Super Mario Kart

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Super Mario Kart
SMK BoxCover2.jpg
Developer(s) Nintendo EAD
Publisher(s) Nintendo
Platform(s) Super Nintendo Entertainment System, Virtual Console (Wii, Wii U, New 3DS)
Release date SNES:
Japan August 27, 1992
USA September 1, 1992, (re-released May 20, 1996 as Player's Choice)
Europe January 21, 1993
Virtual Console (Wii)
Japan June 9, 2009
USA November 23, 2009
Europe April 2, 2010
Australia April 2, 2010
Virtual Console (Wii U)
Japan June 19, 2013
Europe March 27, 2014
Australia March 28, 2014
USA August 6, 2014
Virtual Console (New 3DS)
Europe March 17, 2016
Australia March 18, 2016
USA March 24, 2016
Japan May 9, 2016
Genre Racing
Rating(s) SNES
ESRB:ESRB K-A.png - Kids to Adults
Virtual Console
ESRB:ESRB E.svg - Everyone
PEGI:PEGI 3.svg - Three years and older
CERO:CERO A.png - All ages
ACB:ACB G.svg - General
Mode(s) 1-2 players
Media SNES.png Cartridge
Media DL icon.svg Digital download
Wii U:
Media DL icon.svg Digital download
Nintendo 3DS:
Media DL icon.svg Digital download
Super Nintendo:
Wii U:
Nintendo 3DS:

Super Mario Kart is a racing game for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System and the first game of the Mario Kart series, as well as the game that sets precedents to fictional kart racing genre. It was first released in 1992 and re-released in 1996 as a Player's Choice title. It was re-released on the Wii's Virtual Console in Japan on June 9, 2009, North America on November 23, 2009, and in Europe and Australia on April 2, 2010. Super Mario Kart was re-released again on the Wii U's Virtual Console in Japan on June 19, 2013, Europe on March 27, 2014, Australia on March 28, 2014, and North America on August 6, 2014, and exclusively for the New Nintendo 3DS's Virtual Console in Europe on March 17, 2016, Australia on March 18, 2016, North America on March 24, 2016, and Japan on May 9, 2016. Part of this game is heavily based on another successful game, Super Mario World.

Modes of play[edit]

Mario GP[edit]

The first race of the Mario Kart GP is about to start.

The Mario GP is the main mode in Super Mario Kart. Here players can race against seven (six if in two-player mode) other CPU-controlled opponents in a five-course cup. The top four players receive points based on their ranking: first place earns the player nine points, second earns six, third earns three, and fourth earns one, while fifth and below get zero points. Players who rank fifth or below, can try again using one of three lives. If they rank fifth or below four times, the game ends. A single extra life can be earned by placing in the same position three times. The maximum score in a GP cup is forty-five, obtained by winning five times. The three best drivers move on to the award ceremony where they receive their trophies. Third place gives the player a bronze trophy, second gives silver and first gives gold (the player can watch the ceremony only when they place first: however, a protoype version has animations for second and third). Each race is five laps long. If players beat all cups in Class 150cc, the Message "Excellent driving, you are now a Super Mario Kart expert" pops up, thus officially telling players they have completed the game. If the player wants a harder challenge, they can hold A Button and Y Button at the character selection screen. This will make the character permanently small as if under the effect of a Lightning or Poison Mushroom until the player presses the buttons again.

Vs. Mode[edit]

This mode is two-player only: the players can race each other like if they were in a GP, only that CPU racers do not appear, they can freely choose the track where to race in. Black objects slide around the courses as well, and coming in contact with one will result in the kart spinning out and the object disappearing as if it were a Green Shell. The game keeps track of wins and losses of each player.

Time Trial[edit]

This one-player mode have the player to race through five laps of the selected track the fastest they can without items. The five faster times are recorded, as well as the fastest lap and the characters used, for each track.

Battle Mode[edit]

Donkey Kong Jr. and Mario in Battle Mode

Another two-player mode, it is completely different from a normal race and adds some variety to the game. For this mode, there are four square-shaped tracks that are the only selectable. The player's goal is using the items to pop the opponent's balloons. Each player has three balloons that can't be recovered in any way. The first to pop all the opponent's balloons wins.

Button controls[edit]


  • B Button - Accelerate, Rocket Start
  • A Button - Use items, stop Item Roulette
  • Start Button - Pause/Select
  • Select Button - Switch view
  • +Control Pad - Change option during the Menus/Steer
  • X Button - Switch view
  • Y Button - Brake
  • L / R - Drift


  • B Button - Accelerate, Rocket Start
  • A Button - Use items, stop Item Roulette
  • start - Pause/Select
  • select - Switch view
  • Classic Controller x Button - Switch view
  • Classic Controller y Button - Brake
  • Classic Controller L Button / Classic Controller R Button - Drift

Wii U[edit]

  • B - Accelerate, Rocket Start
  • A - Use items, stop Item Roulette
  • + - Pause/Select
  • - - Switch view
  • DPad/Lanalog - Change option during the Menus/Steer


The game features eight playable characters from the Mario series, such as Mario, Luigi, Yoshi and Bowser. However, some other characters from the series acts as obstacles in the game's tracks, like Thwomps, Monty Moles, Piranha Plants and Cheep Cheeps. Boos don't act as enemies, but both as item and as part of the Ghost Valley tracks' background.

Character selection screen.

As stated in the game's manual, Lakitu is the owner of all the racetracks, thus overseeing all races. It will appear on the track to start the race, to warn the player they are going backwards, and when they fall off the edge of the track or go out of bounds. If the latter happens, Lakitu will transport the racer back to track at the price of two Coins.


Super Mario Kart has eight available drivers, divided into statistically identical pairs of two. These four categories have no official name, but are referred in the manual as different classes. Later Mario Kart titles categorize characters into weight classes to organize their stats. The stats presented here are derived and inferred from the manual. [1]

Acceleration Top Speed Weight Handling
Medium High Medium Medium
Acceleration Top Speed Weight Handling
Very High Medium Medium Low
Acceleration Top Speed Weight Handling
Low Very High High Medium
Acceleration Top Speed Weight Handling
High Low Low High



Race courses[edit]

The game has 20 race courses and 4 battle courses, the first being divided in four cups. Aside from Rainbow Road, all of the courses are numbered.

Name Terrain and obstacles
SNES Mario Circuit 1 map.png Mario Circuit Terrain: Sandy

Obstacles: Oil Slick - The player spins out upon contact (similar to a Banana).
Pipes - Act like walls; they immediately stop racers who run into them.

SNES Donut Plains 1.png Donut Plains Terrain: Grassy

Obstacles: Monty Moles - They jump out of holes. If someone runs into one, they get caught on the kart and slow down racers until knocked off.
Water - The player falls in. Unfortunate racers who fall in have a few seconds to drive out, before Lakitu takes them out itself.
Pipes - They act the same as the ones in Mario Circuit.

SNES Ghost Valley 1.png Ghost Valley Terrain: Wooden

Obstacles: Falling walls - Once hit, it falls, leaving the abyss below open.

SNES Bowser Castle 1.png Bowser Castle Terrain: Stone

Obstacles: Thwomp - They smash down on the floor. Anyone caught under them at that moment will be flattened and unable to move, costing time.
Lava - Acts like water, but racers who fall in immediately get picked up by Lakitu.

SNES Choco Island 1.png Choco Island Terrain: Chocolate

Obstacles: Piranha Plants - The player again spins out if they touch these.
Chocolate Mud - The player has handling problems and is sligthly slower while in this.

SNES Koopa Beach 1.png Koopa Beach Terrain: Sand/water

Obstacles: Cheep Cheeps - The player spins out when touching these.
Deep water - Deep water is distinguished because it is darker. It acts like the water in Donut Plains.

SNES Vanilla Lake 1.png Vanilla Lake Terrain: Icy

Obstacles: The terrain is icy, thus the player has less traction.
Icy water - Acts like the water in Donut Plains, but if Lakitu fishes the player out, they appear frozen for a bit, but can still move when returned to the track.
Icy blocks - While not at the edges of the courses, they function exactly like the walls of the Ghost Valley courses.
Pipes - Act the same as in Mario Circuit courses.

SNES Rainbow Road.png Rainbow Road Terrain: Rainbow tiles

Obstacles: There are not any walls, so the player can fall from anywhere.
Rainbow Thwomps - The player spins out simply by touching them.

Battle courses[edit]


Items are obtained through ? Panels, scattered around the track. When the player passes over one, it will turn red (used) and not return orange (though in Battle Mode they did). Once a racer passes over one, with a few exceptions, they will receive an item in their box from the following:

Item Description Notes
SMKBanana.png SMK Banana.png
Banana Peel
When a kart hits a Banana Peel, it will spin out. Can be thrown backward and forward. Also used by Donkey Kong Jr. if he is CPU-controlled.
SMKGreenShell.png SMKGreenShell v2.png
Green Shell
The Green Shell will send an enemy into a spin if they are hit. Green Shell's can bounce off barriers. Throwing it backwards will cause it to remain stationary. Can be thrown backward and forward. Used by Koopa if CPU-controlled, but they will behave similar to Banana Peels even when thrown forward, and remain stationary.
SMKRedShell.png SMKRedShell v2.png
Red Shell
The Red Shell acts similarly to a Green Shell, but homes in on the target instead. It will not bounce off walls, however. Can only be thrown forward.
A Feather allows the user to perform a high jump, high enough to make create shortcuts normally impossible and to sail over obstacles and other racers. This is the only Mario Kart game where it appears as item.
A Mushroom is more common item than a Feather or a Star, and allows the user to boost. It can either be used to slam an opponent or drive over hazards such as sand and grass without losing speed.
The Star provides two benefits, allowing the user to receive a small speed boost and to become invulnerable to everything. Contact with other racers will cause them to spin out. Used also by Mario and Luigi if they are CPU-controlled. They will not receive a speed boost, however, and the effect does not last as long.
The Ghost turns the user invisible and steals an opponent's item. Only appears in Battle Mode and Match Race.
SMKCoin.png SMKCoin v2.png
The Coin adds two coins to the total coin count, increasing the users overall top speed. Doesn't appear in Battle Mode. Maximum benefit is achieved with 10 coins.
The Lightning Bolt shrinks all the racers except for the user, making them slower and vulnerable to being squashed by normal sized racers. The effect will wear after a brief period of time. Doesn't appear in Battle Mode.
Works similar to a Banana Peel. Usable only by Yoshi if he is CPU-controlled.
Similar to a Banana Peel, but oscillates from left to right on the spot, making them harder to pass safely. Usable only by Bowser if he is CPU-controlled.
Poison Mushroom
A stationary item. If one is run into, the victim shrinks as if hit by a Lightning Bolt. The racer who is already shrunk and runs into it returns to normal size. Usable only by Princess and Toad if they are CPU-controlled.


The rivals always finish in a particular order. In this case, though, Princess got a lower spot than normal.

Super Mario Kart has a different rival system from the rest of the series; the rivals contain one very fast driver, one fast driver, one medium driver, one slow driver and three very slow drivers. It is notable that when one of the three slower drivers gets hit, that kart will keep its place, while when one of the faster cars gets shot, it will usually resume its previous place very quickly unless unable to catch up fast enough before the race ends. For this reason, the drivers (except the human racer) will (if unaffected) always finish in the exact same order. Also, if the player tries to hit an opponent, the opponent jumps over the item a majority of the time.

The rivals for each driver are always the same, the list will be in the order the line up for the first race. It is possible to change the order if the rivals can't recover their place at the end (Eg. If someone is playing as Luigi and Yoshi finishes last, Yoshi will then become one of the three slower drivers while everybody takes the next position up). It happens mostly on 100cc and 150cc.

The rivals are determined by the current points standing, meaning that if Yoshi was still only second to the player, he will boost back to first position from the start.

Character Rival Order
Very Fast Fast Medium Slow Very Slow
Mario Donkey Kong Jr. Princess Peach Yoshi Luigi Toad Bowser Koopa Troopa
Luigi Yoshi Mario Bowser Koopa Troopa Princess Peach Donkey Kong Jr. Toad
Princess Peach Bowser Toad Mario Donkey Kong Jr. Luigi Yoshi Koopa Troopa
Yoshi Koopa Troopa Donkey Kong Jr. Princess Peach Bowser Mario Toad Luigi
Bowser Mario Luigi Princess Peach Yoshi Donkey Kong Jr. Toad Koopa Troopa
Donkey Kong Jr. Toad Bowser Koopa Troopa Luigi Princess Peach Mario Yoshi
Koopa Troopa Luigi Yoshi Princess Peach Mario Bowser Donkey Kong Jr. Toad
Toad Princess Peach Donkey Kong Jr. Mario Yoshi Luigi Koopa Troopa Bowser


Super Mario Kart was born out of the idea of making a two-player racing game following F-Zero, which was exclusively single-player.[2] The prototype initially only featured a generic "guy in overalls". The decision to include Mario characters and concepts was made three to four months in development, when the developers added Mario driving one of the karts because they were curious about how the game would look, and decided that it looked better.[2] The battle mode was implemented because the developers thought it would be a good idea to include a form of one-on-one battles that didn't involving competing for ranks during the races.[2]

Pre-release and unused content[edit]

Main article: List of Super Mario Kart pre-release and unused content

In addition to the above, a prototype cartridge of the game features several differences, such as the presence of animations on the podium screen when the player ranks 2nd or 3rd place, a music track for Vanilla Lake 1 that does not appear in the final build and a different Battle Course 3 set in Choco Island.


Super Mario Kart met with very favorable reviews. The game was placed 32nd in the 100th issue of Nintendo Power's "100 best Nintendo games of all time" in 1997.[3]. In the book, Guinness World Records: Gamer's Edition for 2009, Super Mario Kart was placed as the #1 best console game. The game was placed 33rd in the 200th issue of GameInformer's "Top 200 Games of all Time" in December 2009. The game was awarded the Most Critically Acclaimed Mario Kart Game by Guinness Book of World Records Gamer's Edition 2009 - 2014.

Super Mario Kart is the 3rd best selling game for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, selling 8.76 million copies worldwide as of December 31, 2009.


Main article: List of Super Mario Kart staff

References to other games[edit]

References in later games[edit]


For this subject's image gallery, see Gallery:Super Mario Kart.


Main article: List of Super Mario Kart media
Audio.png Title theme - The theme for title screen

File info
Having trouble playing?


Main article: List of Super Mario Kart glitches

Names in other languages[edit]

Language Name Meaning
Japanese スーパーマリオカート
Sūpā Mario Kāto
Super Mario Kart
Korean 슈퍼 마리오 카트
Syupeo Mario Kateu
Super Mario Kart


  • In the Japanese version of Super Mario Kart, every character has a winning animation that involves a bottle of champagne. Bowser and Princess Toadstool drink champagne in their animations, which goes against Nintendo of America's policy on the depiction of alcohol, as it was considered inappropriate for younger children. In the Western releases of the game, Bowser and Toadstool merely toss and catch the bottles.
  • This is the only game in the Mario Kart series to have five courses per cup, as opposed to four in later games (not counting All-Cup Tour in Mario Kart: Double Dash!!).
  • This is also the only game in the Mario Kart series where Wario, Donkey Kong, the Spiny Shell, the Triple Mushrooms, and the Triple Red and Green Shells do not appear. They are introduced in the next installment of the series, Mario Kart 64.
  • Yoshi, Bowser, and Donkey Kong Jr. are the only drivers in this game to have their own taunts when surpassing other racers regardless if they are being used by the player or CPU. The others do not have their own taunts and instead the standard beep is heard when surpassing other racers but can only be heard when used by the player.


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b c Iwata Asks: Mario Kart Wii (accessed March 22 2012)
  3. ^, retrieved 6/4/2009