Mario Kart

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Mario Kart
Mario Kart logo.png
Genres Racing video game
Developers Nintendo
Intelligent Systems (Super Circuit)
Retro Studios (Mario Kart 7)
Namco/Namco Bandai (Arcade GP series)
Publishers Nintendo
Creators Shigeru Miyamoto
First release Super Mario Kart
August 27, 1992 (1992-08-27)
Latest release Mario Kart Arcade GP DX
July 2013 (2013-07)
Official website mariokart7.nintendo.com

Mario Kart (マリオカート Mario Kāto?) is a series of go-kart-style racing video games developed and published by Nintendo as spin-offs from its trademark Super Mario series. The first in the series, Super Mario Kart, was launched in 1992 on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System to critical and commercial success.[1]

To date, there have been four Mario Kart games released for home consoles, three portable games, and three Namco co-developed arcade games, for a total of ten. Additionally, Mario Kart 8, for the Wii U console, is currently in development. The most recently released game of the Mario Kart series is Mario Kart Arcade GP DX.

History[edit]

The first title in the Mario Kart series is Super Mario Kart and was released for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System in 1992. The development of the first game was overseen by Shigeru Miyamoto, the Japanese video game designer who helped create the original Super Mario Bros., as well as many other successful games for Nintendo. Darran Jones of NowGamer suggests that the original success of Super Mario Kart was the result of including characters previously seen in Mario Bros. games, while also being a new type of racing game.[2]

Gameplay[edit]

Mario driving upside-down using the anti-gravity mechanic introduced in Mario Kart 8.

In the Mario Kart series, players compete in go-kart races, controlling one of a selection of characters from the Mario franchise. Up to eight characters can compete in each race (six in the Arcade GP series, and twelve in Mario Kart Wii and Mario Kart 8).

One of the features of the series is the use of various power-up items obtained by driving into item boxes laid out on the course. These power-ups include mushrooms to give players a speed boost, Koopa Shells to be thrown at opponents, and banana peels that can be laid on the track as hazards. The type of weapon received from an item box is often random, though sometimes influenced by the player's current position in the race.[3] For example, players lagging far behind may receive more powerful items while the leader will only receive small defensive items. Called rubber banding, this gameplay mechanism allows other players or computers a realistic chance to catch up to the leading player.

As the series has progressed, each new game has introduced new elements in order to keep the gameplay fresh such as new courses and items.[3] These changes include:

Courses[edit]

Many courses, or course themes, recur throughout the series. Most of these tracks are based on an existing area in the Mario series (Bowser's castle being among the most prominent), but there are a number of courses that have not appeared in other games but still belong in the Mushroom Kingdom, such as Rainbow Road.[3] Each game in the series includes at least sixteen original courses and up to six original battle arenas.[3] Each game's tracks are divided into four "cups", or groups that the player has to have the highest overall placing to win. Most courses in the series can be completed in three laps. Thus far, the seven games include 120 unique courses and 30 unique battle arenas.[citation needed] The first game to feature courses which had appeared in a previous game was Mario Kart: Super Circuit, which contained all the tracks from the original Super Nintendo game.

Recurring items and weapons[edit]

  • Banana peel: Available individually or in a bunch of three or five. The owner throws this item in front or behind their current position. After being thrown, it becomes an immobile hazard. Any kart which strikes the peel will spin out. In Double Dash!!, a variant known as the Giant Banana can be obtained by Donkey Kong, Diddy Kong, King Boo or Petey Piranha.
  • Blooper: Squirts ink on all karts ahead of the user. Human players have an obscured screen, while computer opponents temporarily drive erratically. This effect disappears by using a track or mushroom boost.
  • Bob-omb: A bomb which explodes after a set amount of time—or upon contact with another player—affecting all karts within its proximity; Can be thrown behind or forward of player's position
  • Boo: Makes player temporarily invisible to opponents, invincible to items, and additionally steals a random opponent's held item if available.
  • Bullet Bill: Temporarily transforms the player's kart into a high-speed automated Bullet Bill, spinning out opponents in its path.
  • Coin: Used on the racetracks in Super, Super Circuit, 7 and more recently 8. Incrementally raises top speed of player's kart when collected.
  • Fake Item Box: Immobile hazard which appears similar to a real item box (except for one or more differences), but causes players who strike it to spin out.
  • Fire Flower: Allows the player to throw fireballs that cause other karts to spin out of control on impact.
  • Koopa shells: Projectile fired at other players: green shells follow an initially-straight trajectory and bounce off walls upon contact; unless in first place, red shells target the closest leading character; Both can be fired forward or backwards. Available individually or in packs of three. In the latter case, the shells also defend the kart from other racers and items, at the cost of one shell per successful defence. Double Dash!!, however, omits this defence mechanism.
  • Spiny shell: An indestructible and completely-accurate projectile that specifically targets the player in first place, and may also strike other opponents as it approaches the lead player. It explodes on contact with the leading kart, spinning out the leading kart and all nearby karts. Only invincibility and some other glitches can avert Spiny shells. Also known as a Blue Shell.
  • Lightning Bolt: Temporarily shrinks all opponents, which then slow down and may be squished by regular-sized opponents; The higher the position of the opponent, the longer they stay shrunken
  • Mushroom: Gives player a momentary speed boost. Available individually, as a pack of three or as a Golden Mushroom. In the latter case, unlimited speed boost may be used for a short period of time.
  • Star: Temporarily grants invincibility, increases the kart's speed, and allows the player to spin out opponents by making contact with them. While invincible to other items and projectiles, players can still fall off the course

Additionally, character-specific items are available in Double Dash!!, though most are exclusive to the game. 7 has an additional item called Lucky Seven, which surrounds and protects the player with seven different common items, and, when fired, activates whichever of the remaining items is directly in front of the player.

Modes of play[edit]

Each game features a variety of different modes. The following four modes recur most often in the series:

  • Grand Prix – Players compete in various "cups," groups of four courses each (five in Super Mario Kart) with four difficulty levels: 50 cc, 100 cc, 150 cc and Mirror. As the level increases, the karts will go faster. There are eight cups in the series and they are divided into two types: Nitro and Retro. Players earn points according to their finishing position at the end of each race and the top three players with the most points overall will receive a trophy. All games prior to Mario Kart DS let a second player play in this mode, though the ability was reintroduced in Mario Kart 7.
  • Time Trial – The player races alone in order to finish any course in the fastest time possible with up to three mushrooms (except for Super Mario Kart) to be used at anytime. The best time is then saved as a ghost, which the player can compete against in later trials.
  • VS – Multiple human players race against each other on any course with customized rules such as lap changes and item frequency. Mario Kart DS and later games allow single-player VS races and CPU controlled players to race in VS races as well.
  • Battle – Multiple human players use race items to battle each other in a closed arena. Each player starts with three balloons and loses a balloon with every hit sustained; the last player possessing at least one balloon wins the match. Different battle types were added as the series progressed, as well as single-player battles.

List of Mario Kart games[edit]

At one point, there was also a game in the series planned for the Virtual Boy in 1995. Entitled Super Mario Kart: Virtual Cup, it was likely to be the first sequel to Super Mario Kart. The game was cancelled due to the Virtual Boy's failure, but was revealed in a 2000 issue of German gaming magazine The Big N.[9]

Other appearances[edit]

Several Mario Kart-related items appear in the Super Smash Bros. series, with Super Smash Bros. Brawl in particular featuring a Mario Circuit stage based on Figure-8 Circuit from Mario Kart DS.[10] Certain courses from the series have also appeared in F-Zero X, Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games, Fortune Street, Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games and Mario & Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games. Various items from the series can also be seen in games such as Nintendogs and Animal Crossing.

Characters[edit]

Characters indicated in gray are secret characters that are unlocked through specific means, and are thus not initially available until some criterion is met.

Console characters[edit]

Driver Super 64 Super Circuit Double Dash!! DS Wii 7 8
Baby Daisy Red XN Red XN Red XN Red XN Red XN Green tickY Red XN Green tickY
Baby Luigi Red XN Red XN Red XN Green tickY Red XN Green tickY Red XN Green tickY
Baby Mario Red XN Red XN Red XN Green tickY Red XN Green tickY Red XN Green tickY
Baby Peach Red XN Red XN Red XN Red XN Red XN Green tickY Red XN Green tickY
Birdo Red XN Red XN Red XN Green tickY Red XN Green tickY Red XN ?
Bowser Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY
Bowser Jr. Red XN Red XN Red XN Green tickY Red XN Green tickY Red XN ?
Princess Daisy Red XN Red XN Red XN Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY
Diddy Kong Red XN Red XN Red XN Green tickY Red XN Green tickY Red XN Green tickY
Donkey Kong Red XN Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY
Donkey Kong Jr. Green tickY Red XN Red XN Red XN Red XN Red XN Red XN ?
Dry Bones Red XN Red XN Red XN Red XN Green tickY Green tickY Red XN ?
Dry Bowser Red XN Red XN Red XN Red XN Red XN Green tickY Red XN ?
Funky Kong Red XN Red XN Red XN Red XN Red XN Green tickY Red XN ?
Honey Queen Red XN Red XN Red XN Red XN Red XN Red XN Green tickY ?
Iggy Red XN Red XN Red XN Red XN Red XN Red XN Red XN Green tickY
King Boo Red XN Red XN Red XN Green tickY Red XN Green tickY Red XN ?
Koopa Troopa Green tickY Red XN Red XN Green tickY Red XN Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY
Lakitu Red XN Red XN Red XN Red XN Red XN Red XN Green tickY Green tickY
Larry Red XN Red XN Red XN Red XN Red XN Red XN Red XN Green tickY
Lemmy Red XN Red XN Red XN Red XN Red XN Red XN Red XN Green tickY
Ludwig Red XN Red XN Red XN Red XN Red XN Red XN Red XN Green tickY
Luigi Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY
Mario Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY
Metal Mario Red XN Red XN Red XN Red XN Red XN Red XN Green tickY Green tickY
Mii Red XN Red XN Red XN Red XN Red XN Green tickY[note 1] Green tickY ?
Morton Red XN Red XN Red XN Red XN Red XN Red XN Red XN Green tickY
Paratroopa Red XN Red XN Red XN Green tickY Red XN Red XN Red XN ?
Petey Piranha Red XN Red XN Red XN Green tickY Red XN Red XN Red XN ?
Princess Peach Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY
R.O.B. Red XN Red XN Red XN Red XN Green tickY Red XN Red XN ?
Rosalina Red XN Red XN Red XN Red XN Red XN Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY
Roy Red XN Red XN Red XN Red XN Red XN Red XN Red XN Green tickY
Shy Guy Red XN Red XN Red XN Red XN Green tickY[note 2] Red XN Green tickY Green tickY
Toad Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY
Toadette Red XN Red XN Red XN Green tickY Red XN Green tickY Red XN Green tickY
Waluigi Red XN Red XN Red XN Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY Red XN Green tickY
Wario Red XN Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY
Wendy Red XN Red XN Red XN Red XN Red XN Red XN Red XN Green tickY
Wiggler Red XN Red XN Red XN Red XN Red XN Red XN Green tickY ?
Yoshi Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY
Total 8 8 8 20 13 25 17 --
Notes
  1. ^ Miis are selectable as two different characters in Wii: Mii Outfit A and Mii Outfit B.
  2. ^ Shy Guy is only available in DS as a playable character during Single-Card Download Play races.

Arcade characters[edit]

Driver Series Arcade GP Arcade GP 2 Arcade GP DX
Blinky Pac-Man Green tickY Green tickY Red XN
Bowser Mario Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY
Bowser Jr. Mario Red XN Red XN Green tickY
Don Taiko no Tatsujin Red XN Red XN Green tickY
Donkey Kong Mario/Donkey Kong Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY
Luigi Mario Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY
Mario Mario Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY
Mametchi Tamagotchi Red XN Green tickY Red XN
Pac-Man Pac-Man Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY
Ms. Pac-Man Pac-Man Green tickY Green tickY Red XN
Princess Peach Mario Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY
Rosalina Mario Red XN Red XN Green tickY
Toad Mario Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY
Waluigi Mario Red XN Green tickY Green tickY
Wario Mario (Wario) Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY
Yoshi Mario (Yoshi) Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY
Total 4 (7 including sub-series) 11 13 13

Merchandise[edit]

The Mario Kart series has had a range of merchandise released.

Among them are a slot car racer series based on Mario Kart DS, which comes with Mario and Donkey Kong figures, while Wario and Luigi are available separately. A line of radio-controlled karts have also been marketed, with are controlled by Game Boy Advance-shaped controllers, and feature Mario, Donkey Kong, and Yoshi. There are additional, larger karts that depict the same trio and are radio-controlled by a GameCube-shape controller.

Japanese figurines of Mario, Luigi, Peach, Toad, Yoshi, Wario, Donkey Kong, and Bowser are also available for purchase as well as for Mario Kart 64, figures of Mario, Luigi, Wario, Bowser, Donkey Kong, and Yoshi were made by Toybiz. There are also Sound Drops inspired by Mario Kart Wii with eight sounds from the game. A land-line telephone featuring Mario holding a lightning bolt while seated in his kart, has also been marketed.

K'Nex released Mario Kart Wii sets, with Mario, Luigi, Yoshi, Donkey Kong, and Bowser in karts and bikes, as well as tracks from the game.[11] Mario Kart 7 K'Nex sets have also been released.

Nintendo's own customer rewards program Club Nintendo released merchandise from the series including a Mario Kart Wii platinum soundtrack, which features 43 songs from the game, a Mario Kart Wii-themed stopwatch, and gold trophies modeled after those in Mario Kart 7. Before Club Nintendo, a Mario Kart 64 soundtrack was offered by mail.

Reception[edit]

Nintendo Power listed the Mario Kart series as being one of the greatest multi-player experiences, citing the diversity in game modes as well as the entertainment value found.[12]

Guinness World Records listed six records set by the Mario Kart series, including "First Console Kart Racing Game", "Best Selling Racing Game" and "Longest Running Kart Racing Franchise." Guinness World Records ranked the original Super Mario Kart number 1 on the list of top 50 console games of all time based on initial impact and lasting legacy.[13]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Crecente, Brian (2009-26-2). "Super Mario Kart: Most Influential Video Game in History." Kotaku. Retrieved 2012-1-27.
  2. ^ Jones, Darran (2011-11-28). "Super Mario Kart: The Complete History of Nintendo's Kart Racer". NowGamer. Imagine Publishing Ltd. Retrieved 2013-09-15. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Dan. "Mario Kart Franchise Retrospective". WatchMojo.com. Retrieved February 5, 2012. 
  4. ^ Sato, Yoshi (2008-02-06). "Mario Kart Wii Detailed". 1up.com. Retrieved 2013-05-21. 
  5. ^ "Virtual Console バーチャルコンソール" (in Japanese). Nintendo. Retrieved 2008-07-14. 
  6. ^ "Download New BIT.TRIP Kicks, Speeding Karts, Magic Castles and More". Nintendo of America. November 23, 2009. Retrieved November 23, 2009. 
  7. ^ Mario Kart Wii U Driving Into E3 This Year - Wii U News @ Nintendo Life
  8. ^ Arcade Heroes Namco Formally Announces Mario Kart Arcade Grand Prix DX - Arcade Heroes
  9. ^ "VB Mario Kart". Big N. Retrieved 2013-11-03. 
  10. ^ "Smash Bros. DOJO!!". Smashbros.com. Retrieved 2012-09-21. 
  11. ^ "K'NEX Mario Kart Wii Building Sets". Knex.com. 2011-10-20. Retrieved 2012-09-08. 
  12. ^ Nintendo Power 250th issue!. South San Francisco, California: Future US. 2010. p. 47. 
  13. ^ Ivan, Tom (2009-02-28). "Guinness ranks top 50 games of all time". Computer and Video Games. Retrieved 2009-03-14. 

External links[edit]