The Mario Kart series is the most notable kart-racing series in video games. Typically, eight racers will compete at a time, with three laps per race, in cups of four races each. Rather than focusing on realism, Mario Kart emphasizes simple racing on novelty tracks with special items to attack and defend against other racers. Items are picked up from boxes that grant an item based on the player's placing in the race when they receive it. Items can be used immediately or saved for future use.
The Mario Kart series is also known for its strong emphasis on multiplayer. Each entry in the franchise supports multiplayer to at least some extent, with the majority supporting at least four players at a time. Recent games in the series have incorporated online play, in which eight or more people may race simultaneously.
Most console Mario Kart entries introduce at least one new concept to the series. The original Super Mario Kart founded the franchise, Mario Kart 64 brought it into the third dimension and increased the player limit to four, Mario Kart: Double Dash allowed for cooperative play, and Mario Kart X was the first console entry to use online play. The handheld entries, though typically more conservative, still add new elements, including Mario Kart 3D, which expanded upon online play and added gliding and underwater mechanics.
Games in the Mario Kart introduce a total of at least four new cups divided into four unique tracks each. These tracks are typically themed based on characters and places in the Mario universe. In recent entries, older tracks have reappeared as additional Retro courses, which are re-imagined to take advantage of new racing mechanics.
In addition to typical Grand Prix mode, which places players in the standard cup of four tracks, several other modes typically appear. Time Trials test the players' speed and knowledge of the race courses. VS mode allows for customizable rules. Battle mode emphasizes item use over reaching a finish line.
List of Games
- Super Mario Kart (1992)
- Mario Kart 64 (1996)
- Mario Kart: Super Circuit (2001)
- Mario Kart: Double Dash (2003)
- Mario Kart Nitro (2006)
- Mario Kart X (2008)
- Mario Kart 3D (2012)
Mario Kart is the best selling racing series of all time. The seven entries in the series have sold over 90 million units since 1992. Furthermore, the series still sells several million copies a year between its various iterations, meaning it will probably exceed 100 million sales by 2015. Every entry in the Mario Kart series is among the best selling games for their system, with some entries, including Double Dash, which was the number one selling game for its respective console.
Mario Kart has also received general critical acclaim. Some Mario Kart games are among the most critically praised racers of their generation, especially earlier in series history. Even today though, when the praise is held back more often, no Mario Kart game has ever received less than a positive reception from the gaming press.