Mario Kart is a series of go-kart-style racing video games developed by Nintendo as a series of spin-offs from its trademark Mario series of platformer adventure-style video games. To date, there have been four Mario Kart games for home consoles, two portable games, and two arcade games. The eighth and latest installment, Mario Kart Wii, was released in Japan on April 10, 2008, in Europe on 11 April 2008, in Australia on 24 April 2008 and in North America on April 27, 2008.
In Mario Kart
, the characters from the Mario
series of video games get together and race go-karts
around a variety of tracks. Players can obtain items by driving through (or over in Super Mario Kart
) item boxes or coins, which can be used for either defense, offense or by powering up the engine for a short amount of time (boost). Each Mario Kart
game features several gameplay modes, which can be played in both single player and multiplayer.
In Time Trial or Time Attack the goal is to achieve the fastest time in the selected track. Players are usually given up to three mushrooms (speed boosts) which they can use any time during the race against time. Once a record is set, the game saves a "ghost," a replay of the set record, to compete against. In Mario Kart 64
, Mario Kart: Double Dash!!
, Mario Kart DS
, and Mario Kart Wii
, the developers put in their own "Staff Ghosts" for the player to race against. They must be unlocked by achieving a certain time which differs on each track. In Mario Kart Super Circuit
and Mario Kart DS
, it is also possible to download a ghost from friends. In Mario Kart DS
, two ghosts (the player's own and a friend's) can be saved. In Mario Kart Wii, ghosts can be downloaded from across the world via Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection. There are two sets of staff Ghosts in-game--one available at the start and a faster ghost that is unlocked after the player achieves a certain time in the Time Trial or Time Attack.
In Grand Prix, the characters compete against each other in a themed cup. There are usually four cups: Mushroom Cup, Flower Cup, Star Cup and Special Cup.
- Super Mario Kart features the Mushroom Cup, Flower Cup, and Star Cup in the three engine classes (50cc, 100cc, 150cc) and Special Cup in the 100cc and 150cc. 150cc mode must be unlocked by beating the 100cc cups first, while the player must clear each of the other cups to unlock the Special Cup. Each cup in this game holds five tracks for a total of 20 tracks in the game.
- Mario Kart 64 has the Mushroom, Flower, Star, and Special cups available in all three (50cc, 100cc, and 150cc) classes. This game adds a Mirror Mode to the series (called "EXTRA" in this game), which is unlockable by beating the 150cc cups. It also features four tracks to a cup, which has been repeated in each game since.
- Mario Kart: Super Circuit adds in a fifth cup (the Lightning Cup), which is between the Flower and Star cups. The player must beat the four cups (Mushroom, Flower, Lightning and Star) to unlock the Special Cup in that particular class. It also includes an "extra" version of each cup that features all the tracks from Super Mario Kart. There is no Mirror Mode in this game.
- Mario Kart: Double Dash!! starts with Mushroom, Flower and Star cups, with the Special Cup unlockable. This game features an "All-Cup Tour" that has all 16 tracks, which always starts with Luigi Circuit and ends with Rainbow Road, and the 14 other tracks are mixed up in a random order. Like its console predecessor, it also features the unlockable Mirror Mode. It is also the first game in the series to feature unlockable characters and the first to allow multiple kart selection.
- Mario Kart Arcade GP has its cups that start with the names of the characters (Mario Cup, Luigi Cup, Wario Cup, Pac-Man Cup, Bowser Cup, Ms.Pac-Man Cup). It does not have engine classes (cc), but its time trial is called time attack. Many of its items and tracks are not found in the console games. Ex. of items baisin, thumb tacks, oil, tornado.
- Mario Kart DS has two Grand Prix modes: The Nitro Cups (all-new tracks) and the Retro Cups (all classic remade tracks). Nitro Grand Prix features the four standard cups, Mushroom, Flower, Star and Special, while Retro Grand Prix features the return of the Lightning Cup from Super Circuit, this time as the Retro equalvent of the Special Cup. Also featured in the Retro Grand Prix are the Shell, Banana and Leaf Cups acting as the counterparts of the first three Nitro cups. The Retro mode features four tracks each from all four previous Mario Kart games. This game features 50cc, 100cc, 150cc and an unlockable 150cc Mirror Mode. Players can also play mission mode, as for the first time in the series' history can race online using the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection.
- Mario Kart Arcade GP 2 has, like in Mario Kart Arcade GP, its cups that start with the names of the characters, its time trial is called time attack. Features include: an extra challenge at the end of each cup, increased difficulty, Mario coins, and more characters.
- Mario Kart Wii also has cups with all-new tracks and cups with all classic remade tracks. Like Mario Kart DS there are four cups featuring new tracks (Mushroom, Flower, Star and Special), while four other cups (Shell, Banana, Leaf and Lightning) offer four tracks each from the previous five games, with the exception of Super and Super Circuit, which have two each. This game features 50cc, 100cc and 150cc modes and an unlockable Mirror Mode, as well as 13 unlockable characters and online racing using the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection. The game also comes with the Wii Wheel peripheral, which attaches itself to the Wii Remote.
The player wins the cup by receiving the most points throughout the Grand Prix. Points are allocated based on the position the player finishes in. The most a player can get is 60 points, comprising 15 points in each of the four courses in Mario Kart Wii. This increased score is due to the higher number of racers in the Wii game (12 compared to the previous games' eight). A maximum of 40 points (10 per race) is available in Mario Kart: Double Dash!! and Mario Kart DS. In Super Mario Kart, Mario Kart 64, and Mario Kart Super Circuit, there is a maximum of nine points for each race. In addition, Mario Kart Super Circuit, Mario Kart DS and Mario Kart Wii feature a rating system, which, from lowest to highest, is E, D, C, B, A, one star, two stars and three stars. The player's rating is based on how well he played in a cup, such as performing mini-turbos, avoiding items, etc.
In Super Mario Kart and Mario Kart Super Circuit, while racing on a track players are to pick up coins. Once ten or more coins have been obtained a player's car can reach maximum speed. However, if a kart is hit by any items, bumps into another car, or falls of the track, coins will be lost. These coins can also determine a player's rating (3 stars, 2 stars, 1 star, A, B, C, D, E) and unlock other tracks.
Mission mode is only present in Mario Kart DS and includes several levels, each of which contain nine challenges (one of which is a boss battle). These challenges range include collecting X number of coins, driving through X number of gates, destroying X number of enemies, etc. The player is given a grade upon completing a mission, with E being the lowest and three stars being the highest. There is only one mission level to start with, but by beating each mission level's boss players can reach level six, and, by achieving a rank of at least one star in all missions, level seven.
In VS. mode, multiple players can compete against each other in a race. The one who crosses the finish line first wins. Depending on the platform, up to eight players can play simultaneously. In Mario Kart DS, players can race against CPU opponents for the first time.
In Battle Mode, every player is assigned a set of balloons that can be popped. The aim of battle mode is to pop the opponent's balloons by attacking him or her with items. Once all balloons are popped, the player loses. In Mario Kart Wii, another type of Battle Mode games involves acquiring more coins than an opponent. There have been several types of Battle Mode games, and they can be played in teams or "free for all" mode. Some items do not appear in Battle Mode because of the sheer advantage they give their users. Mushrooms were removed before the stealing of balloons was introduced in Mario Kart: Double Dash!!. Mario Kart DS and Mario Kart Wii are the only games where players can battle against computer-controlled opponents.
- Super Mario Kart — (Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES), 1992).
- Mario Kart 64 — (Nintendo 64 (N64), 1996). Also available on Virtual Console, as of 2007.
- Mario Kart: Super Circuit — (Game Boy Advance (GBA), 2001).
- Mario Kart: Double Dash!! — (Nintendo GameCube (GCN), 2003).
- Mario Kart Arcade GP — (Arcade, 2005).
- Mario Kart DS — (Nintendo DS, 2005).
- Mario Kart Arcade GP 2 — (Arcade, 2007).
- Mario Kart Wii — (Wii, 2008).
Characters are listed in alphabetical order. Shaded cells denote unlockable characters.
only appears in the Simple DS Download play mode and is only controlled by players who do not have the Game Card. Players who use their card to join a simple match do not play as Shy Guy and can choose their characters normally.
Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection
This mode was introduced in Mario Kart DS
. Abbreviated as WFC, this mode allows players to use Nintendo's online gaming service to match up against other players elsewhere in the world, nationally, or with comparable skill levels. Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection Mode also includes a "friends roster" which allows a player to play with a group of people he or she knows. Wi-Fi gameplay follows the same scoring as multiplayer VS matches, except with a limit of 4 players instead of 8. Mario Kart Wii
also makes use of the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection, in which up to twelve people can race online via Wi-Fi.
, players can find a remote-controlled Kart during walks. There are three different karts, the Mario Kart, the Bowser Kart, and the Peach Kart. Each version of Nintendogs
has only one type of kart.
Several Mario Kart-related items appear in the Super Smash Bros. series. In Super Smash Bros. Melee, a trophy of a kart from the Mario Kart series is available. In Super Smash Bros. Brawl, a new item, Lightning, which is from Mario Kart, was introduced and one of the stages is themed after the series' leading stage, Mario Circuit, with a look based on Figure-8 Circuit from Mario Kart DS. It features arranged versions of the music that accompanies Super Mario Kart's Mario Circuit, Mario Kart 64's Luigi Raceway, Mario Kart DS's Waluigi Pinball, and the original score of Mario Kart: Double Dash's Rainbow Road.
The Mario Kart 64 version of the Rainbow Road track makes a cameo in F-Zero X, also for the Nintendo 64. The stage is similar, only missing rails on many straightaways. The Special N64 Disk Drive also allowed the F-Zero X Expansion, which added the music that accompanies Mario Kart 64's Rainbow Road, remixed in F-Zero-style rock.
There are several types of tracks that have been featured in many of the Mario Kart
Every Mario Kart
game to date has included several "circuit" courses, one of which serves as the starting course for the Mushroom Cup. Circuit courses are built to resemble actual raceways, with paved track, loose gravel or sand sides, and (in some of the 3D games) grandstands with onlookers, as well as signs and billboards scattered throughout the course advertising various fictional racing products. These tracks range widely in difficulty, from simple turns to complex hairpins and banked curves. In the English version of Mario Kart 64
, all circuits are referred to as "raceways".
Particularly memorable circuit tracks include Royal Raceway (called "Peach Circuit" in Japan) from Mario Kart 64 and Yoshi Circuit from Mario Kart: Double Dash!! (revived in Mario Kart DS), which is designed in the shape of Yoshi himself (the circuit resembles him if seen from the air). Though very different from other "circuit" courses, Daisy Circuit from Mario Kart Wii is set in a resort town next to a harbor and features tight turns around two fountains which resemble Luigi and Daisy and their baby counterparts dancing, a lighthouse, as well as in other areas.
In every Mario Kart
game so far, there has been at least one beach stage. Super Mario Kart
and Mario Kart Super Circuit
have two beach courses. Koopa Troopa Beach in Mario Kart 64
became popular due to its infamous cave jump which allows players to skip a large portion of the course. Mario Kart Super Circuit
has Shy Guy Beach (revamped in Mario Kart Wii
), where the player must avoid exploding cannonballs that are fired upon the shores by angry pirates, who appear to be Shy Guys. Peach Beach from Mario Kart: Double Dash!!
(also revamped in Mario Kart Wii
) features Cataquacks that roam the beach. If a kart gets too close, a Cataquack will begin to chase the kart. If caught, the creature will toss the kart into the air, making the kart drop its items in the process. The Daisy Cruiser, the location of another Double Dash!!
course, is docked here. Cheep Cheep Beach from Mario Kart DS
features crabs, rising and falling tides, and a short dirt road through a tropical forest. Mario Kart Wii
has Koopa Cape, which features a river that flows into an underwater pipe where you can see undersea creatures such as Cheep Cheeps and eels swimming in the background, as well as some electric wheels that shrink the player when touched, in the fashion of the lightning bolt weapon.
In all 3D Mario Kart
games, there are tracks that include other traffic to avoid. Mario Kart 64
has Toad's Turnpike, which has huge vehicles that go the same direction as the karts. (In the Extra mode, they come toward the karts, making it one of the most unpredictable and most difficult tracks). Mario Kart: Double Dash!!
has Mushroom Bridge, where players can take an alternate route over the bridge, and Mushroom City, where players have multiple paths to choose from. They feature different kinds of cars, such as Wiggler
cars and Mushroom trucks (which produce a mushroom when hit). Mario Kart DS
has Shroom Ridge, set on a road that winds around a mountain, and a slightly modified version of Mushroom Bridge. The vehicles travel on the left side of the road, matching traffic systems in Japan
, New Zealand
and the UK
(though this is reversed in Mirror mode). Mario Kart Wii
features Moonview Highway, which combines elements from both Mushroom City and Shroom Ridge. The stage transitions from a winding road to a more urban environment, complete with toll booths (inhabited by Miis
), billboards, and big-city lights. Trucks, Bob-omb cars, minivans, and everyday cars create traffic that moves forward on the left side of the road, and towards the racers on the right side (once again, this is reversed in Mirror Mode).
There has been a desert track in each Mario Kart
game so far except for Super Mario Kart
. Desert tracks usually feature quicksand, hills, and long stretches of bumpy terrain. Other deserts match more of a Western-style environment, such as Sunset Wilds in Mario Kart Super Circuit
and Kalimari Desert in Mario Kart 64
, in which a train crosses the track in two places (it is actually possible to drive on the railroad and follow the train). Yoshi Desert in Mario Kart Super Circuit
features Sphinxes that bear the head of Yoshi
. Dry Dry Desert in Mario Kart: Double Dash!!
features a tornado that makes characters fly into the air, plus an area with a hungry Piranha Plant living at the bottom of a quicksand pit. There are also several Pokeys that bend to the left and right, impeding drivers. Mario Kart DS
features Desert Hills, which includes Pokeys that move from left-to-right and back, the Angry Sun, who rains fireballs down on the track, and a Super Mario Bros. 3
desert level-like theme with pipe structures and huge stone structures in the fore and backgrounds. This course is brought back in Mario Kart Wii
, which also features a new course called Dry Dry Ruins (named after a dungeon in the Nintendo 64 title Paper Mario
with the same name). On the course, columns inscribed with hieroglyphics fall onto the track to then be used as ramps. Inside the ruins, a central bowl with Pokeys slowly fills with sand over the course of the race, and the music changes somewhat while inside.
There has been at least one garden or farm course in each Mario Kart
game except for Super Mario Kart
and Mario Kart: Double Dash!!
. Mario Kart Super Circuit
has Sky Garden (revived in Mario Kart DS
), which has many off-course paths. Mario Kart 64
has Moo Moo Farm (also revived in Mario Kart DS
), a simple dirt road winding through fenced-off grass fields with bridges crossing the track at two points that driver must travel under. Mario Kart DS
has Peach Gardens, which feature tall hedges, flowers beds that slow you down if you drive through them, several Chain-Chomps running loose among a partial maze of hedges, and a short dirt path infested with Monty Moles. This course is brought back in Mario Kart Wii
, which also features a new course called Moo Moo Meadows. On this track, cows begin crossing the track and impeding drivers after the first lap. In both Moo Moo Farm and Moo Moo Meadows, there are certain areas of the track that are infested with Monty Moles.
All games since Mario Kart 64
feature at least one jungle course. Mario Kart 64
has DK's Jungle Parkway, set atop a waterfall with a steamboat patrolling the river. Mario Kart Super Circuit
has both Riverside Park and Lakeside Park, the latter featuring volcanoes which shoot out balls of lava that will spin players out when hit. Mario Kart: Double Dash!!
has both DK Mountain and Dino Dino Jungle. DK Mountain's centerpiece is a gigantic DK Barrel which shot players to the top of the mountain. They would then have to drive down the mountain, avoiding massive boulders, as well as traverse a swaying bridge over a fast flowing river. Dino Dino Jungle, as the name suggests, has several dinosaurs stomping and flying around the course. Mario Kart DS
has Yoshi Falls, set in a large valley and circling a lake. Mario Kart Wii
doesn't have a new jungle track, however it does bring back DK Mountain, DK's Jungle Parkway, and Yoshi Falls.
Most Mario Kart
games have some courses with a spooky theme. Common themes in these 'haunted' tracks include dark lighting, Boos, or (in the 2D games) railings which break upon impact. Boo Lake, Broken Pier (both from Mario Kart Super Circuit
), and Ghost Valley 1, 2 & 3 from Super Mario Kart
, are five tracks which embody all these themes. Luigi's Mansion
in Mario Kart DS
(based on the GameCube
game with the same name), includes a muddy swamp in which traction is lessened. While not strictly haunted, Airship Fortress in Mario Kart DS
takes place in a crumbling castle and on a large, floating battleship. Mario Kart 64
has Banshee Boardwalk (revamped in Mario Kart DS
) consisting of a haunted boardwalk and castle. Though Mario Kart: Double Dash!!
has no haunted track, it does feature an unlockable battle course (Luigi's Mansion) that embodies this theme. Mario Kart Wii
does not have its own haunted track, but it does bring back Ghost Valley 2 from Super Mario Kart
All of the games have at least one snow track included. Common themes of these courses are icy surfaces with little or no grip, water that would freeze the racer if fallen into and snow-themed obstacles such as snowmen (Frappe Snowland from Mario Kart 64
, Snow Land from Mario Kart Super Circuit
and DK Pass from Mario Kart DS
), penguins (Sherbet Land from Mario Kart 64
, revamped in Mario Kart Wii
, and Snow Land from Mario Kart Super Circuit
), ice-skating Shy Guys, flash-freezing icebergs (Sherbet Land in Mario Kart: Double Dash!!
) and rolling snowballs (DK Pass from Mario Kart DS
). DK Summit (called "DK's Snowboard Cross" in the European version or "DK Skikane" in the Japanese version) in Mario Kart Wii
is set in a ski resort. It features ramps and a half pipe for racers to perform stunts, snowboarding Shy Guys that the player must avoid, and a giant DK Barrel resembling DK Mountain's DK Barrel from Mario Kart: Double Dash!!
In most of the games, there has been a stadium track, which takes place in a dirt arena surrounded by grandstands, similar to a Supercross
track. Typically associated with Wario and Waluigi, they contain many jumps, bumps, turns, and (more recently) fire and mud. Stadium tracks are normally around the middle of the game in regards to difficulty. Mario Kart 64
features Wario Stadium, a motocross track which features a few ramps, small dirt hills, and many turns. Mario Kart: Double Dash!!
features Waluigi Stadium (brought back, slightly modified, in Mario Kart Wii
) and Wario Colosseum, a long, spiraling course with numerous tight curves and several dash panel jumps. Due to that track's length, there are only two laps required to complete, as opposed to the usual three. While not strictly a stadium, Waluigi Pinball in Mario Kart DS
takes place in a pinball field where players have to avoid rolling pinballs and electrifying flippers. Mario Kart DS
also features its own Wario Stadium, which has many jumps, speed boost panels and tight turns.
Bowser Castles are particularly well known for their unforgiving and straight 90-degree turns, lava pits, and Thwomps
. Super Mario Kart
features three Bowser Castle tracks, Mario Kart Super Circuit
has four; the rest only have one (Mario Kart DS
has two and Mario Kart Wii
has three, but the former has one taken from Mario Kart Super Circuit
and the latter has one taken from Mario Kart Super Circuit
and Mario Kart 64
). They are usually the penultimate tracks of the game, with the only track afterwards being Rainbow Road, with the exceptions of Mario Kart 64
, which has its own as the last course in the Star Cup, and Super Mario Kart
and Mario Kart Super Circuit
, which have more than one original Bowser Castle course. Due to their stiff turns and obstacles, they are technically demanding. The name has also been spelled as "Bowser's Castle." Mario Kart Wii
is slightly unique as its own Bowser Castle features a large and more lively Bowser statue (different from the one in Mario Kart: Double Dash!!
) which spits giant, spinning balls of lava that the player must avoid, as well as fully lava-pitted floors akin to Super Mario Galaxy
Rainbow Road is the name for the final track in the Special Cup of every Mario Kart
game to date. It is one of the toughest tracks to master, as the track is suspended in space (or in the case of Mario Kart: Double Dash!!
, suspended in midair over a city) and generally has few or no guard rails to prevent the player from falling off the track during a turn or being knocked off the track by an opposing driver. Mario Kart 64
is an exception where guard rails are present throughout the track, but it is still relatively easy to jump over them.
Other features of the Rainbow Road tracks include 90-degree turns and flashing Thwomps (Super Mario Kart), Chain-less Chomps (Mario Kart 64), steep drops (Mario Kart 64 and Mario Kart Wii), speed boost panels, jumps, storm clouds (Mario Kart Super Circuit), a teleporting pipe (Mario Kart: Double Dash!!), and a corkscrew and looping elements (Mario Kart DS). Mario Kart: Double Dash!! features a set of hairpin turns, and is the only game in the series to feature stars that occasionally land on the track and become a star power up for anyone who touches them.
The Rainbow Road in Mario Kart Wii has some elements from the game Super Mario Galaxy, such as star bits floating in the background and dash panels with sling stars around it. Part of the course's soundtrack was taken from Good Egg Galaxy, a galaxy in Super Mario Galaxy. Another noticeable feature is a giant Launch Star with a rainbow that transports the player upward, similar to the giant pipe featured in Mario Kart: Double Dash!!.
Recent Mario Kart games have included backgrounds to set where Rainbow Road specifically is in the Mario Kart world. In Mario Kart: Double Dash!!, Rainbow Road is located directly above a city. In Mario Kart Wii, Rainbow Road is located above Earth, usually showing the Northern Hemisphere. If a player is knocked off the track in the Wii version, the character will burn up in the atmosphere before being rescued and brought back to the track.
Mario Kart has also had a range of merchandise released. This includes a Scalextric style Mario Kart DS Figure-8-Circuit. It came with Mario and Donkey Kong figures, while a Wario and a Luigi are available separately.
A line of remote-controlled Mario Karts are available in stores. Each kart has a Game Boy Advance-shaped controller, and features forward driving and rotates when put in reverse, instead of steering. The current line-up of karts are Mario, Donkey Kong and Yoshi. There are three large karts that depict the same trio. These karts are controlled by a GameCube controller shape.
Japanese figurines of Mario, Luigi, Peach, Yoshi, Wario, Donkey Kong, and Bowser exist.
For Mario Kart 64, figures of Mario, Luigi, Wario, Bowser, Donkey Kong, and Yoshi were made by Toybiz.
Because of the tremendous success of the Mario Kart franchise, Guinness World Records awarded the series with 5 world records in the Guinness World Records: Gamer's Edition 2008. These awards include, "First Console Kart Racing Game", "Best Selling Handheld Racing Game", and a mention of Mario Kart Arcade GP as the only Mario Kart game to feature guest appearances by non-Nintendo characters, with Pac-Man, Blinky, and Ms. Pac-Man available as playable characters.