Mario Kart (series)
The Mario Kart series is a large franchise of kart-racing games in Mario games; one Mario Kart game has appeared on almost every Nintendo system since the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, except for Game Boy Color and Virtual Boy. With a total of twelve titles in the series, Nintendo has inspired many later cartoon-styled racing games among many gaming companies.
The Mario Kart series has been very successful. It is referenced in Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door by Luigi, who, while telling Mario about the races on Circuit Break Island, briefly mentions racing in karts previously.
The German magazine Big N claimed that a Virtual Boy installment of the Mario Kart series, tentatively named VB Mario Kart, was in development. The only known media report of it is Big N's August 2000 issue, which listed it among various other cancelled Virtual Boy projects.
Mario Kart XXL is a Game Boy Advance Tech Demo created by Denaris Entertainement Software for Nintendo in 2004. The demo consists of a 3-lap trial run showing the Game Boy Advance's ability to render and scale two separate background layers.
Every main Mario Kart game following the first installment has introduced new gameplay features to keep each game from feeling the same.
The series has spawned a total of 44 playable drivers in the main console/handheld installments, along with five third-party characters in the Arcade GP series and Miis from Mario Kart Wii onward. If one includes the multiple-colored Yoshis, Shy Guys and Mario Kart 8 downloadable characters, there are 68 playable drivers in total. Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, Yoshi, Toad, and Bowser are the only characters to have been playable in all titles. Also, Mario, Luigi, Toad, and Bowser are the only characters to be classified as the same weight class in every Mario Kart title, and this means Princess Peach and Yoshi are the only ones to appear in all games to switch between the weight classes in the games (they are a middleweight in all console games, excluding Mario Kart 64, and a lightweight in the handheld games and Mario Kart 64). Out of all these characters, Toad is the only one to be both a default and unlockable driver, being available from the start in all games except Mario Kart: Double Dash!!. Wario and Donkey Kong have been playable in every title since Mario Kart 64, and since then other characters have been playable in all main games after their respective Mario Kart debut, namely Princess Daisy, Rosalina, and Miis. Waluigi is the only playable character in the series to have been classified in all three weight classes (he is a middleweight in Mario Kart: Double Dash!! and Mario Kart DS, a heavyweight in Mario Kart Wii and Mario Kart 8, and a lightweight in Mario Kart Arcade GP DX).
1 - The character is unlockable
Weight/Size and Effects
Throughout the Mario Kart series, a common element in almost each game is the weight of different characters. Characters have been classified by their weight. Up until Mario Kart Wii, the three weights were "Light", "Medium", and "Heavy". In Mario Kart Wii, however, the main element was the size of the character, split in three categories: "Small", "Medium", and "Large". Different weights and sizes have different effects on racing.
Characters in this classification are easily knocked aside by their heavier opponents. Feather/Light/Small characters have high acceleration, but low top speeds. When off-road, they lose a very minimal amount of speed. In some games, however, a lightweight can own a kart that has a high top speed, but low acceleration.
Medium characters have a equal balance of weight, top speed, and acceleration. When they go off-road, they lose a moderate amount of speed, contrary to that of its corresponding weight classes. In some games, however, middleweights can own a kart that has low speed and high acceleration, or a kart that has high speed and low acceleration.
Cruiser/Heavy/Large characters can easily knock most opposing racers aside. They have high top speeds, but very poor acceleration. When they go off-road, their speed greatly decreases. In some games, however, a heavyweight can own a kart that has a low top speed, but high acceleration.
The Engine Class (also referred to as Engine Size) is an important factor in the Mario Kart series, determining the speed of the vehicles. Super Mario Kart introduced 50 cubic centimeter (cc) and 100cc Karts (and 150cc Karts were unlockable). Starting with Mario Kart 64, 150cc Karts were available at the start of the game. As larger engines increase speed, the vehicles are more difficult to control. In Grand Prix mode, an increase in engine class also increases the computer player difficulty. In Vs. Mode of Mario Kart DS, Mario Kart Wii, and Mario Kart 8, the Engine Class doesn't control the difficulty of the computer drivers, but the option CPU Level does. Each Cup can be raced with different Engine Classes; completing a Cup with a certain Engine Class sometimes unlocks other Cups, drivers, or battle stages. 200cc made its debut in Mario Kart 8 in a patch that was released on April 23, 2015.
The Mirror class (EXTRA in Mario Kart 64; 150cc Mirror in Mario Kart DS) is a bonus engine class in which all tracks are mirrored. As a result, left becomes right and vice versa. All vehicles use the 150cc engine size in this engine class (100cc in Mario Kart 64). Most environmental hazards remain untouched, but there are some exceptions, such as with Toad's Turnpike, in which the cars on the road are traveling towards the kart racers instead of along with them, making them harder to dodge.
Each main Mario Kart game has at least 16 courses distributed among 4 or more cups. Super Mario Kart has 4 cups with 5 courses each, being the only game in the series with this format. Mario Kart 64 has since introduced the standard of having 4 courses per cup. Mario Kart: Super Circuit has 20 courses among 5 cups to allow for the inclusion of all 20 of the original courses from Super Mario Kart. Since Mario Kart DS, there have been two Grand Prix sets for the player to choose from: the Nitro Grand Prix, consisting of 16 new courses, and the Retro Grand Prix, consisting of 16 retro courses selected from previous installments of the series. In total, the main series has spawned 145 courses.
In every one of the main games (excluding the Mario Kart Arcade GP sub-series), there has been at least one Mario Circuit, one Bowser's Castle, one Rainbow Road, one ice-themed course, one beach-themed course, and one desert-themed course. Unless one counts Toad Harbor or Dolphin Shoals as beach-themed courses, Mario Kart 8 is the only game to not introduce any beach-themed courses.
Mario Kart 8 includes 48 courses in 12 cups, the most of any in the series.
Items and effects
Items (main series)
Throughout the races of the Mario Kart games, racers can pick up items out of Item Boxes. These items differ from game to game, but the following are complete lists of all 39 items from the main series. Items randomly shuffle in the Item Roulette after characters run into an Item Box. Tapping the item button decreases the amount of time it takes for the Item Roulette to select an item. If players do not select an item right away by pressing the item button, the computer automatically selects an item. The item chosen is influenced by the player's place in the race. Generally, racers closest to last place receive better items, and vice versa (this does not apply to computers). After the item is selected, players can press the item button to use it. In Mario Kart: Double Dash!! and onwards, certain damages such as being flipped, squashed or being picked up by Lakitu after falling off of the course makes players drop their item on to the road (for others to use/get hit by), or lose it all together. In Super Mario Kart, Mario Kart: Super Circuit and Mario Kart 8, the players will not lose their item they are carrying if they fall off the track.
* - Special Item in Mario Kart: Double Dash!!.
** - Only in Mario Kart Wii online tournaments.
*** - Only in the Mario Kart DS Mission Mode.
**** - Only in the Coin Runners battle game from Mario Kart Wii.
***** - Found in the game's data.
Items (arcade series)
* - Driver-specific item.
Throughout the Mario Kart series, there are various techniques that will help the driver get to the finish line during a race. There are nine of them in all and each one holds a special ability for the vehicle.
Appears in: All
The Rocket Start allows drivers to gain a speed boost out of the starting line when a race begins. By pressing and holding down the acceleration button at a certain point during the countdown, the vehicle's engine activates. When the light turns green, if the button press is timed properly, drivers receive a small boost. However, if drivers press the button too early, their engines burst, and they can't start the vehicle for a few seconds. If they press too late, the vehicles start normally as if there is no button press.
Appears in: Mario Kart: Double Dash!! (Co-Op Only)
The Double Dash!! works in the same manner as the Rocket Start, but with two drivers. Both players must press when the light turns green to activate the effect. When that happens, the kart will receive a big speed boost out of the starting line when a race begins, giving drivers a huge advantage. The technique is named after the game's subtitle.
Appears in: All
Drifting allows the player to cut through sharp corners. Prolonged drifting induces sparks, blue causing a Mini-Turbo and orange/red causing a Super Mini-Turbo. In Mario Kart Wii only karts perform Super Mini-Turbo boosts, but in Mario Kart 8, bikes and ATVs can also perform these techniques.
Appears in: All (undocumented in Super Mario Kart)
Mini-Turbos allow drivers to get a small boost after drifting for a long time. Mini-Turbos save time and improve the acceleration. From Mario Kart Wii onwards, if they drift even longer, the driver can perform a Super Mini-Turbo.
Slipstreaming is a type of speed boost. To perform it, the driver must trail behind another driver for a moment. If done correctly, the driver will suddenly go faster with blue lines surrounding them.
Appears in: Mario Kart Wii
The Wheelie is a technique unique to bikes in Mario Kart Wii and Mario Kart 8. It gives them a small boost in speed. This technique can be useful if the bike is on a straightway or if the bike is going to get hit by a POW Block. It is also featured in Mario Kart 8, where it does not provide a speed boost, is not controlled manually, and is purely aesthetic.
Appears in: Mario Kart: Double Dash!!
The Slide-Attack is a technique that can only be used in Mario Kart: Double Dash!!. When used, it will attack the kart to the left or right. This allows the player to steal an item from an opponent.
Appears in: Since Mario Kart Wii
Appears in: Mario Kart 8
The Spin Boost is a speed boost that only appears in anti-gravity mode in Mario Kart 8. When both drivers bump into each other, they spin around, resulting in a speed boost for both drivers, and when a driver bumps into a specific kind of obstacle, the driver spins around, resulting in a speed boost for the driver.
Throughout the Mario Kart series, there have been several games that feature different modes of play. The standards featured in each game are 50cc, 100cc, and 150cc. Other modes of play are also available. Different types of Battle Modes allow players to battle against each other in different competitions. Grand Prix Mode features different types of tournament classes as well, such as the Nitro and Retro Grand Prix.
Appears in: All
The Grand Prix (known as Mario Kart GP or simply Mario GP before Mario Kart: Double Dash!!) is a game mode in the Mario Kart series. In this mode, eight drivers (or 12 in Mario Kart Wii and Mario Kart 8) race a series of courses from a certain Cup and get points depending on their position when reaching the finish line. In some installments, there was an additional ranking system rating the quality of a player's race performance. After all of the tracks are finished, points are summed up and the three drivers with the most points get gold, silver, and bronze trophies at the award ceremony. Finishing a Grand Prix with a certain score sometimes unlocks other Cups, drivers, or vehicles. Starting with Mario Kart DS, the cups were seperated into two categories: Nitro, which features new courses, and Retro, which uses courses from previous titles.
Nitro Grand Prix
Appears in: Since Mario Kart DS
In Mario Kart DS, Mario Kart Wii, Mario Kart 7, and Mario Kart 8 (and technically, all past Mario Kart games as well), there is a section of the Grand Prix mode called Nitro Grand Prix. It is one of two sections of the Grand Prix mode. In the Nitro Grand Prix, there are four different cups to choose from: The Mushroom Cup, the Flower Cup, the Star Cup, and the Special Cup. This section of the Grand Prix contains 16 brand new courses.
In Mario Kart DS and Mario Kart Wii, in order to play the Star Cup, the player must place first in the Mushroom Cup and the Flower Cup (it does not matter which order). Then, in order to play the Special Cup, the player must place first in the Star Cup. By placing first in the Special Cup, the player will unlock something depending if it is played on 50cc, 100cc, 150cc, or Mirror.
For Mario Kart 7 and Mario Kart 8, in order to play the three remaining cups, the player must claim first place in the Mushroom Cup. Also, once the cup is unlocked, it is available for all engine classes.
Mario Kart: Super Circuit features a fifth cup in its Grand Prix, the Lightning Cup. In addition, Mario Kart: Double Dash!! also features a fifth cup known as the All-Cup Tour; in this cup players race through all sixteen courses in the game in a random order, though Luigi Circuit will always be the first course and Rainbow Road the last.
Retro Grand Prix
Appears in: Since Mario Kart DS
A new feature in Mario Kart DS that appears in all subsequent games is the Retro Grand Prix. It is a selectable section in Grand Prix mode. In Retro Grand Prix, all race courses are from past Mario Kart games. Within the Grand Prix, there are four cups able to choose from: The Shell Cup, the Banana Cup, the Leaf Cup, and the Lightning Cup.
To match the new additions each game introduces, retro tracks often receive changes in layout and detail when they reappear. In Mario Kart Wii, ramps and quarter pipes were added in many tracks to allow the racers to perform tricks, many of which were placed on newly created shortcuts. Mario Kart 7 added gliding and underwater sections to many returning tracks to make use of the game's new features. Some retro tracks in Mario Kart 8 make use of the anti-gravity feature, as well as the returning gliding and underwater driving and, unlike Mario Kart DS, Mario Kart Wii, and Mario Kart 7, most of the retro courses now have remixed orchestrated background music and underwent dramatic changes to their race track and background settings, putting them in a completely different setting.
In order to play the Leaf Cup, the player must place first in the Shell Cup and the Banana Cup. And in order to play the Lightning Cup, the player must place first in the Leaf Cup. By placing first in the Lightning Cup, the player will earn an unlockable driver or vehicle, depending on the engine class - 50cc, 100cc, 150cc, or Mirror. In Mario Kart 7 and Mario Kart 8 however, the player must place first in the Shell Cup first to unlock the next Retro Cup and once unlocked, it's available for all engine classes.
A similar feature appears in Mario Kart: Super Circuit, where all of the racecourses from Super Mario Kart reappear in five cups of four courses, as opposed to the original four cups of five courses. These are the Extra Mushroom Cup, Extra Flower Cup, Extra Lightning Cup, Extra Star Cup and the Extra Special Cup.
Appears in: All
Every mainstream Mario Kart game features a Time Trial mode. In this mode, players race through the set amount of laps for each course in the fastest time that they can. In Super Mario Kart and Mario Kart 64, every course is playable; in other games, only unlocked courses can be raced on, with more courses being unlocked as the player races on them in Grand Prix. Also, players start out with a certain amount of Mushrooms, depending on what their item status is. In games without item statuses, the player starts out with a Triple Mushroom. In Mario Kart 8, if the player lets the timer max out (9:59.999), the trial will end, and the times for each lap are split evenly.
Appears in: All
Battle Mode is a gameplay mode in the Mario Kart series. Some games have multiple battle modes. In Battle Mode, the objective is to defeat all the other players. All games feature Balloon Battle, and some of the more recent additions in the series have additional modes. Until Mario Kart Wii, Battle Mode did not have a time limit, unless one excludes the Shine Thief mode of Mario Kart: Double Dash!! and Shine Runners from Mario Kart DS.
Appears in: All
Each player has a certain number of Balloons, with three as the default amount. In Super Mario Kart, players' balloons pop when they are being hit by any item, such as Bananas or Koopa Shells. The last one standing wins. In Mario Kart 64 onwards, balloons were let go after being hit by any item, or after falling off the course before Lakitu picks up the player.
In Mario Kart DS, the system of the mode was slightly changed. Players now have five Balloons, but start out with only one - the rest had to be blown up via , by holding down or by stealing them from players by bumping into them with a mushroom. Only three could be out at a time, and the player would be eliminated if they had no balloons out, even if they had more in reserve. This also marks the first time Battle Mode is playable in single player.
In Mario Kart Wii, the mode was permanently changed, with the battles now timed by three minutes. Also, the score was based on how many balloons popped, and was not a survival game, unlike others. With each balloon lost, the player will give the opposite team a point. If the player loses their three balloons, they will not be eliminated, rather they will receive another three balloons and continue on with the battle, though with one less point. When the three minutes are up, the team with the most points wins.
Balloon Battle in Mario Kart 7 is similar to Mario Kart Wii, but it can be played by themselves, and the battles are now timed by two minutes, resulting in a larger variety of balloon colors.
Up to five balloons can be obtained in Mario Kart Wii and Mario Kart 7 by using a Mushroom to steal other's balloons.
In Mario Kart 8, the mode returns and now retains both the last-man standing and timed features from previous games, as well as being available to both single and multiplayer. However, Balloon Battle is now played on race courses rather than arenas. Players can now change the time limit ranging from one to five minutes before starting.
In this mode, all items are Bob-ombs, and players can stack up to five Bob-ombs per character on their kart. When another player is hit by a Bob-omb explosion, that player loses a point (if they have one) and the other player gains it. The player who reaches three points first wins the match (four points in three and four player mode).
Although this mode does not appear in Mario Kart 7, Nintendo has a community of the same name that allows players to play online. This is similar to Balloon Battle except Bob-ombs only appear as items. The code for this community is 05-2097-9533-2225. Players offline, however, can set items so that only Bob-ombs appear; the same can be done in Mario Kart 8 as well.
This game mode is similar to Shine Runners; the teams must collect as many coins as they can within the three-minute time limit. There are coins set on the stage from the beginning, and some that drop as the battle goes on. If a player with coins is hit by an item or falls off the stage, they will lose half of their total. The team with the most coins at the end of the time limit wins.
This battle mode has returned to Mario Kart 7 with some minor changes, this time players can only collect a maximum of ten coins within a two-minute time limit, and it can be played by themselves. If they get hit by an item, they will lose three coins instead.
Appears in: Mario Kart DS
Shine Runners replaces Shine Thief from Mario Kart: Double Dash!!. Instead of one Shine Sprite, there are nine Sprites that fall onto the stage. Shines can be obtained by running into them. If hit by an item, the player will lose one shine, which will then drop at a random spot on the stage. After one minute, players with the least Shine Sprites are out for the rest of the battle and another thirty seconds is added to the time limit. This continues until only one player is left and that person will be declared the winner.
Appears in: Mario Kart: Double Dash!!
In this mode, there is a Shine Sprite which can be found in the arena. As soon as a player has grabbed the Shine Sprite, a timer starts. The team that holds the Shine Sprite when time runs out wins. Other players can steal the Shine Sprite by using an item to hit the player holding it, and then taking the Sprite themselves. The timer is reset after this, but it starts at a lower amount each time. The number of players in the battle determines how long the Sprite must be held; a team must possess it for 60 seconds in a two-player game, 55 for three players, and 50 for four players.
Appears in: All
Versus (commonly shortened to VS.) is a mode much like Grand Prix, in which players race on courses that are selected by them.
In Super Mario Kart, the mode is called Match Race. In this mode, two players can square off against each other in a single five-lap race.
Mario Kart 64 also has VS. Mode but this time, up to four players can compete in a three-lap race.
In Mario Kart: Super Circuit, the VS mode can include up to four players. If only one Game Card is being used, all players race as Yoshis (not by choice) numerous times, gaining points depending on how many times the player wins. Only four courses can be played: Mario Circuit 1, Donut Plains 1, Ghost Valley 1, and Bowser Castle 1, four of the Super Mario Kart courses. If all players have their own game cartridge, then all tracks are available and all the playable characters can be used. It also becomes possible to to turn Item Boxes on or off, set the amount of laps (three or five) and also if all players start the race with a Triple Mushroom. VS mode is, like previous installments, not available in single player mode. The game also features a Quick Run mode, which shares similarities with VS mode.
In Mario Kart: Double Dash!!, the mode is mostly the same, except for some additions: all players can choose their racers and karts, and in the options menu, they can set the number of laps on every course and item variety. Additionally, by connecting multiple Nintendo GameCubes (up to eight) over a local area network using the Nintendo GameCube Broadband Adapter, up to 16 players (two per kart) can play a Versus match at one time. In the Select Mode menu on the LAN mode title screen, players can change the number of laps, course selection, and engine class.
Mario Kart DS and Mario Kart Wii feature a single-player VS mode, unlike previous installments. Also, unlike previous installments, VS mode acts more like Grand Prix mode with custom rules. In Mario Kart DS, the player will select their racer and kart, and then they can change CPU difficulty, course selection (randomly chosen or chosen by the player), engine class, the winning requirements, and whether to play in teams or not. In Mario Kart Wii, the player selects whether to play in teams or not, their racer and vehicle; if playing multiplayer, then both players select which team to be on. Team members are randomly chosen in both installments. Points are distributed based on standings at the end of the race, and the team with the most combined points wins. In the Download Play version in Mario Kart DS, up to eight players may play; however, if all players are only using one game cartridge, the racers are limited to course selection, and those who don't own the game cartridge must only play as varying colored Shy Guys.
For Mario Kart 7, players can customize the rules to their liking but this time, VS is only playable in multiplayer mode. Like with Mario Kart DS, when playing with others via Download Play, anyone playing that does not have a game cartridge must play as a Shy Guy and cannot customize their karts.
In Mario Kart 8, the mode returns now under the name VS Race. Players can still do VS Race alone like in Mario Kart DS and Mario Kart Wii.
Appears in: Mario Kart DS
The Mission Mode consists of a series of tasks that appear only in Mario Kart DS. The player must complete each mission in a restricted time, in a determined course with the character that plays in the mission. There are seven levels which have eight missions in each. Completing all the missions on a level results in the player unlocking the last mission of that level, which is a battle against a boss. Mission completion is commonly ranked by how fast the player completes the mission, with C being the lowest and three stars being the highest; after clearing an entire level, a rank will be given based on the average of the grades given in the individual missions. The missions that appear vary from collecting objects, defeating enemies using the items, versus races, and passing through numbered gates.
Name in other languages