Mario Kart: a game which set sibling against sibling, friend against friend, father against daughter. Since 1992, this action-packed Nintendo racer has pushed family relations to the brink, with a well-timed red shell responsible for more rage moments than a middle-lane-hogger on the motorway.
But guaranteed conflicts aside, there are few games more loveable and nostalgia-inducing. From the ensemble of amazing characters to the collection of colourful circuits, Mario Kart is a gaming institution – and there’s still nothing quite like the thrill of settling in for 200cc Star Cup tournament with your nearest and dearest.
So, as a way to celebrate three decades of thrills and spills on Mario Kart, we wanted to get the internet’s take on this Nintendo classic. To do that, we surveyed 2,000 Brits, quizzing them on everything from their favourite characters to their preferred courses. Take a look at what we found out below.
Our Favourite Mario Kart Characters Revealed
Toad, Yoshi, Mario or Peach; we all have our go-to Mario Kart characters. But which of these video game icons are our all-time favourites?
Despite being the game’s namesake, Mario came out only two votes ahead of Peach – a character whose sassy overtakes continue to grind gears the world over. And it gets worse for the moustachioed plumber, with Baby Mario trailing to Baby Peach by twice as many votes in the young drivers’ category.
Elsewhere, it was interesting to see Villager make the cut of top 10 Mario Kart characters. Included in the latest instalment of the game, this is the only non-Mario franchise character to appear in the game – likely tied to the soaring popularity of Animal Crossing in 2020.
Why do people pick the characters they do? 42% said speed was the most important factor, while 36% admitted that a character’s cuteness always seals the deal. Just 22% said cornering was a factor – suggesting that we care more about how our characters look and personal preferences than how they drive.
What Are Our Favourite Mario Kart Courses?
Mario Kart’s tricky, obstacle-strewn courses are almost as iconic as the drivers themselves. But of all the games’ brilliant tracks, which are our favourite stretches of tarmac?
Turns out that the most frustrating circuit is also the favourite circuit. So which route has topped the poll? Rainbow Road, with its looping bends and dizziness-inducing visuals, came out on top in our poll; perhaps it’s because people have such fond memories of sending their younger siblings flying into the abyss with a well-aimed green shell.
Interestingly, 4 of the top 10 courses come from older games, including the fabled Mario Kart 64, the most popular entry in the franchise. Peach Beach and Delfino Square haven’t appeared since Mario Kart Wii (2008), but still beat out tracks from Mario Kart 8 Deluxe (2017) and Mario Kart Tour (2020). Koopa Kape and Coconut Mall haven’t appeared since Mario Kart 7 (2011) for the 3DS.
The Best Mario Kart Games – Ranked
Mario Kart has been a staple of Nintendo games consoles for nearly 30 years, and there’s not much point in owning a 64, Wii or Switch without having this classic racing game in your collection. But of all the entries in the MK franchise over the years, which are our all-time favourites? Let’s take a look.
Mario Kart purists will be pleased to see classic outings like Super Mario Kart and Mario Kart 64 ranking higher than newer games in the series. Their graphics may be better, but they can’t beat the simple charm, music and characters of the originals.
Unsurprisingly, Mario Kart Wii did very well in the all-time ranking, it being one of the best according to critics. This could be down to the level of immersion added by the console’s wireless motion-sensing controllers, which, when paired with the great steering wheel add-on, made for a truly unique driving game experience – you felt like you became part of your favourite circuit
What Are the Best and Worst Items in Mario Kart?
The thing which makes Mario Kart unique among racing games is the items you can collect as you zip around the circuit; items, we suspect, which Nintendo added purely to cause a healthy debate. But which of these items are our favourite? And which do we never want to see again?
Interestingly, the top 3 items are some of the oldest items in the Mario franchise, all first appearing in Super Mario Bros back in 1985. The Mushroom is our favourite item; we prefer it to the Triple Mushroom despite the latter being more useful to players – suggesting that we prefer items for nostalgia reasons rather than for how effective they are.
The Fake Item Box hasn’t appeared since Mario Kart Wii (2008), but still makes it into the top 3 of our least favourite Mario Kart items. Bullet-Bill is the most hated item, but it’s also one of our favourites – perhaps because it’s the go-to weapon for ruining our opponents’ chances of winning.
We had a great time looking back at the fun and frolics of Mario Kart, and hope you did too. Do you remember playing these amazing racing games when you were younger? Perhaps you still do battle with your kids today? We’d love to hear your Mario Kart stories, so get in touch via the Redex Club Facebook group page.