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Mario Kart[a] 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]

Mario Kart
Mario Kart logo.png
Logo used since Mario Kart DS
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 Tour
September 25, 2019 (2019-09-25)

With six Mario Kart games released on home consoles, three on portable handheld consoles, four arcade games co-developed with Namco and one for mobile phones, the Mario Kart series includes a total of fourteen entries. The latest game in the main series, Mario Kart Tour, was released on iOS and Android in September 2019. The series has sold over 100 million copies worldwide to date.

HistoryEdit

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

The first title in the Mario Kart series, Super Mario Kart, 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. It is widely acknowledged that Miyamoto discovered the idea after discussing the Mario Bros racing spin-off topic with a young, anonymous boy from Dayton, Ohio, famously wearing “Teva Sandals and a yellow shirt”(citation needed). 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]

GameplayEdit

 
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, 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 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 may 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. They can also perform driving techniques during the race such as mini-turbos, slipstreaming, and rocket starts.

As the series has progressed, each new installment has introduced new gameplay elements, such as new circuits, items, modes, and playable characters.[3] These changes include:

  • Mario Kart 64 introduces 4-player racing, slipstreaming[4] and 3D graphics.[3] This game also introduced Wario and Donkey Kong as playable characters, as well as seven new items: the Fake Item Box, Triple Red Shell, Triple Green Shell, Triple Mushroom, Banana Bunch, Golden Mushroom, and the infamous blue shell. In addition to the three Grand Prix engine classes, Mirror mode is introduced (tracks are flipped laterally) in 100cc.
  • Mario Kart: Super Circuit introduces the ability to unlock all of the Super Mario Kart tracks, as both games use the same mode 7 principle.
  • Mario Kart: Double Dash features co-operative LAN play and two-player karts.[3] It also introduces eleven new playable characters (Princess Daisy, Birdo, Baby Mario, Baby Luigi, Paratroopa, Diddy Kong, Bowser Jr., Waluigi, Toadette, Petey Piranha, and King Boo). The game also features special items that are specific to each character, a feature that was previously accessible only to computer-controlled drivers in the original game. Finally, this game introduced unlockable characters and karts to the series. Mirror mode is bumped up to 150cc.
  • Mario Kart DS features dual-screen play and introduces online multiplayer (via Wi-Fi) & retro battle arenas. Shy Guy (exclusive to DS Download Play), Dry Bones, and R.O.B. are introduced as playable characters. DS was also the first Mario Kart game to feature retro tracks from all previous titles of the series, as well as the only entry in the series to feature mission mode. It also introduces two new items: the Blooper and Bullet Bill.
  • Mario Kart Wii introduces motion controls, performing tricks, 12-player racing, and motorbikes.[5] Six new playable characters were introduced: Baby Peach, Baby Daisy, Rosalina, Funky Kong, Dry Bowser, and two outfits for Mii characters. It also introduced three new items: the Mega Mushroom, Thunder Cloud, and POW Block.
  • Mario Kart 7 features stereoscopic 3D graphics, introduces hang gliding and submersible karts, as well as an alternate first-person perspective and kart customization.[3] Introduces Metal Mario, Lakitu, Wiggler, and Honey Queen as new playable characters. It is also the first Mario Kart game after Mario Kart: Double Dash not to feature Waluigi as a playable character.
  • Mario Kart 8 introduces 200cc mode, anti-gravity racing, ATVs, uploading highlights to YouTube via Mario Kart TV (exclusive to the Wii U version), up to four local players in Grand Prix races, downloadable content, and is the first in the series to boast HD graphics. Mario Kart 8 introduces the 7 Koopalings, Baby Rosalina, Pink Gold Peach, Tanooki Mario, Cat Peach, Villager and Isabelle from Animal Crossing, and Link from The Legend of Zelda as new playable characters.[6] The Nintendo Switch version, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, also adds the Inkling Girl and Inkling Boy from Splatoon as playable characters for the first time in the series, as well as a new battle mode, "Renegade Roundup", which plays similarly to a game of tag.
  • Mario Kart Tour introduces Pauline and Musician Mario, as of September 24, 2019. Kimono Mario and Kimono peach have been added as a part of the Tokyo tour.

CharactersEdit

Mario Kart mainly features characters from the Mario franchise. The Mario Kart Arcade GP series features Bandai Namco characters such as Pac-Man.[7] The DLC for Mario Kart 8 added Link from The Legend of Zelda, and Villager and Isabelle from Animal Crossing.[8] Mario Kart 8 Deluxe features 42 characters, including the Inklings from Splatoon.[9]

CoursesEdit

Many course themes recur throughout the series. Most are based on existing areas in the Mario franchise (Bowser's Castle being among the most prominent), but there are a number of courses that have not appeared elsewhere, yet still belong in the Mushroom Kingdom, such as Rainbow Road.[3] Each game in the series (following the original game) 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, except in the original game where all circuits required five laps to complete and Mario Kart Tour with only two. 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" (brand new courses introduced for said game) and 16 "retro" tracks (reappearing 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.[6] Mario Kart Tour introduced courses from around the world including Paris, Tokyo, and New York City.

Modes of playEdit

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," 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 see their circuits flipped horizontally). 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 players to try and beat. Upon success, players will unlock Expert Staff Ghosts, which only appeared in Mario Kart Wii and Mario Kart 7, which unlock characters, vehicles, or stamps once beaten, 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 in-game offensive items (shells, etc) 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 with CPU controlled players. 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 dedicated arenas.
  • Online Multiplayer – Players are able to compete in races and battles through online services, such as Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection, Nintendo Network, and Nintendo Switch Online. Players can also 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 (only 9,999 in Mario Kart Wii). Players gain or lose points based on their performance in a race or battle. The game attempts to match players with a similar rating.

List of Mario Kart gamesEdit

Release timeline
1992Super Mario Kart
1993
1994
1995
1996Mario Kart 64
1997
1998
1999
2000
2001Mario Kart: Super Circuit
2002
2003Mario Kart: Double Dash
2004
2005Mario Kart Arcade GP
Mario Kart DS
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
2018
2019Mario Kart Tour

Console gamesEdit

Year Game Platform Virtual Console
Nintendo Switch Online
Wii Wii U 3DS New 3DS Switch
1992 Super Mario Kart SNES     Does not appear    
1996 Mario Kart 64 N64     Does not appear Does not appear Does not appear
2001 Mario Kart: Super Circuit GBA Does not appear   [nb 1] [nb 1] Does not appear
2003 Mario Kart: Double Dash GCN   Does not appear Does not appear Does not appear Does not appear
2005 Mario Kart DS DS Does not appear       Does not appear
2008 Mario Kart Wii Wii     Does not appear Does not appear Does not appear
2011 Mario Kart 7 3DS Does not appear Does not appear     Does not appear
2014 Mario Kart 8 Wii U Does not appear   Does not appear Does not appear  
2017 Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Switch 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, or as an enhanced remake
  1. ^ a b 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 Mario Kart game 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 commercial failure, but was revealed in a 2000 issue of German gaming magazine The Big N.[10]

Arcade gamesEdit

Mobile gamesEdit

Other appearancesEdit

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,[14] Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS featuring a Rainbow Road stage based on its appearance in Mario Kart 7, 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, and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate featuring Spirits based on the series.

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.

MerchandiseEdit

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.[15] 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 official 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, ten playable characters as tokens, (Mario, Luigi, Peach, Toad, Donkey Kong, Shy Guy, Metal Mario, Rosalina, Bowser, and Yoshi) and a special die with power-ups taken from the series.

In 2019, Hot Wheels teamed up with Mario Kart to release cars and track sets based on the series.

ReceptionEdit

Sales and aggregate review scores
As of March 31, 2019.
Game Year Units sold
(in millions)
GameRankings Metacritic
Super Mario Kart 1992 8.76[16] 94% 94/100
Mario Kart 64 1996 9.87[16] 87% 83/100
Mario Kart: Super Circuit 2001 5.90[16] 92% 93/100
Mario Kart: Double Dash 2003 9.69[16] 87% 87/100
Mario Kart DS 2005 23.60[17] 91% 91/100
Mario Kart Wii 2008 37.20[18] 82% 82/100
Mario Kart 7 2011 18.26[19] 85% 85/100
Mario Kart 8 2014 8.44[20] 88% 88/100
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe 2017 16.69[21] 93% 93/100

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.[22]

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.[23] Super Mario Kart has been inducted into the Video Game Hall of Fame in 2019.[24]

SalesEdit

Like the Super Mario series, the Mario Kart series has achieved successful sales with over 138 million copies sold in total.[25] Super Mario Kart has sold 8.76 million copies and is the fourth best-selling game on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System console.[16] Mario Kart 64 is the second-bestselling game for the Nintendo 64 (behind Super Mario 64), selling a total of 9.87 million copies.[16] Mario Kart: Double Dash has sold 6.96 million copies.[16] 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 37.20 million copies.[18] It is the best-selling installment in the series and is the second best-selling game for the Wii (next to Wii Sports).[18] 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.[26][27] It sold a total of 8.44 million copies and is the Wii U's best-selling game.[20] 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.[28] Deluxe sold a total of 16.69 million copies worldwide, outperforming the original Wii U version, and is the best-selling Nintendo Switch game of all time.[21] Both versions sold a combined total of 25.13 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.[16] The second portable game, Mario Kart DS, has sold a total of 23.60 million copies.[17] The third best-selling game for the Nintendo DS, it is also the best-selling portable game in the series.[17] Mario Kart 7, released for the Nintendo 3DS, has sold 18.26 million copies, and is the best-selling 3DS game as of June 2018.[19]

Rental go-kart disputeEdit

 
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.[29] MariCar's English website warned customers not to throw "banana peels" or "red turtle shells".[30] The service is popular with tourists.[29]

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.[29]

In February 2017, Nintendo sued MariCar over copyright infringement for renting unauthorized costumes of Nintendo characters and using their pictures to promote its business.[29] In September 2018, MariCar was ordered to stop using the characters and pay Nintendo ¥10 million in damages.[30]

NotesEdit

  1. ^ Japanese: マリオカート Hepburn: Mario Kāto?

ReferencesEdit

  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. ^ "Slipstreaming". Super Mario Wiki. Retrieved October 3, 2019.
  5. ^ Sato, Yoshi (February 6, 2008). "Mario Kart Wii Detailed". 1up.com. Archived from the original on October 29, 2013. Retrieved May 21, 2013.
  6. ^ 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.
  7. ^ "Mario Kart Arcade GP". Nintendo Life. Retrieved April 5, 2019.
  8. ^ Matulef, Jeffrey (August 27, 2014). "Mario Kart 8 getting Zelda and Animal Crossing DLC". Eurogamer. Retrieved April 5, 2019.
  9. ^ Bashore, Nicholas (April 28, 2017). "Here's Every New Character in 'Mario Kart 8 Deluxe'". Inverse. Retrieved April 5, 2019.
  10. ^ "VB Mario Kart". Big N. Retrieved November 3, 2013.
  11. ^ "Namco Formally Announces Mario Kart Arcade Grand Prix DX - Arcade Heroes". February 5, 2013.
  12. ^ "MARIO KART ARCADE GP VR - VR ZONE SHINJUKU".
  13. ^ "Mario Kart Arcade GP VR announced for Bandai Namco's virtual reality arcade, played with HTC Vive - Nintendo Everything". June 13, 2017.
  14. ^ "Smash Bros. DOJO!!". Smashbros.com. Archived from the original on September 28, 2012. Retrieved September 21, 2012.
  15. ^ "K'NEX Mario Kart Wii Building Sets". Knex.com. October 20, 2011. Archived from the original on September 2, 2012. Retrieved September 8, 2012.
  16. ^ a b c d e f g h O'Malley, James (September 11, 2015). "30 Best-Selling Super Mario Games of All Time on the Plumber's 30th Birthday". Gizmodo. Univision Communications. Retrieved May 2, 2018.
  17. ^ a b c "IR Information : Sales Data – Top Selling Software Sales Units – Nintendo DS Software". Nintendo. Retrieved May 2, 2018.
  18. ^ a b c "IR Information : Financial Data Wii". Nintendo. Nintendo, Co. Ltd. Retrieved January 31, 2019.
  19. ^ a b "Top Selling Title Sales Units (Nintendo 3DS)". Nintendo. Nintendo, Co. Ltd. Retrieved January 31, 2019.
  20. ^ a b "IR Information : Financial Data - Top Selling Title Sales Units - Wii U Software". Nintendo. Nintendo, Co. Ltd. Retrieved May 2, 2018.
  21. ^ a b "IR Information : Sales Data - Top Selling Title Sales Unit (Switch)". Nintendo. Nintendo, Co. Ltd. Retrieved January 31, 2019.
  22. ^ Nintendo Power 250th issue!. South San Francisco, California: Future US. 2010. p. 47.
  23. ^ Ivan, Tom (February 28, 2009). "Guinness ranks top 50 games of all time". Computer and Video Games. Retrieved March 14, 2009.
  24. ^ Good, Owen (May 3, 2019). "Wait a minute, the Video Game Hall of Fame inducted ... Solitaire? Yes, and also Mortal Kombat and Super Mario Kart". Polygon. Retrieved May 4, 2019.
  25. ^ 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.
  26. ^ "Mario Kart 8 ships 1.2 million, fastest selling Wii U title to date". Nintendo Today. Nintendo Today. June 2, 2014. Retrieved May 3, 2018.
  27. ^ Minotti, Mike (November 25, 2014). "Super Smash Bros. for Wii U is the system's fastest-selling game". VentureBeat. VentureBeat. Retrieved May 3, 2018.
  28. ^ Cowley, Ric (May 2, 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 May 3, 2018.
  29. ^ a b c d Otake, Tomoko (March 9, 2017). "Patent authority rules against Nintendo, lets go-kart firm keep MariCar trademark". The Japan Times Online. ISSN 0447-5763. Retrieved September 28, 2018.
  30. ^ a b "Nintendo wins lawsuit against Tokyo's 'Mario Kart' tour company". Polygon. Retrieved September 28, 2018.