Mario Kart is a series of racing video games published by Nintendo on various consoles, featuring a number of characters from the company's Mario franchise.
The goal of the games is to traverse multiple race tracks based on locations seen in the Mario franchise. The player can choose their own character and kart parts (Mario Kart 7 onwards). Adding to the mayhem and competition is a large selection of items that players can use to either speed them up or take out opponents.
Super Mario Kart is the very first Mario Kart game, released in 1992 for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. It's the only game that has Donkey Kong Jr. as a playable character, and the only one where Donkey Kong and Wario (not created yet) don't appear.
Mario Kart 64 is the second Mario Kart game, released in 1996 for the Nintendo 64. It replaced Donkey Kong Jr. with Donkey Kong and Koopa Troopa with Wario, and the two characters have been much more popular than the characters they replaced. Kamek was also scheduled but was scrapped from the final product. It's the first game of the series with 3D tracks, including hills, slopes, and tunnels. This wasn't possible due to the Mode 7 graphics of the SNES. It introduced a total of seven new items, the most out of any Mario Kart game. New items added included the Spiny Shell, Fake Item Box, Golden Mushroom, Triple Green Shell, Triple Red Shell, Banana Bunch, and Triple Mushroom.
Mario Kart: Super Circuit is the third Mario Kart game, released in 2001 for the Game Boy Advance. It retains the Mario Kart 64 roster, although there was a rumor that Waluigi would've been an unlockable character. (His real first appearance as a playable character in the series was on Double Dash!!). This is the first game to feature Retro Stages, namely all the SNES tracks since this game reverts to Mode 7. However, the much more powerful hardware allows dedicated tracks, much more complex backgrounds and much larger tracks (Rainbow Road GBA using the space of SNES Rainbow Road, squared)
Mario Kart: Double Dash!! is the fourth Mario Kart game, released in 2003 for the Nintendo GameCube. It earns the name Double Dash!! for having two players on the same kart, working as a team: the Driver and the item thrower. Therefore, instead of the usual 8 starter characters, this game doubled the number to 16. It also is the first game in the series to have unlockable characters: Toad, Toadette, Petey Piranha, and King Boo, which boosts the total up to 20. It also sees the return of Koopa Troopa. This is the first Mario Kart game in 100% 3D. It also introduced five new items: the Chain Chomp (the predecessor to the newer Bullet Bill), Heart, Bowser Shell, Giant Banana, and Bob-omb.
Mario Kart DS is the fifth Mario Kart game (sixth including Mario Kart Arcade GP). This game was released in 2005 for the Nintendo DS. It is the only game in the series that features R.O.B. as a playable character, and the very first one including a bike as a usable vehicle (Waluigi's Zipper). This game also featured emblems, for use on the vehicles for online play. It introduced two common Mario enemies as items: the Blooper and Bullet Bill. It also added a similar variant to the Banana Bunch: the Triple Banana.
Mario Kart Arcade GP 2 is the second Mario Kart arcade game (seventh including the whole series).
Mario Kart Wii is the sixth Mario Kart game (eighth including the arcade games). This game is for the Wii. It includes bikes into the gameplay along with Karts, each with their own strengths and differences. This game's also the first one which pits twelve racers in each race instead of eight. Unlockable Mii's were introduced, for outfit A, players must win the 100cc Special Cup, for outfit B, players must get ALL 32 fast staff ghosts. This game introduced a New Super Mario Bros. power-up called the Mega Mushroom and the POW Block from the Mario Bros. arcade game. It also added a completely new item that is infamous for being a double-edged sword: the Thunder Cloud.
Mario Kart 7 is, as its name implies, the seventh Mario Kart game (ninth including the arcade games) Released in 2011, this game is a 3DS exclusive. It introduced the characters Metal Mario, Honey Queen, Wiggler, and Lakitu. It also introduces gliding and underwater driving to the Mario Kart series, as well as kart customization. Waluigi was planned to be included in this game, but was scrapped due to time constraints. Miis also make a return in this game; to get them, players must win either the 50cc, 100cc or 150cc Lightning Cup or the Special Cup. It is also the first game in the series to include open circuits.
This game also brings the Coins back, which were absent for 10 years, and a famous Super Mario Bros. item curiously missing for all that time: the Fire Flower. It also introduced the Super Leaf and the Lucky Seven.
Mario Kart 8 is the eighth Mario Kart game (eleventh including the arcade games), released in May 2014 for the Wii U. Anti-gravity is the brand new feature of the game, allowing the racers to drive on tracks that are upside down, vertical or sideways. Bikes, Gliding, and underwater features return, as well as kart customization. Miis return to this game and can be unlocked if the player wins any cup on the 50cc, 100cc, 150cc or 150cc mirror. It is the first game in the series that features the Koopalings from Super Mario Bros. 3 as playable characters, along with Link, Pink Gold Peach, Tanooki Mario, Baby Rosalina & Cat Peach, with Waluigi making his return to the series after being absent in Mario Kart 7. It introduced four new items: the Potted Piranha Plant, Super Horn, Crazy Eight, and Boomerang Flower. The Coin can also be obtained from an Item Box, just like in Super Mario Kart.
Mario Kart 8 is also the first Mario Kart game to include:
- Downloadable DLC packs, which comes with 3 new characters, vehicles, parts, and 8 tracks.
- Live band-composed music
- 200cc mode
- Mario Kart TV
- Miiverse community.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is a Nintendo Switch port for Mario Kart 8 and the ninth installment overall (twelfth if including the Arcade games). It brings back all the features from the original, including all DLC, alongside some new additions. New characters include Bowser Jr., Dry Bones, King Boo, the Inklings (both Boy and Girl which have colors that can be swapped out), and Gold Mario (a skin for Metal Mario). The male and female Villagers have been separated. It also brings back some old items such as the Boo which was last seen in Mario Kart DS and the Feather which was last seen in the first installment (but is now only restricted to Battle Mode). There are no new tracks, but the battle system was revamped. Every mode of Battle Mode returns (except Shine Runners, which was reworked into Shine Thief) and a new one has been added: Renegade Roundup. There are a few new options added to the rules of VS/Battle Modes (most notably the maximum of 48 races). Every character, mode, and course is available from the start. The only unlockable features included in this game are kart parts and Gold Mario.
Mario Kart Tour is a Mario Kart installment released on mobile phones and is the tenth installment in the series overall (thirteenth if counting the arcade games). It requires a Nintendo Account to play, the first game in the series to do so. The game is always played in portrait orientation, and utilizes touch controls in addition to tilt controls
Unlike previous installments, characters are not unlocked by completing challenges in a certain way, but rather through a loot box system. At the start of the game, once players finish the tutorial, they are allowed to fire a Warp Pipe (serving as the loot box) to get either Toad or Toadette. In this game, characters and kart parts have three tiers of rarity: Normal, Super, and High-End. While Normal characters and items are more common, Super and High-End items and characters have higher top speeds, coin-earning rates, chances of picking up mid-race items, and more favorable courses.
New to the Mario Kart series, Mario Kart Tour allows players to get up to three items at once, and in the chance the character gets three of the same item, they will activate the brand-new Frenzy mode, where they will have an unlimited supply of the item and invincibility for a set time. Each character also has a special item exclusive to them that other characters cannot obtain via the item roulette. Coins are now used as currency in this game, with a new premium currency, Rubies, added alongside it, which is used to fire the Warp Pipe to unlock new drivers, karts, and gliders.
Additionally, Cups are now implemented into the new racing system, Tours. Tours last for two weeks, and include multiple courses across different Cups. Each Cup includes three tracks and a challenge, with tracks having a reverse version (labeled "R") or has more opportunities to perform tricks (labeled "T"). Each race utilizes a point system, with points earned by doing tricks, taking down other racers, and finishing in the top three spots after a race. Depending on the number of points earned, the player earns Grand Stars, which they use to progress in the Tour. Additionally, a subscription service, called the Gold Pass, was introduced. Using it allows the player to participate in additional challenges, play in 200cc mode, and unlock Gold Pass-exclusive parts. The player is placed on a two-week trial period, and is automatically charged $4.99 a month if they do not cancel the trial before the deadline.