Mario Kart is a successful series of go-kart-style racing video games developed by Nintendo as a series of spin-offs from their trademark and highly successful Mario series of platformer adventure-style video games. Starting on the SNES, the series has graced every subsequent Nintendo console and handheld with at least one installment, with the exception of the Virtual Boy and the Game Boy Color (portable Mario Karts started appearing with the Game Boy Advance).Unlike a serious racing game like Gran Turismo or Ridge Racer, Mario Kart isn't just about driving technique, but mixes things up with items that racers can obtain from item boxes, while the tracks themselves can have a significant number of obstacles and hazards such as enemies from the Super Mario Bros. series of games. This kicked off the subgenre of fun racers or mascot racers as other companies have often imitated the concept with their own mascots to varying degrees of success.As the name implies, the games draw major inspiration from the Mario platformers. Racers are characters like Mario, Luigi, Wario, Donkey Kong and Bowser, items are Koopa shells and mushrooms, and stages often visit major locales like Bowser's Castle or a haunted mansion.Aside from racing for the finish line, all games in the series have also featured a Battle Mode, where the players drive around in a fixed area and attempt to burst each other's balloons with items or hunt for coins or Shine Sprites (from Sunshine).
Games in this series
Super Mario Kart (SNES, 1992): The original. Has 8 characters and 4 cups with 5 tracks each. Used "Mode 7" faux-3D graphics, so all the tracks were completely flat.
Mario Kart 64 (Nintendo 64, 1996): First use of actual 3D, and set the standards for much of the series: it organized its courses into 4 cups with 4 tracks each, established the usual eight-character starting rosternote Mario, Luigi, Yoshi, Peach, Bowser, DK, Toad, and Wario. Super used DK Jr. and Koopa Troopa instead of DK and Wario., and the introduction of Mirror Mode.
Mario Kart: Super Circuit (Game Boy Advance, 2001): Has 8 characters again and 5 cups with 4 tracks each. Went back to the Mode 7 flat courses. It also includes all the courses from Super (reordered into 5 cups of 4), beginning the tradition of including a set of retro tracks to match the new ones. Developed by Intelligent Systems, the people that brought you Paper Mario and Fire Emblem. (Nintendo 3DS Ambassadors also have access to this game on that system; notably, this means they can play every portable Mario Kart game on that system.)
Mario Kart: Double Dash!! (Nintendo GameCube, 2003): Features two characters per kart — one driver, one "gunner", allowing the player to stock two items simultaneously and swap characters at will. The first game to allow players to pick their drivers and kart separately, as well as having the first unlockable characters (for a total of 20, one being Toadette, who makes her debut here), and character-specific "special" items. It's also rather famous for its pre-order bonus disc.
Mario Kart Arcade GP (Arcade, 2005): Developed by Namco, features 11 characters including Namco mainstays such as Pac-Man, Ms. Pac-Man, and Blinky. Features a card system for saving data such as Time Attack times and saving powerups, but only on select cabs.
Mario Kart DS (Nintendo DS, 2005): Has 12 characters (4 of them hidden and unlockable) with 3 karts apiece. Also marks a landmark in Nintendo history as being the company's first foray into online multiplayer gamingnote At least internationally; the Japanese release of Pokémon Crystal had online battling as well..
Mario Kart Arcade GP 2 (Arcade, 2007): An Updated Re-release of the first arcade title. Has 13 characters, the 11 original plus Waluigi and Mametchi. It also features four new tracks in addition to the original ones. Also developed by Namco.
Mario Kart Wii (Wii, 2008): Allows a massive 12 characters per race (with 13 more unlockable characters, one of which is the player's Mii, while Baby Daisy makes her debut as well), features a selection of motorbikes in addition to the usual karts, a "Wii Wheel" attachment for motion-control steering, and fully-featured online multiplayer.
Mario Kart 7 (Nintendo 3DS, 2011): Has 16 characters plus your Mii, but courses are reduced back to 8 racers for balance reasons. Courses now include underwater racing and launch ramps for gliding through the air, and the player can fully customize their kart with individual selections of driver, chassis, wheels, and glider. Co-developed by Retro Studios (the people who brought you Metroid Prime and Donkey Kong Country Returns), and includes improved online features even over Mario Kart Wii.
Mario Kart Arcade GP DX (Arcade, 2013): A new arcade game featuring a single-player Grand Prix, co-op, and a "Clone Battle" mode. Also includes the gliders from Mario Kart 7. Developed once again by Namco.
Mario Kart 8 (Wii U, Spring 2014): The next installment of the franchise. Unveiled at E3 2013, the bikes and 12-character races from Wii and the gliding and underwater mechanics from 7 return, as well as a new anti-gravity mechanic similar to F-Zero and Crash Nitro Kart.
The series features examples of these tropes:
A.I. Breaker: In Super Mario Kart, the AI in Bowser Castle 2 seem to suddenly break at the final jump before the finish line. They keep grinding against the wall which screws up their momentum and causes them to fall into the lava at least half the time.
Airplane Arms: Wiggler in Mario Kart 7 is almost constantly doing this with his upper two arms.
The limited AI of early installments generally kept the AI in a close pack and following almost the exact same path each lap, to the point where a map display looks like they're following the leader like you'd see in an RPG (it is especially noticeable when attempting to catch up after getting taken out by, say, a Spiny Shell). You can even decide which AI to harass just by where you drop your items.
Later installments give the AI much more variety, especially in Mario Kart 7 where if the track offers alternate paths, the AI will regularly split up between them.
Always Night: Ghost Valley 1-3, Banshee Boardwalk, Boo Lake, Broken Pier, Luigi's Mansion (both the track in DS & 7 and battle arena in Double Dash!!), Moonview Highway, Mushroom City, Double Dash!!'s Rainbow Road (which unlike other Rainbow Roads is in the night sky of a city instead of space)...
Amazing Technicolor Battlefield: The final course of every Special Cup in every game is called "Rainbow Road", a psychedelic race across a wafer-thin track made up of ... well, rainbow. Always set in space (or, in Double Dash!!'s case, the skies above some metropolis), always the hardest track of the game, and most have few railings to protect you from falling off into thin air.
Artificial Brilliance: In Mario Kart DS, the AI actually seems to know that if it puts a Banana Peel or fake item box on the loop-the-loop... there's no chance for survival. The AI in the games after 64 seemed to have known about using items as shields and even tried to drop banana peels right in your path if you were close to them. They're still very cheatsy, though. By Mario Kart 7, the AI has learned to block items perfectly and even fire them backwards at the perfect time to hit you. The AI is even smart enough to use shortcuts when they have the item needed to reach them. Heck, on higher difficulties on Mario Kart 7, if a Blue Shell is homing in on them and you're not too far behind, they may even try to veer in front of you to take you out with them, a tactic commonly employed by human players.
Artificial Stupidity: In the early games, the AI is pretty stupid and naturally handicapped...but they manage to provide a challenge by speeding. In Mario Kart 64, for instance, computer opponents will throw banana peels ahead of themselves and immediately slip on them, but catch up to you by means of rubber band AI.
Lakitu becomes playable in Mario Kart 7 after spending the rest of the series as an NPC.
Also, Shy Guy was promoted from a character used only in Download Play Mode in Mario Kart DS to a fully-playable character in Mario Kart 7.
Wiggler was originally a final boss character for Mario Kart DS and an obstacle on Maple Treeway in Mario Kart Wii before he finally shrunk down and he got himself a kart for Mario Kart 7. (Funnily enough, that Wii track is included in 7.)
The Honey Queen had previously only appeared in a few stages of the Super Mario Galaxy games.
Metal Mario was originally just a power-up form in Super Mario 64; the only times he's been a separate character before 7 was in the original Mario Golf and as a stubborn mid-boss in Smash Bros.
Awesome, but Impractical: The Beast and Golden Gliders in 7 are flashy, but are just a reskinned Super Glider. The Golden tires are also pretty, but their stats are worse than the Slick wheels.
Badass Adorable: Toadette, Toad, the princesses(and their baby counterparts), and to cap it Yoshi, who hums when he places in Mario Kart Wii.
Bad Future: Possibly with Neo Bowser City. Hovercrafts fly in the background, the environment is very futuristic, and Bowser's image is everywhere.
Banana Peel: One of the standard items since the first game. It was the special item of Donkey Kong Jr. in the first game, and a giant variation thereof was the special item of Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong in Double Dash.
Band Land: 7 features Music Park, a track where racers drive atop piano keys, drums, and other assorted musical instruments.
Berserk Button: Wiggler, as expected, will turn red and fly into a rage if he's ever hit by an item.
Big Boo's Haunt: Every game features a haunted track with ghosts. Banshee Boardwalk from the N64 version is a prime example.
Technically averted in Wii and 7, which each include a retro haunted track but no new ones.
Actually averted with Double Dash, though King Boo does appear as a playable character.
Biker Babe: Daisy, Peach, or Rosalina when they ride bikes.
Boring, but Practical: The unlockable gliders aside from Beast and Gold are less cool looking but increase your acceleration. They also decrease your kart's weight, thus allowing the kart to glide further distances.
The increase in acceleration and decrease in weight is misleading: The unlockable gliders ACTUALLY decrease your flying speed.
Bottomless Pit Rescue Service: Falling into a pit results in a Lakitu pulling you back onto the stage, but with a major loss in time, position, or coins.
Starting with Mario Kart 64, beating the Extra/Mirror Special Cup unlocks a new title screen. note In Mario Kart 64, mirror mode was known as "Extra" and mirrored left/right on every track, plus it made Toad's Turnpike That One Level by reversing the direction of the trucks on the track. In Mario Kart Super Circuit, there was no mirror mode, but there was a completely different "Extra" mode that consisted of Nostalgia Levels from the original and was unlocked through a method nobody would think to do without looking it up or asking someone who has. To get all extra cups on one engine class (with the method being the same with each class), every cup has to have a gold trophy and the cups have to be done over again with the coin total at the end being at least 100; fortunately, getting another gold trophy is not a requirement (anywhere from fourth up when just playing through them to get the extra cup equivalent is OK). Beating the 150cc Extra Special Cup unlocked the first new title screen, and achieving a three-star rank on every cup unlocked the second. In Mario Kart Double Dash!!, there is a secret bonus cup known as the All-Cup Tour, consisting of everysingletrack in the game, which unlocks Mirror Mode in the first place, which when beaten on Mirror along with the standalone cups unlocks a secret kart and the new title screen. Mario Kart DS, Wii, and 7 require 150cc to be beaten to unlock Mirror, but otherwise don't have any ridiculous methods of unlocking the new title screen.
Mii Outfit B in Wii is just a special costume for Miis to wear. It offers no benefits over Mii Outfit A.
The golden parts in 7 are mostly for show, as they have no major bonuses.
Bubbly Clouds: Sky Garden, a track from the GBA version; imported into the DS version as well.
If you race as your Mii in Mario Kart Wii, various statues and posters will be replaced with Miis from the Mii Channel (so for instance, your Mii will appear on a statue of Mario in DK Summit, or on billboards in Moonview Highway). On select tracks, like Coconut Mall, your Miis will appear on posters even if you are not playing as your own Mii. Miis also appear as spectators in both Wii and 7.
Rally-X, a Pooka, and a Galaga appear as special items for the Pac-Man characters in Arcade GP.
Saint Elimine shows up in the Double Dash!! bonus disc to facilitate the transfer of some items to Fire Emblem: Blazing Sword. Bear in mind that this is a character who doesn't even actually appear in her "own" games.
Camera Screw: Almost never happens in the series, but one case of it occurs frequently in the Rock Rock Mountain track in 7. When you start to climb the hill before the finish line, the camera, which is always behind your kart, has to shift to a different angle so you can get a better view on what's ahead of you on the climb. The problem here is that the camera shifts a bit slow and leaves you blind for a moment, which can screw you over if you can't see a banana peel or a boulder rolling down at you. This is avoided if you play in first person view.
The camera can also a bit uncooperative around walls in 7, mostly in battle mode.
Occasionally the camera will get stuck outside a fence lining the track in Double Dash - particularly prone to this are the Wario Colosseum and Rainbow Road tracks.
Canon Discontinuity: The arcade versions must be; otherwise Mario Kart 7 would be "Mario Kart 9".
Car Fu: Battle modes are generally like this. So are many of the boss battles in the Mission Mode of the DS version.
Chest Insignia: The series has used a vehicle variant since DS, with each kart having two or three places on it for the driver's personal emblem. DS itself even let players design their own custom symbol.
This was removed in all later games in the series, however, likely due to the staggering number of crude and/or offensive things people put as their insignias
Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Whenever a character does not appear in the very next game after one they did, but a very notable one is Waluigi, who was in every game since Double Dash... before not getting into 7.
Even more bizarre because they actually have Waluigi's stage from Mario Kart DS, Waluigi Pinball
In Super Mario Kart, while the AI can crash into walls if you make it happen, course obstacles do not apply to them as they will simply clip through the obstacle. The lead rival can also continuously use a certain item (depending on the character) infinitely. To top it off, some of them have access to items you can never get.
Wii is even worse. Rubber-banding, the computer constantly gets the blue shell and can and will nail you with it. If not that expected Bom-ombs or some sort of explosions to knock you off the road. Followed by getting railroaded by the other drivers as you try to recover, knocking your placing further down, especially if you're on a bridge or next to a hazard.
7 adds a new dimension, thanks to the reintroduction of coins. You need 10 coins in order to max out your kart's speed and acceleration. No so much the CPU-controlled drivers; in the 150cc and Mirror modes, their speed and acceleration are permanently set to maximum, irrespective of how many coins they actually have. This means that unless you can keep your coin count reasonably high throughout the race and/or make good use of your items, you're going to lose, badly.
By making Koopa Troopa a default and leaving Wario unlockable, Mario Kart 7's starting character roster is a throwback to the character line up from Super Mario Kart.
Some of 7's unlockable karts are ones from earlier games in the series, such as the Pipe Frame, the original kart from Super and 64, and the Barrel Train from Double Dash!!
Double Dash's special item per character is also a nod to the special items used by the AI in Super Mario Kart.
Convection Schmonvection: Many stages (especially Bowser's Castle levels) feature tons of lava. It's only a problem if you fall in, or if you run into a spout, but even if you accidentally do so, no worries—Lakitu will fish you right out.
Cool Bike: Mostly in Wii, though there is one unlockable bike in DS as well.
Co-Op Multiplayer: One of the main features in Double Dash!!. Battle Mode in Wii is also like this.
Cosmetic Award: The reward for beating every cup with a one-star, two-star, or three-star rating in Mario Kart Wii and Mario Kart 7 is... the appropriate number of stars next to your name on the "race results" screen.
Well, crossed with a little Bragging Rights Reward in Wii. If all the cups have a star or more, that minimum number of stars will appear next to your name in online multiplayer. (Of course, to some of the savvier players, it might make you a target).
Creator Cameo: Staff Ghosts have been available for the purpose of beating Nintendo staff members' records in Time Trial mode in some games. In 7, staff members from Retro Studios join Nintendo EAD's staff.
Crossover: With the "Wii series", especially Wii Sports Resort, since Wuhu Island has two confirmed race tracks and a battle track in 7. Music Park also contains some nods to Wii Music.
Also in 7, there's DK Jungle, which is a track involving places and enemies found in Donkey Kong Country Returns. Donkey Kong himself has been playable since 64, and Diddy and Funky have joined in at times.
In DS, R.O.B. the robot being a guest driver could be considered this.
Pilotwings Resort gets a couple of nods in the Maka Wuhu track.
Damn You, Muscle Memory: The only difference between 150cc and Mirror is that the tracks are flipped around to invoke this. Meaning you have to relearn the entire track and make left turns where you used to make right turns. It's really harder on traffic courses, since the traffic direction is reversed as well.
Try playing Double Dash, then switching to Wii while using a Gamecube controller. Be prepared for screams of rage as you look behind you instead of throwing items, fail to get the initial boost despite timing it perfectly...
Dead Character Walking: Drivers knocked out of the contest in battle mode can still drive around the battlefield, laying boxes, albeit invisible and intangible. Except in 64, where they instead get one more chance to drive around as a bomb, though they're out for good once they blow up another player by crashing into him.
Demoted to Extra: In 7 Waluigi went from being a playable character to merely being the mascot of his eponymous Waluigi Pinball track, which returns from DS even though he doesn't. He's back to being a playable character in 8, curiously enough.
Earlier than 7, Koopa Beach appears in 64 despite Koopa Troopa not being playable, and DS has Baby Park appear as a retro track (originally from Double Dash!) despite no baby characters being playable.
The Heavy karts don't recover from failure as easily as lighter karts, but avoiding error allows them to be the fastest karts in the game. Rubber Band A.I. loves to counter this with light weight karts that can catch up to you on straightways.
The Super, Beast/Ghastly, and Gold Gliders become this, especially in Time Trials, if you know about the game's hidden stats. Due to how the hidden stats are distributed, the gliders that don't boost anything (the aforementioned Super, Beast/Ghastly, and Golden Gliders) are quite fast in the air, but lack aerial handling.
Divergent Character Evolution: While he already got hints of it back in the original Super Smash Bros. and Dr. Mario 64, Metal Mario has become his own character in 7. For example, his voice clips and mannerisms are different than Mario's. They both also suggest he's a lot cockier than Mario.
Some players use this trope to their advantage by not playing their best on purpose so they can either overtake the leader with the right item or zoom ahead the rest of the pack with a powerful item if they are farther back.
Dub Name Change: An odd case in which the North American localization of Mario Kart Wii had many vehicle names different from the already-released European localization (for instance, what is known as the Bowser Bike in Europe is known as the Flame Runner in the United States). The same goes for tracks (which is why you might find people who refer to DK Summit as DK's Snowboard Cross, and the battle stage Chain Chomp Wheel is known as Chain Chomp Roulette).
This carried over into 7, as some tracks have different names per region.
The Raceway tracks in 64 were called Circuits in the original Japanese version. This change did not occur in later installments except for Nostalgia Levels that originally had the change (e.g. Luigi Raceway in 7).
Dummied Out: DS had several unused tracks. Some were merely for testing, such as ones that actually have "test" in the filename and one that is simply an early version of Wario Stadium, but others include Double Dash!!'s Mario Circuit, a Koopa Troopa track, a variant of DK Pass without snow, and an unused pinball track.
Wii has character icons for Petey Piranha, Koopa Paratroopa, Hammer Brother, and a third Mii outfit. The Chain Chomp was also going to be an item and even has an Icon for it, but it eventually became the Bullet Bill instead.
Early-Installment Weirdness: Hits both Super Mario Kart and, to a lesser extent, Mario Kart 64. Items in particular behave much differently in these two games.
Super Mario Kart and Mario Kart 64 both forced you to redo a single-player race if you failed to place within the top 4. Every other installment lets you continue, albeit at a disadvantage.
Super Mario Kart also had a different mini-turbo mechanic. While the rest of the series had you power slide and then move left and right to do it, the first game has you swing around curves and the straighten yourself out in order to get the boost. This mechanic was revisted in Mario Kart: Super Circuit and tweaked further in Mario Kart Wii and Mario Kart 7.
Super Mario Kart is also the only game (thus far) that has the Feather item, which allows you to jump high over obstacles and walls for shortcuts. Unlike the other items, it has not been used in the rest of the games since.
Super Mario Kart was the first game to use the coin system that lets you speed up the more coins you had on you and lost coins every time you were hit or fell off course. Only Super Circuit and 7 revisted the coin mechanics.
Super Mario Kart is also the only game in the series to use a lives system, making it possible to get a game over for failing to finish in the top 4 one too many times.
Two Words: Item Tiles.
Earn Your Fun: Super Mario Kart would not let you access the Special Cup on 50cc; you had to play on 100cc and then get gold trophies on the rest of the cups just to be able to play the Special Cup. You also have to beat the Special Cup with a gold trophy earned just to be able to play the 150cc class.
Easter Egg: The results music in 64 plays a different piano solo after 64 loops, which takes about 50 minutes.
Easy-Mode Mockery: A very mild case in Mario Kart 7. The added bass percussion that plays when you have a sizable lead does not play when playing 50cc Grand Prix, no matter how much of a lead you have.
Super Mario Kart doesn't allow you to race in the Special Cup if you play on 50cc.
Final Boss: Chief Chilly in the Mission Mode of DS.
Fireballs: The special item for Mario and Luigi in Double Dash!!, and made a regular item in 7.
Follow the Leader: It started the kart racing format that many other games would mimic.
Frothy Mugs of Water: In the Japanese version of Super Mario Kart, Bowser and Peach will drink their bottle of champagne if they get First Place Gold. This was censored out in the International versions.
Furry Confusion: One of the new characters in 7 is the Queen Bee from Super Mario Galaxy, but one of the battle arenas in the same game takes place inside a beehive, featuring the bee enemies from Super Mario 3D Land as obstacles.
Game Mod: Mario Kart Wii has a pretty big modding community, especially in regards to remaking tracks from old games, and even some tracks from Mario Kart games released after Wii - like a couple of Mario Kart 7's tracks (albeit it's hard to make Wii versions of 7 tracks as 7 tracks have glider and underwater segments and Wii does not feature those capabilities. For instance, this adaptation of Mario Kart 7's Rainbow Road or the version in Double Dash!! have been almost perfectly converted to the point that they don't feel any different from their original games.
Genre Savvy: Long time fans of the series know just how dangerous it is to stay in the lead when a Spiny Shell is active. If you're the more savvy type of player, you will either stay below first place for a while and then try to overtake the leader when the time is right in order to avoid the item or if you know the item is coming, you will slow down to take out as many people as possible when the shell locks onto you. This is magnified in Mario Kart DS and 7 since the lower screen shows what item everyone has, allowing you to react quicker if someone draws a Spiny Shell.
This trope also leads into some Dangerously Genre Savvy moments if you're the kind who will do the Spiny Shell fake out on your opponents in the DS and 3DS versions of the games. The other players, aware that a Spiny Shell is coming or is going to be used will slam on the brakes in a desperate hot-potato move to make someone else is the new target, while you with the shell in your possession may never use it at all to trick the other players into slowing down and allow you to take the lead. This means, as the Spiny Shell holder, you are extremely dangerous to hang around since you can launch the item the moment you drop back.
Golden Snitch: Powerful items are usually obtained by players lagging behind. Some people purposely play horribly at the start so they can score a powerful item, catch up with good racing, and then blow past the last few people on the final lap. This also keeps them (relatively) safe from the genuine laggers behind who are using their items to mess with the players in first.
Green Hill Zone: The Luigi Circuits in 64 (renamed Luigi Raceway outside of Japan), Double Dash!!, and Wii (and to some, the entire Mushroom Cup) are, as starting tracks/cup, fairly simple and obstacle-free.
The GBA Luigi Circuit averts this, being located at an airport with lots of rain! Also, the only Luigi course not to be in the Mushroom Cup. Mario Kart DS features the Figure-8 Circuit as the opening course, but the Mushroom Cup still featured a Luigi course at the end - Luigi's Mansion - and the Luigi Circuit from Double Dash!! appears in the Shell Cup.
Many of the Mario Circuits throughout the series are also pretty standard-fare. Wii and Double Dash!! feature Chain Chomps that you have to avoid.
Mario Kart 7 features Toad Circuit as the opening course, with nary a Luigi course in sight in the Mushroom Cup. The original N64 Luigi Raceway does return.
Griefer: Naturally, griefers started to show up once the series went online in DS and Wii. One of the most common methods people use to grief is to drive backwards and attack people, although Nintendo has tried to stop this by auto disconnecting the player if they keep going in reverse for too long. Battle mode also has its share of griefers where they will just sit idle and never play, leading to a game where everyone else will attack the idle griefer just to score points very easily and screw over anyone else who wasn't quick enough to do the same.
Mario Kart DS and Wii also had the case of Cheat Code Type 3 being extremely rampant online.
Guest Driver: The Arcade GP games, developed by Namco, gave us Pac-Man, Ms. Pac-Man, and Blinky the ghost (Mametchi comes along in the second game, inadvertently providing the first crossover between Namco and Bandai since they merged)... and that was long before Pac-Man World Rally (which also happened to have its own cameoracers.) Meanwhile, Mario Kart DS offered R.O.B. Mario Kart Wii and 7 let you play as your Mii, in two different outfits in the former. Wii also has two Guest Vehicles, the Blue Falcon and the Mach Rider.
Hoist by His Own Petard: This will happen to you pretty often if you forget where you dropped your banana peels and fake item boxes, if your green shells rebound off walls back at you, if you throw a Bob-Omb right into your own path, etc.
This can also happen to you with items that are supposed to help you, such as mushrooms and stars. Use these speed boosting items at the wrong time and you'll fling yourself off the track.
Hot Potato: Mario Kart Wii introduces a new item called the Thunder Cloud, or as some call it, the "Herpes Cloud" (because you transfer it by contact) which gives a ten-second warning before it zaps you, shrinking you temporarily, but you can pass it to someone else by exchanging contact with them. It does, however, give you a slight speed boost (and the ability to drive off-road without losing speed), making it a double-edged sword.
Humiliation Conga: So you think you're safe in first place? Cue Spiny Shell, Red Shell, POW Block, Lightning, and a Blooper just to top it off. And, to add insult to injury, you might have a Boo steal whatever item you have in store. If you're really unlucky, a member of the pack catching up with you will knock you off the track with a Bullet Bill or, if said member of the pack is a heavyweight, simply by using superior size. If you're more unlucky still, the humiliation will be compounded by happening too far into the final lap for any sort of recovery to be possible.
Interface Screw: Bloopers (Mario-universe squid), introduced in Mario Kart DS, cover your opponents' screens in black ink, obscuring their forward view. (This is also visible by painting the entire vehicle/driver black.) It even has an effect on the AI, causing them to swerve and slow down a notch when it's in effect. There's also the cake frosting when you bump into giant whipped toppings in one of the MKDS battle courses.
Invincibility Power-Up: The star item not only makes you invincible, but speeds you up! And you can drive off-road without speed loss.
Invincible Minor Minion: The Thwomps on Rainbow Road in the SNES version are star powered, causing you to spin out and lose coins from even touching them. Strictly speaking, though, they aren't invincible (they can be destroyed by a racer with star power). They reappear the next lap.
The Rainbow Thwomps reappear in the Nostalgia Level version of the SNES track in 7, and this time they also cause the track to ripple and shake whenever they pound the ground. They still cause you to spin out if you so much as touch them.
In the Bowser Castle tracks, such as those on Wii, the Thwomps do cause the track to shake if you happen to be by one when it pounds the ground, but instead of spinning you out, you can be crushed by one if you happen to have poor timing, so it helps to study the Thwomps and the sequence in which they come down.
It's a Wonderful Failure: Fail to be one of the top three racers at the end of a Grand Prix and you'll miss out on the victory ceremony. The SNES installment showed your racer sitting aside the victory podium quietly sobbing to themselves, while the N64 installment showed your racer watching the victory celebration from a distance before getting chased down and blown up by a Bob-Omb. Later games simply give a "Better luck next time!" message with a chart showing your overall results. The Game Boy Advance installment had the stand outright crush you.
Scoring outside the top three is actually rather difficult in the SNES, N64,and GBA installments, where if you fail to finish within the top four of any race, you lose one life and are forced to retry that course instead of proceeding on to the next. Later games allow you to proceed through all the courses in a Prix, but as usual, you'll only get a trophy for finishing in the top three.
Jack of All Stats: Mario, as in every spinoff, as well as others in the Medium class.
Riverside Park and Lakeside Park from Super Circuit.
Dino Dino Jungle from Double Dash!! and 7.
DK Jungle from 7.
Lethal Lava Land: Often Bowser's Castle, which is in every game, but other tracks also feature lava, such as Grumble Volcano in Mario Kart Wii, where parts of the track actually collapse (look for the cracks in the track the first time by and just be aware that those sections might be gone by the time you get back around).
Level Ate: Some of the battle maps in later games fall into this category. And one of the Super Circuit tracks is made entirely out of cheese.
Level In Reverse: The Mirror Cups basically take the courses and mirror them horizontally, forcing you to then have to relearn your way around the track.
Luck-Based Mission: Part of the appeal of the series where if the skill gap between players isn't too far off, a player lagging behind has a chance of winning if they get the right item. However, this is also very controversial with the competitive scene/skilled players due to how a single item like the Spiny Shell can instantly turn a victory into a loss (especially during the final lap). It also does not help that this trope is in full effect when it comes to playing against the game's Rubberband AI. The trope is softened somewhat in a few of the games in the series that allow the players to change what type of items can be spawned in a local multiplayer game plus certain items being retooled (or removed entirely).
Lucky Seven: 7 features a rare item called "Lucky 7" which surrounds you with seven items you can use as you want. But it's a double-edged sword and can backfire in several ways, as the items will also activate if someone else touches you, and can be lost entirely if you get hit by an item or course hazard.
Made of Iron: All the characters can shake off explosions, lightning strikes, and falling into lava easily.
Marathon Level: Mario Kart 64's version of Rainbow Road. It is by far the longest track in the series, taking approximately 2 minutes to complete a lap.
The All-Cup Tour in Double Dash!! is, well, all sixteen tracks one after the other.
A few tracks in Mario Kart 7 are a subversion, namely both Wuhu Island tracks (Wuhu Loop in the Flower Cup and Maka Wuhu in the Star Cup) and Rainbow Road. These tracks are ESPECIALLY long. The subversion comes in when you pretty much only have to drive one lap, and progress is divided by 3 sections. Rainbow Road still takes longer than most races though.
However, played straight when 7's Rainbow Road is ported into Mario Kart Wii as a custom track and the result is a three lap race where it takes about 2 minutes 15 seconds on average to complete a lap, for a race completion time of 6 and a half to 7 minutes depending on how frequently you fall off the course.
Mascot Mook: Koopa Troopas have been playable off-and-on since the first game. Other playable "mook" characters include Dry Bones, Lakitu, Shy Guy, and Wiggler.
Mercy Invincibility: Zig-zagged. Spinning out makes you immune to being spun out again until the animation is finished, but you are still open to harder hitting attacks that makes you tumble, such as shells. If you are hit by a shell or a similar powerful attack, you can't be hit by anything else again until the animation stops.
Mickey Mousing: Music Park's feature. On several curves, you drive over piano and xylophone keys, adding layers to the track's music, Piranha Plants bob their heads to the music and bite you within the beat, and giant music notes stomp to the music, creating shockwaves.
Mighty Glacier: Bowser, Donkey Kong and Wario, plus a few others depending on the game in the Heavy class. As mentioned above, the Heavyweight racers get the most powerful cars, so they're actually faster, and they're not as vulnerable to ramming. Low acceleration means that they are actually more vulnerable to big screwups, though, and the worse handling only compounds this.
Glacier Waif: In Mario Kart Wii, size is determined by height, not weight. Waluigi, practically a living stick-man, is in the Large Class (when he was originally Middleweight in DS) because he's so tall. The same goes for King Boo (a ghost) and Rosalina (who stays in the higher weight class in 7).
Mythology Gag: As mentioned in the main text at the top of the article, the games are heavily influenced by Mario platformers. However, Super Circuit's Rainbow Road instead has a callback on the original Paper Mario by having Bowser's Castle from that game in the background. This was likely because both Super Circuit and the Paper Mario games came from Nintendo's Intelligent Systems division while the other Mario Kart games except for the arcade games come from Nintendo EAD like the platformers (though Retro Studios, which is one of Nintendo's American development divisions, assisted with International Co Production 7, as noted above).
The drivers from 64 make the Pipe Frame match the color they originally used in 64.
Koopa Troopa's Pipe Frame matches the color in Super, which is the only game before 7 that both have appeared in together.
N64 Luigi Raceway and SNES Rainbow Road in 7 stick to the classic formula from their respective games, as they don't have gliding or underwater driving.
The rival system in 7 pairs most of the drivers from Super Mario Kart with their old rival from said game.
Piranha Plant Slide is one big mythology gag to the original Super Mario Bros.. The cardboard Goombas are also one to Super Mario 3D Land.
A billboard in 8 advertises Shy Guy Metals, claming they've been around since 1987. This is a reference to Doki Doki Panic, which was Shy Guy's debut in 1987. Their technical Mario debut was in 1988.
Nerf: The gimping of power sliding and the removal of "snaking" in Wii.
In DS, a very simple technique called "snaking" allowed karts with very certain drift and acceleration stats being balanced to each other to attain very high speed via the speed boosts from repeated drifting, even on straightaways. The developers of Mario Kart Wii and 7 took note of this and completely overhauled the mini-turbo system, making it truer to Super Mario Kart and Super Circuit in how the boost was attained by drifting for a longer time around a corner.
The map feature from Mario Kart DS had a slight nerf in Mario Kart 7; the map no longer shows active course hazards like Bullet Bills or Goombas so the Blooper item could be more dangerous if you had relied on reading the map in the DS game.
The shortcut in Koopa Troopa Beach was cut very short in 7.
7 nerfed the Super Star item, making its speed boost a lot less powerful compared to the other games, but it still is useful for cutting through grass and dirt for an improvised shortcut.
In Mario Kart 64 the there were hidden special item blocks on Luigi Raceway and Koopa Beach that were always guaranteed to give you a spiny shell. When these retro courses reappeared on the 3DS, the block on Luigi Raceway was changed to a normal block and on Koopa Beach it was replaced with a coin.
In Mario Kart DS there was also a special hidden item block on DK Pass that would usually give anyone who gets it a star or three mushrooms, and less often a single mushroom or even a red shell. In the 3DS where DK Pass reappears as a retro course, the item block's chances were changed to give single mushrooms more often than three mushrooms or a star.
The Bullet Bill, an item introduced in Mario Kart DS, was heavily nerfed in 7, traveling much slower than it did previously.
Nintendo Hard: In most games in the series (some more so than others), 150 cc and Mirror Mode, particularly the Special and Lightning Cup.
Super Mario Kart tends to be the worst of the bunch due to the following:
Momentum in the game gets wonky at times. If you crash head on into a wall and use a feather at the same time, you bounce quite far going backwards. If you smack into another racer while turning, you stop dead cold no matter what weight class you play as.
Trying to pass the AI, especially on 150 CC is a nightmare due to how they all drive on the same path and you're likely to run into them on turns.
The AI on 150 CC never lets up, which makes staying in the lead extremely difficult. If you screwed up too many times, you stand no chance of catching up. The AI's rubber band was basically broken on this level. This is also on top of the AI having infinite items, being able to throw them with near pinpoint accuracy, and having unique items you could never get.
Despite being a racing game, the game had a lives system. Every time you finish in the bottom 5, it costs a life to try the race over and it was Game Over if you lose all your lives. This was just as bad in a 2 player GP mode because if one of the players lost all their lives, they were eliminated from the rest of the cup!
Super Circuit offers us all twenty tracks from the original SNES game. Later iterations took this up another level and devoted entire cups to the concept, with the Retro Grand Prix in 7 being the first to end with a Rainbow Road (in this case, the one from Super Mario Kart) like the standard cups.
Old Save Bonus: Installing Mario Kart Wii on a console that has a Super Mario Galaxy save is beneficial in that it ramps down the requirements for unlocking Rosalina by several notches (from ranking 1 star in every cup on Mirror - or playing 4,950 races to... merely playing 50 races).
Ominous Pipe Organ: The Bowser's Castle music from Double Dash!! has this. The regular Bowser's Castle levels for DS and 7 feature parts of the GCN medley. 7 also has Double Dash!!'s Bowser's Castle as a retro track.
100% Completion: Starting with Mario Kart 64, nearly every Mario Kart game requires a gold trophy in each cup and/or in each engine class to unlock new tracks or characters. A few other games in the series cranks it up to eleven by requiring a star rank or greater and getting at least one star in every cup and in every engine class gets you a star next to your name.
One Stat to Rule Them All: Acceleration in Double Dash!! and DS, Speed in Wii. Other stuff is useful, but those are the ones good players end up focusing on.
Outrun the Fireball: Starting with DS, it's entirely possible to dodge a Spiny Shell. However, doing so in Wii and 7 requires a well timed mushroom boost or a convenient cannon, making some luck needed and being hard to pull off.
Palmtree Panic: The various beach-themed tracks. Notable obstacles are shallow and deep water (though in 7 deep water can typically be driven through instead of being an obstacle), Cheep-Cheeps, and crabs (which in 7 look like Sidesteppers from Mario Bros.).
Mario Kart 64 introduced the "Fake Item Box", a hazard that resembles a normal item box; skilled players know that the best place to put one is on top of a real item box so that the other characters won't be able to know where it is. Strangely, it was removed in 7.
An actual Poison Mushroom appears in Super Mario Kart as Peach and Toad's item.
Power-Up Letdown: The speed boost provided Super Mushroom in Mario Kart 64 is barely even noticeable, as a result of the development team nerfing the Super Mushroom due to complaints that it was a Game Breaker in the SNES original. Subsequent games have generally hit the right balance in terms of how much boost it provides.
The Blooper from the later games. It's supposedly to block your sight and make it hard to avoid obstacles... but it's not too hard to see through the gaps remaining and figure out what's going on anyway. Or just to look at the map on the bottom screen in Mario Kart DS or 7. On the bright side, the AI do act like drunken idiots when someone uses it against them, so it has some use as long as you're not going against human opponents.
Prehistoria: Dino Dino Jungle from Double Dash!! and 7.
Racing The Train: Kalimari Desert in Mario Kart 64 and Mario Kart 7 has a train that runs on a continuous clockwise loop that also means the race course has two grade crossings. It can be this trope, though, especially given how being forced to slow down at either grade crossing to wait for the train to pass totally wastes a lot of time. So it means a lot of karts racing towards the level crossing as the train races by, and the odd too slow racer smashing right into it. You can also either literally try and outrun the train round the track in the Nintendo 64 version by racing ahead through the tunnel. Or in the 7 version, you can fly straight over it with a glider ramp and/or just take a star and just drive straight through, sending the train flying into the air.
Rank Inflation: Starting with Super Circuit, then the DS and Wii games. If an A rank is not enough for you, try to get 1,2, or 3 stars. The Wii version ups the ante and requires you to at least 1 star some cups to unlock certain extra content note such as getting at least one star in all the 50cc cups to unlock Baby Daisy. 7 only has stars, from zero to three depending on how quickly you clear each cup.
The Red Baron: In Mario Kart 7, each player is given a title (the player can view their own under Mario Kart Channel, at the face icon) based on how they play (for example, Quick Starter is for those good at hitting a boost at the start, while Dolphin is for those good at racing underwater). When racing against the AI-controlled version of those players gained through StreetPass, their play style is informed by their title.
Red Ones Go Faster: With the customizable parts added in "7" comes the Monster wheels, which can make a kart much heavier instantly. Their cousins, the Red Monster wheels, are a bit lighter and have a touch more acceleration.
Retraux: The music for the retro courses in 7 was remastered less thoroughly than in the previous two games, so the music tends to sound very similar to how it originally sounded, aside from possibly having clearer audio depending on the original system, and of course the base percussion added if you build up a large lead.
Rewarding Vandalism: In Mario Kart DS, destroying boxes reveals mushrooms which give an instant speed boost. Mario Kart Wii keeps the boxes and, on Maple Treeway, adds leaf-piles that may also reveal mushrooms or other items (usually banana peels).
The Rival: A feature that debuted in Super Mario Kart, and then returned in 7. Depending on who the player drives as, there will be certain characters that perform better and be more persistent. For example, Mario's two rivals in 7 are Bowser and Metal Mario.
If people are tagged with 7's StreetPass feature, their Mii may show up sometimes in Grand Prix mode to be an extra rival. Their Mii will also act as a rival in their customized Grand Prix.
Rollercoaster Mine: Wario's Gold Mine from Mario Kart Wii - with drops, rises, jumps, and even a section where you are dodging mine carts.
It's interesting to note that the AI players' driving is calibrated at differing strengths depending on the player's choice of driver. For example, if you play as Bowser in Mario Kart 7, your fiercest AI rivals in a single-player GP will be ... Mario and Luigi.
Same Content, Different Rating: Subverted with 7, which boasted an E10+ rating (for Comic Mischief and nothing else, oddly) in trailers for the game. Apparently the ESRB changed their minds.
Same Language Dub: Happened between the Japanese and International releases of 64. All the characters spoke English in the Japanese version, but some characters had their voices changed since they sounded goofy. The announcer in Japan also had an American accent, instead of Mario.
Try not to be distracted. Many of the new tracks in Mario Kart Wii are simply gorgeous. Especially Rainbow Road and Moonview Highway.
Daisy Circuit - a small, well-built city near sea: now mix this with the fact that there's that beautiful sunset.
Mario Kart 8 is the first HD game in the series, and oh boy, does it ever show. Some of the courses seen in the trailer are nothing short of gorgeous.
With every generation they add scads of detail to the graphics. Even in the DS version: considering the hardware power differences, it's safe to say that there was nearly no loss in the tracks ported from Double Dash!!.
Schmuck Bait: You might expect picking up a stray Blooper might help you in 7. It actually will ink just you alone.
Sequel Difficulty Drop: 7's 150cc and Mirror modes don't seem as difficult as Wii's versions, most likely because of the lowered player count and removal of some of the nastier items. Still infuriating though.
A large factor in this is likely the removal of the fake item box. In every Mario Kart game since Double Dash, shells go right through the fake item box, making it absolutely useless for you to use them as a defensive option. A favorite technique in Mario Kart Wii with their Random Number God was giving you a fake item box and then giving the CPU in 2nd place a red shell, effectively making you helpless unless there was a sharp enough turn or a convenient cannon to be fired out of. Another major factor is that blue shells no longer strip you of an item you haven't used yet, and that lightning isn't rigged to happen every 30 seconds. All of this combines to allow a skilled player in fist place to play a much stronger defensive game without having it stripped away by the Random Number God.
Also, the criteria for getting at least one star on each cup seems to be significantly lower in Mario Kart 7, and getting three of them seems to almost be down to winning every race and not falling off the track too much. Apparently because being hit by items thrown by the AI opponents doesn't hurt your rank this time round.
It should be noted, however, that the ranking system in 7 drops the letters and only has between one to three stars. One might be inclined to think this is just to make a person feel better.
Shark Tunnel: Koopa Cape in Mario Kart Wii. In 7, thanks to the ability to drive underwater, it's turned into more of a shark half-pipe.
Shifting Sand Land: Some sort of desert track is also common in the series, but the king of this has to be the Thwomp Desert battle arena on Mario Kart Wii where a Thwomp crashes down to cause ripples through the sand.
Slippy-Slidey Ice World: Vanilla Lake in Super Mario Kart, Sherbet Land and Frappe Snowland in Mario Kart 64, Wii, and Double Dash!!, the aptly titled Snow Land in Super Circuit, DK Summit (DK's Snowboard Cross in foreign versions) in Wii and DK Pass in DS, and Rosalina's Ice World in 7.
Socialization Bonus: In Mario Kart 7, if you get a StreetPass tag of someone using a kart element (chassis, tires, or glider) that you don't have, the Mii in question is included in your current GP, and you win the GP, you get one of the elements that they had that you previously lacked.
Spiteful A.I.: If a CPU has an item, they'll almost always try to hit the player with it.
Mario Kart 7 takes it up a few notches by having the AI always drift into your path so they can steal every coin and item box in front of or your just bump you off the road. They take it a step further by going out of their way to hit two item boxes so you'll be even less likely to pick one up.
Super Drowning Skills: Falling in water results in you needing to get fished out, but averted in certain places in 7, where underwater can be an alternate route.
Super Title 64 Advance: Applies to every title in the series thus far except for Super Circuit, Double Dash!!, 7, and 8. note However, Super Circuit is "Mario Kart Advance" in Japan.
Take the Wheel: The main appeal of Double Dash!!. If two players are playing together, they can swap places and let the other player take control of the wheel. Also used in the game's ad, with two old ladies in a security cart.
Under the Sea: 7 introduces underwater areas. Cheep Cheep Lagoon and Wario's Ship Yard are mostly underwater.
Notably, Rosalina's Ice World and GCN Daisy Cruiser have underwater sections, but no glider sections.
Unexpected Character: Some of the (so-far) one-off characters can qualify, such as Petey Piranha, ROB, Funky Kong, Baby Peach, Baby Daisy, and Honey Queen.
Variable Mix: In Wii and 7, the menu music gains more, faster layers based on how close you are to picking everything needed to have an actual race, and the music in races warps when certain power-ups are used. In 7, the percussion of the course's song gets deeper if the player is in the lead. (Unless you're playing on 50CC.)
Additionally, certain tracks in Wii and 7 feature multiple mixes of the music playing, with the music seamlessly switching between them depending on where you are in the race. Some variations are minor (like Toad's Factory adding a clapping track to the music when indoors or the Bowser's Castle theme being more quiet when you're outside) and others can completely change the tone and/or instrumentation of the music (like Koopa Cape switching to a completely different instrumentation of its music when you head into the shark tunnel/underwater half-pipe).
Video Game 3D Leap: With 64, which wasn't too much of a leap since the first game was already Mode 7, and used pre-rendered graphics for just about everything but the maps themselves.
Wacky Racing: To the point that the game becomes part racing game and part vehicular combat game.
The series is also the Trope Maker for many others like Konami Krazy Racers (which actually preceded Super Circuit's release on the GBA) and Diddy Kong Racing (whose title character would be integrated into this series in Double Dash!!).
In Mario Kart Wii, giant Wigglers stomp around on Maple Treeway at the top of the tree. In Mario Kart DS, a giant Wiggler is raced as the Final Boss! Wigglers come in a variety of sizes in all the games; a small one played tennis in Mario Power Tennis. Not to mention that Maple Treeway returns in 7 as a retro course, further adding to this trope.
Petey Piranha in Double Dash!! He's a heavyweight character, but he's nowhere near as big as he was when he appeared in Super Mario Sunshine (or his guest appearance in Super Smash Bros Brawl, even).