on Mario Kart being played when it was around. Though I generally hate racing games, the Mario Kart games can only be considered partially in the genre. With tight controls and well balanced items, the game rewards good players while offering great catch-up mechanics for those behind. The tense back and forth between players is always exciting and Mario Kart delivers a distinct feeling of players clawing for first place. From well timed lightning to a classic homing shell, Mario Kart 64 brings a sense of constant desperation that can't be matched.
Because Mario Kart 64 is a spectacular party game, it always brings fond memories for me. Being a PC gamer now, I really miss the days were friends would meet up and just play games together. Though online gaming is much more convenient, there is something significant lost with just being in the room with a friend.