How Does Tony Soprano Play Mario Kart 64 With One Hand?
All Hail Tony Soprano's Telekinetic N64 Powers
It finally happened to me: I got sick of rewatching Breaking Bad. Well, actually, I can’t get sick of rewatching Breaking Bad. It’s just that, given it’s a new year and all, I decided I should broaden my horizons and watch other critically acclaimed television shows. After all, being a millennial, many of my contemporaries and I caught the Golden Age of Television a bit later than others. I can tell you a whole lot about Mad Men, Breaking Bad, and (the few good seasons of) The Walking Dead, but I don’t know anything about more recent classics like The Sopranos or The Wire.
In an effort to be more Cultured™ and Worldly™, I decided I would begin 2019 by watching the (now) 20 year old show The Sopranos. A few episodes into the first season, I’m happy to announce that I’m enjoying the show quite a bit. It didn’t take long for me to become immersed and invested in the life of Tony Soprano. That was, at least, until I witnessed him play Mario Kart 64.
A bit of context here: in the season one episode “The Meadowlands,” Tony Soprano sits down to play Mario Kart 64 with his son Anthony Jr. This scene is thematically important for the episode, an episode that largely deals with the relationship between the pair. Over the course of the episode, Anthony Jr. learns that his father is part of the mafia, a discovery that (obviously) makes him see his father differently.
As you can see in the above video (courtesy of YouTuber Fruktlugg), Tony Soprano manages to win a game of Mario Kart 64 with one hand. More importantly, Tony beats his son without ever pressing the accelerator or any button besides the control stick. While I wish Tony Soprano’s telekinetic video game prowess was part of a supernatural Sopranos arc, it turns out the show’s Mario Kart 64 blunder was just a production goof.
This isn’t the only inconsistency in the scene. Anthony Jr. tells Tony to “watch out for the ghosts,” upon starting the race, however, the track they’re racing around doesn’t have any ghosts. After racking my brain, the only ghosts I can remember from the game are the Boos in Banshee Boardwalk. According to the Super Mario Wiki (which I assume is the Holy Bible of Mario Kart lore), the Boos on the map “just laugh when the player passes by.” Perhaps Anthony Jr. was simply trying to save his father from humiliation.
Additionally, Anthony Jr. is able to instantly queue up a new race by hitting the console’s reset button. While the Nintendo 64’s reset button was pretty handy (especially if you spent your youth blowing into cartridges and jamming them back into the console), it wasn’t that handy.
It’s worth noting that despite screwing up the game’s controls, The Sopranos actually gets a lot of Mario Kart 64 right. Despite Tony being able to win without accelerating his vehicle, the show nails the game’s sound to a T. This sentiment is best summed up by YouTube commenter Wourghk, who noted, “The script calls for some time compression with a focus on the actors, so you’ll notice the game state change faster than is realistically possible, but they got the sounds right to cover for what you’re not seeing. Menu sounds before a match starts, kart and item sounds when the game is being played, and the correct character voices are playing, too.”
What other production goofs will my Sopranos adventures reap? More importantly, will I stop writing about 20-year-old television shows online? Only time will tell.