May 23, 2024

Ranking Every Game In The Mario Kart Series

Whenever a Mario Kart entry arrives, it immediately becomes a must-have on its respective platform, thanks to its universal appeal to gamers of all experience and ability levels. That widespread appeal has translated to sales, as nearly every Mario Kart game ranks near the top of its platform’s sales chart. But it goes beyond mainstream success; Mario Kart is fun whether you’re spending the evening alone perfecting a drift around a corner or gathering your closest friends for a marathon session. 

Sure, the rubberband A.I. and the randomization elements are enough to make us want to jump up and down in frustration, but it’s never quite enough to deter us from driving up to the next starting line. Check out our ranking of the entire Mario Kart series below, and let us know how you would rank the series in the comments section!

11

Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit

Switch, 2020

A novel idea from Velan Studios, Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit is far from a conventional Mario Kart title. Using a real-life remote-controlled go-kart and a track players must set up in their own physical space, Home Circuit requires a bit more creativity and time than your standard Mario Kart entry. Unfortunately, repetitive gameplay, stiff controls, and limitations involving surfaces and space requirements can’t be overcome by the unique gimmick.


Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit


Platform:
Switch
Release Date:
October 16, 2020

10

Mario Kart: Super Circuit

Game Boy Advance, 2001

The notion of having a Mario Kart game on the go in 2001 was enticing, and while Super Circuit is far from a bad game, it didn’t quite deliver the thrills we had grown accustomed to with the pre-existing console entries. The technical limitations of the Game Boy Advance didn’t allow for as grand of an experience as, say, the Nintendo 64, and the controls are less precise than its console brethren. Still, this early handheld entry delivered plenty of thrills, particularly when you consider it’s the first time Mario Kart was able to be played on the go.


Mario Kart: Super Circuit


Platform:
Game Boy Advance
Release Date:
August 27, 2001

9

Mario Kart Tour

iOS, Android, 2019

The sole mobile Mario Kart game, Mario Kart Tour had an uphill battle thanks to its unconventional structure, unsavory monetization methods, and imprecise touchscreen controls. However, thanks to the four years of live-service updates, Mario Kart Tour includes several nods to Mario and Mario Kart’s past, plus an absolutely massive roster of racers and courses. Some of the courses in Mario Kart Tour are among the best the series has ever seen. Thankfully, for those turned away by Tour’s mobile structure, several of the best race tracks from Tour eventually made their way to Mario Kart 8 Deluxe through the Booster Course Pass.


Mario Kart Tour


Platform:
iOS, Android
Release Date:
September 25, 2019

8

Super Mario Kart

SNES, 1992

Borne out of a desire for Nintendo to create a racing game where two characters could appear on the same screen simultaneously, Super Mario Kart began as a go-kart game without the Mario brand attached; it was only once someone suggested seeing what the racers looked like as Mario characters that the Mario Kart franchise was born. This initial entry laid the groundwork for the series, but by today’s standards, it’s rather barebones. But to this day, the soundtrack is still spectacular, the Battle Mode is a thrill, and some of the tracks remain essential classics in the franchise.


Super Mario Kart


Platform:
SNES
Release Date:
September 1, 1992

7

Mario Kart 64

Nintendo 64, 1997

While Mario Kart 64 falls short in many categories when compared to the rest of this list, it nails it in a few select areas. The tracks of Mario Kart 64 stand toe-to-toe with most other games in the series, and the series’ first transition to full 3D graphics has aged better than many Nintendo 64 titles. But the place for which Mario Kart 64 is most important is in its innovation of doubling the number of players who can sit down and battle it out, thanks to the N64’s four controller ports. To this day, Mario Kart 64’s Versus and Battle Modes are a blast to play, even if your screen is relegated to a tiny quadrant of the TV, leading the N64 Mario Kart title to be considered one of the most nostalgic entries of the franchise.


Mario Kart 64


Platform:
N64
Release Date:
February 10, 1997

6

Mario Kart Wii

Wii, 2008

While the accomplishments of the Wii entry of the Mario Kart series will always be overshadowed by the passable motion controls and the bundled plastic wheel that still lay dormant in many households to this day, Mario Kart Wii is a strong entry that introduced many gimmicks and conventions still going strong in the franchise to this day. Along with the introduction of bikes and stunts, plus a vastly improved online suite, Mario Kart Wii was a mainstay in millions upon millions of Wii libraries for good reason.


Mario Kart Wii


Platform:
Wii
Release Date:
April 27, 2008

5

Mario Kart DS

DS, 2005

Mario Kart DS surprisingly goes down in history as the first title in the franchise to include online multiplayer. That’s right; a handheld title featured online functionality before a console game. While it definitely faced its fair share of bumps in the road (and has since been discontinued), the influential second handheld title in the Mario Kart series laid the groundwork for future entries to improve upon the feature set. Add to that terrific single-player content, including the new Mission Mode, as well as the standard suite of multiplayer offerings, and Mario Kart DS lived up to the series pedigree in many ways.


Mario Kart DS


Platform:
DS
Release Date:
November 14, 2005

4

Mario Kart 7

3DS, 2011

The final dedicated handheld Mario Kart title played it safe in a lot of ways. The formula of the franchise has always been its strong suit, but Mario Kart 7 perhaps relied too heavily on that, with the biggest innovations to the series coming in the forms of underutilized glider and underwater sections. Still, Mario Kart 7 improves on nearly every core element of the series, particularly with the multiplayer elements, where customizable rulesets allow for players to curate their own fun in this solid entry in the franchise.


Mario Kart 7


Platform:
3DS
Release Date:
December 4, 2011

3

Mario Kart 8

Wii U, 2014

The original form of Mario Kart 8 felt like the ultimate realization of the Mario Kart formula when it arrived in 2014 thanks to its eye-popping visuals, tight controls, excellent collection of courses, wide-ranging items library, and, of course, the terrific cast of characters. Add to that the gravity-defying mechanics and excellent online play, and it’s a shoo-in for one of the best games in the beloved racing series. However, one major sticking point – the lackluster Battle Mode – prevents it from being the best of the best.


Mario Kart 8


Platform:
Wii U
Release Date:
May 30, 2014

2

Mario Kart: Double Dash

GameCube, 2003

Mario Kart: Double Dash is noteworthy for many reasons, but the one that sticks out the most is right there in the name: two characters ride on the kart instead of the series-standard one. This mechanic, which lets you swap between characters mid-race, allows for incredible cooperative play where one drives and the other manages items, but the convention extends to the traditional Mario Kart modes as well. No matter the mode you play, the addition of character-specific special moves and some of the greatest tracks the series has ever seen make Double Dash one of the best GameCube games and easily one of the best entries in the storied Mario Kart franchise. 


Mario Kart: Double Dash


Platform:
GameCube
Release Date:
November 17, 2003

1

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

Switch, 2017

What started as a mere port of the Wii U title with a slightly bigger roster of racers and vastly improved Battle Mode exploded in the subsequent years to become something far greater. While the inclusion of a proper Battle Mode and additional characters at launch made for a drastically more well-rounded experience than the already-stellar base game, the Booster Course Pass, which doubled the number of selectable courses across 2022 and 2023, and included even more characters from the Mushroom Kingdom, make Mario Kart 8 Deluxe easily the greatest game in the history of Nintendo’s illustrious kart-racing franchise.


Mario Kart 8 Deluxe


Platform:
Switch
Release Date:
April 28, 2017

For more on the Mario Kart series, check out this episode of the All Things Nintendo podcast, where we run down the history of the franchise. For our ranking of the entire Super Mario series, head here.

Whenever a Mario Kart entry arrives, it immediately becomes a must-have on its respective platform, thanks to its universal appeal to gamers of all experience and ability levels. That widespread appeal has translated to sales, as nearly every Mario Kart game ranks near the top of its platform’s sales chart. But it goes beyond mainstream success; Mario Kart is fun whether you’re spending the evening alone perfecting a drift around a corner or gathering your closest friends for a marathon session. 

Sure, the rubberband A.I. and the randomization elements are enough to make us want to jump up and down in frustration, but it’s never quite enough to deter us from driving up to the next starting line. Check out our ranking of the entire Mario Kart series below, and let us know how you would rank the series in the comments section!

11

Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit

Switch, 2020

A novel idea from Velan Studios, Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit is far from a conventional Mario Kart title. Using a real-life remote-controlled go-kart and a track players must set up in their own physical space, Home Circuit requires a bit more creativity and time than your standard Mario Kart entry. Unfortunately, repetitive gameplay, stiff controls, and limitations involving surfaces and space requirements can’t be overcome by the unique gimmick.

Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit

Platform:

Switch

Release Date:

October 16, 2020

Purchase

More Info

10

Mario Kart: Super Circuit

Game Boy Advance, 2001

The notion of having a Mario Kart game on the go in 2001 was enticing, and while Super Circuit is far from a bad game, it didn’t quite deliver the thrills we had grown accustomed to with the pre-existing console entries. The technical limitations of the Game Boy Advance didn’t allow for as grand of an experience as, say, the Nintendo 64, and the controls are less precise than its console brethren. Still, this early handheld entry delivered plenty of thrills, particularly when you consider it’s the first time Mario Kart was able to be played on the go.

Mario Kart: Super Circuit

Platform:

Game Boy Advance

Release Date:

August 27, 2001

Purchase

More Info

9

Mario Kart Tour

iOS, Android, 2019

The sole mobile Mario Kart game, Mario Kart Tour had an uphill battle thanks to its unconventional structure, unsavory monetization methods, and imprecise touchscreen controls. However, thanks to the four years of live-service updates, Mario Kart Tour includes several nods to Mario and Mario Kart’s past, plus an absolutely massive roster of racers and courses. Some of the courses in Mario Kart Tour are among the best the series has ever seen. Thankfully, for those turned away by Tour’s mobile structure, several of the best race tracks from Tour eventually made their way to Mario Kart 8 Deluxe through the Booster Course Pass.

Mario Kart Tour

Platform:

iOS, Android

Release Date:

September 25, 2019

Purchase

More Info

8

Super Mario Kart

SNES, 1992

Borne out of a desire for Nintendo to create a racing game where two characters could appear on the same screen simultaneously, Super Mario Kart began as a go-kart game without the Mario brand attached; it was only once someone suggested seeing what the racers looked like as Mario characters that the Mario Kart franchise was born. This initial entry laid the groundwork for the series, but by today’s standards, it’s rather barebones. But to this day, the soundtrack is still spectacular, the Battle Mode is a thrill, and some of the tracks remain essential classics in the franchise.

Super Mario Kart

Platform:

SNES

Release Date:

September 1, 1992

Purchase

More Info

7

Mario Kart 64

Nintendo 64, 1997

While Mario Kart 64 falls short in many categories when compared to the rest of this list, it nails it in a few select areas. The tracks of Mario Kart 64 stand toe-to-toe with most other games in the series, and the series’ first transition to full 3D graphics has aged better than many Nintendo 64 titles. But the place for which Mario Kart 64 is most important is in its innovation of doubling the number of players who can sit down and battle it out, thanks to the N64’s four controller ports. To this day, Mario Kart 64’s Versus and Battle Modes are a blast to play, even if your screen is relegated to a tiny quadrant of the TV, leading the N64 Mario Kart title to be considered one of the most nostalgic entries of the franchise.

Mario Kart 64

Platform:

N64

Release Date:

February 10, 1997

Purchase

More Info

6

Mario Kart Wii

Wii, 2008

While the accomplishments of the Wii entry of the Mario Kart series will always be overshadowed by the passable motion controls and the bundled plastic wheel that still lay dormant in many households to this day, Mario Kart Wii is a strong entry that introduced many gimmicks and conventions still going strong in the franchise to this day. Along with the introduction of bikes and stunts, plus a vastly improved online suite, Mario Kart Wii was a mainstay in millions upon millions of Wii libraries for good reason.

Mario Kart Wii

Platform:

Wii

Release Date:

April 27, 2008

Purchase

More Info

5

Mario Kart DS

DS, 2005

Mario Kart DS surprisingly goes down in history as the first title in the franchise to include online multiplayer. That’s right; a handheld title featured online functionality before a console game. While it definitely faced its fair share of bumps in the road (and has since been discontinued), the influential second handheld title in the Mario Kart series laid the groundwork for future entries to improve upon the feature set. Add to that terrific single-player content, including the new Mission Mode, as well as the standard suite of multiplayer offerings, and Mario Kart DS lived up to the series pedigree in many ways.

Mario Kart DS

Platform:

DS

Release Date:

November 14, 2005

Purchase

More Info

4

Mario Kart 7

3DS, 2011

The final dedicated handheld Mario Kart title played it safe in a lot of ways. The formula of the franchise has always been its strong suit, but Mario Kart 7 perhaps relied too heavily on that, with the biggest innovations to the series coming in the forms of underutilized glider and underwater sections. Still, Mario Kart 7 improves on nearly every core element of the series, particularly with the multiplayer elements, where customizable rulesets allow for players to curate their own fun in this solid entry in the franchise.

Mario Kart 7

Platform:

3DS

Release Date:

December 4, 2011

Purchase

More Info

3

Mario Kart 8

Wii U, 2014

The original form of Mario Kart 8 felt like the ultimate realization of the Mario Kart formula when it arrived in 2014 thanks to its eye-popping visuals, tight controls, excellent collection of courses, wide-ranging items library, and, of course, the terrific cast of characters. Add to that the gravity-defying mechanics and excellent online play, and it’s a shoo-in for one of the best games in the beloved racing series. However, one major sticking point – the lackluster Battle Mode – prevents it from being the best of the best.

Mario Kart 8

Platform:

Wii U

Release Date:

May 30, 2014

Purchase

More Info

2

Mario Kart: Double Dash

GameCube, 2003

Mario Kart: Double Dash is noteworthy for many reasons, but the one that sticks out the most is right there in the name: two characters ride on the kart instead of the series-standard one. This mechanic, which lets you swap between characters mid-race, allows for incredible cooperative play where one drives and the other manages items, but the convention extends to the traditional Mario Kart modes as well. No matter the mode you play, the addition of character-specific special moves and some of the greatest tracks the series has ever seen make Double Dash one of the best GameCube games and easily one of the best entries in the storied Mario Kart franchise. 

Mario Kart: Double Dash

Platform:

GameCube

Release Date:

November 17, 2003

Purchase

More Info

1

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

Switch, 2017

What started as a mere port of the Wii U title with a slightly bigger roster of racers and vastly improved Battle Mode exploded in the subsequent years to become something far greater. While the inclusion of a proper Battle Mode and additional characters at launch made for a drastically more well-rounded experience than the already-stellar base game, the Booster Course Pass, which doubled the number of selectable courses across 2022 and 2023, and included even more characters from the Mushroom Kingdom, make Mario Kart 8 Deluxe easily the greatest game in the history of Nintendo’s illustrious kart-racing franchise.

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

Platform:

Switch

Release Date:

April 28, 2017

Purchase

More Info

For more on the Mario Kart series, check out this episode of the All Things Nintendo podcast, where we run down the history of the franchise. For our ranking of the entire Super Mario series, head here.Read MoreGame Informer

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