Video Game: Mario Kart 8

The eighth installment in the Mario Kart console series, only available on the Wii U.

It is the first game in the series to feature HD graphics, as well as the first one to have orchestrated music. The main gameplay concept of this installment is anti-gravity, which allows racers to drive on walls or even upside-down.

Notable for reconciling unforgiving game elements that recurred throughout the series, such as having Lakitu immediately rescue drivers who have gone off course like he once did in Mario Kart: Super Circuit without going through a place-costing Fade to Black first, less stipulations on getting star ranks, and several new power-ups, most notably the mighty Super Horn, a counter to the nemesis of all pole position holders, the Spiny Shell. However, racers can't hoard items anymore, and must use their current item before getting another one. Also notable for its inception of Slow Motion cuts.

The game has amiibo functionality, compatible with several figures outside of the Mario universe that unlock Mii Racing Suits.note  The game was also the first Mario Kart to have paid Downloadable Content in the form of two packs featuring tracks, characters, and vehicle parts from The Legend of Zelda, Excite Bike, F-Zero, and Animal Crossing alongside extra Mario universe content.

This video game contains examples of:

  • Always Night: The remake of the N64 Rainbow Road which takes place in the night sky of a city (the original was set in space). The remake of SNES Rainbow Road from the DLC Triforce Cup also counts, appearing to float above a field with rainbow-colored hills and scattered Toad houses. There's also Toad's Turnpike, Twisted Mansion, the Electrodrome, Bowser's Castle, the winter version of Animal Crossing, and Neo Bowser City.
  • Amazing Technicolor Battlefield: All three Rainbow Road tracks (New, N64, and SNES) along with Electrodrome with all of the flashy colors.
  • Amusement Park:
    • Water Park combines this with Under the Sea, being a partially-submerged amusement park with an ocean theme.
    • GCN Baby Park takes place on a ride in a more traditional amusement park that bears some resemblance to Disney Theme Parks.
  • And Your Reward Is Clothes: The Palette Swaps for Yoshi and Shy Guy, obtained by purchasing both DLC packs. The Mii Racing Suits from amiibo, as well.
  • Anti-Frustration Features:
    • Finishing a Grand Prix in higher engine class now also counts as finishing the same cup in lower engine classes, awarding you the appropriate trophy and stars for all of them. No more wasting time completing Grand Prix again in 50cc and 100cc just for 100% Completion! Mirror Mode and 200cc do not count, however, so you still have to go through them separately.
    • Usually, you cannot collect an item if you already have one, but if you collect an item box just before a Piranha Plant item runs out, you still get the new item. When you throw a boomerang, it doesn't count as having the item while it's in the air, so another item can be collected in its place.
    • In the Animal Crossing DLC course, you can still get an Item by flying into the balloons holding the Item Boxes in mid-air, not just the Boxes themselves.
  • Anti-Grinding: The amount of VR you obtain in online races is directly affected by how much the others racers have. If you have less than theirs, you'll obtain far more points even if you didn't finish in first place, though the reverse can also happen, forcing you to look for others with a large amount of VR.
  • Arc Symbol: The track maps often feature the number "8" somehow. The version of Mario Circuit for that game and Toad's Turnpike are shaped like an 8, and 8's Rainbow Road, N64 Yoshi's Valley, the returning N64 Rainbow Road, GBA Cheese Land, and GBA Ribbon Road all have 8's in their design.
  • Art Evolution: Mario Kart 8 is the first HD game in the series, and it shows. The courses in this game feature far more detail than the ones in previous installments. This includes the retro tracks, which get total graphical revamps.
  • Artificial Stupidity: 200cc is a challenging race for players and the AI alike. Computer-controlled racers still attempt to drive as if they were in a 150cc race, resulting in a lot of bashing into walls and falling off course.
  • Ascended Meme:
    • Waluigi's description in the official Prima guide is "It's always Waluigi time."
    • A statue of Baby Pink Gold Peach appears in the background of GCN Baby Park, as a nod to fans who jokingly suggest her to be playable.
  • Astral Finale: The new Rainbow Road takes place in and around a space station.
  • Athletic Arena Level: Mario Kart Stadium is designed like one, resembling an F1 Grand Prix course. What makes it different is the anti-gravity sections, which include a segment where the drivers have to descend into the surface as a landing plane.
  • Awesome but Impractical: There are only a handful of car parts that improve the Speed stat, but they all have a likewise net loss in the rest of the stats:
    • The Slim tires increase Speed and decrease Acceleration by .25 each. However, Traction goes down by .5 for a .25 increase in Handling, for a .25 loss in stats.
    • The Metal and Gold tires increase Weight and decrease Acceleration by .5 each, while Traction takes a .5 hit for a .25 buff in Speed, for another .25 loss in stats.
    • The Circuit Special and its reskins, as well as the Slick tires, all have the same attributes; they increase Weight and decrease Acceleration by .25 each, while Traction takes a whole 1.0 loss for a .5 buff in Speed, for a .5 loss in stats.
    • Meaning that while it's possible to perfectly balance heavier characters to match the acceleration and handling of lighter onesnote , you cannot turn lighter characters into speedsters without sacrificing a little ability.
  • Band Land: 3DS Music Park, going as far as having some parts of the track modeled after instruments like a piano, a drum or a xylophone.
  • Batman Can Breathe in Space:
    • The background Toads on Rainbow Road need spacesuits, but the racers don't.
    • There are Toads wearing scuba gear in the underwater sections of Dolphin Shoals, while the racers, including Toad, get along just fine.
  • Battle Boomerang: The Boomerang Flower appears as an item, which allows players to throw up to three boomerangs when they get it.
  • Big Boo's Haunt: Twisted Mansion takes place in a haunted, distorted mansion that even includes an underwater section to give the Fish Bones some screentime.
  • Biker Babe: With the return of bikes (and the introduction of ATVs), Peach, Daisy, and Rosalina get alternate biker suits.
  • Blessed Are the Cheesemakers: Cheese Land from Super Circuit returns as DLC.
  • Book Ends: The staff ghost for the first course, Mario Kart Stadium, is Mario himself. The staff ghost for the final course in the second DLC Pack, Big Blue, is also Mario.
  • The Bus Came Back: For the babies, Toadette, and Waluigi, who were excluded from 7. Dry Bowser returns in the April 2015 DLC.
  • The Cameo:
    • A Blue and Yellow Toad appear as the poster characters for the Two-player Online feature (and can sometimes be seen floating in space in the online play menus, along with a Green Toad). They previously appeared in New Super Mario Bros. Wii and Super Mario 3D Land.
    • Birdo, who is only seen in the "Women of Racing" ads in the game's version of Royal Raceway (and she isn't even playable in this one).
    • The classic F-Zero characters, including Captain Falcon, appear on electronic billboards scattered throughout Mute City.
    • Every major character from Animal Crossing appears on its course, along with several minor ones.
    • Luigis Mansion makes a cameo as a haunted house in GCN Baby Park.
    • Multiple Mini-Toads and yarn Yoshis can be seen in GBA Ribbon Road.
  • Bubbly Clouds: Cloudtop Cruise, which is designed in the style of Gusty Garden Galaxy of Super Mario Galaxy fame. The drivers have to go through clouds as well as branches of giant bean trees, an airship from Super Mario Bros. 3, and a mechanical part where the clouds are electrified.
  • Cap: 99,999 VR is all you'll ever be allowed to get in online races and battles.
  • Coolest Club Ever: Electrodrome is one the size of a city, with upbeat rave music playing from every wall of speakers, multiple crowded dance floors, and a giant disco ball.
  • Continuity Nod: Not for the Mario series per se, but in the DLC tracks.
    • In "Mute City", the recharge strips give you coins.
    • In "Animal Crossing", sometimes a coin will come out if you hit a rock.
  • Credits Medley: The Staff Credits theme, unlike past Mario Karts, which tended towards entirely original pieces, features excerpts from a variety of songs from the rest of the game, most notably Mario Kart Stadium, Electrodome and Mount Wario (which segues perfectly into a reprise of the original Super Mario Kart theme, which itself makes its usual appearance in the new title screen theme if you wait around long enough).
  • Crossover: The first two batches of DLC include Link, the Blue Falcon, two Villagers, Isabelle, and new tracks based on the series they come from.
  • Death Glare: When two characters pass each other, they'll stare for a brief moment. This can have an unsettling effect with certain characters, such as Luigi or Yoshi.
  • Demoted to Extra: Several:
    • Dry Bones becomes a course hazard in Bone-Dry Dunes.
    • Dry Bowser becomes a Desert Skull (but the April 2015 DLC promotes him back to playable).
    • Paratroopa becomes an audience member.
    • Wiggler is only available as an ATV.
    • Bowser Jr. becomes the mascot of the Bowser Ship in GCN Baby Park.
  • Desert Skull: Dry Bowser's skull is seen in Bone-Dry Dunes.
  • Difficult but Awesome: Naturally, using Circuit Special and Slick tires together on the heaviest characters results in nearly-maxed Speed with a hefty Weight stat to mow through race tracks and opponents. Unfortunately, you'd better have a good grip on drifting turns and avoiding items if you don't want your horribly-slammed Acceleration, Handling and Traction to get in the way.
  • Disco Tech: Electrodome, a very psychedelic course where several parts are illuminated with different lights and effects. The Piranha Plants are adorned with these effects as well.
  • Downloadable Content:
    • Mario Kart 8 features, of all things, downloadable Mercedes Benz karts. They're free and were released on August 27th, 2014.
    • Released November 2014 and April 2015 are two add-on packs, which include retro courses such as Wario's Gold Mine, new courses and karts based off of The Legend of Zelda, F-Zero,Animal Crossing, and Excitebike; and characters including Tanooki Mario, Cat Peach, Link from The Legend of Zelda, two Villagers and Isabelle from Animal Crossing: New Leaf and Dry Bowser. Eight different-colored Yoshis and Shy Guys are included with purchase of both packs.
    • In addition to the above, several updates were added to improve the overall game experience. For example, previous updates have included raising the VR Cap to 99,999, adding the ability to display the minimap on the TV screen, tracking in-game totals such as how many coins you've collected, enabling amiibo support to unlock Mii Racing Suits, and adding the crazy-fast 200cc mode.
  • Dramatic Disappearing Display: The rank display in the HUD disappears when on the last stretch of a track on its final lap, increasing suspense for close finishes.
  • Dummied Out: Hackers have uncovered a driver icon consisting of a Magikoopa's hat and glasses, implying that Kamek (or a generic Magikoopa) was either considered for but cut from the roster or will be added to the game as future DLC. This would mark Kamek's playable debut in the series, although he was earlier planned for 64 as a sort of fallback in case Nintendo was unable to secure Rare's permission for the Donkey Kong model.
  • Easter Egg:
    • Totaka's song can be (barely) heard on any track with Yoshi spectators. By removing the BGM and driving up next to one random Yoshi, you may be able to hear it humming the song (Kazumi Totaka is the voice of Yoshi). Notably, this is the first time the song makes an appearance in a game that was not composed by Kazumi Totaka.
    • If you don't have an item, you can tap the horn on the Wii U gamepad to honk it. The only known thing it does is spook nearby drivers.
    • Some courses, such as Water Park and GCN Yoshi Circuit, have a map posted on billboards within the course. These maps are exactly the same as the minimap found on the Gamepad screen and the TV.
  • Easy-Mode Mockery: Like in Mario Kart 7, the bass percussion that ordinarily kicks in when you have a big lead doesn't play in 50cc.
  • Everybody Owns A Ford: The Mercedes-Benz DLC trailer, though only one of the three models is contemporary.
  • False Camera Effects: Lens flares, of course. Rain gets on the camera in 3DS Neo Bowser City, as does waterfall mist in Big Blue.
  • Four-Seasons Level: The Animal Crossing course changes seasons each time it's played.
  • Friendly Fire: In team-based gameplay, after being averted in Mario Kart Wii, items can now be used to attack drivers on the same team. The only exception to this is the Lightning Bolt, which only strikes everyone on the team opposite of the user's.
  • Gimmick Level:
    • Mario Circuit, the only stage in the game that makes you go twice around the course in one lap, once normally and then upside-down.
    • The DLC introduces the Mute City track, which is one of few tracks in the game to be completely done in anti-gravity. There are no coins on the track; instead, there are refuel panels which give coins when driven over, though racers can still obtain coins from item boxes and by knocking them out of other racers. DLC pack 2 introduces Big Blue, which features these gimmicks while also being a one-lap track like Mount Wario.
    • Also from the DLC is Excitebike Arena, which features a track layout that changes every time you play it. There are over 200 possible layouts.
    • Baby Park is unique due to having 7 laps (as opposed to the usual 3, due to the course being so short) and being entirely within anti-gravity.
  • Go-Karting with Bowser: Now go karting with the Koopalings in addition, since they became playable for the first time in a Mario game.
  • Gravity Screw: A major selling point of the game as well as the first time anti-gravity is used in the series.
  • Guest Fighter: Isabelle and two Villagers from Animal Crossing, Link from The Legend of Zelda, and the Blue Falcon from F-Zero in the paid DLC packs. Also the promotional Mercedes-Benz karts which are downloadable for free.
  • Hammerspace: Whenever Link does a boost jump or trick, he somehow produces his sword and raises it. He can also produce the Triforce when performing a trick off of an anti-gravity ramp. All of the characters does this when they get an item from the roulette.
  • Harder Than Hard: 200cc mode, released in April 2015. On top of the crazy speed and the required use of the brakes, not only is the computer even more of a cheating bastard, but it will also make full use of shortcuts whenever it gets a mushroom.
  • Hitbox Dissonance: Unlike in previous games, Mario Kart 8 had some bugs in regards to certain walls, fences, ramp sides, and barriers that previous games didn't have. The effects of this dissonance can vary depending on the surface, but players have found themselves stopped completely just by simply brushing up against the surface's side or when boosting, being thrown 90 degrees away from the surface's side. Items that are shot ahead often bounce off these sides back at the users even if the user fires them at an angle.
  • Kid-Appeal Character: Baby Rosalina is introduced in this game, as well as the returning baby forms of Mario, Luigi, Peach and Daisy.
  • Large Ham: Several characters, but most notably is Mario himself, who screams the title and sounds like he is on helium during gameplay.
  • Last Lousy Point: In Grand Prix mode, getting triple stars in some of the faster classes and Mirror Mode can border on insanity when the computer decides to hate your guts. It's quite common for many players to have their triple star runs ended in-progress due to either:
    • CPU item spam when you don't have any items or just Coins in first place.
    • Not getting any helpful items while the CPU in first place speeds to the finish and the other CPU don't get anything good to slow the lead CPU down.
    • Getting knocked off the track by CPU attacks, track hazards, or CPU shoving allowing other CPU to pass ahead to the finish.
  • Lethal Lava Land: Bowser's Castle and Wii Grumble Volcano. In both courses, fire serves as the primary obstacle in the form of Podoboo chains, falling volcano debris, and rising lava fluids.
  • Level Ate:
    • Sweet Sweet Canyon is made of cakes, doughnuts, candy, and other treats.
    • Cheese Land returns from Mario Kart: Super Circuit and looks as appetizing as ever. There are even large formations in the far background shaped like slices of pizza, with Toad houses on top resembling pepperoni.
  • Limited Special Collector's Ultimate Edition: A deluxe package which came with a figurine of the infamous Spiny Shell. It was a Nintendo Store exclusive in North America but was more widely available in the rest of the English-speaking world, who also got some other little trinkets depending on where the package was ordered from such as key rings or a Bullet Bill shirt.
  • Long Song, Short Scene:
    • N64 Rainbow Road's theme. You'll very likely already be done with section 2 and kick in the Final Lap version of the song before you've made the song loop once.
    • The title screen music is a very long, varied piece, but it cuts to different music as soon as you've made your initial main menu selection.
    • The "Final Lap version before full loop" also applies to Big Blue.
  • The Lost Woods: Wild Woods from DLC Pack 2, naturally, featuring gigantic trees and lily pads to race on.
  • Macro Zone: Ribbon Road from Mario Kart: Super Circuit already had giant presents appearing in the background, but its appearance in the DLC Bell Cup takes it a step further by being set in a gigantic bedroom.
  • Mickey Mousing: Several elements move in time to the music, such as the stereo on the Badwagon and the Super Horn item. In addition, a few courses do this as well:
    • At Electrodrome, objects like the disco balls, Piranha Plants, and stars to the side move with the music.
    • At 3DS Music Park, the instruments in the background move with the music, as well as the metronome and Bouncing Notes towards the end of the track.
    • At DS Tick-Tock Clock, the several gears in the background all move along to the music.
    • In the DLC track SNES Rainbow Road, the hills in the background change color in time with the music.
  • Musical Nod:
    • Mount Wario is partially a rearrangement of Athletic Theme 2 from Super Mario 3D World.
    • The music of Dragon Driftway seems to take a few cues from Super Mario Land's Chai Kingdom.
    • Hyrule Circuit's music makes several nods to classic Zelda themes, such as Zelda's Lullaby and both the Ocarina of Time and Twilight Princess versions of Hyrule Field.
    • Animal Crossing, meanwhile, has four different themes, one for each season, featuring nods to every game across the series. The results theme is replaced with the music from The Roost.
    • Mute City and Big Blue both have remixes of their respective themes from the F-Zero games.
    • Super Bell Subway adds a dynamic bassline of the original Super Mario Bros. underground theme when in the train tunnels.
    • The dramatic new awards ceremony theme where your trophy and ranking is displayed after the MKTV recap features a few moments containing the opening notes of Mario Kart 64's ending theme.
  • My Future Self and Me: The baby characters, who are the past selves of Mario, Luigi, Peach, Daisy and Rosalina.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • Mario Kart 64's Rainbow Road appeared in F-Zero X and was remade for Mario Kart 8. Blue Falcon from the F-Zero series appeared in Mario Kart Wii and returns to 8 as a kart along with two F-Zero themed tracks.
    • Several of Tanooki Mario's tricks are references to Super Mario 3D Land: in particular, one of them is a reference to his artwork (which is in turn based on an artwork of Raccoon Mario from Super Mario Bros. 3), and his anti-gravity trick sees him transform into a statue.
    • Sunshine Airport features a Koopa-shaped island during the final gliding section, similar to Mario Kart 64's Koopa Troopa Beach.
    • The Snowmen in Sherbet Land are now given blue caps and orange scarves, resembling not only the enemies in previous Mario Kart titles but also a similar group of Snowmen in Paper Mario 64.
    • The eight different Shy Guy colors were available in Download Play for Mario Kart DS and Mario Kart 7, but they can now be accessed as a bonus for purchasing both DLC packs from the store.
    • The Blue Falcon has 111 written on the side, which is what was on the Blue Falcon on the cover of the original F-Zero.
  • Nerf:
    • Bikes can no longer wheelie.
    • Players can only hold one item at a time.
    • Bob-ombs take longer to explode.
  • Nostalgia Level: ALL of the retro courses, a tradition that started in Super Circuit but became a mainstay since Mario Kart DS. Notably, the most represented game is Mario Kart 64, so much that the only track that has yet to be brought from this game into a future installment of the series is Wario Stadium.
  • Obstacle Ski Course: Mount Wario is a three-leg ski down a mountain that involves going through sheer, icy cliffs, a dam and support platforms, a dense forest, before finally reaching slalom gates and a ski jump to the finish.
  • Obvious Rule Patch:
    • Bikes in this game were changed slightly by not allowing the player to pop a wheelie for boosts of speed, which now makes bikes more on par with karts. Bikes in Mario Kart Wii trumped karts so much that it was impossible to find any time trial record that wasn't a bike user and online play was also mostly a bike user game.
    • Lakitu resets players who drive the wrong way for a certain amount of time with the usual coin fee. This was likely done to prevent griefers from camping near item boxes and spamming offensive items at other racers, or simply not taking the game seriously.
  • Palette Swap: Several vehicle parts have different colors depending on the character using them. For a more traditional example, pre-ordering both DLC Packs nets you 8 extra colors for Yoshi and Shy Guy.
  • Palmtree Panic: DS Cheep Cheep Beach. The ability to drive underwater makes the coast segment more manageable than in its original version.
  • Port Town: Toad Harbor, a lively urban location where people move from one spot to another via electric trains (which naturally will serve as obstacles during the race).
  • Product Placement:
    • The free Mercedes-Benz DLC karts. A tournament by Mercedes-Benz can be accessed in online play for those that want to compete with the new karts. It's part of a cross promotion where Mario is used in a series of Mercedes-Benz GLA Class commercials in Japan and Nintendo has the GLA Class available as a free kart.
    • As with series tradition, ads for in-universe products are scattered around the game. Alongside the usual billboards in the tracksides... this time, there's also sponsor logos on some of the karts (like the Circuit Special) and at the end of the credits. In fact, Super Bell Subway in the second DLC pack even has in-universe advertisements for Mario Kart 8 itself!
  • Promoted to Playable: This is the first game in the Mario series to feature the Koopalings as playable characters. Also applies to Isabelle from Animal Crossing New Leaf in DLC Pack 2.
  • Purely Aesthetic Gender: The Miis' stats are solely based on the size of the Mii rather than gender. Unlike in Super Smash Bros., the Villagers are not an example of this trope; despite sharing the same slot, the boy is slightly heavier and faster, while the girl is a touch lighter and has better acceleration.
  • Ribcage Ridge: Bone-Dry Dunes has one which acts as an anti-gravity section.
  • Roaring Rapids:
    • Shy Guy Falls has an anti-gravity section where the racers drive up a waterfall with boost pads on it. They must drive over the boost pads in order to negate the opposing water flow. Shortly after this is another section where the racers drive down a waterfall.
    • Piranha Plant Slide, Wild Woods, and Big Blue all have running water that speeds you up if you drive on it.
  • Rollercoaster Mine: Wario's Gold Mine from Mario Kart Wii returns as part of the first DLC pack. Unlike the original course, the minecarts are not hazardous. Instead, racers can get spin boosts by colliding with them.
  • Ruins for Ruins' Sake: Thwomp Ruins, a wrecked course where Thwomps serve as the primary obstacles. Due to the damaged state of the ruins, some parts can only be navigated with the anti-gravity feature.
  • Sequel Escalation: An update for the game adds an even faster and harder mode than has ever been featured in the series: the 200cc class.
  • Shifting Sand Land:
  • Shout-Out: Plenty of them in the crossover DLC tracks.
    • In Hyrule Circuit, the coins have been replaced with rupees, the Piranha Plants and Swoops in the last section have been replaced with Deku Babas and Keese, the item roulette plays the music when opening a chest in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, and when you hit all the crystals inside the castle and reveal a shortcut, it plays the "secret revealed" fanfare from the Zelda games.
    • In Mute City and Big Blue, the race intro jingle and victory results music are replaced with the corresponding music from the original F-Zero game, and there are no coins to be found on the track. Instead, there are energy strips like the ones in F-Zero that refill your coins, complete with the recharge sound effect from F-Zero X. Big Blue even calls out "Yeah! The final lap!" upon reaching the third segment.
    • The Animal Crossing track is filled with nods to its origins for dedicated fans. For example, just like the games, the season changes every time you play the track. Coins are replaced with Bells, collecting an item makes the appropriate sound, Mr. Resetti appears taking the place of Monty Moles, and multiple important NPCs appear as spectators near their respective establishments. The theme for Nook's Cranny can faintly be heard as racers drive past. Even K.K. Slider can show up, and he of course plays music on his guitar. There's even little touches like Public Work Projects from New Leaf — such as park benches, a fountain, and balloon arches — being scattered across the track. Like the F-Zero tracks, the race results theme is replaced, in this case with The Roost's background music.
    • A poster in the background of GBA Ribbon Road advertises Kung Fu Lakitu, which is also a reference to Dragon Driftway, an earlier DLC course featuring many Lakitu motifs.
    • The Baby Castle in the background of GCN Baby Park is clearly meant to evoke the castle attractions at various Disney Theme Parks, most closely resembling the Cinderella Castle at Tokyo Disneyland.
  • Slippy-Slidey Ice World:
    • Mount Wario is a race down a snowy mountain, from the summit all the way down to the base.
    • Sherbet Land, a returning track from Double Dash!! Ice-skating Shy Guys and Freezies appear on the track as obstacles. However, unlike the original track, the Freezies do not freeze you on contact; instead, they simply cause you to spin out.
    • Ice Ice Outpost takes place in and around several icebergs.
  • Songs in the Key of Panic: It's Mario Kart tradition to speed up the music on the final lap, but Baby Park takes this further by having seven laps and speeding up the music after every single one.
  • Space Zone: Special Cup's Rainbow Road is set in and around a space station.
  • Speaking Simlish: Isabelle's voice clips consist entirely of high-pitched gibberish, just like in the series she hails from. Because of the way her "language" worksnote , most of her voice clips have actual phrases behind them... good luck deciphering any of them, though. The same applies to the animal spectators on the Animal Crossing course.
  • Stealth Pun: In Sweet Sweet Canyon, there are bottles of soda spraying liquid. They're soda fountains.
  • Title Scream: Mario delivers this as hammy as possible. Luigi does, too.
  • Tomorrowland: DLC tracks Mute City and Big Blue (obviously, considering the source franchise) as well as 3DS Neo Bowser City. All three wind around futuristic metropolises, with lots of bright lights, shiny towers, and flying vehicles for backdrops.
  • Toy Time: The revamped GBA Ribbon Road combines this with Macro Zone, featuring giant toy boxes scattered around and wind-up toys as spectators.
  • Tree Top Town: Wild Woods has a village inhabited by Shy Guys inside the tree.
  • Uncommon Time: The music for Wild Woods is in 5/4 time, making it the only course theme that isn't in standard time. This is reflected with its unique backbeat variation.
  • Under the Sea: Dolphin Shoals is mostly underwater. It's also the only course in the series where the starting line is underwater.
  • Undesirable Prize: The Coin item, which appear even after you've reach the maximum amount of coins you can hold, and are useless defensively. About the only thing they are good for at that point is for quickly replenishing your coins if you get hit by an item, but it's still best to use the coins to throw them away before hitting the next item boxes.
  • Unexpected Character:
    • The Villagers and Isabelle aren't too hard to believe to be DLC characters in a Mario Kart game despite being from a game series completely separate from the Mario franchise, but Link, a character from a game series where the most advanced technology so far is trains, being in a game with modern vehicles that have anti-gravity, is something nearly no one saw coming.
    • Before that, no one expected Nintendo would do a cross promotion with Mercedes-Benz and have karts based on Mercedes-Benz vehicles available as DLC. Seeing Mario driving a shrunken SUV is just plain bizarre.
  • Variable Mix:
    • The menu music gains more layers based on how close you are to picking everything needed to have an actual race.
    • The music in races warps when certain power-ups, such as the lightning bolt, are used.
    • The percussion of the course's song gets deeper if the player is in the lead. Unless you're playing on 50CC.
    • Shy Guy Falls adds the sounds of mining equipment and chanting Shy Guys when near the mines. The DLC remake of Wario's Gold Mine also adds these effects in the mine's entrance, as does the DLC track Wild Woods while passing by sling-gliding Shy Guys.
    • Water Park's music becomes calmer during the underwater sections.
    • Dolphin Shoals has three variations. Calmer versions play in the starting zone and cave, while the land section at the end features a more upbeat variant with a saxophone melody. Averted on the final lap, which only features the saxophone version.
    • Cloudtop Cruise has an epic, orchestrated, and trumpeting airy beat as its main theme, but then changes to a gritty rock guitar mix inside the more tension-filled thundercloud section of the racetrack.
    • Electrodrome, being a music-themed track, is built on medley magic. Its already pulse-pounding musical beat is accompanied by electronic riffs on the first anti-gravity segment as the player drifts across the interactive track. Then, there's a really trippy take of an anti-gravity area where the soundtrack changes to a twinkling variant, and even has several shimmering rectangular sparkles stimulating stronger beats popping up on the screen. Plus, the track itself sounds off some musical stings increasing in key as the player hops across several staggered platforms which light up. There's the aforementioned first place variant, the final lap variant, and, then there are versions for the normal and final laps of the crowds clapping in tune to the music, with Shy Guys chanting along, too.
    • Mount Wario's music gets more intense as you make your way down, eventually becoming a triumphant fanfare during the third and final segment.
    • Music Park still has you drive over various instruments, which will create the appropriate sounds in harmony with the music.
    • Super Bell Subway in the second DLC Pack has a few different variations. While it's normally an upbeat and cheery theme similar to Sunshine Airport, driving underground will cause the instrumentation to become more sparse as drums and bass take the lead. The Highlight Reel plays an extended version of the first theme, like Dolphin Shoals.
    • Big Blue's final lap is, rather than a sped-up version of the regular theme, a guitar-and-sax solo to the same backing beat. The Highlight Reel transitions from one to the other.
  • Vocal Evolution: Thanks to new recordings, all the characters sound fresher and newer. Some voices in particular are much higher-pitched and louder, such as Mario, Yoshi, and Rosalina.
  • The Voiceless: The Villagers are the only characters with no voice; they "speak" with Animal Crossing sound effects instead.
  • Wacky Racing: It's a kart racer with weapons like shells and banana peels. Naturally, it would fall under this.
  • Wutai: Dragon Driftway, a DLC course with a Chinese motif.
  • Your Size May Vary:
    • Spectator characters (Yoshis, Toads, Animal Crossing townsfolk, etc.) are noticeably larger than the playable versions of those characters.
    • In Animal Crossing: New Leaf, the Funny Animal characters vary in height but are generally only slightly shorter than the human protagonists. Here, the villagers are both middleweight (with the boy being slightly heavier than the girl) while Isabelle is lightweight.