25 Mario Kart Facts For 25 Years
By Alex Irish
It's been 25 years since Nintendo first asked us to get out of our dreams and into their kart when the original Super Mario Kart was released on the Super Nintendo. Spanning nearly every Nintendo console since its release, the series has gone on to become the best-selling racing franchise of all time as well as perhaps the king of couch co-op classics. And the series' legacy continues to be strong that Super FamiCon 2017 will be including no less than THREE Mario Kart games (Mario Kart 8, Mario Kart 64, and Super Mario Kart) as part of its tournament lineup (more info here).
You may think you know Mario Kart, but we're fairly certain you don't know all of the nooks and turtleshells of the series' history and lore. So as we at Super FamiCon prep for a weekend of Mario Kart insanity, here's 25 factoids that dig deep into Nintendo's beloved racing series.
1) An F-Zero Spinoff?!? - The concept that became Mario Kart came about from the developers at Nintendo wanting to make a 2-player F-Zero. The futuristic racer that launched with the SNES was one-player only.
2) The Miyamoto Touch - Before Mario, there was a generic man in overalls. Shigeru Miyamoto suggested to the developers that it should be Mario. His other advice: 'Think of the banana.'
3) Better Battles = Better Game - Battle Mode was tested much more than the single player Grand Prix in the making of Super Mario Kart. The thinking was that if Battle Mode was fun on its own, the rest of the game would be, too.
4) The Original 'King of Karts' - Instead of Donkey Kong, the first and only appearance of his son, Donkey Kong Jr. was in the original Super Mario Kart.
5) The Obstacle is the Way - The original take on Super Mario Kart's Battle Mode was that players would shoot items across arenas with no obstacles. Developers added obstacles to the final game to give the courses landmarks and to reduce player dizziness.
6) 'R' We Sure About This Character Lineup? - In its early form, Mario Kart 64 was originally titled Super Mario Kart R, and would feature Magikoopa as a playable racer and bring back the gravity-defying Super Feather item from the first game. Both were scrapped as Magikoopa was replaced with Donkey Kong, fresh off his success in Donkey Kong Country.
7) A Voice Apart - Mario Kart 64's Japanese version has some drastically different voice work. The announcer isn't Mario as in the international release, but a generic man. There are different voices for many of the racers as well, including Peach, Toad, Wario, and Luigi.
8) Dodging Turtle Shells (And Lawsuits) - Also altered in Mario Kart 64 were various signs and billboards. The Japanese release had parodies of brands like Marlboro and the 76 gas chain among others. All these were altered in the West to avoid legal issues with the real-life companies.
9) Going Portable - Mario Kart: Super Circuit was the first portable entry in the series, launching on Game Boy Advance in the summer of 2001. The Japanese version could exchange ghost data online by using the GB Mobile Adaptor accessory, which connected the GBA to cell phones.
10) Double Dash, Double Confusion - On the box art of Mario Kart: Double Dash!!, Luigi's hat is backwards. This mirror image effect doesn't affect anything else on the cover.
11) A High Speed Debut - Mario Kart: Double Dash!! marked the debut appearance of Toadette. Since then, she's been a female counterpart to the mushroom retainer Toad in various sports games, Mario Party, and earned a co-starring role in Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker.
12) Wireless Before the Switch - Mario Kart DS was the first Nintendo-developed game to standardize wireless online play, under the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection banner. The service was discontinued in May 2014.
13) The King of Racing Games - Mario Kart Wii cemented itself as the best-selling game on the Wii that's not named Wii Sports. Having sold 36 million copies since April 2008, it is the highest selling racer of all time.
14) The X-Factor - Mario Kart Wii was originally going to be titled Mario Kart X, in reference to the game's inclusion of motorbikes. The name dropped so as to reduce confusion with the then-new Super Smash Bros. Brawl, entitled Diranto Smash Bros. X in Japan.
15) Jesus, Take the Wheel - According to the developers, Mario Kart Wii was balanced around the usage of its included Wii Wheel accessory. The plastic attachment for the Wii Remote was created to entice novice players to give the series a try.
16) An Unlockable Legacy - Mario Kart has a small history of surprise unlockable characters. In Mario Kart DS, it is R.O.B., the Robotic Operating Buddy from the NES. Later in Mario Kart Wii, the ultra-secret unlock is Funky Kong, hailing from the Donkey Kong Country series.
17) The Queen of Karts? - Mario Kart 7 on 3DS marks the only appearances in the series to date of several Mario characters, namely Honey Queen of Super Mario Galaxy and Wriggler who first popped up in Super Mario World.
18) Coin Continuity - Mario Kart's use of coins, the instrument of raising your top speed, has only been around in a handful of games. They include Super Mario Kart and Mario Kart: Super Circuit, before being absent for 10 years to return in Mario Kart 7 and every game thereafter.
19) Beaten By Pokemon - Mario Kart 7 is the third-highest selling game on the 3DS. The two above it? Pokemon Sun and Moon at number 2 and Pokemon X and Y at number 1.
20) The Seven-Eight Segue - Many of the concepts of Mario Kart 7 carried over to the very next console entry, Mario Kart 8. The major addition to Kart 8 was anti-gravity racing, adding a new level of nuance to the grind.
21) Invited to the Races - After years of a Mario-only cast, Mario Kart 8 was the first in the series to include characters from other Nintendo franchises, including The Legend of Zelda and Animal Crossing. This is only through the game's downloadable content packs.
22) Deluxe as a Feather - Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, the first-ever remaster of an existing Mario Kart, brings back the Super Feather for the first time in 25 years, for use in Battle Mode only.
23) Putin's Exclusive Bundle - Only Russia got a Nintendo Switch bundle with the launch of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. In Russia, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe bundles you.
24) Beyond Nintendo - Outside of Nintendo's hardware exist several Mario Karts Arcade GP games for the arcade. These spin-offs, which feature Pac-Man as a playable character, are developed by Namco Bandai and the arcade machines resemble actual racing cars, wheels, pedals and all. This year, Namco Bandai introduced yet another Mario Kart for the arcades, this time in virtual reality using the HTC Vive. It's only playable in Japanese arcades, however.
25) Bundles Galore - Mario Kart games have a history of being bundled with Nintendo hardware. Various entries have shipped with the Nintendo GameCube, Nintendo DS and DSi XL, Nintendo 3DS XL and 2DS, Wii, and Wii U.