Mario Kart 64
Promotional artwork for Mario Kart 64.Nintendo

Nintendo has dropped a big surprise to kick off the week, announcing that N64 classic Mario Kart 64 is heading to the Wii U Virtual Console this Thursday (21 Jan). The original was released in 1996 and is considered by many to be the best in the long-running series.

Nintendo announced the news in tweets sent by Their Nintendo UK and Nintendo of Europe Twitter accounts. Nintendo started releasing N64 titles on the Wii U in April 2015. They started with the release of Super Mario 64, later making Paper Mario, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and Mario Golf, among others, available to purchase.

A range of Nintendo classics from various other past platforms – including the NES, Super Nintendo and GameBoy Advance – have also been released during the Wii U's lifespan. The original Super Mario Kart, Mario Kart: Super Circuit for the GBA and Mario Kart DS are already available via the Virtual Console.

Mario Kart 64, like a host of other games that marked the transition of classic Nintendo franchises to the world of three dimensions, is credited as the blueprint for all Mario Kart games released in the twenty years since. The latest, Mario Kart 8 on Wii U, is widely regarded as the best of them.

Mario Kart 64 on Wii U will cost £8.99.

For all the latest video game news follow us on Twitter @IBTGamesUK.