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YMMV / Mario Kart

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  • 8.8:
    • Gamespot (of the "Mario Kart 64 is a 6.4" review controversy) was criticized and harassed by fans for giving Mario Kart 7 an 8.0 when they believed it deserved at least more than an 8.5.
    • Jim Sterling of Destructoid also gave Mario Kart 7 a 5 out of 10, due to what they considered a lack of innovation for a series that was 19 years old at the time. Fans weren't happy and harassed them, partially due to Jim giving higher scores to what they considered more formulaic games.
  • Accidental Innuendo: Given how the commentary works in Arcade GP 2, the announcer may say some... interesting things.
    "BOWSER is banging away— MS. PAC MAN! BANG BANG BANG!"
  • Americans Hate Tingle: Metal Mario is a Base-Breaking Character overseas, as he is generally seen as a "lazy Mario clone", but Japanese players and Super Smash Bros. fans absolutely worship him.
  • Author's Saving Throw:
    • Mario Kart Wii was released in Europe first. This was most likely in order to make up for Nintendo's earlier announcement that they would release Super Smash Bros. Brawl on June 27, 2008, that is, three and a half months after North America's March 9, 2008.
    • Mario Kart Tour:
      • The was heavily criticized for its lack of multiplayer and landscape mode at launch. These features were later added in versions 2.0.0 and 2.4.0 respectively.
      • Due to the game's heavy reliance on using rubies to pull racers and kart parts from pipes, an update placed free pipe pulls among Tour Gifts which can be unlocked with Grand Stars. The Western Tour took this further by adding a free golden pipe pull for at least finishing each cup.
  • Awesome Music: Plenty in every game. This page has more information.
  • Base-Breaking Character:
    • Funky Kong in Wii. While he's a huge Ensemble Dark Horse as mentioned below, he is widely disliked by some people for being by far the biggest Tier-Induced Scrappy in online play; since he is a heavyweight, he naturally has access to the fastest and heaviest vehicles in the game, but the catch is that he holds the largest boost on the Speed stat among the heavyweights, which coupled with the Flame Runner bike (which is fast, heavy, drifts well and has a large mini-turbo), makes for an absolute beast of a combo; one that many "Stop Having Fun" Guys will use to no end.
    • Metal Mario is a big example. He is worshipped among Super Smash Bros. fans and Japanese players ever since he joined the Mario Kart roster in 7, and also disliked by others who consider him a lazy rehash of Mario, but as a heavyweight. In a similar vein to Funky in Wii, some players disapporve of him for also being a Tier-Induced Scrappy, as he is as fast and heavy as characters like Bowser, while being shorter like a mediumweight (leading to a smaller hurtbox).
    • Daisy, who is already a base-breaker across the entire franchise (she has been playable since Double Dash!!, where her classic "Hi, I'm Daisy!" line comes from). She's less of a base-breaker in Mario Kart, but many of the points reviewed in the YMMV page for the Mario franchise still stand. Similarly to Funky, she also receives some flak in Wii for being overused in competitive online due to holding the largest boost on the Speed stat among the middleweights.
    • Baby Daisy. While some people welcomed her appearance alongside Baby Peach in Wii (her debut game overall) and a good deal of people either do not mind her as much as other characters or have grown to accept her, she still has her detractors who claim that, unlike Baby Mario, Luigi or Peach, she didn't appear in Yoshi's Island or Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time, and has no basis in any previous Mario games and apparently just being made up for "roster padding". Some of Baby Daisy's defenders will claim back that Toadette was also created for the Mario Kart series, whereas detractors will sometimes counterpoint that Toadette at least had precedence in the female Toads from Paper Mario 64.
    • Miis, starting with Wii. Some love playing with their personal avatars while others think they feel awkward in the Mario universe.
    • Rosalina has always been very popular... especially in online play in 8. This has led to several people becoming sick of seeing her in every race, especially before the DLC was released. Outside of that, some other people dislike the lack of melancholy in her voice starting with 8, product of being voiced by Laura Faye Smith.
    • Also from 8 are the Koopalings. Is their inclusion well-deserved, or was this game the one that kicked their Wolverine Publicity from 0 to 60, making them lazy choices? The fact each Koopaling is their own character (unlike the colors for Yoshi or Shy Guy), and that they were in 8 in place of characters like Diddy Kong and Bowser Jr. didn't help; fortunately, this point has since been alleviated by Jr.'s return in Deluxe.
    • Lakitu was initially disliked quite a good amount for being among the characters to make it to 7 instead of other beloved ones, although this never came to the degree of Honey Queen. Some other people didn't mind him and actually welcomed the idea of Lakitu being Promoted to Playable. The disdain for him also seems to have petered down come 8, due to the inclusion of many other beloved characters.
  • Best Level Ever:
    • Mario Kart: Double Dash!! features Mushroom City, a race around the eponymous city which features many forks that can shave precious seconds off your lap times; Wario Colosseum, a rollercoaster-esque circuit which is so long that a normal race takes only 2 laps instead of the usual 3.
    • Mario Kart DS has Waluigi Pinball, which is Exactly What It Says on the Tin: a giant pinball machine where players are launched to the top, then race back down while avoiding bumpers and giant pinballs. It even replaces the sound effects with 8-bit, casino-style jingles. Airship Fortress is also popular due to its clever and challenging design and being based on the already-popular airship levels from Super Mario Bros. 3.
    • Mario Kart Wii has Koopa Cape, which features a large river that speeds up players that drive in it, and a shark tunnel. Mario Kart 7 takes it one step further by filling the shark tunnel with water to compliment its underwater driving mechanic. Coconut Mall was also quite beloved, due to its use of Miis in the audience, which allowed players to create some absolutely hilarious audiences.
    • Mario Kart 7 introduces courses that forgo the usual roundabout design, instead using checkpoints rather than one finish line. Most people regard these as the best tracks in the game, especially Rainbow Road. Also featured in 7 is DK Jungle, which is heavily inspired by the beloved Donkey Kong Country Returns (which is helped by Retro Studios assisting with development on the game) and Rock Rock Mountain, an action-packed thrill ride through an alpine forest with boulders crashing down and several big jumps.
    • Mario Kart Arcade GP DX, as of its major content update, features two Pac-Man-themed tracks (PAC-MAN Stadium and NAMCO Circuit) which serve as homages to not only Pac-Man himself but also several of Namco's classic arcade titles such as Galaxian, Dig Dug, Mappy, and The Tower of Druaga.
    • Mario Kart 8 has many popular levels on its own, but perhaps most notable are Mount Wario and Big Blue, which are completely linear tracks that are split up into three sections and feature brilliant musical scores.
  • Breather Level: Mario Kart 64's Rainbow Road, unlike the tracks before it and its Super Mario Kart counterpart, is merely extremely long, and, unlike later incarnations, has rails on the entire track instead of just the curves, with the only hazards present being Chain Chomps that aren't too hard to avoid. Mario Kart 8 changes this by removing certain railings, and splitting the course with checkpoints, instead of three separate laps.
  • Broken Base:
    • Baby Park, which is the smallest course in the entire series and is nothing but an oval shape. It compensates for its simplistic design by having seven lapsnote , which often evolves into a ridiculous, chaotic mess with shells bouncing off of every wall. Players will either love it due to the unpredictability that anyone can win the course or hate it because it is the least skilled track in the game due to its chaotic nature.
    • Before it was fixed for 7's online mode, Maka Wuhu had one for the online players due to the infamous cliff-falling glitch that puts the user of it ahead of others by several seconds. One portion considered it unfair for those who don't know about it or just wanted a simple race, while the other portion said it was fair game for anyone since it's there.
    • Snaking in Mario Kart DS. Some took advantage of it, while others (derogatorily referred to as Scrubs by the other side of the base) thought it was cheating. And others don't mind either way.
    • Is "Nintendo Kart" the next logical step for the Mario Kart series, especially after the introduction of crossover DLC characters in 8? Better hope you have a riot shelter to dunk into when this debate is brought up.
    • With the increased focus on kart combinations, there's been a lot of debate/arguments over whether or not characters should have a factor in the kart's overall stats or not. Those for it often bring up fighting games for comparison and how certain characters will always shine above the rest and, even if character stats didn't weigh in, people would still pick very few specific kart combos in order to have the best chance of winning. Those against it often cite how it creates infamous situations like "Funky Bike Wii", "Metal Mario Kart 7", and "Morton/Rosalina Kart 8", and hate how people are forced to forgo playing as their preferred character, often for one they don't like/despise, just to have a chance at placing decently in online games.
    • The matter of Mario Kart Tour relying on microtransactions for players to acquire additional content is one that's not taken lightly, to say the least.
    • The addition of Gold King Boo in Tour, based on his Luigi's Mansion incarnation. Some fans consider that much-deserved attention for an overlooked character, while others see it as shameless bolstering of Metal/Gold variants ala Mario and Peach.

  • Character Tiers: In every single game. Notable examples are:
    • Mario Kart 64 has Toad, Peach, and Yoshi, who drive circles around any of the other racers.
    • Mario Kart Wii has each character give invisible bonuses, with the more favorable quickly reaching Tier-Induced Scrappy levels. Expect to see Funky Kong and Daisy a lot.
    • 8's tier system is based on weight classes; Bowser, Morton, Wario, and heavy Miis are ubiquitous in Time Trials. It's averted in casual play and especially 200cc, though, where the heavy characters will spend most of their time either struggling to move after being pelted with items or driving off the course.
  • Complacent Gaming Syndrome:
    • Almost a standard in Wii, where most people will only use a bike and certain characters just for the sake of being faster than others. This is so bad that the game has nickname of Funky Bike Wii (due to the common combo of Funky Kong on a bike).
    • In Mario Kart 7, Metal Mario became the go-to character for competitive players because heavyweights were considered to have an advantage, and Metal Mario takes up the least amount of screen space. Between that and Japanese players' love for Metal Mario, he became the most-used character in Mario Kart 7 by far.
    • The B Dasher in 7 is very common online, to the point it's almost as common as Metal Mario is. In fact, it's not hard at all to see multiple players with a Metal Mario/B Dasher combination on the same group. Its top speed bonus on land is the highest in the game, but while other karts with the same speed sacrifice handling, the B Dasher adds handling instead, making it easier to control. It has a few weaknesses, like bad off-road and being lighter than similar karts (while still having an acceleration penalty), but that doesn't stop the players...
  • Contested Sequel: Tour, to put it lightly. While the game maintains a sizable playerbase, it has turned a significant amount of fans away from it; in that it is Mario Kart running under your typical mobile gacha gameplay, complete with microtransactions (which has been increasingly frowned upon in the gaming industry).
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • Toadette, who was created for Double Dash!! as Toad's partner due to the nature of the game, has always resonated well with people. Thanks to her popularity, she eventually became a Breakout Character in recent times. Fans were initially unhappy to see her not return in 7, so when they saw her returning in 8, her fanbase rejoiced.
    • Waluigi (the Trope Codifier for the entire franchise), ever since his introduction in Double Dash!!, much like Toadette. Many fans were very sad when he was omitted in 7 (especially in what many consider in favor of Honey Queen, but he was one of the first characters announced to be returning in 8 which, much like Toadette, made his fans very happy.
    • Diddy Kong, thanks to being the first Rare-created character to actually be incorporated into the extended Mario universe, starting in Double Dash!!. After his long absence from the series (starting with 7 and ending with Deluxe), when he was revealed to be returning in Tour, the fanbase was very pleased.
    • King Boo as well mainly because of his popularity from Luigi's Mansion and his and Petey's Piranha's access of everyone's special items in Double Dash. Fans were overjoyed when he made his return in Deluxe.
    • Koopa Troopa hasn't appeared in every title (he has skipped 64, Super Circuit and DS), but he has always remained a favorite ever since in the first game, and is still popular even today.
    • Similar to Koopa Troopa, Dry Bones is one of the most popular racers since his introduction in DS. After his absence in 7 and 8, it'd be an understatement to say the fanbase exploded when he returned for Deluxe.
    • R.O.B., who has only appeared so far in DS, and who absolutely nobody saw coming. Expect to see a conversation in recent Mario Kart times where he is mentioned at least once (particularly alongside the phrases "When is" and "returning to Mario Kart?").
    • Funky Kong is this in spades. He has enjoyed a lot of popularity for being the second Rare-created character to appear in the extended Mario universe (behind Diddy Kong and preceding King K. Rool), and his omission from 7, 8 and Deluxe had left fans sour, but his re-inclusion in Tour was widely received well by the fanbase.
    • Initially, Wiggler got a bit of flak for being among the characters that made it to 7 instead of other beloved ones (similarly to Honey Queen and Lakitu), but the sentiment died down quickly, seeing as most people actually welcomed the idea of another Mario enemy being Promoted to Playable; the fact friendly Wigglers exist in the Mario universe helps his case. He later became surprisingly popular, to the point that some fans have lamented his exclusion from 8.
    • Pauline, thanks in part to her newfound popularity in Super Mario Odyssey, was acclaimed on her release in Tour, and has remained one of the most popular new characters since then.
    • Tour introduces many variants of the current cast. The most popular variants among the fandom include:
      • Party-Time Pauline for her flashy New Years-themed outfit.
      • Aurora Rosalina's dress due to its beautiful, multi-colored appearance.
      • Fairy Daisy on account of being very cute, and for having very unique tricks where she floats above her kart.
      • Among the variants, new racers that haven't been playable in the main series include Monty Mole, Hammer Bro and Nabbit.
    • Item-wise, there's the Bullet Bill, which some fans were pleased to see it replace the Chain Chomp from Double Dash!!, and many others actually wishing it would outright replace the Spiny Shell once and for all.
  • Fandom Rivalry:
    • With Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed, due to their vastly different approaches to steering and the effect of items in a race - Mario Kart has a slower pace, cartoon-like physics, and items that impact outcomes in significant ways, whereas Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed emphasizes fast-paced arcade-style racing with deliberately weak items and strong defenses against long-range items. In other words, Mario Kart games are about rapid shuffling of positions where no one is safe, whereas Transformed is built around long, sustained leads and defensive driving. As a result, fandom wars have broken out about which gameplay style is more fun and more fair. While this rivalry isn't quite as widespread or well-known as most other video game rivalries, it is among the most bitter, as Mario Kart is one of the poster children of luck-based video gaming, deserved or not.
    • Also with Crash Team Racing and its two sequels, due to their vastly different takes on the Mascot Racer genre - Mario Kart is a mostly luck-based series with a larger emphasis on Wacky Racing, whereas the Crash series is more strategic and have a greater emphasis on their single-player campaigns. This attitude only increased after the release of CTR's remake Crash Team Racing: Nitro-Fueled, which some consider to be superior to Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. It became even stronger in light of the said remake's racer roster pooling in from the majority of the Crash Bandicoot series by the end of its games-as-a-service lifespan, while Mario Kart Tour mostly favored adding more clones of existing characters.
    • Over time, a one-sided rivalry has built up with the F-Zero fanbase (on the F-Zero side), mostly because ever since F-Zero GX, Nintendo seems to have started focusing more on Mario Kart. Mario Kart 8 introduces several F-Zero tracks as well as 200cc mode, which has led some to believe that Nintendo doesn't care about making an F-Zero game again. On the other hand, a few Mario Kart fans have lamented the lack of a new F-Zero game and will admit that their fanbase is not wrong for being upset.

  • Game-Breaker:
    • Toad, Yoshi, and Peach are by far the fastest characters in 64 and Super Circuit due to the way the weight classes' stats were distributed. Normally in the series, lighter characters have better acceleration and handling, while heavier characters have better weight and top speeds. In these two games, the acceleration and top speed bonuses are swapped between the lightweights and heavyweights. The only exception to this rule is Bowser, who can use the turbo-hopping technique more efficiently than the other characters.
    • "Snaking" is a technique where you constantly powerslide back and forth to gain mini-turbos on straightaways (normally, you're only supposed to get mini-turbos when making a sharp turn). It's been essential for setting world records since at least Double Dash, but was rendered almost impossible from Wii onwards by making the mini-turbo dependent on how hard you turn during your powerslide.
    • Bikes in Wii massively overshadow karts. In theory, bikes were supposed to perform better on straightaways due to having the ability to wheelie for more speed at the expense of handling and stability, while karts were supposed to perform better on curvy tracks due to having stronger mini-turbos. In practice, players just wheelie as often as they can. This is more pronounced with the fastest characters in their weight class, like Baby Luigi (fastest of the lightweight characters), Funky Kong (fastest heavyweight), or Daisy (fastest medium-weight). Especially Funky Kong. Bikes lost the ability to gain additional speed by performing wheelies in 8.
    • The series has tracks that can cut down on your laps greatly due if you abuse exploits of the checkpoint system (this determines where Lakitu drops you off if you fall from the track). A notable one is the glitch in the Grumble Volcano track in Mario Kart Wii; if done correctly, the player can finish the race in 30 seconds or less. Naturally, nearly everyone abused the exploit online and it was more obvious when people started to spam vote for the track. Mario Kart 7 has a similar one with the Maka Wuhu track that allows people to skip huge sections of the course, found just days after the game was released. This was eventually patched out.
    • Several items are game breakers depending on the game they are used in:
      • Super Mario Kart has the mushroom give players a huge boost and the star gives players insane speed boosts for several seconds which allows them to cut across tracks with dirt/water/sand, etc. These items were nerfed and adjusted to be less game-breaking but still useful in later games, but perhaps the biggest game-breaker is the Feather, which allows you to jump over the boundaries of the track, allowing for massive shortcuts. It would take 25 years before it made another appearance as an item in Deluxe, and even then, it's exclusive to Battle Mode.
      • The multi-banana peel in Mario Kart 64 gives you a trail of 5 peels, which means up to 5 shields from shell attacksnote  and also 5 peels to spray the tracks with. Later games reduce the item to 3 peelsnote .
      • Mario Kart Super Circuit gave red shells a secondary function by allowing players to drop it behind them and the next player that passes it gets attacked by it. This made it too easy to place it by gaps or jumps in order to make people fall off the track, so the function got removed in future games.
    • Nearly every special item in Mario Kart Double Dash!! is a game breaker: Mario and Luigi's fireballs are a fast-moving Spread Shot that can hit multiple people. Bowser and Bowser Jr.'s giant shell is basically a faster and bigger version of the green shell that's difficult to avoid. Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong's giant banana peel is also difficult to avoid, and it splits into 3 smaller peels when struck. Yoshi and Birdo's egg attack homes in on players and releases several items when it breaks, with Stars being among them. Peach and Daisy's hearts allow them to absorb up to two items, including most special items note , for their own use later. Baby Mario and Baby Luigi have the Chain Chomp, which not only boosts their speed while it's out, but also wrecks any obstacle in its path (including other racers). Koopa and Paratroopa have exclusive control over the Triple Red/Green Shells, which are normally recurring items throughout the series but are special items in this game only. Toad and Toadette can spam the Golden Mushroom for an absurdly long time and jump to the front of the pack, and Wario and Waluigi can use the Bob-omb to blow the other racers off of the road. Finally, Petey Piranha and King Boo can use all of the special items we just listed.
    • The Boo item turns the player invisible, which makes them immune to all forms of attack, and steals another player's item. Players can also drive off-road in DS and Deluxe without loss of speed with the Boo item.
    • Maple Treeway in Wii and 7 has piles of leaves that often contain items. One of the items you can get is a Super Star, which you can pick up regardless of what place you're in.
    • Double-shielding with items (holding one item in the reserve, and another behind you to protect from attacks). This was removed from 8, but is essentially back for Deluxe by allowing players to hold on to two items each.
    • The Egg 1 kart from DS is a bottle rocket. It boasts extremely fast acceleration, tight steering, and good handling in general. The Egg 1 became an excellent vehicle for posting superb time trial records in DS because its ultimate weapon is snaking abuse. A bit watered down in 7, where you can customize the wheels to adjust its stats (Roller wheels replicate its acceleration perks) and snaking has been jolted from gameplay. The only downside is that it gets flung far away if a heavier vehicle strikes it.
    • The triple red shell. You easily lose 6 seconds if the racer behind you throws you all three in succession, which is worse than the infamous blue shell's explosion.
  • Goddamned Bats: Some levels have hazards which can pop out at bad times to slow you down, including sliding walls, falling presses, and, yes, actual bats. Sometimes, the goddamned bats can be the other racers themselves, as they can get in your way when you are trying to pass them or crash into them while performing a power slide, causing you to lose your momentum. This is much more noticeable with the AI, since they don't deviate from their preferred path too much.
  • Growing the Beard: While the first three games were all well-received, they were clearly fighting against the technical limitations of the platforms they were released on. Double Dash and DS are generally considered to be where the series really hit its stride.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • 64's manual mentions that Wario built Wario Stadium as a motocross track instead of a traditional speedway. 11 years later, bikes were introduced in Wii. Bonus points for bikes being more popular.
    • When Wii was first released, many players felt that Koopa Cape's Shark Tunnel was reminiscent of Big Blue. Several years later, the real deal Big Blue was included as a DLC track for 8.

  • It's the Same, Now It Sucks!:
    • Super Circuit got some of this reaction from people. It's a handheld Super Mario Kart with the graphics and sound effects from 64. Which, granted, was still a huge deal for when it was released, but it means the game falls victim to "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny in retrospect.
    • As with Wii, seeing as bikes and the online are the only new main additions. Reactions switched when the online access support was dropped.
    • After the massive glow-ups Mario Kart 8 gave to its retro courses, a lot of people were disappointed when Mario Kart Tour fell back on the more modest graphics and layout touch-ups seen in earlier games' retro tracks.
  • Memetic Mutation: Has its own page here.
  • Memetic Loser: Luigi was one for a bit, thanks to the fact that he wasn't part of the launch roster for Mario Kart Tour. It turns out they just held him back for a month in order to tie in with Luigi's Mansion-themed Tour for Halloween (though the announcement tweet did joke that the delay was due to Luigi "losing his keys and getting lost on his way to the course").
  • More Popular Spin-Off: Ever since the release of Double Dash!! on the Nintendo GameCube, the Mario Kart games have actually consistently outsold their platformer counterparts. In particular, 64, Wii, and 8 were especially well-received. 8 Deluxe turns this into an Exaggerated Trope; despite being just an Updated Re-release of 8, it managed to eclipse the sales of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey, both widely considered the Killer Apps for the Nintendo Switch.
  • Most Wonderful Sound:
    • The Double Item Box. Polyphony at its finest.
    • The Bullet Bill's acceleration sounds, especially if you're in a low ranking.
    • The sound when passing the goal, especially in first place. It sounds a little like a sigh of relief, and that's why players probably are breathing, too.
    • The rising jingle used for when you cross the finish line at the end of the first lap.
    • Despite serving as one of the opposing tropes when you're going to be on the receiving end, hearing a Blue Shell's signature jet-like rushing sound when you're in one of the better positions that isn't its target, especially second place, is almost always a great relief.
    • Any impact sound an item makes when you hit someone with it. Also related: the triumphant noise your character makes upon a successful item hit.

  • Narm: The announcer in Arcade GP 2, particularly due to the Mad Libs Dialogue.
  • Nightmare Fuel: Metal Mario and Pink Gold Peach have blank sclera for eyes, unnervingly enough.
  • Replacement Scrappy: Honey Queen got this for being chosen over fan-favorite veterans like Waluigi in Mario Kart 7.
  • The Scrappy:
    • The Honey Queen in 7, who in Super Mario Galaxy and Galaxy 2, is an extremely minor character who onlyappeared in a small handful of missions; by proxy, she is widely considered as being undeserving of a spot in the roster. Her horrendous voice acting doesn't help matters, either.
    • Whereas Baby Daisy has grown on some people in later years, the same can't be said for Baby Rosalina. Not only is she accused of "roster padding" and making characters up, but her mere existence basically throws the lore from her Storybook in Super Mario Galaxy out of the windowspoilers ! Fans of Galaxy have since then been afraid (and disgusted) Nintendo might have retconned the emotive storybook with the inclusion of Baby Rosalina, and the fact Nintendo hasn't addressed this plot hole doesn't help her case at all.
      • When the character variation of Detective Baby Rosalina was first revealed to be playable in Tour, the fans either decided that either Nintendo's Mario Kart division has officially run out of ideas or that they intentionally added her to troll the fans.
    • Pink Gold Peach. Similarly to Baby Rosalina, people will readily point out her complete lack of basis in previous games (and thus, no trace of an Ensemble Dark Horse history as Metal Mario), leading to many accusations of "roster padding". This was only further fueled by the addition of Tanooki Mario and Cat Peach as DLC in 8 (who are also soundly described below), leading to four sets of Mario and Peach variations.
    • Tanooki Mario and Cat Peach, due to them being literal clones of Mario and Peach in power-up outfits, and thus having no purpose as playable characters. Gold Mario's introduction in Deluxe only made their case even worse, as some fans wonder why they even created new animations for them instead of just reusing Mario and Peach's animations in the first place.
  • Scrappy Mechanic:
    • Coins. You need to hold coins to increase your speed (the boost caps at 10 coins) and getting hit by items, crashing into course hazards, or falling off the track makes you lose coins. In the first game and Super Circuit, bumping into another racer makes you lose a coin! In some games, coins are also an item to give you 2 coins instantly, which doesn't help at all when it comes to protecting yourself from racers behind you or to attack the ones in front, not to mention that they can appear just as likely when you already have the maximum capacity of 10 coins on hand. Mario Kart 7 changes the coins mechanic slightly where not having a lot of coins won't totally screw you over and bumping into people won't make you lose coins, but you can't hold more than 10 coins and you will lose 3 coins (or two if your coin count is low) every time you get attacked or fall off the track, which makes holding onto your coins a pain in the ass. Luckily, coins regenerate. Unluckily, you need to collect coins to unlock parts for your kart, and you will be playing for a long time since you will need to collect several thousand coins and even beyond 10,000 coins just to get everything. This is made worse due to only being able to hold up to 10 coins per race.
    • The system of dropping held items since Double Dash!! when hit by certain items from opposing racers. It's particularly painful when you are hit by a Spiny Shell and lose everything you were using or saving.
    • In versions of Arcade GP that have cards, once you purchase a card and pick a character, you can only ever use that character when playing on your card; in order to use other characters with a card, you'll have to purchase more cards.note  This was fixed in Arcade GP 2, where you can now pick another character every time you start a credit.
    • The Gold Pass in Tour. For $5 a month, you get more rewards for completing tours, special badges through gold challenges, and most egregiously, 200cc is locked behind it. To say nothing of the fact that it not only costs more per year than both tiers of Nintendo Switch Online, it also costs the same price as Apple Arcade, which gives you multiple games.
  • Scrappy Weapon:
    • The Spiny Shell, if the examples floating around don't make it clear enough. Sure, it's annoying when you're in first and then you get hit by the Spiny Shell, allowing every other racer a chance to pass or catch up to you, but it also doubles as a Power-Up Letdown for the Spiny Shell user. Even if the user can stop the 1st place guy, they still have several other racers ahead to contend with. Thankfully, the Spiny Shell received a nerf in the DS, 3DS, and Wii U/Switch installments, since you can see items racers collect in both installments and act accordingly, but also the shell was stripped of its wings from 7 onward. The Arcade GP games don't have Spiny Shells at all (mostly due to using an almost entirely different set of items compared to the consumer games).
    • The Thunder Cloud from Wii is even more reviled. The idea is that you get a big increase to your speed as long as you have the cloud above you, but it zaps you after a few seconds. The result is that the player has to choose whether to pass it on to an opponent and lose the speed buff, or keep it and risk getting shrunken. All in all, not too bad, yet for some reason the game designers made it so that it triggers as soon as you get the powerup, regardless of where you are on the track. The final nail that makes it such a hated item is that it can be picked up in any position, even in last place. Many fans are glad that it hasn't reappeared in any other game.
    • The Lightning Bolt as well, which it really shouldn't be considering it affects everyone else with it, with characters closer to the lead being affected for longer periods. The problem comes from it being rigged to happen too often and making you often lose your defensive item just as a red shell is coming. And of course, the AI will coordinate its racers so that they'll use a Spiny Shell just before they use the Lightningnote , setting first place up for a distressingly common one-two punch. To make matters worse, if the lightning bolt strikes you while your glider is deployed, it disappears as you fall into the abyss below. Unlike the Spiny Shell, which got a foil in the Super Horn in 8, there's no way to purposefully protect yourself from this (you can try to fall off course and hope that the lighting strikes when Lakitu is dragging you back on the road, but it's more or less a fluke). Once again, Arcade GP mercifully doesn't have this item.
    • The Super Leaf in Mario Kart 7. Very useful for blocking red and green shells, but provides no use whatsoever to players who have nothing to hit or are stuck in a position where they need a ranged item or obstacle item.
    • The Fire Flower can take your coin meter down in a matter of seconds, and often pummels you endlessly. One can only imagine why they brought it back in Mario Kart 8.
    • Tour has the Bubble. The Bubble is nothing more than an inferior Bullet Bill, having an extremely unnoticable speed boost and can be bursted by simply touching any other kart or hazard. However, while in the Bubble, it disables item usage for the duration of when the Bubble is active, so if this is the first item that pops up in the item stash, you have to hope another kart is willing to pop it for you in order to use the other items (especially painful if you happen to get Red Shells or Spiny Shells as your items after the Bubble, as you cannot throw those until something is willing to pop your Bubble, which is very unlikely to happen if you are behind). While it might help protect you from the Green or Red Shell, the Heart does a better job than the Bubble and the Bubble can easily ruin your Frenzy and make it harder to protect yourself afterwards. The Bubble Frenzy is one of the worst Frenzies in the game, if not the absolute worst.
  • So Okay, It's Average:
    • The general consensus of Super Circuit. Compared to 64 and later installments, it doesn't do anything innovative, but it's still a decently fun game with a catchy soundtrack.
    • Wii was also considered this for a time by some people, although reactions switched once Nintendo discontinued the Wi-Fi Connection service.
    • While Tour being bashed from non-mobile Mario Kart fans for its controls and the use of gacha and micro-transactions, it was praised for its concepts like the costumes and course variants. The addition of a points system also created new fans for the game.
  • Surprise Difficulty: Any long time fan of the series will tell you to not be fooled by the colorful visuals and mellow settings since the games tend to be quite difficult at times, especially on the 150cc difficulty.

  • That One Achievement:
    • Beating staff ghost times in Mario Kart Wii. Now, beating a staff ghost in this game is not as simple as "overcome this record to win". For your record to be actually counted as "staff ghost beaten", you don't just beat the staff ghost, you have to be about 7 seconds ahead of the staff, and considering the records most of them have set, and a lot of tracks already being That One Level, you really need to be damn near perfect.
    • Getting the highest ranking in each cup can seem arbitrary at times. Oftentimes one can race perfectly and get first in each track, yet still not have received a triple-star ranking. Luckily, 7 made it much more lenient at achieving a star ranking, and 8 changes the system to be more predictable; getting first in every race guarantees a triple-star ranking.
    • On that note, perfecting every engine class can also be a pain in the neck. 50cc is simple, and 100cc is manageable, but what about 150cc? Or Mirror, for that matter? 8 once again simplifies things so that your ranking carries over into lower engine classes, but Mirror is still counted separately. And then there's 200cc, which is Harder Than Hard and requires borderline-inhuman reflexes and playing the game with a much different strategy than even 150cc.
  • That One Attack:
    • Spiny Shells, the bane of any first place racer. It's practically a guaranteed hit, and in single player seems to come in droves, especially in Wii.
    • Lightning. It comes without warning, you drop your item on hand, there's very few ways to defend against it otherwise, and as if that wasn't bad enough you go slower for a while and are shrunken to boot. It also messes up the music for its duration.
  • That One Level: There's bound to be at least one in each game.
    • Toad's Turnpike. Extra Cup. Now, Extra Cup normally just mirrors the tracks. For this track, the course is mirrored... and the traffic cars are oncoming. Welcome to Hell.
    • Rainbow Road ends up being this for a majority of every game except the really long and safe version in 64 (which has railings across the entire track and no hazards save for the very easy-to-dodge Chain Chomps), thanks to the general lack of railings and the abundance of sharp turns and narrow pathways. That's disregarding everyone trying to throw explosive flying shells at you.
    • Mushroom Gorge in Wii. At least 1/4th of the track is over an abyss with only bouncy mushrooms to launch yourself across to another mushroom until you hit the other side. Hitting the mushrooms at a wrong angle will most likely throw you into the pit. Using a Bullet Bill while over the mushroom pit can also be disastrous if the power-up runs out when you're over the pit instead of a mushroom or the ground. Even simply going too fast with a mushroom item or a star can throw you into the abyss. To make matters worse, you also have to hope people don't try to target you with a red shell, spiny shell, or a thunderbolt as you cross the gap. The kicker to all this is that Mushroom Gorge is only the third track in the game, and the version in 7 is only the third retro track in that game as well.
    • Also from Double Dash is Dino Dino Jungle. Extremely sharp curves (especially on 150cc/Mirror) and horribly placed dinosaur obstacles (including one that takes up half the space on an already narrow bridge, which means that driving into it guarantees you'll fly off the course) make it an extremely difficult level, even by Special Cup standards. The version in 7 isn't much better, but at least the glider sections make for some pretty cool shortcuts that aren't possible in the original version.
    • Baby Park. The track is just an oval with two turns, no hazards, and is so small that racers must do five laps in DS and seven laps in Double Dash and Mario Kart 8. What puts this track into this territory is that it's so small that what would be a simple back-and-forth battle in other tracks becomes a chaotic maelstrom in Baby Park's tight spaces thanks to the items. It's also not very hard to drop behind most of the racers, grab a powerful Special Item, then launch it and blast to first in a matter of seconds, only for that to happen to you because of all the people you knocked behind you. For Double Dash only, items are chaotic enough and cause too much disruption. For DS, five laps can either make it worse or better for (in)consistent results. For 8, the addition of anti-gravity can cause even more chaos by having players bumping into each other and randomly boosting, which can cause accidental collisions to hazardous items; 8 Deluxe's addition of a second item only adds more to the chaos. This level is considered to be the bane of competitive players and the tracks that one needs the least skill to win on, since the item placement turns the whole course into a Luck-Based Mission.
    • Mushroom City from Double Dash (at least on 150cc) deserves a mention. Basically think Mirror Mode Toad's Turnpike, only far more chaotic. It is much wider than the aforementioned course, but the vehicles coming through are relentless, and at times, they seem to home in on you. The Bob-omb car and Wiggler buses barreling down the track are especially nasty due to the massive stun of the former and extreme length of the latter.
    • Maka Wuhu was one in 7's online mode, due to an infamous glitch which was easily abused. This has been fixed as of May 2012.
    • Lakeside Park in Super Circuit has ramps that can make you lose lots of time if you miss them.
    • Sunshine Airport in 8, because of how common it is online. If you're playing without the DLC Packs, expect to see it picked very often.
    • Inversely, there's Mute City and Big Blue, which are also very frequently chosen.
  • That One Sidequest: Mario Kart Tour features daily and weekly sidequests to get extra Grand Stars, in addition to the ones earned for hitting point plateaus in races, which unlock bonus gifts (rubies, coins, drivers, karts, and gliders) for the biweekly tour. While some are straightforward, there are a few that can be frustrating.
    • Early on, any of the weekly quests that specify a type of driver (e.g. a driver with only three hairs or a driver wearing gloves). While some of the qualities in question are common (gloves and shells, for example), others are found only on a couple characters (ties, for example, are found only on four drivers, three of which were limited-time-only draws). If a player hasn't obtained a driver that fits those qualifications, those quests are impossible.
    • Any quest that requires hitting an opponent with a Super Horn. For one thing, they're not common draws regardless of what place you're in, so even having the chance at it is difficult. It doesn't help that, while there are gliders that can boost the chance of getting a Super Horn, there are only four of these, and three are limited-time-draws. For another, they're very close-range in their attack radius, so if nobody is within about two kart lengths from you, you can't do it. Finally, they're of very limited duration - about two seconds before the damage radius wears off. If timed poorly, an opponent may be weaving out of the way as you're about to set it off, wasting the move. Somewhat mitigated if you use any of the drivers with the Lucky 7 special item (of which there are only three, one High-End, and another both High-End and limited-time-only), since they technically have two chances in each item draw to get a Super Horn, but the other issues still stand.
    • Any quest that requires a particular score on a single race or a single cup. Not only can they fall afoul of the "don't have the right driver" issue noted above, but even if you do have a driver that qualifies (or one isn't specified), it can be impossible to reach certain score plateaus on the courses where they (and your karts) get the best bonuses. Some also basically require at least one Frenzy to pull off, which not only requires having the right driver/course combination but also hoping the Random Number God feels like giving you three of the same item in a given item pull. Also, since some races make your final placement a significant factor in how many points you get for the race, you have to hope that the computer doesn't feel like throwing Lightning Bolts or Blue Shells at you right before the finish.
  • Tier-Induced Scrappy: More than a few across the series, whether it be vehicles or characters:
    • In DS, the Dry Bomber is far and away the best kart for snaking. The Egg 1 and Poltergust 4000 aren't far behind.
    • Funky Kong, Daisy, Baby Daisy, and Miis are abused in Wii due to their crazy stat boosts.
    • Bikes in Wii due to their wheelie ability and generally higher stats leading to them being undeniably better than karts, so much that "Funky Bike Wii" became a nickname for the game.
    • Heavyweights have been at both ends of the spectrum. In earlier games, heavy characters take a long time to get going, thus limiting their usefulness. In later games, however, the customization feature and stat boosts have rendered it possible for players to go at insane speeds with them, particularly with Bowser, Wario, Morton, Rosalina, and heavy Miis in 8.
  • Underused Game Mechanic:
    • As far as the Arcade GP lineup goes, Arcade GP and Arcade GP 2 have time attack modes much like the rest of the series, but Arcade GP DX conspicuously does not, not even in Japanese builds.
    • The arcade games give you a handy shield while performing drifts, another neat gimmick that has never been brought to the console Mario Kart games.
  • Unexpected Character:
    • Some of the (so-far) one-off characters can qualify, such as Petey Piranha in Double Dash!!, R.O.B. in DS, Funky Kong in Wii, Honey Queen in 7, and all seven Koopalings in 8. Definitely applies to the characters who were created just for these games, such as Toadette, Baby Daisy, Baby Rosalina and Pink Gold Peach.
    • Link, Isabelle, and Villager are DLC for 8. Although people often talked about how it would be fun to have other Nintendo characters in Mario Kart (Super Smash Kart, anyone?), no one expected it to actually happen, especially in Link's case.
    • While King Boo was expected for Tour, no one expected for both the sports spin-off and Luigi's Mansion incarnations of the character to be included, especially since the latter is often considered to be the true incarnation of King Boo by many fans.
    • Mario (SNES) and Donkey Kong Jr. (SNES). The former isn't so much as unexpected since he was revealed in light of the meta franchise's 35th anniversary, but this is DK Jr's first playable appearance in any capacity since Mario Tennis on the Nintendo 64.
    • Mario Kart Arcade GP 2 features Mametchi from Tamagotchi as a playable driver. While this does make sense since GP 2 is a co-production with the Tamagotchi production company Bandai Namco, this doesn't make the cameo from a virtual pet toy mascot any less surreal and he's easily the single obscurest Mario Kart character.
  • Viewer Gender Confusion:
    • It's very easy to mistake Wiggler in 7 for a girl with the feminine voice and the flower, but according to the bios, it's a guy. This depends on the translation though, like Petey Piranha.
    • Many people initially mistook Toad for a female in Mario Kart 64 because of his localized voice (it's more masculine in the Japanese version), which is the reason for the more raspy voice Toad continues to have to this day. Ironically, Toad has been voiced predominantly by female voice actors since then, while the 64 voice actor for Toad was male.
  • Visual Effects of Awesome: Pretty much any version of Rainbow Road. They're outer-space roads made of solid, rainbow light — enough said.
  • Win Back the Crowd:
    • Tour has the return of Funky Kong and the introduction of Dixie Kong, for those who lost all hope of any new major, non-clone characters outside of the regular Marioverse being added to the roster.
    • An update for Tour introduced a landscape mode, which veteran players who dropped out from the game already gained interest. Followed by the introduction of Nabbit, who was a heavily requested character during the Wii U-era.


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