Mario Kart

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Mario Kart
Mario Kart logo.png
The current Mario Kart logo, used since 2005.
Genre(s)Racing
Developer(s)
Publisher(s)Nintendo
Creator(s)Shigeru Miyamoto
Platform(s)
First releaseSuper Mario Kart
August 27, 1992 (1992-08-27)
Latest releaseMario Kart 8 Deluxe
April 28, 2017 (2017-04-28)

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]

There have been six Mario Kart games released for home consoles, three portable games, and four Namco co-developed arcade games, for a total of thirteen. The latest game in the main series, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, was released on Nintendo Switch in April 2017. The series has sold over 100 million copies worldwide to date.

History[edit]

The original logo style, used up until Mario Kart Arcade GP 2.

The first game in the Mario Kart series is Super Mario Kart which 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 created 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, typically from the Mario franchise. Up to twelve characters can compete in each race, the exact number varies between games.

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 and fake item boxes that can be laid on the course 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 installment has introduced new gameplay elements, such as new courses, items, modes, and playable characters.[3] These changes include:

Courses[edit]

Many course themes recur throughout the series. Most are based on an existing area in the Mario franchise (Bowser's Castle being among the most prominent), but there are a number of courses that have not appeared elsewhere, but still belong in the Mushroom Kingdom, such as Rainbow Road.[3] Each game in the series includes at least 16 original courses and up to 6 original battle arenas.[3] Each game's tracks are divided into four "cups", or groups in which the player has to have the highest overall placing to win. Most courses can be done in three laps. The first game to feature courses from previous games was Mario Kart: Super Circuit, which contained all of the tracks from the original Super NES game. Starting with Mario Kart DS, each entry in the series has featured 16 "nitro" (courses belonging to its own game) and 16 "retro" tracks (courses from previous Mario Kart games), spread across four cups each with four races. In Mario Kart 8, 16 additional tracks are available across two downloadable packages, eight for each package downloaded, including seven retro courses, four original courses, and five courses based on other Nintendo franchises, including Excitebike, F-Zero, The Legend of Zelda, and Animal Crossing.[5]

Modes of play[edit]

Each installment 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 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 150cc Mirror (courses that are mirrored in terms of direction). Mario Kart 8 added a fifth difficulty level: 200cc. Players earn points according to their finishing position in each race and the top three players with the most points overall will receive a trophy.
  • 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. Since Mario Kart: Double Dash!!, a new function called Staff Ghosts is introduced, Staff Ghosts are members of the Nintendo team that set staff times for one to try and beat. One's personal best has to be better than the staff time of a ghost in order to unlock Expert Staff Ghosts, which only appeared in Mario Kart Wii and Mario Kart 7, which in turn unlock characters, vehicles, or stamps, in addition to viewing ghost data.
  • VS Race – Multiple human players race against each other on any course with customized rules such as team racing and item frequency. The mode also includes single-player VS races and CPU controlled players to compete in VS races as well since Mario Kart DS (except for Mario Kart 7). Super Circuit, however, features a Quick Run mode, which shares similarities with VS mode.
  • Battle – Multiple human players use racing 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. Starting with Mario Kart Wii, there is a time limit for each battle. For Mario Kart 8, the battles take place on race courses. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe reintroduces arena-style tracks.

List of Mario Kart games[edit]

Timeline of release years
1992Super Mario Kart
1993
1994
1995VB Mario Kart (cancelled)
1996Mario Kart 64
1997
1998
1999
2000
2001Super Circuit
2002
2003Double Dash!!
2004
2005Mario Kart DS
Mario Kart Arcade GP
2006
2007Mario Kart Arcade GP 2
2008Mario Kart Wii
2009
2010
2011Mario Kart 7
2012
2013Mario Kart Arcade GP DX
2014Mario Kart 8
2015
2016
2017Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
Mario Kart Arcade GP VR
TBAMario Kart Tour

Console games[edit]

Year Game Platform Virtual Console
Wii Wii U 3DS 3DS XL
1992 Super Mario Kart SNES Yes No Yes
1996, 1997 Mario Kart 64 N64 No
2001 Super Circuit GBA No Yes [note 1]
2003 Double Dash!! GCN dagger No
2005 Mario Kart DS DS No Yes dagger
2008 Mario Kart Wii Wii N/A dagger No
2011 Mario Kart 7 3DS No No N/A
2014 (2017) Mario Kart 8 (Deluxe) Wii U, Switch N/A No
dagger This game runs on the newer system by using backward compatibility instead of the Virtual Console. For the Wii, later models omit backward compatibility.
  1. ^ Mario Kart: Super Circuit can be played on Nintendo 3DS systems that feature the Nintendo 3DS Ambassadors program.

At one point, there was also a game in the series planned for the Virtual Boy in 1995. Tentatively titled VB Mario Kart, 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.[6]

Arcade games[edit]

Mobile games[edit]

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] Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS featuring a Rainbow Road stage based on its appearance in Mario Kart 7, and Super Smash Bros. for Wii U featuring a Mario Circuit stage based on its appearance in Mario Kart 8, along with the returning Mario Circuit stage from Brawl.

Certain courses from the series have also appeared in F-Zero X, Fortune Street, the Mario & Sonic series, Paper Mario: Color Splash, and the WarioWare series. Various items from the series can also be seen in games such as Nintendogs and Animal Crossing.

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 and Mario Kart 8 K'Nex sets have also been released.

Nintendo's own customer rewards program Club Nintendo released merchandise from the series as well. These included a Mario Kart 8 soundtrack, 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.

In 2014, McDonald's released Mario Kart 8 toys with Happy Meals. They featured eight of the characters in karts that were customizable with stickers.

In 2018, the board game Monopoly Gamer features a Mario Kart theme with courses from Mario Kart 8 and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe serving as properties.

Reception[edit]

Aggregate review scores
Game Metacritic GameRankings
Super Mario Kart 94/100 94%
Mario Kart 64 83/100 87%
Super Circuit 93/100 92%
Double Dash!! 87/100 87%
Mario Kart DS 91/100 91%
Mario Kart Wii 82/100 82%
Mario Kart 7 85/100 85%
Mario Kart 8 88/100 88%
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe 93/100 93%

The Mario Kart series has received acclaim from critics. Nintendo Power listed the series as being one of the greatest multiplayer experiences, citing the diversity in game modes as well as the entertainment value found.[12]

Guinness World Records listed 6 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]

Sales[edit]

Life-to-date number units shipped, in millions
Game Year Sales
Super Mario Kart 1992 (SNES) 8.76[14]
Mario Kart 64 1996 (N64) 9.87[14]
Super Circuit 2001 (GBA) 5.9[14]
Double Dash 2003 (GCN) 6.96[14]
Mario Kart DS 2005 (DS) 23.60[15]
Mario Kart Wii 2008 (Wii) 37.10[16]
Mario Kart 7 2011 (3DS) 17.21[17]
Mario Kart 8 2014/2017 (Wii U/NS) 20.13[n 1]

Like the Super Mario series, the Mario Kart series has achieved successful sales with over 100 million copies sold in total.[20] Super Mario Kart has sold 8.76 million copies and is the fourth best-selling game on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System console.[14] Mario Kart 64 is the second-bestselling game for the Nintendo 64 (behind Super Mario 64), selling a total of 9.87 million copies.[14]Mario Kart: Double Dash has sold 6.96 million copies.[14] It is the second best-selling game on the GameCube (next to Super Smash Bros. Melee). Mario Kart Wii has achieved highly successful numbers, selling a total of 37.10 million copies.[16] It is the best-selling installment in the series and is the second best-selling game for the Wii (next to Wii Sports).[16] Mario Kart 8, released for the Wii U, has shipped 1.2 million copies in North America and Europe combined on its first few days since launch, which was the console's fastest-selling game until the record was beaten by Super Smash Bros. for Wii U.[21][22] It sold a total of 8.42 million copies and is the Wii U's best-selling game.[18] In contrast, the enhanced port for the Nintendo Switch system, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, has sold 459,000 units in the United States in one day of its launch, making it the fastest-selling game in the series to date.[23] Deluxe sold a total of 10.35 million copies worldwide, outperforming the original Wii U version, and is the second-bestselling Nintendo Switch game of all time (behind Super Mario Odyssey).[19] Both versions sold a combined total of 18.77 million copies

In the portable entries, the series also performed outstanding sales. Mario Kart: Super Circuit, has sold a total of 5.9 million copies, making it the fourth best-selling game on the Game Boy Advance.[14] The second portable game, Mario Kart DS, has sold a total of 23.60 million copies.[15] The third best-selling game for the Nintendo DS, it is also the best-selling portable game in the series.[15] Mario Kart 7, released for the Nintendo 3DS, has sold 17.21 million copies, and is the best-selling 3DS game as of June 2018.[17]

Rental go-kart dispute[edit]

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.[24] MariCar's English website warned customers not to throw "banana peels" or "red turtle shells".[25] The service is popular with tourists.[24]

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.[24]

In February 2017, Nintendo sued MariCar over copyright infringement for renting unauthorized costumes of Nintendo characters and using their pictures to promote its business.[24] In September 2018, MariCar was ordered to stop using the characters and pay Nintendo ¥10 million in damages.[25]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Mario Kart 8 sales breakdown:

References[edit]

  1. ^ Crecente, Brian (2009-26-2). "Super Mario Kart: Most Influential Video Game in History." Kotaku. Retrieved January 27, 2012.
  2. ^ Jones, Darran (November 28, 2011). "Super Mario Kart: The Complete History of Nintendo's Kart Racer". NowGamer. Imagine Publishing Ltd. Archived from the original on June 25, 2013. Retrieved September 15, 2013.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Dan. "Mario Kart Franchise Retrospective". WatchMojo.com. Retrieved February 5, 2012.
  4. ^ Sato, Yoshi (February 6, 2008). "Mario Kart Wii Detailed". 1up.com. Archived from the original on October 29, 2013. Retrieved May 21, 2013.
  5. ^ a b Farokhmanesh, Megan (August 26, 2014). "Link, F-Zero and Animal Crossing are coming to Mario Kart 8 as DLC". Polygon. Retrieved August 26, 2014.
  6. ^ "VB Mario Kart". Big N. Retrieved November 3, 2013.
  7. ^ "Namco Formally Announces Mario Kart Arcade Grand Prix DX - Arcade Heroes". February 5, 2013.
  8. ^ "MARIO KART ARCADE GP VR - VR ZONE SHINJUKU".
  9. ^ "Mario Kart Arcade GP VR announced for Bandai Namco's virtual reality arcade, played with HTC Vive - Nintendo Everything". June 13, 2017.
  10. ^ "Smash Bros. DOJO!!". Smashbros.com. Archived from the original on September 28, 2012. Retrieved September 21, 2012.
  11. ^ "K'NEX Mario Kart Wii Building Sets". Knex.com. October 20, 2011. Archived from the original on September 2, 2012. Retrieved September 8, 2012.
  12. ^ Nintendo Power 250th issue!. South San Francisco, California: Future US. 2010. p. 47.
  13. ^ Ivan, Tom (February 28, 2009). "Guinness ranks top 50 games of all time". Computer and Video Games. Retrieved March 14, 2009.
  14. ^ a b c d e f g h O'Malley, James (11 September 2015). "30 Best-Selling Super Mario Games of All Time on the Plumber's 30th Birthday". Gizmodo. Univision Communications. Retrieved 2 May 2018.
  15. ^ a b c "IR Information : Sales Data – Top Selling Software Sales Units – Nintendo DS Software". Nintendo. Retrieved 2 May 2018.
  16. ^ a b c "IR Information : Financial Data Wii". Nintendo. Nintendo, Co. Ltd. Retrieved 2 May 2018.
  17. ^ a b "Top Selling Title Sales Units (Nintendo 3DS)". Nintendo. Nintendo, Co. Ltd. Retrieved 2 May 2018.
  18. ^ a b "IR Information : Financial Data - Top Selling Title Sales Units - Wii U Software". Nintendo. Nintendo, Co. Ltd. Retrieved 2 May 2018.
  19. ^ a b "IR Information : Sales Data - Top Selling Title Sales Unit (Switch)". Nintendo. Nintendo, Co. Ltd. Retrieved 1 November 2018.
  20. ^ Futter, Mike (June 2, 2014). "Mario Kart 8 Speeds To Over 1.2 Million Sales In Opening Weekend". Game Informer. GameStop. Retrieved June 2, 2014.
  21. ^ "Mario Kart 8 ships 1.2 million, fastest selling Wii U title to date". Nintendo Today. Nintendo Today. 2 June 2014. Retrieved 3 May 2018.
  22. ^ Minotti, Mike (25 November 2014). "Super Smash Bros. for Wii U is the system's fastest-selling game". VentureBeat. VentureBeat. Retrieved 3 May 2018.
  23. ^ Cowley, Ric (2 May 2017). "Mario Kart 8 Deluxe becomes fastest-selling game of the franchise with 459,000 units sold in the US". Pocket Gamer.biz. Steel Media Ltd. Retrieved 3 May 2018.
  24. ^ a b c d Otake, Tomoko (2017-03-09). "Patent authority rules against Nintendo, lets go-kart firm keep MariCar trademark". The Japan Times Online. ISSN 0447-5763. Retrieved 2018-09-28.
  25. ^ a b "Nintendo wins lawsuit against Tokyo's 'Mario Kart' tour company". Polygon. Retrieved 2018-09-28.