Mario Kart has been the most popular spin-off franchise for three decades now, with some games becoming the best-selling games in their respective systems. Players can jump into various iconic locations in the Mushroom Kingdom and battle other characters from the series in go-carts as well as more recently taking the battle online. Here are all of the Mario Kart games ranked from worst to best. It is worth noting the arcade-exclusive Mario Kart Arcade GP series has been excluded.
10. Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit
Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit is the latest game released in the series, but it is understandable if you bypass it as it isn’t a traditional entry. Instead, you use remote-controlled carts with a camera that stream to your Nintendo Switch as your home becomes the race course. It is fun for what it is, but due to the cost and limited playability, you could skip this and not feel like you’ve missed out.
9. Mario Kart Tour
Mario Kart Tour brought Mario Kart to mobile devices, which sounds great on paper but the execution is less so. It does feature many unique courses, with some later being brought over to Mario Kart 8 Deluxe as part of the Booster Course Pass. However, Mario Kart Tour’s Gacha mechanics make the game very predatory and designed to maximize the amount of money you spend. This is something Nintendo isn’t known for so it is very surprising to see them go down this route and it ruined a potentially great game.
Following the success of the Super Mario Bros. series, Nintendo began looking at spin-off games to expand the franchise further and one of these was Super Mario Kart, a game that spawned the most popular spin-off franchise of all time. Eight iconic characters from the Mario franchise duke it out across popular locations in go-carts. The series went from strength to strength and this is arguably the worst mainline game, but without this gaming would look a lot different.
7. Mario Kart: Super Circuit
Mario Kart went handheld for the first time with Mario Kart: Super Circuit on the Game Boy Advance. It is a fun experience, but the lack of power of the Game Boy Advance means that it doesn’t look great and isn’t the smoothest experience. Mario Kart: Super Circuit is now available to play as part of the Nintendo Switch Online service so if you haven’t played this handheld version then now is a good time to check out this forgotten entry.
Mario Kart 7 brought some new gameplay mechanics to the series which carried over to Mario Kart 8, adding a new layer of depth to racing. These include using gliders to fly in the air and also being able to race underwater. It is a great game too, with 32 courses and 17 characters to choose from, there is a lot of depth in Mario Kart 7 that should keep you busy for a while.
5. Mario Kart 64
Mario Kart 64 is often the game that is remembered most fondly in the series, due to it taking the series into the 3D era and improving upon Super Mario Kart in every way. When people remember the Nintendo 64, the games often associated with it are Super Mario 64, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Goldeneye 007, and of course Mario Kart 64.
When it comes to handheld Mario Kart, it doesn’t get any better than Mario Kart DS. The game saw a huge performance boost compared to Mario Kart: Super Circuit, as well as the inclusion of some of the most fun Mario Kart courses to date including Delfino Square, Waluigi Pinball, and Tick Tock Clock. Mario Kart DS also marked the first time that retro courses from previous titles would be included, a trend that still continues to this day.
3. Mario Kart: Double Dash
Mario Kart: Double Dash brought a unique twist to the Mario Kart series where the player takes control of two characters in the same cart. Because of this, the roster was cleverly designed to include pairs of characters, such as Mario and Luigi, Donkey and Diddy Kong, etc. However, you didn’t have to stick to traditional pairings and could mix and match for more unique gameplay as each racer features its own unique weapon which adds a fresh twist to the gameplay and makes each race more unique.
Motion controls are often a point of contention, with some enjoying them and some hating them. But, hear me out on this one, Mario Kart Wii is one of the greatest racing games of all time and it is in part thanks to motion controls. But, if motion controls aren’t your thing you can use a traditional controller so the game is very versatile. Unfortunately, the online play was discontinued in 2014, but it was incredibly fun at the time and really helped to elevate Mario Kart Wii as one of the best entries in the series.
1. Mario Kart 8/Deluxe
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is the latest mainline entry in the series, and is currently, the best-selling, with over 63 million copies sold across both the Wii U and Nintendo Switch. This game feels like pinnacle Mario Kart and it has remained the latest entry for a decade while receiving continued support such as two expansions on the Wii U to add new courses and characters, and more recently the Booster Course Pass on the Nintendo Switch version which adds 48 new courses to the game. With Nintendo putting this much into Mario Kart 8, I have no idea how they will top it with Mario Kart 9 in the future.