|First release||Super Mario Kart|
August 27, 1992
|Latest release||Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit|
October 16, 2020
|Spin-offs||Mario Kart Arcade GP|
Mario Kart[a] is a series of kart racing games and a spin-off Mario franchise developed and published by Nintendo. Players compete in go-kart races while using various power-up items. It features characters and courses mostly from the Mario series as well as other gaming franchises such as The Legend of Zelda, Animal Crossing, F-Zero, and Splatoon.
The series was launched in 1992 with Super Mario Kart on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, to critical and commercial success. The Mario Kart series totals fourteen games, with six on home consoles, three on handheld consoles, four arcade games co-developed with Namco, and one for mobile phones. The latest game in the series, Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit, was released on the Nintendo Switch in October 2020. Over 176.64 million copies in the series have been sold worldwide.
In the Mario Kart series, players compete in go-kart races, controlling one of a selection of characters, mainly from the Mario franchise. Up to twelve characters can compete in each race (varying per game).
Gameplay is enhanced by 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, red and green Shells to be thrown at opponents, Banana peels, and Fake Item Boxes as hazards. The game chooses an item based on the player's current position in the race. For example, players lagging far behind may receive more powerful items, such as Bullet Bills which give the player a bigger speed boost depending on the place of the player, while the leader may only receive small defensive items, such as Shells or Bananas and occasionally coins. Called rubber banding, this gameplay mechanism allows other racers a realistic chance to catch up to the leading racer. They can perform driving techniques during the race such as rocket starts, slipstreaming, drifting, and mini-turbos.
Each new game has introduced new gameplay elements, such as new circuits, items, modes, and playable characters.
Each game has a variety of modes. The following five modes recur most often in the series:
The debut game in the Mario Kart series was Super Mario Kart released for the SNES in 1992. Its development was overseen by Shigeru Miyamoto, the Japanese designer of many successful Nintendo games including Super Mario Bros. Darran Jones of NowGamer suggests that the success of Super Mario Kart resulted from the Super Mario characters, and being a new type of racing game.
|1992||Super Mario Kart|
|1996||Mario Kart 64|
|2001||Mario Kart: Super Circuit|
|2003||Mario Kart: Double Dash|
|2005||Mario Kart Arcade GP|
|Mario Kart DS|
|2007||Mario Kart Arcade GP 2|
|2008||Mario Kart Wii|
|2011||Mario Kart 7|
|2013||Mario Kart Arcade GP DX|
|2014||Mario Kart 8|
|2017||Mario Kart 8 Deluxe|
|Mario Kart Arcade GP VR|
|2019||Mario Kart Tour|
|2020||Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit|
Nintendo Switch Online re-release
|Wii||Wii U||3DS||New 3DS||Switch||Android /iOS|
|1992||Super Mario Kart||SNES||Does not appear||Does not appear|
|1996||Mario Kart 64||Nintendo 64||Does not appear||Does not appear||Does not appear|
|2001||Mario Kart: Super Circuit||Game Boy Advance||Does not appear||[nb 1]||[nb 1]||Does not appear|
|2003||Mario Kart: Double Dash||Nintendo GameCube||†||Does not appear||Does not appear||Does not appear||Does not appear||Does not appear|
|2005||Mario Kart DS||Nintendo DS||Does not appear||†||†||Does not appear||Does not appear|
|2008||Mario Kart Wii||Wii||‡||†||Does not appear||Does not appear||Does not appear||Does not appear|
|2011||Mario Kart 7||Nintendo 3DS||Does not appear||Does not appear||‡||‡||Does not appear||Does not appear|
|2014||Mario Kart 8||Wii U||Does not appear||‡||Does not appear||Does not appear||Does not appear||Does not appear|
|2017||Mario Kart 8 Deluxe||Nintendo Switch||Does not appear||Does not appear||Does not appear||Does not appear||‡||Does not appear|
|2019||Mario Kart Tour||Android/iOS||Does not appear||Does not appear||Does not appear||Does not appear||Does not appear||‡|
|2020||Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit||Nintendo Switch||Does not appear||Does not appear||Does not appear||Does not appear||‡||Does not appear|
In January 2022, Dr. Serkan Toto, an industry analyst for GamesIndustry.biz indicated that a new entry in the Mario Kart series (referred to by some as Mario Kart 9) was "in active development" at Nintendo. The game would feature "a new twist". This rumor ended up being a DLC for the 2017 Mario Kart 8 Deluxe game, called Booster Course Pass.
|Super Mario Kart||1992||8.76||94%||94/100|
|Mario Kart 64||1996||9.87||87%||83/100|
|Mario Kart: Super Circuit||2001||5.90||92%||93/100|
|Mario Kart: Double Dash||2003||6.96||87%||87/100|
|Mario Kart DS||2005||23.60||91%||91/100|
|Mario Kart Wii||2008||37.38||82%||82/100|
|Mario Kart 7||2011||18.98||85%||85/100|
|Mario Kart 8||2014||8.46||88%||88/100|
|Mario Kart 8 Deluxe||2017||55.46||92%||92/100|
|Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit||2020||1.27||75/100|
The Mario Kart series is critically acclaimed. Nintendo Power named it one of the greatest multiplayer experiences, citing the diversity in game modes and the entertainment value.
Guinness World Records listed six 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 Super Mario Kart number 1 of the top 50 console games of all time based on initial impact and lasting legacy. Super Mario Kart was inducted into the World Video Game Hall of Fame in 2019.
Like the Super Mario series, the Mario Kart series is a commercial success with 176.64 million copies sold in total. It is currently the most successful racing game franchise of all time. Super Mario Kart is the fourth-best-selling Super Nintendo Entertainment System game with 8.76 million copies sold. Mario Kart 64 is the second-best-selling game for the Nintendo 64 (behind Super Mario 64), at 9.87 million copies. Mario Kart: Double Dash is the second-best-selling GameCube game (next to Super Smash Bros. Melee) with 6.96 million copies sold. Mario Kart Wii is the second-best-selling in the series and is the second-best-selling Wii game (next to Wii Sports) at 37.38 million copies. Mario Kart 8 is the best-selling Wii U game at 8.46 million total copies sold. It was the fastest-selling Wii U game with 1.2 million copies shipped in North America and Europe combined on its first few days since launch, until Super Smash Bros. for Wii U. The enhanced port for the Nintendo Switch, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, is the fastest-selling game in the series with 459,000 units sold in the United States in one day of its launch. It is the highest-selling Nintendo Switch game with a total of 55.46 million copies worldwide, outperforming the Wii U version. Both versions have a combined total of 63.92 million copies sold, making it the best-selling game in the series, and also the best selling Mario game as a whole.
The handheld games are commercial successes. Mario Kart: Super Circuit is the fourth-best-selling Game Boy Advance game at 5.9 million copies. The second portable game, Mario Kart DS, is the third-best-selling Nintendo DS game and the best-selling portable game in the series with a total of 23.6 million copies. Mario Kart 7 is the best-selling Nintendo 3DS game as of March 2023 at 18.98 million copies.
The Mario Kart series has had a range of merchandise. This includes a slot car racer series based on Mario Kart DS, which comes with Mario and Donkey Kong figures and Wario and Luigi are separate. A line of radio-controlled karts are controlled by Game Boy Advance-shaped controllers, and feature Mario, Donkey Kong, and Yoshi. There are additional, larger karts which are radio-controlled by a GameCube-shape controller. Many racer figurines have been made. Sound Drops were inspired by Mario Kart Wii with eight sounds including the Spiny Shell and the race start countdown. A land-line telephone features Mario holding a lightning bolt while seated in his kart. K'Nex released Mario Kart Wii, Mario Kart 7, and Mario Kart 8 sets. LINE has released an animated sticker set with 24 stickers based on Mario Kart 8 and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. Nintendo's own customer rewards program Club Nintendo released a Mario Kart 8 soundtrack, a Mario Kart Wii-themed stopwatch, and three 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. In 2018, Monopoly Gamer features a Mario Kart themed board game with courses from Mario Kart 8 serving as properties, ten playable characters as tokens (pingas) and a special die with power-ups. In 2019, Hot Wheels released Mario Kart sets of cars and tracks. In commemoration of Mario Day celebrations for March 10, 2021, Hot Wheels also released a Mario Kart track set based on Rainbow Road on June 24, 2021. In 2020, for the Super Mario Bros. 35th Anniversary, Cold Stone Creamery released Mario themed desserts including a Rainbow Road themed ice cream cake, from September 30 to December 15.
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. MariCar's English website warned customers not to throw "banana peels" or "red turtle shells". The service is popular with tourists.
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.
In February 2017, Nintendo sued MariCar over copyright infringement for renting unauthorized costumes of Nintendo characters and using their images to promote its business. In September 2018, MariCar was ordered to stop using the characters and pay Nintendo ¥10 million in damages.
Main article: Mario Kart: Bowser's Challenge
Universal Destinations & Experiences' immersive Super Nintendo World areas in Universal Studios Japan and Universal Studios Hollywood feature the Mario Kart: Bowser's Challenge ride as their primary "anchor" attraction. Utilizing innovative augmented reality technology and dark ride set design, guests travel through several environments from Mario Kart 8, including Rainbow Road. The Japan version of the attraction includes a Mario Kart themed shop called "Mario Motors", and a nearby "Pit Stop Popcorn" food stand.
Starting with its 2018–19 season, electric open wheel racing series Formula E added a so-called "attack mode", which allows a driver to gain a temporary speed boost if they take an alternate lane (highlighted on television via augmented reality computer graphics). The concept has been described by members of the press and by series CEO Alejandro Agag as inspired by Mario Kart.