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Every Mario Kart game ranked from best to worst

It’s hard to imagine a time before Mario and his friends (and foes) got together to speed down the racetrack while throwing shells and hitting speed boosts. The series was a hit from its first entry on the SNES and is still going strong. Today, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is not only the best-selling game on the Switch, despite being a port of the Wii U game, but is still getting new content with the Booster Course Pass adding both revamped classic tracks and a few new ones. Just like the mainline Mario games, the Kart series always changes things up between entries, giving each one its own unique flavor while retaining the tight racing feel. Looking back over the entire franchise, we’ve ranked every game in the series from best to worst — though even the series’ lowest point is still fun.

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
84%
E
Platforms
Nintendo Switch
Genre
Racing, Arcade
Developer
Nintendo EPD
Publisher
Nintendo of America, Nintendo of Europe
Release
April 28, 2017
How could the first slot go to any other game but Mario Kart 8 Deluxe? It hasn’t sold over 50 million copies for being just a middling entry, after all. This installment really masters what makes a kart racer fun. The art style is vibrant and inviting, the controls accessible and responsive, and plenty of modes to keep you coming back. Not to mention that, when all is said and done, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe will have 96 total courses, which is a staggering amount of content for any racer.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe - Nintendo Switch Presentation 2017 Trailer

Mario Kart: Double Dash!!

Mario Kart: Double Dash!!

Mario Kart: Double Dash!!
84%
E
Platforms
Nintendo GameCube
Genre
Racing
Developer
Nintendo EAD
Publisher
Nintendo
Release
November 07, 2003
Even compared to Mario Kart 8, Mario Kart: Double Dash!! arguably did more to change things up than any other entry. Never before had we been able to, or likely even considered, put two racers on a single kart, but that one idea completely changed the game. If you were playing alone, you still got a great Kart racer, but letting you play cooperatively on a single kart was exactly the type of chaotic fun the series thrives on. This is also where character-specific items debuted, adding another layer of personality to your choice of racer.
Mario Kart: Double Dash - 150cc Mushroom Cup Grand Prix (40 Points)

Super Mario Kart

Super Mario Kart

Super Mario Kart
82%
E
Platforms
Wii, Super Nintendo Entertainment System, Wii U, Super Famicom, New Nintendo 3DS
Genre
Racing
Developer
Nintendo EAD
Publisher
Nintendo
Release
August 27, 1992
Is this nostalgia talking? Perhaps a little, but the original Super Mario Kart laid such a strong foundation for the franchise that it has hardly deviated from the core it established. This game fought against the technical limitations of the SNES, pulling out every trick in the book, to make a racer unlike any other. This is where all the classic items first appeared and had a battle mode that is still fun to boot up to this day.
100CC スペシャルカップ 攻略 スーパーマリオカート ミニスーファミ ニンテンドークラシックミニ スーパーファミコン Super Mario Kart SPECIAL CUP

Mario Kart 7

Mario Kart 7

Mario Kart 7
82%
E
Platforms
Nintendo 3DS
Genre
Racing
Developer
Nintendo EAD Software Development Group No.1, Nintendo
Publisher
Nintendo
Release
December 02, 2011
The last pure handheld entry easily stands toe-to-toe with its console counterparts. Being portable, plus having online play, obviously carried forward here, but Mario Kart 7 innovated in the customization department. We’d been able to tweak our karts in a few ways before, but this entry finally let us build our vehicles from the ground up to show off to friends. This was mostly apparent with the new hang-gliders, giving courses a new level of dimension on the 3DS.
Mario Kart 7 - New Trailer for the Nintendo 3DS

Mario Kart Wii

Mario Kart Wii

Mario Kart Wii
80%
E
Platforms
Wii
Genre
Racing
Developer
Nintendo EAD
Publisher
Nintendo
Release
April 10, 2008
Mario Kart Wii feels like it was made to be just as innovative to the franchise as the console it was made for. There’s no need to talk about the great courses or music we all come to expect, but what was unexpected was basically everything else. While Mario Kart DS technically was the first in the series to have online play, Mario Kart Wii was the first time you could race players from around the world on a home console. This is also where motorcycles were introduced, as well as the option to play using the Wii Wheel.
Mario Kart Wii - Trailer

Mario Kart 64

Mario Kart 64

Mario Kart 64
82%
E
Platforms
Nintendo 64, Wii, Wii U
Genre
Racing
Developer
Nintendo EAD
Publisher
Nintendo
Release
December 14, 1996
The jump to 3D was the obvious move for the series after its first game, and Mario Kart 64 took full advantage of the new dimension. Tracks were much more detailed and dynamic than the flat courses in its predecessor, and we got an updated roster of racers like Wario. Despite the fact that it was a dorm room staple when it came up, it hasn’t aged quite as well as some other entries. Vehicle handling isn’t quite up to par anymore, and the dreaded “rubber banding” of opponents is at its worst. But when you’re sitting down with three friends, it’s still a grand time.
Nintendo 64 Longplay [002] Mario Kart 64

Mario Kart DS

Mario Kart DS

Mario Kart DS
81%
E
Platforms
Nintendo DS, Wii U
Genre
Racing
Developer
Nintendo EAD Software Development Group No.1
Publisher
Nintendo
Release
November 14, 2005
Mario Kart DS is to Mario Kart Super Circuit as Mario Kart 64 is to Super Mario Kart. Both are follow-ups that took their more limited predecessors into full 3D, but the DS version was arguably a more successful modernization than 64 in some ways. For one, this was our first taste of online play in a Mario Kart game. That was a groundbreaking feature of the time that made it easier than ever for friends to link up and play together. Unfortunately, that and the unique Mission Mode are really all this game had going for it. The tracks are surprisingly weak, and there are no meaningful shakeups to the formula.
Mario Kart DS Trailer

Mario Kart: Super Circuit

Mario Kart: Super Circuit

Mario Kart: Super Circuit
76%
E
Platforms
Game Boy Advance, Nintendo 3DS, Wii U
Genre
Racing
Developer
Nintendo, Intelligent Systems Co., Ltd.
Publisher
Nintendo
Release
July 21, 2001
The first handheld entry, and the only other 2D game after Super Mario Kart, Mario Kart: Super Circuit sounds better on paper than it is in execution. You get 20 new tracks, plus all the courses from the original with some tweaks, which is a nice chunk of content. The downside is the translation to a small handheld screen didn’t translate as well as we’d hoped. Later installments would find a much better formula, making Super Circuit the series’ most forgettable mainline title.
Game Boy Advance Longplay [075] Mario Kart: Super Circuit

Mario Kart Tour

Mario Kart Tour

Mario Kart Tour
60%
E
Platforms
Android, iOS
Genre
Racing
Developer
Nintendo EPD
Publisher
Nintendo
Release
September 25, 2019
Bottoming out our list is Mario Kart Tour, Nintendo’s attempt at bringing the hit racer to the mobile market. In truth, Mario Kart Tour isn’t a bad game when you drill down into it. Customizing your character with costumes is a fun idea, and the tracks are often fresh, even including real-world locations. Unfortunately, even Nintendo couldn’t resist the dreaded monetization pitfalls of the mobile market (something that landed it in legal trouble). The game itself is free, but you’ll need to pay up for every new character, item, and even its 200cc mode. Thankfully many of this game’s best tracks are making their way to Mario Kart 8 Deluxe.
Mario Kart Tour - Trailer

Editors' Recommendations

Jesse Lennox
Jesse Lennox loves writing, games, and complaining about not having time to write and play games. He knows the names of more…
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