Imagine that you are the president of Nintendo for a moment. You have a platform-type franchise that earns you astronomical money and your fans keep asking you for more games from it. As the development takes some time to complete, you see it as a possibility to put the protagonist of the same in another genre. Which would be? If you said “go-kart racing”, know that you are a genius!
Who knew that putting the mustachioed and his gang competing in low-cost vehicles would work so well, right? You asked, voted and here’s the Worst to Best in the Mario Kart franchise. Here are our criteria, pay close attention:
- The notes presented are based on the Metacritic and GameRankings note aggregators. If the title was released for more than one platform initially, we will take the notes for each version and do an arithmetic average.
- We only considered the main games in the franchise, so arcade and mobile games did not enter.
9) Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit (2020) – 76 (Nintendo Switch)
We started the list with the most different game in the series that hit the markets as a celebration of 35 years of the mustachioed plumber franchise. Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit, launched in 2020, takes runners out of the virtual world, but not entirely.
The kit in which the game is sold comes with a kart cart, which has a camera attached, and several pieces of cardboard that end up becoming a clue inside your Nintendo Switch through augmented reality. Items used against the player on the console affect the real-life cart.
The player’s proposal to create his own tracks, the beauty of the toy, the customization options and the new ideas introduced to the series were very pleasing, but the fact that he had to run the same track several times in the Grand Prix mode, weak artificial intelligence and some effects that made you lose control of the kart were disagreeable, yielding a 76 note.
8) Mario Kart Wii (2008) – 82 (Nintendo Wii)
Launched in 2008, Mario Kart Wii came to use motion control as a steering wheel. It brings a total of 32 races divided into classics, carried from other games in the series, with totally new ones. In addition to them, there are some exclusive to the battle mode.
Mario Kart Wii features 24 playable characters, each with 3 different vehicle types that directly affect your direction. In addition, the title introduced motorcycles, which have advantages and disadvantages compared to lowered carts. It also features an online mode, which was discontinued in 2014, but which allowed up to 12 players to face off against Versus and Battle races.
In addition to the Wii motion control, it is possible to control the characters using the Nunchuck, that small extender that adds an analog to the peripheral, or the same as the GameCube control, since the console has a physical input for it.
Analysts liked the number and variety of tracks, the integration of online mode, accessibility to new players, their fun and strategic systems and the addition of motorcycles, but nostalgia does not make classic tracks more fun, the items are poorly balanced and the battle mode is only in a team and with a time limit. Your grade is 82.
7) Mario Kart 64 (1996) – 83 (Nintendo 64)
Due to the cancellation of Mario Kart for Virtual Boy, the second game in the franchise to hit the market was Mario Kart 64, released in 1996. He was the first to bring 3D elements to the series, but the characters and items are pre-rendered 2D sprites. In total, 8 corridors are available, two of which are new.
It contains 4 game modes, which are the Gran Prix, in which one or two players participate in 4 races in a given cup and uses a scoring system based on placement, the Time Trial, which aims to complete the races in the smallest possible time without opponents or items on the track, Versus, which up to 4 players face each other in single races without computer opponents, and Battle, in which everyone faces each other in an arena and the last one with balloons stuck in their car wins.
The game is not bad, the problem is that it failed to deliver a result as good as its predecessor. He was praised for the design of the tracks, the multiplayer modes and the whole presentation, but the criticisms focused on the weak singleplayer campaign and the lack of difficulty. His grade is 83.
6) Mario Kart 7 (2011) – 85 (Nintendo 3DS)
Mario Kart 7, released in 2011, was the third game in the franchise to reach portable consoles, more specifically the 3DS. He brought some new features to the franchise: unprecedented powers, the ability to glide and drive underwater, a first-person view and the possibility to customize the entire vehicle.
Other novelties that can be mentioned are the Jump Actions, which give a little bit of nitro when used correctly on a ramp, and the possibility of piloting the kart by rotating the console, taking advantage of the 3DS gyroscope.
The title features four game modes, two of which are Battle-type, thirty-two tracks, sixteen of which are new, seventeen characters and online multiplayer support for up to eight players.
Among the compliments, we have the track designs, the challenging artificial intelligence, the balance of the items and the various innovations, but some issues of the online system, the small number of characters and the beat mechanics of the series displeased some analysts. Your grade is 85.
5) Mario Kart: Double Dash (2003) – 87 (GameCube)
Mario Kart: Double Dash, released in 2003 for the GameCube, was the fourth game in the series to hit the markets. One of the novelties that the game brings is a gameplay coop with two players in the same kart, one driving and the other using items, with the two being able to exchange at any time. In addition, he was the first in the franchise to be fully 3D, including the pilots.
There are 20 characters divided into 10 pairs for the player to choose. The four available modes are the Grand Prix, Time Trial, Versus and Battle, recurring in the series. Using the console’s Broadband Adapter, it is possible to connect up to 8 GameCubes over a LAN connection, allowing 16 players in total due to the doubles system that doubles the participants.
Analysts highly praised the game, focusing on its graphics, controls, mechanics and its fun factor. One said that no racing game released on the console was as fun as Double Dash. But as not everything is rosy, he received criticism related to the repetition of the characters’ voices, the few novelties that the game brought and the poor design of the tracks. His grade is 87.
4) Mario Kart 8 (2014) – 88 (Wii U, Nintendo Switch)
Fourthly we have Mario Kart 8, released in 2014. The title keeps the news that the previous games brought, but presents new mechanics, such as direction on the walls and ceilings and the possibility of hitting others to gain a boost.
It brought a total of 48 tracks, 16 of which were added via DLCs, new characters such as the Koopalings and the Pink Gold Peach, four new items, online multiplayer for up to 12 players and compatibility with 5 different controls from different consoles from Nintendo.
The game was praised for its beautiful visuals, its vast sense of scale, its orchestrated soundtrack, its great gameplay and its constant 60 fps, but the game was criticized for its Battle mode using the same tracks as normal racing and the poor selection of characters. His grade is 88.
And in order not to let it pass, in 2017 the game was released as Mario Kart 8 Deluxe for the Nintendo Switch, bringing all the content of the original game, DLC, additional content, changes in gameplay, 1080p graphics on the dock and even support for Nintendo Labo. His grade is 92.
3) Mario Kart DS (2005) – 91 (Nintendo DS)
Third, taking the bronze medal, we have the second game in the series to reach notebooks. Mario Kart DS, launched in 2005 for the Nintendo DS, uses the top screen of the console to show the track while the bottom one shows the map and the positioning of the pilots.
The game has 12 characters, 4 of them unlockable, and all of them can use the 36 karts available. In terms of items, there are two new ones, which are Bullet Bill and Blooper, in addition to being the first game in which it is possible to escape the Blue Shell, the blue shell that hunts the first place, using a mini-turbo at the exact moment.
It was the first and only game in the series to have Mission mode, in which the player must fulfill some objectives during the races, and to use the Wi-Fi Connection system, for online connection for multiplayer games. Now, if local multiplayer is a better option, there is a way to share a game with up to eight players with only one cartridge.
The accolades for him went in droves, like the singleplayer gameplay and the local multiplayer, the solid and fun gameplay, the various things to be unlocked, the variety of tracks, modes, drivers and multiplayer options and, finally, the online games against opponents from all over the world. There were those who criticized saying that he was just a Mario Kart like everyone else, only more polished, but there is no doubt that he is one of the best games in the series and deserves the top 3. His grade is 91.
2) Mario Kart: Super Circuit (2001) – 93 (Game Boy Advance)
From one portable game to another, we go to the second place with the first game of the franchise to reach the pocket consoles, Mario Kart: Super Circuit, released in 2001 for the Game Boy Advance.
The title didn’t bring anything innovative or different to the series, but that’s not where it shines. The real merit was to take all the mechanics and visuals of the games for table consoles and port them to a video game with much inferior hardware.
It features 5 game modes, which are Mario GP, Time Trial, Quick Run, VS. and Battle, in addition to 8 characters that are divided into 3 weight categories, the same being present in Mario Kart 64.
The game came out a few months after the launch of the console, but it showed all the power of the little Game Boy Advance. The praise of the analysts was due to the digitized audio, the graphics that looked like 3D and all the fun it brought. It was considered a mandatory game for the owners of the console and got a score of 93.
1) Super Mario Kart (1992) – 94 (SNES)
And we got to the first place with him, the first game in the franchise to hit the market. I’m talking about Super Mario Kart, launched in 1992 for the SNES, which, in fact, is the only one in the series to have the word Super in its name.
The player can control one of the eight characters available, which are Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, Yoshi, Bowser, Donkey Kong Jr., Koopa Troopa and Toad, and compete on different tracks organized in three cups that have three different difficulties. There are four modes available, which are the Mario Kart GP, which today we know as the Grand Prix, the Time Trial, Match Race and Battle, the latter two focusing on multiplayer.
The screen is divided into two, even if the game is played by only one player. When this occurs, the track is shown at the bottom, with the order of the pilots and where they are. This is totally linked to the reason for its development, since the team wanted to create a game of the genre that showed two screens at the same time, which was not possible in the company’s other racing franchise, F-Zero. And initially, it wasn’t even supposed to have Mario and his gang, but the idea was suggested after months of work and everyone liked it.
The accolades went in droves, which ended up focusing on Mode 7 graphics, its innovations, its polished gameplay, its challenging artificial intelligence, its presentation and the fun it provides, both in the single and in the multiplayer. To this day it is cited as one of the best games released for the console and even as one of the best ever made. He took the gold medal home with a score of 94.