Lightning bolts suck. Thankfully, the painstaking work of software engineer Stephen Cook doesn’t include any of these (cheater) tricks. In his simplified version of Mario Kart , which you can play right in your browser, you just have to worry about easy driving, not item management.
The impressive part of Cook’s Nintendo knockoff is that it’s built almost entirely in CSS —a stylesheet language mostly used to control the look and feel of the websites you visit. CSS has evolved over the years, and crafty creators can now use it to build everything from the Mona Lisa to a playable chess game.
Despite those advancements, Cook’s version of the classic game is still pretty simple. You can only drive your kart left and right (using the “A” and “D” keys, respectively), and the map is really just a single straight road without any obstacles. Sorry, Rainbow Road fans—no crazy maneuvering for you.
If the game bugs out on you you’re not alone. I had some initial issues, though I eventually got it working — but a few of my colleagues never got past the start screen. I reached out to Cook, who noted that his program isn’t designed to work on Safari, which could be the problem for some people. However, he also admitte there might be some server issues, but wasn’t able to confirm either way while away from his computer on vacation.
Though the game defaults to Mario, you can switch characters if you’d rather play as Bowser. In a blog post explaining the process, Cook explains that he picked Mario’s recurring enemy “because I respect how he’s not afraid to fail repeatedly at a task, despite not having a clear end-goal.”
That’s kind of like when your fellow Mario Kart players hit a lightning bolt just as you’re just about to make a critical jump, bumping you back from first to last place and making you question why you keep playing this game and/or maintaining your friendships.
Updated May 8, 7:31 pm ET: Updated with comments from the developer on possible server issues with the program.