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Mario Kart is a series of go-kart-style video games that Nintendo develops and publishes as spin-offs from its Super Mario series trademark. The first in the series, Super Mario Kart, was launched in 1992 for critical and commercial success on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System.
The Mario Kart series includes a total of fourteen entries, with six Mario Kart games being released on home consoles, three on portable handheld consoles, four arcade games co-developed with Namco and one for mobile phones. Mario Kart Tour, the latest game in the main series, was released on September 2019 on iOS and Android. The series has sold over 100 million copies worldwide to date.
Mario is driving upside-down using Mario Kart 8’s anti-gravity mechanic.
Players are competing in go-kart races in the Mario Kart series, controlling one of a selection of characters typically from the Mario franchise. Up to twelve characters can compete in each race; the exact number varies between games.
One of the features of the series is the use of different power-up items obtained by driving into the course item boxes. These power-ups include champignons to give players a boost in speed, Koopa shells to throw at opponents, banana peels and fake item boxes that can be put on the course as hazards. The type of weapon that an item box receives is influenced by the current position of the player in the race. For instance, players lagging far behind may receive more powerful items while only small defensive items may be given to the leader. This gameplay mechanism, called rubber banding, allows a realistic chance for other players or computers to catch up with the leading player. During the race, they can also perform driving techniques like mini-turbos, slipstreaming, and starting the rocket. During the race, they can also perform driving techniques like mini-turbos, slipstreaming, and starting the rocket.
As the series progressed, new gameplay elements such as new circuits, items, modes, and playable characters were introduced in each new installment.
Mario Kart features mainly Mario franchise characters. The Mario Kart Arcade GP series features characters like Pac-Man from Bandai Namco. The DLC for Mario Kart 8 added Zelda’s Legend Link, and Animal Crossing’s Villager and Isabelle. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe has 42 characters, including Splatoon’s Inklings.
Throughout the series, many themes of course recur. Most are based on existing Mario franchise areas (Bowser’s Castle is one of the most prominent), but there are a number of courses that have not appeared elsewhere but still belong to the Mushroom Kingdom, such as Rainbow Road. Each game’s tracks are divided into four “cups,” or groups in which the player has to have the highest overall placing to win. Most courses can be done in three laps, except in the original game where all circuits required five laps to complete and Mario Kart Tour with only two. Mario Kart: Super Circuit, which included all the tracks from the original Super NES game, was the first game to feature courses from previous games. Each entry in the series, starting with Mario Kart DS, included 16 “nitro” (brand new courses introduced for that game) and 16 “retro” tracks (reappearing courses from previous Mario Kart games), spread over four cups each with four races.