|Mario Kart (series)|
|First Game||Super Mario Kart (1992)|
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Super Mario Kart was the first Mario Kart game to be released. The game had a total of eight playable characters and 20 different racecourses to select from. This was the only title featuring five courses for a Grand Prix; all later instalments only consisted of four. Super Mario Kart was also the only Mario Kart game to feature Donkey Kong Jr. as a playable character; he was replaced by Donkey Kong in all subsequent titles. Koopa Troopa was also playable in the game, but did not reprise this role until Mario Kart: Double Dash!!. Though the game was on a 16-bit system, it featured areas rendered in three-dimensions using two-dimensional sprites, giving the graphics depth and a more-realistic feel. This particular Mario Kart game was heavily influenced by Super Mario World, with some graphics and locations taken directly from that earlier title. Yoshi's noises from Super Mario World were also present, as was a computer-generated "hoomph" for Donkey Kong Jr.; actual voice acting was not yet possible.
Mario Kart 64 was the second Mario Kart game, and the first to include three-dimensional models for the characters and courses. It was the first Mario Kart title to feature Donkey Kong and Wario as playable characters, who replaced Donkey Kong Jr. and Koopa Troopa, respectively. The game featured 16 normal racecourses, as well as four battle courses. Mario Kart 64 modified several gameplay mechanics from Super Mario Kart, and set many precedents that would be continued in the series going forward, among them being four courses per cup, introducing Mirror Mode (which mirrors the turns on every course), and giving each racecourse its own name and aesthetic instead of basing them all on a limited amount of locales. Mario Kart 64 also introduced Item Boxes, small ghostly blocks that grant items when driven through, replacing the ? Panels that appeared previously. Mario Kart 64 included several aspects from Super Mario 64 into its courses, including allowing players to drive through a replica of the courtyard of Princess Peach's Castle by travelling off-road on Royal Raceway.
Mario Kart: Super Circuit was the first Mario Kart title to be released for a handheld gaming system. It was highly influenced by its two home console predecessors, and even brought back all twenty courses from Super Mario Kart (albeit without hazards). Super Circuit was the first Mario Kart game to feature more than just the Mushroom, Flower, Star, and Special Cups, as it included Thunder Cup as well in order to match the amount of courses that Super Mario Kart had. This game also has a feature that allowed players to swap ghost data via the use of a Game Boy Advance connection cord. Super Circuit is unique in that it is the only Mario Kart game not to introduce any new playable characters into the series, instead having the same roster as Mario Kart 64.
Mario Kart: Double Dash!!, the fourth game to be released in the franchise, introduced many new features in order to innovate the series forwards. As per the game's title, Double Dash!! is unique in that it allows for two characters to race together in a single kart, with one driving the vehicle while their partner uses items; and pressing the Z button allows them to switch positions at will. This partner mechanic allowed both characters to hold items simultaneously. Double Dash!! also introduced Special Items, items that only specific characters could obtain through the returning Item Boxes and new Double Item Boxes. Additionally, for the first (and currently only) time in the series, players were able to compete on all of the game's courses in Grand Prix mode through the introduction of All-Cup Tour, which placed each of the racetracks in a random order (barring Luigi Circuit and Rainbow Road, which would always be first and last, respectively). Mario Kart: Double Dash!! also included the addition of two new game modes in Battle Mode: Shine Thief, which saw players chasing after a Shine Sprite and trying to keep it for a set amount of time, and Bob-omb Blast, which saw players trying to be the first to attain five consecutive hits on enemies using Bob-ombs. Just as Super Mario Kart was heavily based on Super Mario World, Double Dash!! included many nods to Super Mario Sunshine, such as the inclusion of Piantas and Nokis as bystanders watching the races.
Mario Kart: Double Dash!! included twenty playable characters. Alongside all of the series' previous playable characters (barring Donkey Kong Jr.) - Mario, Luigi, Peach, Yoshi, Donkey Kong, Koopa Troopa, Wario, Bowser, and Toad - Double Dash!! introduced Daisy, Birdo, Baby Mario, Baby Luigi, Koopa Paratroopa, Diddy Kong, Bowser Jr., Waluigi, Petey Piranha, and King Boo to the Mario Kart series, and also saw the debut of Toadette in any video game. Players also had the option of choosing from a variety of karts each with their own appearances, instead of being limited to all characters driving the same vehicle with a different colour scheme.
Mario Kart DS was the fifth mainstream instalment in the Mario Kart series, and the second title to be released on a handheld gaming system. Mario Kart DS returned to the original gameplay style that Mario Kart 64 introduced, limiting a single character to a kart once more and removing Special Items. The game was not without its own unique features however, as it introduced a new Mission Mode that included specialized non-racing minigames and fights against the bosses from Super Mario 64 DS. Mario Kart DS also began the tradition of including courses from previous Mario Kart titles as part of "Retro Cups" in addition to sixteen brand-new courses that make up the "Nitro Cups"; unlike Mario Kart: Super Circuit, which brought back all courses from Super Mario Kart, Mario Kart DS brought back four courses from each of the previous titles, and mixed them alongside those from other games in the Shell, Banana, Leaf, and Lightning Cups. Mario Kart DS only introduced three new playable characters, one of which was only available to those who did not own the game and played via Download Play, and the series' first non-Mario representation: Dry Bones, Shy Guy, and R.O.B. Also like Double Dash!!, Mario Kart DS featured unique vehicle designs (with each character getting two unique vehicles of their own) but also brought back a generic kart design should players choose to use that instead.
Though multiple systems could be connected to play previous titles together via LAN connection, Mario Kart DS was the first to include online play. Players could play together online in both Versus Races and Battle Mode, the latter of which included two modes: Shine Runners, which saw players racing to collect the largest amount of Shine Sprites in a short period of time, and the series staple Balloon Battles.
Mario Kart Wii was the sixth mainstream game in the series. Mario Kart Wii was heavily based upon Mario Kart DS and brought back many of its same features, such as the addition of Retro and Nitro Cups, and online play. In addition, Mario Kart Wii also saw the introduction of a new vehicle type: motorbikes. Motorbikes are generally faster than karts, though their smaller frames allow racers riding them to be knocked about easier; characters riding bikes were also capable of performing wheelies in this title, which granted them a speed boost although made them unable to change direction. Additionally, players could also now perform tricks off jumps or on half-pipes, granting them a speed boost upon touching the ground again. Also, for the first time in the series, Mario Kart Wii featured twelve characters competing in each race and battle, as opposed to the eight that previous games did. Mario Kart Wii featured several nods to Super Mario Galaxy.
Mario Kart Wii also came with the Mario Kart Channel, a special Wii Channel that allowed players to compare their rankings with other players', download and upload Time Trial data, and compete in limited-time tournaments featuring certain variables. A special battle arena known as Galaxy Colosseum was released exclusively through these tournaments; as tournaments are no longer being hosted, it is now impossible to play on it outside of hacking. Players could also connect to the internet and play online in both Versus Races and Battle Mode much like in Mario Kart DS; this game's Battle Mode featured the return of Balloon Battles as well as introducing Coin Runners - a redesign of Shine Runners from Mario Kart DS that replaced the Shine Sprites with Coins.
There were twenty-four playable characters included in Mario Kart Wii, in addition to allowing players to choose Miis in two different outfits. Five characters saw their Mario Kart debut in this title: Baby Peach, Dry Bowser, Funky Kong, Rosalina (along with a Luma who floated beside her), and, a character brand-new to the Mario series, Baby Daisy. Like in Mario Kart: Double Dash!! all characters could choose from a set amount of unique vehicles determined by their weight class; each weight class included five unique karts and five unique bikes, as well as a generic version of each referred to as the "Standard Kart" and "Standard Bike".
Mario Kart 7 is the seventh instalment of the Mario Kart series and the third to be released on a handheld. Mario Kart 7 combined many elements previously seen in Mario Kart DS and Mario Kart Wii together, while also making several grand changes to the established formula. For the first time in the series, characters could now create their own vehicles out of a selection of different parts. Additionally, Mario Kart 7 introduced the new underwater racing and gliding mechanics, allowing for more dynamic course designs. Additionally, while other games had featured courses with laps different from the norm, Mario Kart 7 included the first ever single-lap races, which instead broke the courses up into three segments and, in some cases, were even point-to-point instead of loops. As previously mentioned, Mario Kart 7 was based primarily on its two immediate predecessors, though several aspects of them were omitted: bikes could no longer be chosen as vehicles, and races once again were limited to eight players. Tricks could once again be performed off of jumps, though the half-pipes of Mario Kart Wii did not return.
Mario Kart 7 introduced four new playable characters to the Mario Kart series: Metal Mario, Lakitu, Honey Queen and Wiggler. Additionally, Shy Guy could also be chosen as a normal playable character instead of being exclusively available through Download Play as in Mario Kart DS.
Mario Kart 8 is the eighth instalment in the main series,. The first Mario Kart title to feature high-definition graphics, the Wii U game was eager to show off its console's power by completely redesigning every course that returned from previous titles, giving them upgrades in both graphics and adding in new mechanics included since their original appearances. Mario Kart 8 retains many of the same gameplay mechanics introduced in Mario Kart 7, once again allowing players to customize their vehicles from a large pool of parts, as well as race underwater and glide through the air. While heavily based on its Nintendo 3DS predecessor, Mario Kart 8 also brought back several features from Mario Kart Wii, such as allowing twelve characters to race or battle at once and the motorbike vehicle class (although one could no longer perform wheelies on bikes). In addition to these mechanics returning, Mario Kart 8 introduced new Anti-Gravity driving, allowing characters to drive on walls in specific areas and perform Spin Boosts by running into other racers in these segments, as well as the ATV vehicle class, which serves as a hybrid between karts and bikes. At launch, Mario Kart 8 included nine characters brand new to the Mario Kart series: the seven Koopalings (Lemmy Koopa, Larry Koopa, Wendy O. Koopa, Ludwig von Koopa, Iggy Koopa, Roy Koopa, and Morton Koopa Jr.), as well as Baby Rosalina and Pink Gold Peach, both of whom had never before appeared in any Mario games.
Following the game's initial launch, two downloadable content packs were released, with both adding in three additional characters and two cups; these DLC cups are special in that they are neither "Nitro Cups" nor "Retro Cups", and instead contain a blend of both new and returning courses. These two downloadable content packs featured crossover content from other Nintendo franchises, namely The Legend of Zelda and Animal Crossing. Characters released in these packs included the returning Dry Bowser, as well as newcomers Tanooki Mario, Cat Peach, Link, Isabelle, and both male and female Villagers. Various different colours of Shy Guy and Yoshi were also released for players to choose from.
The game was later re-released as Mario Kart 8 Deluxe for the Nintendo Switch, and included several new characters and vehicle parts in addition to revamping the game's battle mode and reintroducing the Double Item Boxes from the Nintendo GameCube title. In addition to bringing back returning characters King Boo, Bowser Jr., and Dry Bones, and newcomer Gold Mario as a palette swap of Metal Mario, Deluxe also introduced both the female and male Inklings from Splatoon as playable characters, and also included the Urchin Underpass map as a Battle Mode stage. Other Battle Mode stages were brought back from previous games in addition to several new ones, though Mario Kart 8 Deluxe particularly shines bright in its bolstering of series-high five unique Battle Modes: Balloon Battle and Coin Runners return from Mario Kart 7, as does Shine Thief and a slightly-altered Bob-omb Blast from Double-Dash!! Bob-omb Blast no longer sees players competing for five consecutive wins but instead is a version of Balloon Battle where players are solely able to obtain Bob-ombs from Item Boxes. The final mode was the only new mode to the series: Renegade Roundup. Renegade Roundup plays similar to the schoolyard game of Cops and Robbers, where one team is equipped with Piranha Plants and must eat the crooks, who can free their imprisoned teammates by running over certain buttons placed around the map.
Nintendo and Bandai Namco also collaborated on three Mario Kart games released for arcades, referred to collectively as the "Mario Kart Arcade series". The first of these games to be released was Mario Kart Arcade GP in 2005, followed by 2007's Mario Kart Arcade GP 2, and 2013's Mario Kart Arcade GP DX. Due to being designed to be played in short bursts in arcades, these titles feature a heavier emphasis on items than previous games, with the Special Items mechanic returning from Double Dash!! for each of them. All three titles also include crossover material from other Bandai Namco franchises: Pac-Man, Ms. Pac-Man, and Blinky from the PAC-MAN series, Mametchi from Bandai's Tamagatchi franchise, and Don-chan from the Taiko no Tatsujin rhythm games; Pac-Man appears in all three of the arcade titles, Ms. Pac-Man and Blinky appear only in the first two, Mametchi only appears in the second, and Don-chan in DX.
Bandai Namco also developed a Mario Kart game for VR devices titled Mario Kart Arcade GP VR.
There are currently two known unreleased Mario Kart games. German game developer Manfred Trenz created a tech demo for Nintendo entitled Mario Kart XXL to demonstrate the Game Boy Advance's modelling capabilities, while an instalment for the Virtual Boy titled VB Mario Kart was also stated to be in development in the August 2000 issue of German gaming magazine The Big N.