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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 also gave Mario Kart 7 a 5 out of 10, due to due what considered a lack of innovation for a series that was 19 years old at the time. Fans weren't happy and harassed him, partially due to giving a 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 seen as a "lazy Mario clone", but Japanese players 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 they would release Super Smash Bros. Brawl in June 27, 2008, that is, three and a half months after North America's March 9, 2008.
  • Awesome Music: Plenty in every game. This page has more information.
  • Base-Breaking Character:
    • Daisy, who is mentioned as a base breaker across the franchise, is in some of the later games (her classic "Hi, I'm Daisy!" line comes from Double Dash).
    • Rosalina was very popular online in 8. This led to several people becoming sick of seeing her in every race, especially before the DLC.
    • Miis starting with Wii. Some love playing with their personal avatars while others think they feel awkward in the Mario universe.
    • The DLC characters in 8. While there are fans who love the crossover aspect and don't mind Cat Peach and Tanooki Mario, others see them as a waste of money, or feel that Zelda and Animal Crossing don't go well with the Mario universe.
    • Also from 8 are the Koopalings. Is their inclusion well-deserved, or does it fill up the roster with lazy choices?
  • 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; and Baby Park, which is the smallest course in the entire series but which compensates by having seven lapsnote , which often evolves into a ridiculous, chaotic mess with shells bouncing off of every wall.
    • 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 complement its underwater driving mechanic.
    • 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.
    • 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. Mario Kart 8 changes this by removing certain railings, and splitting the course with checkpoints, instead of three separate laps.
  • Broken Base:
    • Before it was fixed for 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 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.
  • 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 was given the nickname Funky Bike Wii.
    • 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...
  • Ensemble Dark Horse
    • Waluigi. Many were sad when he was omitted in 7. But he was one of the first characters announced to be returning in 8, making his fans very happy.
    • Koopa Troopa is a favorite in Super Mario Kart, and is still popular even today.
    • Similar to Koopa Troopa, Dry Bones is one of the most popular racers from Mario Kart DS, Mario Kart Wii, and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe.
    • Metal Mario, particularly among Super Smash Bros. fans since he joined the Mario Kart roster in 7.
    • Wiggler from 7 was also surprisingly popular, to the point that some fans lamented its exclusion in 8.
    • Diddy Kong, thanks to being the first Rare-created character to actually be incorporated into the extended Mario universe starting in Double Dash!!. Funky Kong, another Rare-created character, enjoyed similar popularity, even though he has only appeared in Wii.
    • Item-wise, there's the Bullet Bill, which many fans actually wish would outright replace the Scrappy Mechanic Spiny Shell once and for all.
  • Fandom Rivalry:
    • With that of 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 the poster child of luck-based video gaming, deserved or not.
    • Over time, one has built up with the F-Zero fanbase, 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.
  • 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 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 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.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • According to Wii Sports Resort, only electric cars are permitted on Wuhu Island. That's apparently not the case anymore, according to 7. Apparently the restriction doesn't apply to karts, just "cars"?
    • 64's manual mentions 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.
    • 7 features Rosalina's Ice World, an icy course apparently created by a blonde "princess" in a blue dress. Two years later...
    • When Wii was first released, many players felt that Koopa Cape's Shark Tunnel feels like Big Blue. Several years later, the real deal Big Blue was included as a DLC track for 8.
  • Internet Backdraft: The choices for some of the characters in Mario Kart 7 and 8. Specifically...
    • Baby characters like Baby Daisy and Baby Rosalina, who have not made any outside appearances aside from spinoff games, while Baby Mario, Baby Luigi, and Baby Peach have appeared in games like Partners In Time.
    • Clone characters like Metal Mario, Pink Gold Peach, Tanooki Mario, and Cat Peach, who take up too many character slots.
    • Characters like Honey Queen, who had a bit part in Super Mario Galaxy, over Waluigi, who's proven to be a fan-favorite in Mario Kart. Especially jarring because 7 had Waluigi Pinball from DS return while Waluigi didn't. note 
    • Downplayed with the Koopalings, whom were welcomed with open arms, but it has not gone unnoticed that they have taken up quite a few character slots. Some people also commented that they feel incomplete without Bowser Jr., who appeared in Double Dash!! and Wii.
    • All in all, it was saved when King Boo, Dry Bones, and Bowser Jr. were brought back in Deluxe, along with the introduction of characters from other franchises by DLC and extra content in Deluxe.
  • 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.
    • As with Wii, seeing as bikes and the online are the only new main additions. Reactions switched when the online access support was dropped.
  • Memetic Mutation:
  • More Popular Spinoff: Since the release of Mario Kart: Double Dash!! on the Nintendo GameCube, the Mario Kart games have actually consistently outsold their platformer counterparts.
  • Most Annoying Sound:
    • In Mario Kart Wii, characters scream things like "YEAH!" or "WOOHOOOOOO!" at the top of their lungs for almost everything they do, even for little things like mini-turbos and wheelies. Although certain characters get more attention for it than others, when it comes down to it, every character could be considered equally annoying due to the cartoony ear-piercing voices.
    • When playing with a Mii in 7, get ready for "YEP YO! YEP YO! YO! YEP YEP! YEP YO!"
    • Bowser Jr’s "WAAAAAAAAAAAH!"in Mario Kart Double Dash, if you play as Bowser Jr make sure you get 1st 2nd or 3rd or be ready for that crying
    • Most people are crying when they lose in Mario Kart so get ready, Example: Babies, Lemmy, Luigi, and Others
    • Switching between one character and Daisy constantly results in Daisy constantly shouting "HI I'M DAISY HI I'M DAISY HI I'M DAISY" in Double Dash.
    • Funky Kong in Wii is very loud, very hammy, and is without question one of the most popular characters to use in competitive play. Every third race online had a bad tendency to be punctuated by a chorus of "GOGOGOGOGOGOGOGO! AHRAHRAEHERAHEHEYYYYYY! WOOOO! WOOHOO! HUH-NAARHT!"
    • Toad from Mario Kart 64. "HERE WE GO! I'M THE BEST! AHHHHHHHH!"
    • Rosalina in 8 has a much higher-pitched voice than normal, and considering her massive presence in online races, you'll probably be hearing it quite often. Then there's Baby Rosalina!
    • Crashing into penguins, plants, moles, etc. in 64 plays this horrible squealing noise.
    • The "incoming shell" beeping alert. Especially when it's a blue shell and you can't do anything about it.
    • The beeping sound when you've got shells spinning around your kart in 7, especially if you've played the Metroid series, you can mistake it for the Critical Annoyance alerts when Samus is low on energy.
  • 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 what 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, as she is an extremely minor character who had just appeared in a small handful of missions in the Super Mario Galaxy games beforehand and is widely considered as being undeserving of a spot in the roster. Her horrendous voice acting doesn't help matters, either.
    • Metal Mario is considered a Scrappy to some people because he is only a Metal version of Mario with slightly heavier stats. Some people even hate his voice. That being said, Japanese players love him. Pink Gold Peach gets it much worse, for not having the same Ensemble Dark Horse history as Metal Mario and having no basis in any previous games, leading to some accusations of artificially inflating the roster by making characters up. This was only further fueled by the addition of Tanooki Mario and Cat Peach as DLC in 8, leading to four sets of Mario and Peach variations. And then Gold Mario appears as a Palette Swap for Metal Mario in Deluxe, resulting in five different Mario variants in the same game.
    • Any baby character except Baby Mario, Baby Luigi, and Baby Peach, due to them appearing in Yoshi's Island and Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time, has gotten shades of this, due to all of them being similar to one another. Baby Daisy and Baby Rosalina get it most for, much like Pink Gold Peach above, having no basis in any previous Mario games and apparently just being made up to make the roster bigger. Why Baby Wario and Baby Donkey Kong didn't make it in before them is boggling, because at least the latter two babies were in Yoshi's Island DS.
    • Tanooki Mario and Cat Peach are especially hated due to them being literal clones of Mario and Peach in power-up outfits, and thus having no purpose as playable characters. Even worse is the fact that they created new animations for them instead of just reusing Mario and Peach's animations.
  • Scrappy Mechanic:
    • 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 Let Down 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.
    • 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 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.
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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, 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 nearly impossible without inhuman reflexes.
  • 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.
    • Thunder. 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. 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 MK64 (which averted the difficulty after the first Mario Kart), 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 the Wii version. 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. And to even think it's just the third track in the game...
    • Baby Park in Double Dash is also just the third track in the game, is named after the baby Mario Bros, is just an oval with two turns, has no hazards, and is so small that racers must do seven laps instead of three. So what makes it so hard? Basically, the track is so small and item boxes so plentiful that what would be a simple back-and-forth battle in other tracks becomes a chaotic maelstrom in Baby Park's tight spaces. 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. And so on and so forth...
    • 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) makes it an extremely difficult level, even by Special Cup standards.
    • 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 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.
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.


Example of: