Between flying bananas, plumber brothers, an ape in a tie and a fire-breathing turtle, the very notion of Mario Kart™ seems outrageous. Despite all of the game’s oddities, its original version went on to be named the Guinness World Records’ 2009 top game of all time—not to mention the six other nods it has earned from the world record mogul.
So, what makes this game such an international success? How has it changed over the years? Our team at Caliber Collision has recapped the evolution of the racing game to get you up to speed and on track with all things Mario Kart. As car enthusiasts ourselves, nothing revs us up more than the chance start our engines and drive—both online and on the road.
1992: Mario Kart Gets the Green Light
On August 27, 1992, Nintendo released its first two-player racing game, Super Mario Kart, into the Japanese market. Featuring 20 race courses and four battle courses, the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) game set the precedent for all racing games to come. The roster contained eight familiar faces, including Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, Yoshi, Bowser, Donkey Kong Jr., Koopa Troopa and Toad. Complete with obstacle characters such as Thwomps and Piranha Plants, alongside well-known items such as banana peels, green and red shells, lightening and mushrooms, the game introduced many of the lasting features to appear in the 13 additional titles. With the course set, Nintendo was ready to race ahead into the development of the various versions to come.
1996: 3D Features Hit the Road
Four years after the game’s initial launch, Nintendo released Mario Kart 64 with 3D features such as bridges, walls, pits and elevation. For the most part, the game’s characters stayed the same, however, Donkey Kong Jr. was replaced by Donkey Kong and Koopa Troopa was replaced by Wario. In addition to the new tech, the game also introduced four-player racing and several new items. In game or in garage, our automobile aficionados here at Caliber can never pass up the opportunity to explore the latest and greatest trends of the time.
2003: Co-Op Play and 11 New Characters
After the Nintendo 64 release, the Japanese video game company went on to introduce the first handheld version of the game, Mario Super Circuit, and create the GameCube edition with a cartload of new features and faces. The co-op capabilities of Mario Kart: Double Dash!! enable one player to drive the car, and the backseat driver to control the release of items. So, whether you choose Toad and Toadette or Yoshi and Birdo, you can expect a dynamic duo able to demolish the competition with a combination of impeccable driving and serious item aim. Speaking of items, each character is also assigned their own “special” item to be used during the race. Mario and Luigi are able to release fireballs, and our ape friends Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong have a couple of giant bananas hidden in their center console. Regardless of your characters’ item, these new features provide opportunities almost as exciting as taking first place on Rainbow Road.
2005: Mario Kart Hits Arcades
With Mario Kart games available for nearly every gaming device released at the time, it was time to think bigger—human-sized arcade game bigger. In 2005, Mario Kart Arcade GP was released and became an instant success in arcades all over the world. Players could experience the characters and courses they’ve come to love, while controlling the game from realistic pedals and steering wheels. Today, the 500-lb arcade machine can be purchased for more than $11,000—about the same cost as a used 2016 VW Jetta or 2014 Chevy Cruze.
2008 to Now: Features of the Future
The last decade has brought new releases, new devices and new opportunities to chase your need for speed. Between Mario Kart Wii, Mario Kart 7 and Mario Kart 8, Nintendo has pushed the limits of racing game features. Gaming console steering wheels, first-person steering and all-terrain vehicles are only a taste of the features that have held the game at the top of its rankings for so many years. Now featuring close to 30 characters, players can choose from some outrageous new names such as Metal Mario, Wiggler, Honey Queen, Funky Kong, and Pink Gold Peach. The latest edition of the game, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, was released in 2017 and we cannot wait to see what’s next. With rumors spreading faster than you can throw a shell, we are constantly on the lookout for the next big Nintendo release.
While we love a good race as much as the next person, we strongly recommend leaving the turtle throwing to video games. Just like on your final lap of Mario Kart, the unexpected can happen in real life in an instant. If you find yourself bumped off course and in need of a collision crew, remember your team here at Caliber is always here—Restoring the Rhythm of Your Life.®