Versus! Mario Kart Roster

Anthony and Robert debate about having characters from other series to join the race.

By Anthony Vigna. Posted 05/30/2014 12:00 3 Comments     ShareThis

Mario Kart 8 is officially available in North America, and it’s looking to be one of the best entries in the series’ storied history. With a bold visual aesthetic, kinetic and frenzied racing, a ton of tracks, and over thirty characters to choose from, MK8 has a lot to offer. Still, it’s clear that this isn’t going to be the last installment in the franchise, and with sea, air, and gravity now conquered along with land, one can’t help but wonder where Nintendo will go next.

One aspect of Mario Kart that we’ve been looking at here at Nintendojo has been the roster. Despite having the largest selection of characters to date, MK8‘s offerings are indicative of how limiting it can be to stick within the confines of the Super Mario universe. With the introduction of Pink Gold Peach, some of us believe that Nintendo is running on fumes trying to come up with new racers, and that the solution is to take Mario Kart to the next level with characters from the company’s wealth of other franchises.

While certainly not a bad idea, there are also those of us who think that there’s more than enough material to mine from the Mario games that there’s no need to muddy the waters with Link or Samus behind the wheel of a kart. Sitting on these two opposite poles are Nintendojo writers Anthony Vigna and Robert Marrujo, respectively, who will be tackling this very topic today! So sit back and read their thoughts on why Nintendo should and shouldn’t expand the boundaries of the world of Mario Kart!

Anthony Vigna

Hah, this will be an easy debate! It won’t be too long until I’m doing victory laps around the Nintendojo office.

I’m ridiculously excited for MK8, and I know it’s going to be a fantastic game, but the character selection is so boring! Did we really need to add a fifth baby character to the roster? Did Peach really need a metal variation of her own character as Pink Gold Peach, which the developers lazily invented to increase the roster? Nintendo seems to be running out of ideas due to the limited scope of Mario’s universe.

Babies. Babies EVERYWHERE!

But why does Nintendo need to be restricted to these characters? Super Smash Bros. brilliantly exemplifies the wealth of IPs that Nintendo has in its disposal, yet these characters remain on the bench when it comes to kart racing. Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing featured a bunch of characters that weren’t limited to Sonic’s universe, and it worked tremendously well in its favor. Why can’t Nintendo do the same?

Instead of picking from characters that nobody cares about, Nintendo should start choosing characters from its other games. Not only would that help people get excited about Mario Kart, but it may also expose them to new characters that they haven’t heard of before. It just makes sense! Super Smash Bros. shouldn’t have to be the only mascot extravaganza that Nintendo has.

Robert Marrujo

You’re tossing fastballs, pal, but I’m about to go Yoenis Cespedes on ’em (that’s an Oakland A’s reference, you gamers)! As far as MK8‘s roster goes, yeah, it’s a bit weak with such an influx of baby racers, but that’s not to say Nintendo has reached the end of the road with Mario’s cast of characters. Petey Piranha is always welcome back, and other Mario pals like King Boo, Hammer Bros., and more beyond would only serve to make the roster infinitely more interesting. I was impressed to see the Koopalings this time around, so there’s hope that Nintendo is going to come around with an even better roster the next time out. Plus, I don’t know, am I the only one who loves almost every single Mario character, whether major or minor?

Not that the idea of Fox McCloud careening down a racetrack isn’t appealing. There is something to be said of seeing Nintendo give us its own version of Sega & All-Stars Racing, but don’t forget, Sega had to use all its properties to flesh out a proper kart racer because the game wouldn’t have worked, otherwise. Mario’s universe of characters alone is enough to rival all of the characters Sega put together for All-Stars, and then some. Plus, I think that Mario, despite the oddities of the Mushroom Kingdom, has always fit well in a kart racer. He’s down to earth, what being a plumber and all!

These two racers must make a return!

Anthony Vigna

Fox McCloud going down a racetrack? Robert, you just painted a picture that makes me wish that this was real!

I admit characters like King Boo and Hammer Bros. are awesome choices, and I really wish they’d return! Hell, one of my favorite characters in Mario Kart’s history is Funky Kong, and I’d be ecstatic if I saw him in a kart again. He’s proof that Mario’s universe does have more oddball, likable characters that could be added to make the newer rosters more exciting. However, if Nintendo will continue to ignore potential racers like him and just make variations of others, then I’d much rather have characters like Fox driving an Arwing kart.

It’s definitely a breath of fresh air to see Nintendo add the Koopalings to MK8, but it seems a bit ridiculous to include all seven of them alongside five baby characters and two metal versions of existing characters. That’s nearly half the roster! Where’s the variety? If you’re not a fan of Koopas, babies, or metallic humans, then what choices are left to the player? It’s almost as if Nintendo doesn’t want to fully use all the Mario characters at its disposal, making me want a Super Smash Bros. version of Mario Kart even more.

If only…

Robert Marrujo

I definitely feel you on the roster in MK8. Outside of Mario fanatics like myself, I can see why a lot of folks might be feeling neglected, this time out. Playing devil’s advocate for a moment, you mentioned Funky and it got me thinking about the various Donkey Kong characters who have appeared as racers since the beginning of the series. It’s odd that DK gets a pass while other Nintendo characters don’t. I assume that it’s because of DK and Mario’s common history, but with Diddy and eventually Funky making the roster, Nintendo has really kind of pushed it a bit.

At the same time, though, maybe there’s a happy compromise. I know that I’m not alone in bemoaning the loss of the character duos found in Double Dash!!, so why not take the mechanics and hardcore racing of that game and marry it with Nintendo’s remaining pantheon? Don’t get me wrong, Mario Kart would still remain, but it would allow for a more core gaming experience without some of the concessions that have been made to keep that series accessible. Mario and DK would have to be in it, too, but a Nintendo Kart built around Double Dash!! seems like it would be the best of both worlds! Fox and Samus on a mini Gunship kart? I’m sold and I’m on the opposite end of this debate with you!

Now that you’ve heard us duke it out, we’d love to hear what you think! Do you think that Mario Kart should branch out its roster to be more like Super Smash Bros. or only feature characters from the Mushroom Kingdom? Let us know in the comments!

3 Responses to “Versus! Mario Kart Roster”

  • 1558 points
    penduin says...

    I may be the wrong person to ask about Mario Kart characters. I’m-a WARIO. I’M-a gonna win! Everybody else is filler.

    Mario Kart could become Nintendo Kart or Smash Kart, I suppose. Nothing wrong with the idea of other characters and franchises getting in on the races. But I’d be just as happy with a much smaller selection of characters. How many unique handling characteristics can there be in a kart racer? I really don’t see the need for Metal Baby Clawgrip.

    …Ok fine, I would totally play Metal Baby Clawgrip. But I’ll always return to Wario.

  • 745 points
    OG75 says...

    If Nintendo decided to turn Mario Kart into something like “Smash Kart,” the new characters and karts would be exciting. However I believe the greatest potential for Nintendo to flex its creative muscle would be in the new COURSES! Just imagine all of the potential locations from Nintendo’s vast stable of franchises!

    Racing through Hyrule, Planet Zebes, The Lylat System, etc. would be a lot of fun. While I do enjoy the actual track designs of current Mario Kart games, I don’t get too excited about racing on “Daisy Cruiser” or “Music Park.” Don’t get me wrong, those two examples are exceptionally designed tracks. I just like the idea of taking a 4-wheeled tour through Nintendo’s many fantastic virtual locations.

  • 207 points
    Jon Stevens says...

    I’ve got to side with Robert on this one. Sorry Anthony! I think that the best option would just be to bring back some of the dozens of Mario characters instead!

    I’m still a little surprised that no-one at Nintendo thought to shake up the roster a bit this time around though. (Koopalings aside)

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