With the release of Mario Kart Home Circuit earlier this month, we thought we would take a look back at some of the best titles the series has ever produced over the years.
Mario Kart Double Dash!!
Platform: Nintendo GameCube
Year Released: 2003
One of the more original and divisive titles ever released in the series, Mario Kart Double Dash!! became the second highest selling GameCube title of all time and is definitely a title that fans who love this game feel particularly strongly about.
The gimmick of the game was as unique as it comes, with two racers being playable per kart and each character being given their own special items that only they can use. These items can range from fireballs for Mario and Luigi, giant spiky shells for Bowser and Bowser Jr, giant banana peels for Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong and bombs for Waluigi and Wario and, coupled with the lightly further back camera angle and the fact that you can’t hold any items back for defence, makes this title feel like the most wacky and crazy Mario Kart has ever been to date.
Double Dash!! also created some of the most memorable tracks in the series, with the likes of Daisy Cruiser, Yoshi Circuit, Waluigi Stadium, Baby Park and DK Mountain all returning in later titles and all capturing the real feel of the game.
What also helps Double Dash’s courses stand out is the surprising amount of continuity they all have within the game. For example, Daisy’s Cruiser can be seen out on the ocean on both Yoshi Circuit and Peach Beach, Mushroom Bridge can be seen in Mushroom City and the city below Rainbow Road is the same one from Mushroom City. These are all just nice touches that, so far, no other Mario Kart title has taken the time to include.
Mario Kart DS
Platform: Nintendo DS
Year Released: 2005
The title that helped launch Nintendo properly onto the world of handhelds following the disappointment that was Mario Kart Super Circuit for the GameBoy Advance, Mario Kart DS was the highest selling game in the series until the release of Mario Kart Wii with 27 million sales and probably offers the purest-feeling racing kart game in the franchise.
It also brought with it a level of new content that the series had never seen before, with a fully customisable battle mode, mission mode (one of the best features brought to a Mario Kart game that has sadly never made a return) and the introduction of four new retro cups from courses ported over from older games in the series.
There were also a plethora of top notch courses that came about from the game as well, with the likes of Airship Fortress, Luigi’s Mansion, Tick Tock Clock and Mario Circuit all paying homage to classic Mario games over the years, and the likes of Peach Gardens, Delfino Square, Waluigi Pinball and DK Pass all standing out as other great courses that would later return.
Mario Kart Wii
Platform: Nintendo Wii
Year Released: 2008
The game that really capped Mario Kart as a household party game, Mario Kart Wii is the highest selling game in the franchise with over 37 million units sold and is still a frequently played title amongst friends and family to this day. Despite being over a decade old now, the game is still frequently modded, has its own online community where Esports tournaments have been organised and players can play games for real money through moneymatches and wagers, and a whole host of new modes and tracks have been added in.
Mario Kart Wii took a lot of what was first introduced in Mario Kart DS, and improved it tenfold. The online multiplayer was completely built upon to allow 12 players and competitions and events were held on the official Mario Kart Wii channel. The biggest and most diverse character and kart roster was introduced to the game, and new features such as bikes were also thrown in on top to help make use of the brand new motion controls.
As well as bringing back sixteen brand new retro tracks, Mario Kart Wii also had sixteen new and original tracks that are amongst the best in the series. The likes of Coconut Mall, Koopa Cape, Mushroom Gorge and Maple Treeway were all the highlights of Mario Kart Wii at its best and they have all gone down as some of the best the series has ever thrown up.