|Genres||Racing video game|
Intelligent Systems (Super Circuit)
Retro Studios (Mario Kart 7)
Namco/Namco Bandai (Arcade GP series)
|First release||Super Mario Kart
August 27, 1992
|Latest release||Mario Kart Arcade GP DX
Mario Kart (マリオカート Mario Kāto ) is a series of go-kart-style combat racing video games developed and published by Nintendo as spin-offs from its trademark Mario franchise. The first in the series, Super Mario Kart, was launched in 1992 on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System to critical and commercial success.
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.
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.
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. 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. These changes include:
- Mario Kart 64 introduced 4-player racing and 3D graphics
- Mario Kart: Double Dash!! features co-operative LAN play and two-player karts
- Mario Kart DS features dual-screen play and online multiplayer (via Wi-Fi)
- Mario Kart Wii features motion controls, motorbikes and 12-player racing,
- Mario Kart 7 features stereo graphics, hang gliding and submersible karts, an alternate first-person perspective and kart customization
- Mario Kart 8 features anti-gravity and HD graphics.
Many courses, or course themes, recur throughout the series. Most of these games are based on an existing area in the Mario series, such as Bowser's castle, although there are a number of courses that have not appeared in other games but still belong in the Mushroom Kingdom, such as Rainbow Road. Each game in the series includes at least sixteen original courses divided into four cups. Most courses in the series can be completed in three laps. There are also up to six original battle arenas in each game, designed exclusively for Battle mode. Thus far, the seven games include 120 unique courses and 30 original battle arenas. 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
- Banana peel
- Deployed as an immobile hazard, it causes the player which strikes it to spin out; Can be dropped behind or thrown forward of player's position; Also appears in triples
- Temporarily obscures the view of opponents leading its user by squirting ink on them, which results in obfuscation of the real-world opponent's screens, while computer-controlled opponents will temporarily drive erratically; This status change is cancelled if affected player gains a boost in speed via the track or mushrooms
- 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
- Makes player temporarily invisible to opponents, otherwise-invincible to items, and additionally steals a random opponent's held item (if one is available)
- Bullet Bill
- Temporarily transforms the player's kart into an automated Bullet Bill which proceeds through the course at a very high rate of speed, spinning out opponents in its path
- Incrementally raises top speed of player's kart when collected; A total of ten may be collected per course, though the number is reset upon completion
- Fake Item Box
- Immobile hazard which appears similar to a real item box, but causes players who strike it to spin out; Identified by inverted question mark
- Fire Flower
- Allows the character to throw fireball projectiles toward other karts, causing them to spin out if struck; Can be thrown ahead or behind player's position and will bounce off walls
- Green and red Koopa shell
- 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
- Multiple Koopa shells
- Three green or red Koopa shells surround the player's kart, protecting it from most other items which it may contact and causes opponents whom make physical contact to spin out; When fired, these shells behave identically to their single-Koopa shell counterparts, and can be fired forward or backward
- Lightning Bolt
- Causes all opponents to temporarily shrink, slow down, and become susceptible to being run over by regular-sized opponents; The higher the position of the opponent, the longer they stay shrunken
- Gives player a momentary speed boost; Also appears in triples
- Golden Mushroom
- Gives player unlimited speed boosts for a short period of time
- 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; Only invincibility can avert Spiny shells; Also known as a Blue Shell
- Super 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 Mario Kart: Double Dash‼, though most are exclusive to the game. Mario Kart 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
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. The eight cups are Mushroom, Flower, Star, Special, Shell, Banana, Leaf and Lightning. Players earn points according to their finishing position at the end of each race and the player with the most points overall wins a trophy. All games prior to Mario Kart DS let a second player play in this mode.
- Time Trial – A single-player mode in which the player races alone to finish any course in the fastest time possible with up to three mushrooms (except for Super Mario Kart) to be used at anytime during the run. 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. Later games allow single-player VS races.
- 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. Different battle types were added as the series progressed, as well as single-player battles.
List of Mario Kart games
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 a German game magazine.
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. 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.
|Donkey Kong Jr.||?|
|Shy Guy||[note 2]||?|
- Miis are selectable as two different characters in Wii: Mii Outfit A and Mii Outfit B.
- Shy Guy is only available in DS as a playable character during Single-Card Download Play races.
|Driver||Series||Arcade GP||Arcade GP 2||Arcade GP DX|
|Don||Taiko no Tatsujin|
|Donkey Kong||Mario/Donkey Kong|
|Total||4 (7 including sub-series)||11||13||12|
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.
Nintendo's own customer rewards program Club Nintendo released merchandise from the series including a Mario Kart Wii soundtrack CD, 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.
Guinness World Records awarded the Mario Kart series with six records, including "First Console Kart Racing Game", "Best Selling Handheld 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.
- Crecente, Brian (2009-26-2). "Mario Kart: Most Influential Video Game in History." Kotaku. Retrieved 2012-1-27.
- Jones, Darran (2011-11-28). "Super Mario Kart: The Complete History of Nintendo's Kart Racer". NowGamer. Imagine Publishing Ltd. Retrieved 2013-09-15.
- Dan. "Mario Kart Franchise Retrospective". WatchMojo.com. Retrieved February 5, 2012.
- Sato, Yoshi (2008-02-06). "Mario Kart Wii Detailed". 1up.com. Retrieved 2013-05-21.
- "Virtual Console バーチャルコンソール" (in Japanese). Nintendo. Retrieved 2008-07-14.
- "Download New BIT.TRIP Kicks, Speeding Karts, Magic Castles and More". Nintendo of America. November 23, 2009. Retrieved November 23, 2009.
- Mario Kart Wii U Driving Into E3 This Year - Wii U News @ Nintendo Life
- Arcade Heroes Namco Formally Announces Mario Kart Arcade Grand Prix DX - Arcade Heroes
- "VB Mario Kart". Big N. Retrieved 2013-11-03.
- "Smash Bros. DOJO!!". Smashbros.com. Retrieved 2012-09-21.
- "K'NEX Mario Kart Wii Building Sets". Knex.com. 2011-10-20. Retrieved 2012-09-08.
- Nintendo Power 250th issue!. South San Francisco, California: Future US. 2010. p. 47.
- Ivan, Tom (2009-02-28). "Guinness ranks top 50 games of all time". Computer and Video Games. Retrieved 2009-03-14.
- Official Nintendo sites:
- Mario Kart at the Super Mario Wiki