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Mario Kart

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Mario Kart
Logo since 2005
Genre(s)Kart racing
First releaseSuper Mario Kart
August 27, 1992 (1992-08-27)
Latest releaseMario Kart Live: Home Circuit
October 16, 2020 (2020-10-16)

Mario Kart[a] is a series of kart racing games based on the Mario franchise developed and published by Nintendo. Players compete in go-kart races while using various power-up items. It features characters and courses mostly from the Mario series as well as other gaming franchises such as The Legend of Zelda, Animal Crossing, F-Zero, Excitebike, and Splatoon.

The series was launched in 1992 with Super Mario Kart on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES), to critical and commercial success.[1] The Mario Kart series totals fourteen games, with six on home consoles, three on handheld consoles, four arcade games co-developed with Namco, and one for mobile phones. The latest game in the series, Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit, was released on the Nintendo Switch in October 2020. Over 178.19 million copies in the series have been sold worldwide.



In the Mario Kart series, players compete in go-kart races, controlling one of a selection of characters, mainly from the Mario franchise. Up to twelve characters can compete in each race (varying per game). Players can perform driving techniques during the race such as rocket starts, slipstreaming, drifting, and mini-turbos.

Gameplay is enhanced by power-up items obtained by driving into item boxes laid out on the course. These power-ups vary across games in the series, but generally include Mushrooms to give players a speed boost, Red and Green Shells to be thrown at opponents, Banana Peels, and hazards such as Fake Item Boxes. The game selects an item based on the player's current position in the race, utilising a mechanism known as rubber banding. For example, players lagging far behind may receive more powerful items such as Bullet Bills, which give the player invincibility while auto-piloting them forward at great speed, while the leader of a race may only receive small defensive items, such as Shells or Bananas. This gameplay mechanism allows other racers a realistic chance to catch up to the leading racer.

In the original game, Super Mario Kart, the player takes control of one of eight Mario series characters, each with differing capabilities. In single player mode players can race against computer-controlled characters in 4 multi-race cups consisting of 20 tracks (5 in each cup) over three difficulty levels (50cc, 100cc and 150cc). Alternatively players can race against the clock in a Time Trial mode. In multiplayer mode two players can simultaneously take part in the cups or can race against each other one-on-one in Match Race mode. In a third multiplayer mode – Battle Mode – the aim is to defeat the other players by attacking them with power-ups, destroying balloons which surround each kart.

Each new game has introduced new gameplay elements, such as new circuits, items, modes, and playable characters.

  • Mario Kart 64 introduced 3D graphics, 4-player racing, slipstreaming,[2] items dangling (the ability to hold bananas and shells to defend against projectiles) and introduced two new playable characters: Wario and Donkey Kong. It also introduced seven items: the Fake Item Box, Triple Red Shells, Triple Green Shells, Triple Mushrooms, the Banana Bunch, the Golden Mushroom, and the Spiny Shell. In addition to the three Grand Prix engine classes, Mirror Mode was introduced, in which tracks are flipped laterally.
  • Mario Kart: Super Circuit included all 20 Super Mario Kart tracks as unlockable content, as both games use the mode 7 effect.
  • Mario Kart: Double Dash!! involves 2-player driving and featured co-operative LAN play and double-manned karts. It also introduced double item boxes. It further added eleven new playable characters: Daisy, Birdo, Baby Mario, Baby Luigi, Paratroopa, Diddy Kong, Bowser Jr., Waluigi, Toadette, Petey Piranha, and King Boo. It introduced a revamped Spiny Shell and character exclusive items, and introduced unlockable characters and karts. Mirror mode is now played on 150cc. It also introduced new alternate battle modes: "Shine Thief", and "Bob-omb Blast".
  • Mario Kart DS featured dual-screen play to take advantage of the system's capabilities. It introduced custom emblems. It also introduced Online play via the now defunct Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection, a mission mode, and proper retro tracks. New playable characters included Dry Bones, R.O.B., and Shy Guy (who is exclusive to DS Download Play). This game also added three new items, the Blooper, the Bullet Bill, and the triple bananas. The Bob-omb is now a normal item, no longer being Wario and Waluigi's special item.
  • Mario Kart Wii introduced motion controls, the ability to perform mid-air tricks, and bikes. The racer cap was raised from 8 to 12.[3] It introduced six new playable characters: Baby Peach, Baby Daisy, Rosalina, Funky Kong, Dry Bowser, and two Mii outfits. It introduced three new items: the Mega Mushroom, the Thundercloud, and the POW Block, the last two of which are exclusive to this kart game. It also introduced a new battle mode titled "Coin Runners".
  • Mario Kart 7 featured stereoscopic 3D graphics and the return of dual screen functionality. It introduced gliders and submersible karts, a first-person perspective, and full kart customization. It introduced four new playable characters: Metal Mario, Lakitu, Wiggler, and Honey Queen. In addition, Shy Guy is a fully playable character as opposed to being exclusive for Download Play. It also re-introduced Coins for a small speed boost, though they can now be used to unlock kart parts.
  • Mario Kart 8 introduced the 200cc engine class,[b] anti-gravity racing, ATVs, uploading highlights to YouTube, up to four local players in Grand Prix races, downloadable content, HD graphics, and fifteen new playable characters: the Koopalings (Iggy Koopa, Roy Koopa, Lemmy Koopa, Larry Koopa, Wendy O. Koopa, Ludwig von Koopa and Morton Koopa Jr.), Baby Rosalina, Pink Gold Peach, Tanooki Mario, Cat Peach, Link from The Legend of Zelda, and Villager (male and female) and Isabelle from Animal Crossing, the last six which are available as downloadable content.[4]
  • Mario Kart 8 Deluxe added a revamped battle mode, which included the new "Renegade Roundup", the return of double item boxes, ultra mini-turbo, and added 6 characters that were absent from the original game. These characters include King Boo, Dry Bones, Gold Mario, Bowser Jr, and the male and female Inklings from Splatoon, in addition to giving the female Villager her own character slot. From 2022 to the end of 2023, the "Booster Course Pass" DLC expansion pack added new race courses and returning characters to the game.
  • Mario Kart Tour was the Mario Kart debut on a mobile phone, and introduced a points-based system for certain racing actions. It introduced Peachette, Pauline, Hammer Bro (and his boomerang, fire, and ice alts), Monty Mole, Captain Toad, Dixie Kong, Kamek, Nabbit, King Bob-omb, Chargin' Chuck, Poochy and many alternate versions of each character. It introduced Frenzy Mode, and before its removal in late 2022, gacha and loot box mechanics. It reintroduced character-specific items and the Mega Mushroom. Multiple new tracks were introduced in this game and later added to Mario Kart 8 Deluxe via the DLC expansion pack.
  • Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit uses a combination of augmented reality (AR), remote-controlled karts, and cameras, to create tracks using markers in the physical world, on which onscreen opponents are raced.



Each game has a variety of modes. The following five modes recur most often in the series:

  • Grand Prix – Players compete in various "cups" of four courses each (five in Super Mario Kart) with difficulty levels based on the size of the engine, larger engines meaning faster speeds. Before Mario Kart 8 there were four difficulties: 50cc, 100cc, 150cc, and Mirror Mode, where all tracks were flipped horizontally. In Mario Kart 8, a fifth difficulty level: 200cc, was added.[b] Players earn points according to their finishing position in each race and the placement order gets carried over to the next race as the new starting grid. At the end of the cup, the top three players with the most points overall will receive a trophy in bronze, silver, and gold. As of Mario Kart DS, players are also ranked based on how well they raced (three to one stars, A, B, C, D, and E). Three stars is the best rank, while E is the worst.
  • Time Trials – The player races alone in order to finish any course in the fastest time possible. The best time is then saved as a ghost, which the player can race against in later trials. Mario Kart: Double Dash!! introduced Staff Ghosts, which are ghosts set by members of the Nintendo development team.
  • Match Race (or VS.) – Multiple human players race on any course with customized rules such as team racing and item frequency.
  • Battle – Multiple human players use in-game offensive items (shells, etc.) to battle each other in a closed arena. In the most common battle type, balloon battle, each player starts with three balloons and loses one per hit; the last player with at least one balloon wins. Various battle types have been added to the series, and single-player battles with CPU controlled players.
  • Online Multiplayer – Players compete in races and battles through online services, such as Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection, Nintendo Network, and Nintendo Switch Online. Players can share Time Trial ghosts, and participate in tournaments. In races and battles, players are matched by VR (VS Rating) and BR (Battle Rating) respectively, which is a number between 0 and 99,999 (9,999 in Mario Kart Wii). Players gain or lose points based on performance in a race or battle. The game attempts to match players with a similar rating.


The series logo until Mario Kart Arcade GP 2

The debut game in the Mario Kart series was Super Mario Kart released for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) in 1992. Its development was overseen by Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto, the Japanese designer of many successful Nintendo games including Super Mario Bros. Darran Jones of NowGamer suggests that the success of Super Mario Kart resulted from the Super Mario characters, and being a new type of racing game.[5]


Release timeline
Main entries in bold
1992Super Mario Kart
1996Mario Kart 64
2001Mario Kart: Super Circuit
2003Mario Kart: Double Dash!!
2005Mario Kart Arcade GP
Mario Kart DS
2007Mario Kart Arcade GP 2
2008Mario Kart Wii
2011Mario Kart 7
2013Mario Kart Arcade GP DX
2014Mario Kart 8
2017Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
Mario Kart Arcade GP VR
2019Mario Kart Tour
2020Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit


Year Game Platform Virtual Console/
Nintendo Switch Online re-release
Wii Wii U 3DS New 3DS Switch Android /iOS
1992 Super Mario Kart SNES Yes Yes Does not appear Yes Yes Does not appear
1996 Mario Kart 64 Nintendo 64 Yes Yes Does not appear Does not appear Yes Does not appear
2001 Mario Kart: Super Circuit Game Boy Advance Does not appear Yes [nb 1] [nb 1] Yes Does not appear
2003 Mario Kart: Double Dash!! Nintendo GameCube Does not appear Does not appear Does not appear Does not appear Does not appear
2005 Mario Kart DS Nintendo DS Does not appear Yes Does not appear Does not appear
2008 Mario Kart Wii Wii Does not appear Does not appear Does not appear Does not appear
2011 Mario Kart 7 Nintendo 3DS Does not appear Does not appear Does not appear Does not appear
2014 Mario Kart 8 Wii U Does not appear Does not appear Does not appear Does not appear Does not appear
2017 Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Nintendo Switch Does not appear Does not appear Does not appear Does not appear Does not appear
2019 Mario Kart Tour Android/iOS Does not appear Does not appear Does not appear Does not appear Does not appear
2020 Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit Nintendo Switch Does not appear Does not appear Does not appear Does not appear Does not appear
 Available on Virtual Console or Nintendo Switch Online
 Available by using backwards compatibility
 Available natively on the console
  1. ^ a b Mario Kart: Super Circuit can be played on Nintendo 3DS systems with the Nintendo 3DS Ambassadors program.


Seats for Mario Kart games (left) in a Japanese arcade
Seats for Mario Kart games (left) in a Japanese arcade



Upcoming games


In January 2022, Serkan Toto, an industry analyst for GamesIndustry.biz indicated that a new entry in the Mario Kart series (referred to by some as Mario Kart 9 or Mario Kart 10/X) was "in active development" at Nintendo.[9] The game would feature "a new twist".[10][11]

Canceled games

  • VB Mario Kart was scheduled for the Virtual Boy in 1995. It was revealed in a 2000 issue of German gaming magazine The Big N, but was canceled early in development prior to its official announcement due to the Virtual Boy's commercial failure.[12][13]
  • Mario Kart XXL is a Game Boy Advance tech demo developed by Denaris Entertainment Software for Nintendo in 2004. It was originally created as a non-Mario demo known as R3D-Demo before being repurposed.[14]
  • Mario Motors was a planned spin-off of the Mario Kart series for the Nintendo DS. It was revealed for the first time at the Reboot Development Conference 2018.[15] The game was going to be co-developed by Yoot Saito. The concept of the game was to build your own kart.[16]


Sales and aggregate review scores
As of June 30, 2023.
Game Year Units sold
(in millions)
GameRankings Metacritic
Super Mario Kart 1992 8.76[17] 94% 94/100
Mario Kart 64 1996 9.87[17] 87% 83/100
Mario Kart: Super Circuit 2001 5.90[17] 92% 93/100
Mario Kart: Double Dash 2003 6.96[17] 87% 87/100
Mario Kart DS 2005 23.60[18] 91% 91/100
Mario Kart Wii 2008 37.38[19] 82% 82/100
Mario Kart 7 2011 18.98[20] 85% 85/100
Mario Kart 8 2014 8.46[21] 88% 88/100
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe 2017 60.58[22] 92% 92/100
Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit 2020 1.27[23] 75/100

The Mario Kart series is critically acclaimed. Nintendo Power named it one of the greatest multiplayer experiences, citing the diversity in game modes and the entertainment value.[24]

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 Super Mario Kart number 1 of the top 50 console games of all time based on initial impact and lasting legacy.[25] Super Mario Kart was inducted into the World Video Game Hall of Fame in 2019.[26]



Like the Super Mario series, the Mario Kart series is a commercial success with 178.19 million copies sold in total.[27] It is currently the most successful racing game franchise of all time. Super Mario Kart is the fourth-best-selling Super Nintendo Entertainment System game with 8.76 million copies sold.[17] Mario Kart 64 is the second-best-selling game for the Nintendo 64 (behind Super Mario 64), at 9.87 million copies.[17] Mario Kart: Double Dash is the second-best-selling GameCube game (next to Super Smash Bros. Melee) with 6.96 million copies sold.[17] Mario Kart Wii is the second-best-selling in the series and is the second-best-selling Wii game (next to Wii Sports) at 37.38 million copies.[19] Mario Kart 8 is the best-selling Wii U game at 8.46 million total copies sold.[21] It was the fastest-selling Wii U game with 1.2 million copies shipped in North America and Europe combined on its first few days since launch, until Super Smash Bros. for Wii U.[28][29] The enhanced port for the Nintendo Switch, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, is the fastest-selling game in the series with 459,000 units sold in the United States in one day of its launch.[30] It is the highest-selling Nintendo Switch game[31] with a total of 57.01 million copies worldwide, outperforming the Wii U version. Both versions have a combined total of 65.47 million copies sold, making it the best-selling game in the series, and also the best selling Mario game as a whole.

The handheld games are commercial successes. Mario Kart: Super Circuit is the fourth-best-selling Game Boy Advance game at 5.9 million copies.[17] The second portable game, Mario Kart DS, is the third-best-selling Nintendo DS game and the best-selling portable game in the series with a total of 23.6 million copies.[18] Mario Kart 7 is the best-selling Nintendo 3DS game as of March 2023 at 18.98 million copies.[20]





The Mario Kart series has had a range of merchandise. This includes a slot car racer series based on Mario Kart DS, which comes with Mario and Donkey Kong figures and Wario and Luigi are separate. A line of radio-controlled karts are controlled by Game Boy Advance-shaped controllers, and feature Mario, Donkey Kong, and Yoshi. There are additional, larger karts which are radio-controlled by a GameCube-shape controller. Many racer figurines have been made. Sound Drops were inspired by Mario Kart Wii with eight sounds including the Spiny Shell and the race start countdown. A land-line telephone features Mario holding a lightning bolt while seated in his kart. K'Nex released Mario Kart Wii, Mario Kart 7, and Mario Kart 8 sets. LINE has released an animated sticker set with 24 stickers based on Mario Kart 8 and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. Nintendo's own customer rewards program Club Nintendo released a Mario Kart 8 soundtrack, a Mario Kart Wii-themed stopwatch, and three gold trophies modeled after those in Mario Kart 7. Before Club Nintendo, a Mario Kart 64 soundtrack was offered by mail. In 2014, McDonald's released Mario Kart 8 toys with Happy Meals. In 2018, Monopoly Gamer features a Mario Kart themed board game with courses from Mario Kart 8 serving as properties, ten playable characters as tokens (pingas) and a special die with power-ups. In 2019, Hot Wheels released Mario Kart sets of cars and tracks. In commemoration of Mario Day celebrations for March 10, 2021, Hot Wheels also released a Mario Kart track set based on Rainbow Road on June 24, 2021.[32] In 2020, for the Super Mario Bros. 35th Anniversary, Cold Stone Creamery released Mario themed desserts including a Rainbow Road themed ice cream cake, from September 30 to December 15.[33]

Rental go-kart dispute

Go-karters dressed as Nintendo characters in Harajuku, Tokyo

In September 2016, Nintendo filed an objection against the Japanese company MariCar, which rents go-karts modified for use on public roads in Tokyo along with costumes resembling Nintendo characters.[34] MariCar's English website warned customers not to throw "banana peels" or "red turtle shells".[35] The service is popular with tourists.[34]

Nintendo argued that the MariCar name was "intended to be mistaken for or confused with" Mario Kart, citing games commonly known by abbreviations in Japan, such as Pokémon (for Pocket Monsters) and Sumabura (Super Smash Bros.). In January 2017, the Japan Patent Office dismissed the objection, ruling that MariCar was not widely recognized as an abbreviation of Mario Kart.[34]

In February 2017, Nintendo sued MariCar over copyright infringement for renting unauthorized costumes of Nintendo characters and using their images to promote its business.[34] In September 2018, MariCar was ordered to stop using the characters and pay Nintendo ¥10 million in damages.[35]

Theme park attraction


Universal Destinations & Experiences' immersive Super Nintendo World areas in Universal Studios Japan and Universal Studios Hollywood feature the Mario Kart: Bowser's Challenge ride as their primary "anchor" attraction. Utilizing innovative augmented reality technology and dark ride set design, guests travel through several environments from Mario Kart 8, including Rainbow Road. The Japan version of the attraction includes a Mario Kart themed shop called "Mario Motors", and a nearby "Pit Stop Popcorn" food stand.[36] The Bowser's Challenge ride is also expected to be built in Epic Universe's version of Super Nintendo World.[37]

Formula E attack mode


Starting with its 2018–19 season, electric open wheel racing series Formula E added a so-called "attack mode", which allows a driver to gain a temporary speed boost if they take an alternate lane (highlighted on television via augmented reality computer graphics). The concept has been described by members of the press and by series CEO Alejandro Agag as inspired by Mario Kart.[38][39]


  1. ^ Japanese: マリオカート, Hepburn: Mario Kāto
  2. ^ a b Released April 23rd, 2015


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