[Feature] What would Mario Kart look like if it was "Nintendo Kart" from the beginning? - Nintendo Everything

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[Feature] What would Mario Kart look like if it was “Nintendo Kart” from the beginning?

Posted on April 26, 2015 by (@KiraraKoneko) in Features, Game of the Month

Author: Kirara

Mario Kart as a franchise has been around for a long time– twenty-three years to be exact. Although that seems like awhile, it really isn’t for a series from Nintendo; they have a history of creating franchises that are able to stand the test of time. In 1992 when Mario Kart had its debut on the Super Nintendo, it was dubbed Super Mario Kart. Fast forward twenty-three years and we now have Mario Kart 8 on the Wii U, and after five games for home consoles – three on portable, and even three in the arcade released in Japan – I think it is safe to say that Mario Kart has been a successful franchise. But what if it wasn’t Mario Kart? What if, instead of basing the game initially on the Mario series, it was simply Nintendo Kart or even Smash Kart? Is that something that would have seen as much notoriety then as it could today?

Since the release of the Famicom in 1983, Nintendo has been building its arsenal of IPs that could have been used to create a different game entirely. Imagine using all the various titles that were available at the time to create a game that would have been similar to Nintendo Land in idea, but with race tracks and karting instead. For this to have been possible, they would have had to have several different games that they could pull from, and they did! Thinking back to 1992, there were already a few titles that would have been great to use to create a game centered around more than one character or world. The Legend of Zelda, Metroid, Fire Emblem, and Donkey Kong to name just a few were all already established games at the time of Super Mario Kart’s release.

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So why did Nintendo decide to use Mario, and why do they feel the need to incorporate the Mario world into so many games? Brand and name recognition is a powerful thing, and although I myself associate Nintendo with so many other things that have absolutely nothing to do with Mario, many at that time and today feel that Nintendo equals Mario and vice versa. But how could Mario Kart have been different? For one thing, basing a game off of numerous titles as opposed to one would have given them much more freedom and ability for expansion from the very beginning, and if they were concerned about the name recognition factor, they could have gone for “Nintendo Kart: Featuring Mario & Friends” as its title.

For those of you that have followed Mario Kart through its various iterations, and for those of you that are more new to the series, imagine being younger and the latest Nintendo Kart was being released and there was an entire track based off of a Pokemon game with the ability to race as Pikachu or your absolute favorite Pokemon. What would that have done for you? How many more people could that have brought to the series? The addition of different characters and worlds from the beginning does not affect the overall continuity of Mario Kart – it only enhances it. It would have potentially opened the game up to so many more players and it might have also helped inspire someone to try out a new experience because they enjoyed the character they raced with or the track they raced on. Could this approach have even saved some IPs like Duck Hunt and Gyromite from dying out, or possibly given Nintendo the ability to gauge a certain title’s relevance in the current market so that we would not have had to wait more than 20 years in between games, such as with Kid Icarus?


So what would Nintendo Kart have looked like? Much like the DLC of today, we could have had tracks and characters based on the many games that were popular at the time when Super Mario Kart launched. We might have seen an entire track featuring Duck Hunt, Excitebike, or maybe even Kid Icarus where you could race as Pit or Palutena. You would have even had Popo and Nana race you around a track inspired by Ice Climber. Imagine karting around as Samus on a track inspired by Metroid or even F-Zero. Just pondering these things makes me excited for a game like that. Don’t get me wrong: I’ve enjoyed Mario Kart, but I find myself enjoying it more with the addition of new tracks and characters like in the recently-released Animal Crossing DLC.

In terms of being able to maintain the same longevity that Mario Kart has seen, Nintendo Kart would have been able to manage even better I believe. As time went on and new series were created, they would have been incorporated much in the way that they are today. We might have seen Nintendo create characters and tracks from games like Star Fox, and Kirby, or maybe even Golden Sun. What if they made a track based on the Pikmin world where you could drive as Olimar and instead of throwing shells you could throw Pikmin at your rival racers? With the full power of Nintendo’s franchises as a backing, there is no telling where a game like this could have gone.


All in all, Mario Kart has been quite a successful franchise for Nintendo, but I still wonder if it could have been even better. I myself would have bought every one of the various Nintendo Karts there might have been instead of the few Mario Karts that I own today. Wherever you land on this topic, nobody knows what would have happened if Mario Kart was created as a different title, and even if you aren’t the biggest fan of Mario as a character or his world, you can’t deny that Mario Kart as a game is full of simple good fun for all. Call it what you want – Nintendo Kart, or maybe even Smash Kart, it’s all the same. I myself would love to see a revamp of the series. But being Nintendo, we would have to get very lucky; I guess I will have to leave luck to the heavens!

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  • icecreamperson

    never understood why they didn’t make it nintendo kart at the start. Just seems like such a no brainer especially considering they did it for smash

    • Διονῦς84

      The first MK was for the SNES, when Mario dominated everything and most people bought Nintendo consoles for Mario alone essentialy. The first Smash game came in 1999, seven years later.

      • icecreamperson

        Yea, I get that advertising it as a mario game would sell more oppose to advertising it as a zelda, star fox and mario game but it’s kinda bite them in the foot

  • Mando44646

    I really, really want the next MK to be a full on Smash Kart. I have very little interest in Mario-centric titles

  • Aline Piroutek

    A good point on doing Mario Kart: Smash Bros. Edition(I like Mario Kart Series’s itens, that’s why I don’t want na entire new Racing game):
    Characters with a limited movepool for a fighter, could be easily used as a racer. Characters. Just like Smash Bros. Assist Trophies: Riki(Xenoblade), Chrom(Fire Emblem Awakening), Samurai Goroh(F-ZERO), Excitebiker(Excitebike), Malon(The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time), Ipponji Ryuuta(Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan!)…

  • Santoryu02

    I don’t see the point in Smash/Nintendo Kart. I can understand a fighting crossover game, but I don’t see any reasoning on how that can translate to racing. Specialized items, and different courses, but that’s really it.

  • Διονῦς84

    A good idea would be to have two games:
    Mario Kart 10 (or 9) and Nintendo Smash Racing

    These two games would have their own online modes, their own distinct features, but when you play you’d have the option of playing in common courses. I think everyone would be happy

  • Michael Cortorreal

    For a few simple reasons we never saw that from the start.
    Back in those days hardware was really limited and they would have to struggle a lot just to make some characters.
    Second Mario was hyperly popular and the 90’s Nintendo was on the idea of expanding that character to people, it worked; Mario is one (if not the) of the most recognaziable character in gaming industry.
    Third, not doing that give them an edge now, right here an autor said that Mario Kart got stall at some point and wasn’t interested in the series anymore. Well MK8 freshness make that autor return, and guess what…part of that freshness came from adding characters and courses from other franchises.

    I like to think that MK8 is just a test bed to launch a more diverse of characters kart game, the DLC functioning as data collectors on how people would accept that change. So we might be seeing a transition from Mario Kart to: Nintendo All-Stars Racing.

  • MagcargoMan

    Never understood the demand for Nintendo Kart. Mario works just fine on it’s own. Is there really any demand for Marth or Samus in a racing game?

    I’m not opposed to other Nintendo characters in a kart game, but I’d like at least one more Mario Kart that doesn’t have a crappy roster first. 7 and 8’s were atrocious.

    • If you get rid of all the Babies, Metal/Tanooki/Cat versions and Dry Bowser, MK8 is not so bad. And bringing back Bowser Jr. and Diddy Kong also. Don’t get why they were not there. Also, I want to see Prof. E. Gadd in MK. He should have been there a long time ago.

      • MagcargoMan

        It kinda goes without saying that a bad roster wouldn’t be bad if you removed the bad things. :p

        Disagree with Dry Bowser, he isn’t merely like the Metal or Power-Up Suit characters since he actually has a unique model rather than Bowser just having a different texture or wearing some, and unlike the stupid babies there isn’t an abundance of skeletal characters in this one since they (sadly) cut Dry Bones.

        Agree with the return of Bowser Jr and Diddy Kong. Also agree that E. Gadd would be a nice addition.

        • I consider Dry Bowser as a bad character because I feel he would serve better as an alternate costume of Bowser instead of being his own character. Besides, is not like Mario has no more characters to add to the Mario Kart series. Like I said, there’s E. Gadd, other possibilities would be Toadsworth and Luba, I am shocked Nabbit wasn’t added to MK8 not even as DLC considering how popular he has gotten among Mario fans. Dixie and Cranky would be cool. But one of the characters I would like to see most is Goomba. Almost all of Mario’s most iconic enemies have been part of MK (Koopa Troopa, Dry Bones, Boo) except for Goomba. Hammer Bro. also needs to be in MK.

          But in conclusion, it really makes me mad to see them reuse the same characters, be it in baby forms, power-ups or whatever, when they have such an extensive list of possibilities.

          • MagcargoMan

            Call me biased, but when I found out Dry Bowser was playable in MKWii I thought it was cool because it was unexpected and I thought that Dry Bowser wouldn’t appear again after NSMB. Plus Dry Bones isn’t playable, so Dry Bowser serves as a substitute.

            I always thought Hammer Bro would be cool. I wish Petey Piranha would return too. Both were meant to be in Wii apparently. Toadsworth should be in too. Wow, he sorta disappeared didn’t he? Only recent game he was in was Mario & Luigi Dream Team. Speaking of Mario & Luigi, Fawful would be great, but they never acknowledge the RPG characters outside of the RPGS…

            I say cut all the power-ups and cut all babies except for Baby Mario (because back in the N64 days he was there for Yoshi’s Island representation, rather than pointless filler, plus if there’s only one baby it’s not as lame as five). The baby thing got worse when they started making up new ones just for the MK games (Baby Daisy and Baby Rosalina, ugh).

            Also, cut The Koopalings. The idea wasn’t so bad in concept, but when the game was released and so many regulars were cut it became obvious why having an ensemble of seven all playable was held off for so long. And while they’re different from each other, they’re all thematically similar. Seven turtle kids taking up a large portion of the roster gets a bit tiring.

          • I agree with Petey and Toadsworth. They both have been use less and less over the years. They might make a comeback at some point just like the Koopalings did. Also, I want either a Boo or King Boo to be on the roster too.

            I also agree about Baby Mario. He is basically Yoshi’s main weakness in Yoshi’s Island games so he is very important to the core gameplay. He is understandable to be in there. But the babies in MK really got out of hand. If they keep this up, half of the roster in future MK games will be baby versions of the other characters.

            About the Koopalings, I understand your point, but I am a bit bias. I love them too much. To me, they are very different from one another even though at the same time, like you said, they are pretty much the same. However, if it was to add diversity amongst the MK cast like adding characters like the ones we have discuss about and not babies and power-up characters, I wouldn’t mind the Koopalings being cut.

            E. Gadd, Toadsworth, Kamek, Goomba, Hammer Bro., Boo and Petey Piranha definitely sounds like a more diverse bunch than Larry, Morton, Wendy, Roy, Iggy, Lemmy and Ludwig.

  • Nintendo Kart needs to happen. It opens the door for so many opportunities. When people think of this they often think of the characters only. But a project like this is so much more. We are talking about everything from different universes such as characters, karts, items, tracks. Unlimited possibilities considering how many series Nintendo has.