The Mario Kart The Super Mario Kart was released for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System in 1992. You can choose a racer, jump into a car, and speed your way through a variety colorful courses. There are dozens to choose from, and they are all organized into circuits so that you can make smooth transitions. Grab items to throw at your opponents to slow them down or use them on yourself to boost your speed.
Mario Kart is a classic Nintendo game. We wanted to take a nostalgic look at the reasons each Mario Kart entry was so beloved.
Super Mario Kart
This game was the foundation for the rest Mario Kart games. It was 16-bit and colorful, and it was played on a Nintendo 64. Nintendo was not intimidated and managed to invent the kart racing genre.
Arcade cabinets were a great way to speed up road movement in racing games. But this home release featured a background that moved with your car. The controls were much more difficult, however. Your character can slip and slide along the course regardless how skilled you are. The camera is always behind you and will capture every movement your kart makes.
However, the game made up for its lack of control by being simple. Things were more straightforward – you picked your character and started the race. Each character brought their own special abilities to the table. Split-screen courses were used to navigate tracks inspired by Super Mario World. There were 20 tracks, each with five tracks. This is also where Rainbow Road first appeared, which has seen many reboots throughout the series.
There were many different ways to play. Grand Prix was a single-player option. Time Trials, on the other hand, offered races against time. There were also three multiplayer modes: Grand Prix, standard matches that went head-to-head or a favorite battle mode that attached balloons to your kart and required the other player to pop them.
Mario Kart 64
In December 1996, Super Mario Kart’s successor was released on the Nintendo 64. Nintendo had a huge success with the SNES, and they knew that they had to capitalize. So production began in 1995 with Shigeru Mikamoto as producer. Although it had a lot of work ahead of it, Mario Kart 64 exceeded all expectations by transforming the classic game into a 3D experience.
Fans were able to experience 3D environments and elevation in terrain. The backgrounds were not just animated pictures, but interactive. The characters themselves were not 3D. They were sprites created from 3D renders. The game also employed a “rubber band effect,” meaning the AI racers won’t stray too far from you, so they’re a bit more difficult to overtake.
While most of the characters are back from the SNES now, Koopa Troopa Jr. and Donkey Kong Jr. have been replaced by Donkey Kong Jr. as well as Wario. Each weight class has a different advantage. Lightweights can accelerate quickly, but are prone to fly off, while heavyweights can take longer to start and are harder to push around. The middleweights, however, are the most consistent in steering, and have neither extreme acceleration nor weight.
Mario Kart 64 increased multiplayer capabilities to four players. Grand Prix allowed one player to race in cup matches. Time trials are also available. Versus was the standard multiplayer and Battle Mode was just like the old games, except that you were using balloons to make your points.
Items were the most popular addition. Picking up a Question Block gave you one item to use on yourself (like mushrooms or stars) and your opponents (like shells or bananas). This feature has been a mainline feature in every game since.
Mario Kart: Super Circuit
Mid-2001 saw Nintendo establish itself as the leader in kart racing and its improvements. And with the handheld Game Boy Advance, Nintendo capitalized on the opportunity to make their karts portable for the first time with what’d become the fourth-best selling game on GBA.
While the game received praise for its visuals and portability, hindsight doesn’t do it any favors – the graphics nowadays look clunky in a way that doesn’t hold up with charm and nostalgia. It was developed by Intelligent Systems, the minds that brought us WarioWare and the Fire Emblem series, and despite that, it’s now overshadowed. It was all the rage back then.
Super Circuit held the title for the most tracks in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe before DLC. There were 40 available. The game features the same roster of characters as the N64 version. Collectible coins have returned, and you can increase your engine’s power by collecting enough. The track count doubles from the initial 20 to the promised 40 when you collect 100.
The game was less easy to play multiplayer, so it was primarily geared toward single-player enjoyment. There are a few options to play with your friends. The Grand Prix standard is back, and weight classes are available. Time Trial is back, as well as Quick Run mode. This allows players to modify the rules of any course before they play them. Four people could play multiplayer in Versus Mode, or the still-popular Battle.
Mario Kart: Double Dash!!
Before Mario Kart: Double Dash was released, the GameCube had to be established for two years.!, the game was released to great fanfare. Double Dash! was launched in November 2003. Double Dash! was launched in November 2003. It’s the second-best-selling GameCube title, just behind the legendary Super Smash Bros. Melee.
The dev team came up against the struggle of trying to attract new players who perhaps didn’t have much experience with kart racing games. However, the appeal of this 3D model was the first time that each element was included, including characters.
Double Dash offered standard gameplay options, as well as some other features. The multiplayer was slightly modified to include the classic Grand Prix and Time Trial single-player modes. You could still race against friends in couch multiplayer. However, you can bring up to 15 people in LAN play. This allows you to experience both the regular versus mode and battle modes.
Two players could share a vehicle for the first time. One player drove and the other was responsible for the items. This decision was admired by many fans who still want to see it again. The game featured 16 tracks spread across four cups. The difficulty can be selected by choosing the engine speed. A fourth engine mode was also available, which mirrors the controls and allows you to force-set your speed for the fastest possible.
Mario Kart DS
Nintendo released Mario Kart DS in November 2005, just two years after their last game. They’d done portable kart-racing well before, and they’d do it again with this entry, which is the third best-selling game for the DS.
Mario Kart DS enabled multiplayer online play, which was becoming increasingly popular. The game’s producer, Hideki Konno, said of the change that “the technology and time is right.” If you weren’t playing online, however, up to eight players could race using cartridges and a local connection.
Nearly universal praise was given to the game for its faithfulness to Mario Kart’s formula. It simply improved it while maintaining easy-to-use controls.
The DS has two screens. You race on the top screen. However, the bottom screen could show a few things. It could show an overview of the course, or a bird’s-eye view of your immediate surroundings. There were eight cups and 32 tracks in total.
You started the game with eight racers. With gameplay progress, you unlock four more. Each racer can access only two karts to start, but after you’ve beaten each circuit with a B or better at the 150cc speed, all characters can select all karts. Missions, in addition to the standard modes, are back. These allow you to control a particular character with a specific goal.
Mario Kart Wii
Some argue that Wii was not around when it was first released. Nintendo has been a pioneer in console technology, so the Wii was able to be played with motion. Mario Kart Wii was also created by Nintendo.
This game was not only the best-selling Wii title, but it is also the 16th most-sold Wii game, with just over 38.4 million copies. Nintendo also produced a peripheral accessory: a plastic steering wheels with a spot to hold your Wii Remote. This allows for real steering.
We were previously limited to go-karts. But this game featured a new vehicle: motorbikes. After choosing between bike or car, 24 characters raced through 32 tracks spread across eight cups. Half of the tracks were familiar favorites from Mario Kart games, while the other half were brand-new.
You had four options when it came to driving. You could also use your Wii Remote to control the steering wheel. You can also race with the Nunchuk by controlling the Wii Remote horizontally and plugging in a GameCube control.
Battle was added to the four standard modes. Players were split into teams and could not harm their teammates while trying to steal or pop balloons from the other side. Coin Runners, a multiplayer team-based mode that saw players racing around tracks in an attempt to collect coins, is also available.
Mario Kart 7
While the series didn’t have much use for the special effect feature of real 3D outside fleshing out tracks a little, that didn’t mean Mario Kart 7, released in December 2011, wasn’t good – in fact, it was the best-selling title for the 3DS. Mario Kart 7 built on the foundation Mario Kart DS laid, and added a few tweaks and features to the series. It’s especially impressive when you consider that, due to the heavy release schedule from Nintendo in 2011, only eight dedicated staffers worked on the game, eventually bringing in Retro Studios to help out.
There were two big additions – subaquatic vehicles for underwater racing, as well as the new hang-glider attachment for all karts that saw jumps increase in height to send us soaring through the skies.
This entry in the series gave fans 16 racers. Four newbies joined the roster. Players could also customize their vehicles. We raced on 32 tracks – 16 new ones, and 16 remastered versions of old tracks. Although the bottom screen had many options for what you could see, you could not see other racers on it.
The game was critiqued for its reliance on “old gimmicks,” and is seen nowadays as somewhat derivative, though it still holds a firm place in many players’ hearts.
Mario Kart 8/Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
The most recent installment of the series was originally released for Wii U in May 2014. It was later ported to Switch as Mario Kart 8 Deluxe on April 2017. This brought kart-racing up to the current gen. The Deluxe version includes a few improvements to entice players into upgrading. These improvements included bonus content, better graphics and previously DLC-only material. You’d also receive five bonus racers, the restoration of beloved items, and the ability to hold a second item, too.
The Wii-U’s best-selling title was the original. This number has only increased with the Switch port. Mario Kart 8 has been ranked seventh in terms of sales, just behind Minecraft, GTA 5 Tetris, Wii Sports and PUBG: Battlegrounds.
The game features 32 tracks across eight cups. DLC added 16 additional tracks as paid content. There are 36 characters to choose from, which means this is the game with the series’ biggest roster yet (though some are limited to the Deluxe version). Older gimmicks such as motorbikes, hang-gliders and underwater vehicles are back, and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe introduces antigravity racing. Players can sometimes drive on walls or ceilings in certain sections.
Deluxe received extra support from the “Booster Course Pass,” Nintendo’s paid season pass for the game. 48 tracks will be added to the game by the time that all content has been released. To keep players playing and content fresh, the first batch was released in February 2022. The second batch was released in August 2022.
NEXT: Mario Kart: Every Game, Ranked (According To Metacritic)