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Karts are the main vehicles in the Mario Kart series. They can come in various sizes and colors for each character. While early Mario Kart games only depicted one kart, the Pipe Frame, subsequent games have introduced newer karts with their own distinct appearances and stats such as speed, acceleration and handling. Usually, the kart that is closest to average in terms of stats in each game is defined as the Standard Kart.
Karts have also appeared in other game series and media such as in the Super Smash Bros. series, comics, and toys.
Mario Kart series
Super Mario Kart
In Super Mario Kart, Pipe Frames are the only kart in the game. The term "kart" also applies to the extra lives a driver has in Grand Prix mode. In the mode, all drivers start out with three karts, and one kart is lost when a driver comes in 5th place or lower or by retrying a race. When all karts are lost, the player is forced to exit to the title screen. It is possible to regain one more kart in the Grand Prix by placing the same position three times in a row.
Mario Kart 64
Pipe Frames return in Mario Kart 64, with slight design changes and new sounds. Depending on the characters that use them, karts pertain to one of three weight classes: light, medium, and heavy. Lights are karts that show a high speed but a fairly low endurance. Medium karts show all-around traits, whereas Heavy karts have high endurance but poor speed.
Mario Kart: Super Circuit
Pipe Frames reappear in Mario Kart: Super Circuit with the same traits as in Mario Kart 64. The player can press to sound the horn on the kart during a race in the game.
Mario Kart: Double Dash!!
In Mario Kart: Double Dash!!, there are new karts with new appearances and styles. Most of them reflect a character's special characteristics, such as Mario's Red Fire, which is a red and blue-colored all-terrain vehicle, rendering Mario's letter M emblem on its body and wheels. In this game, the karts have a seat on the front where a character drives the kart and a platform in the rear of the vehicle where the second character is able to use an item, taken from the Item Boxes. Similarly to previous games, the karts are split in the Light, Medium, and Heavy weight groups, though drivers can only use karts that fit their own weight. The Parade Kart breaks this rule, being usable for any character. The player can press the item button (/) (without the rear character holding an item) to sound the horn, and the rear player makes a small pose.
Every kart has its own stats, which are qualified by the amount of stars on its acceleration, speed, and weight. In general however, lightweight karts have a high acceleration, but a fair low speed and endurance. Medium-weight karts have balanced stats, whereas heavyweight karts show a high top speed and endurance, and low acceleration. There are twenty-one karts in the game.
Mario Kart Arcade GP sub-series
In Mario Kart Arcade GP, all the characters use a kart with rounded details and a solid build as opposed to other previous Mario Kart games. However, in Mario Kart Arcade GP 2, the characters have an option to choose a secondary kart that was made for them. In Mario Kart Arcade GP DX, there are now different karts that can be used by drivers.
Just as in Mario Kart: Double Dash!!, all the karts are rated by the amount of the stars for each aspect. Regarding to the character selected, they can be light, medium, or heavy, emphasizing one of these aspects for the vehicle available. Some karts return in later installments and are listed in bold.
Mario Kart Arcade GP
Mario Kart Arcade GP 2
Mario Kart Arcade GP DX
Mario Kart DS
In Mario Kart DS, Standard Karts replace Pipe Frames in the game. These karts are redesigned, having white bumpers and a frame of different color palettes that matches the character's custom color. The emblem of the character is shown over the hood, although the player can replace it with their own in the emblem maker option. Additionally, every character can select at least one of three vehicles (excluding Shy Guy, having only his Standard SG), exclusive for being rather different in design and stats than the character's Standard Kart. While a Standard Kart has plain stats, the other vehicles can have a high speed, acceleration or items ratio, depending on what the vehicle is made for. Every Kart is qualified by six ratings:
Mario Kart Wii
In Mario Kart Wii, karts are once again redesigned with various details added than they appeared formerly. Similar to Mario Kart DS, the typical go-karts receive the name of Standard Karts, and are classified according to the size of the vehicle, split in three groups: Standard Kart S for small-sized characters; Standard Kart M for medium size characters and Standard Kart L for large characters. Though weight classes are replaced for size classes, the general aspects of the karts are the same as appeared throughout the series.
In addition, each racer can vary the kart's custom stats with the bonus points they have for each feature and select other five karts in the determined character's size. Unlike in other games, every kart has a unique color scheme for the players using it. Unlike Bikes, Karts cannot perform wheelies. However, they can release a more powerful boost by drifting than a bike, depending how long the respective button is pressed. Compared to bikes, karts generally offer superior speed and weight in exchange for being weaker in every other stat. Additionally, bikes have six trick variants while karts only have three.
Mario Kart 7
Karts return in Mario Kart 7, with the Standard Karts having a similar design to their appearance from Mario Kart DS. Karts now deploy gliders if a character is propelled in the air from a high place to help them glide, and when underwater, a propeller appears at the back to help push the kart along. Players are able to customize their karts as well.
Mario Kart 8 / Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
Karts return in Mario Kart 8. In the game, kart wheels go horizontal when racing in anti-gravity. Like in Mario Kart 7, the players are able to choose the bodies, wheels, and gliders for their karts. The Pipe Frame and Gold Standard return from Mario Kart 7 with slightly different appearances. The player can also press the player icon on the to sound the horn (or press the item button when there's no item being held), a feature absent since Mario Kart: Double Dash!!. Karts also come equipped with lights, which turn on when karts enter a tunnel or a dark area.
Three additional karts are available for free (the GLA, W 25 Silver Arrow and the 300 SL Roadster), while eight more are paid DLC. In the enhanced Nintendo Switch port Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, all the kart parts from Mario Kart 8 return as base game content, including the DLC parts, and some new karts are added.
Mario Kart Tour
Karts make their reappearance in Mario Kart Tour, where they are now acquired randomly through Pipes, which cost rubies. In addition, Karts are sorted into three rarities: Normal, Super, and High-End, with the last ones being rarer, and overall being more powerful. Unlike in previous games, the player cannot customize their karts, and karts no longer have different stats. Karts now boost the points obtained in racers, and all of them have different skills which can also boost points.
"Die Jagd nach dem Nintendo 64: Krawall im All"
In the Club Nintendo comic "Die Jagd nach dem Nintendo 64: Krawall im All", Mario and Luigi are seen driving karts in their mission to find a spaceship shaped like the Nintendo 64. They compete against Wario and Bowser and they drop Banana Peels to make Wario and Bowser crash. The karts in this comic resemble those from Mario Kart 64. Unlike their video game equivalents, though, they can also be turned into jet skis by pushing a button on their steering-wheels.
Mario Kirby Meisaku Video
A Kart resembling a Pipe Frame appears in the Mario segment of the Mario Kirby Meisaku Video where Mario drives it during his pursuit of W. After being attacked by some monsters, the kart spins out near a vegetable garden.
Karts are commonly seen in the Mario Kart adaptions of Super Mario-Kun, where they are used in races against other racers.
Mario Kart 8 From the Pit
Super Mario Maker
Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door
In Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, one of Luigi's adventures takes place at Circuit Break Island, where the citizens have kart races every day. Luigi begs Torque to let him drive a kart, called the Big Green 01, and instantly wrecks it. Unable to pay and repair the kart, Torque follows Luigi to Rogueport.
Paper Mario: Color Splash
In Paper Mario: Color Splash, after Mario collects the green Big Paint Star from the Emerald Circus, a kart flies off the map. When the Big Paint Stars form a rainbow road up to Black Bowser's Castle, Luigi drives to Port Prisma in a green kart, and he later transports Mario and Huey to the castle. After Mario and Huey defeat Black Bowser and rescue Princess Peach, Luigi, Princess Peach, and Mario drive back to Port Prisma in the kart.
Paper Mario: The Origami King
In Paper Mario: The Origami King, Luigi uses his kart to drive Mario to Toad Town, stopping in front of Princess Peach's Castle. Later, the kart is seen tipped over at the castle grounds, and Luigi drives it again after being rescued from inside a wall. Near the end of the game, Luigi finds the Key to Peach's Castle in his kart's tailpipe.
Super Mario Run
In Super Mario Run, Mario and his kart appears as a statue.
In the Nintendogs, it is possible to find Mario, Peach, and Bowser Karts from Mario Kart DS, They play the GCN Mario Circuit, GCN Peach Beach, and Bowser's Castle music from Mario Kart: Double Dash!!, respectively, when used. Mario and Peach Karts also return Nintendogs + Cats, with the Bowser Kart being replaced by the Yoshi Kart. When used, Mario, Peach and Yoshi karts play the Mario Circuit, DS Peach Gardens, and DS Yoshi Falls music from Mario Kart Wii, respectively.
Super Smash Bros. series
Super Smash Bros. Melee Trophy
Super Smash Bros. Brawl
Karts make a brief appearance in Super Smash Bros. Brawl. Unlike in Melee, where they appear as trophies, they are obstacles for the Mario Circuit battle stage. All the karts are as seen in Mario Kart DS, driven by red Shy Guys competing a race, while characters carry out their battle there. The karts tend to pass in the road where contestants fight, dealing damage to anybody who makes contact with them. Characters can use their moves against karts to send them flying away. Unlike how they looked in Mario Kart DS, Karts come in various colors, and their bumpers and emblems are colored differently as well.
Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS / Wii U
Karts driven by Shy Guys reappear in Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS on the Rainbow Road stage, as well as in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U on both the new Mario Circuit stage and the one returning from Super Smash Bros. Brawl. Mario, Luigi, Peach, Bowser, and Donkey Kong were also seen driving karts in Rosalina's trailer.
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