With Mario Kart 8 Deluxe out now on the Nintendo Switch, players are zipping through the Mushroom Kingdom yet again for a chance at asserting themselves as the best behind a kart or motorcycle. Now that the series is decades old with over 10 titles in its lineup, let’s rank them worst to best!
Note: Mario Kart GP and GP 2 are not here. I have played both, but not nearly enough to rank them fairly.
Mario Kart Advance
For its time, Mario Kart Advance was a serviceable facsimile of the kart racing action we were used to on the Super Nintendo and the Nintendo 64. However, it felt like the hardware wasn’t quite capable enough of running a meatier experience, as the track designs and visuals were a bit lacking. Worse yet, if you didn’t have the multiplayer link cable, you weren’t going to be able to share the joy with your friends. Still not a bad game, but one that was just okay for the time and hasn’t aged well since.
Super Mario Kart
How could the original be ranked so low? Well, as time has passed, the series has grown by leaps and bounds, making this one rather antiquated. It gets bonus points for pioneering the whole thing, but given the choice between all of them, this might be one of the last you’d actually want to play for an extended period of time. The graphics are rough, the courses are basic by today’s standards, and only two-player multiplayer limits the amount of fun you can have. Respect is always due for it being first, but there are much better ways to get your Mario Kart fix nowadays.
Mario Kart 7
I am not a fan of this game. In fact, I traded this one in ages ago and forgot it even existed. Despite it being the foundation for what Mario Kart 8 is in terms of the gliding sequences and customizable cars, races felt dull due to uninspired track design. The sequel would end up doing a much better job of bringing this game’s ideas to life.
Mario Kart Double Dash
Nintendo’s most daring entry into the series had players pick two drivers per vehicle. Admittedly, I don’t remember much about Double Dash, but I do remember being disappointed in it relative to the other games in the series. Maybe a revisit would get me to push this one higher up the list.
Mario Kart Wii
Often criticized for its inclusion of motion controls, Mario Kart Wii is one that I actually enjoy. Simply play with motion controls off and you’ve got a return to form after the disappointment that was Double Dash.
Mario Kart DS
The first to include online play had a lot going for it. Playing online with friends and rivals was a blast, but it also had some of the most imaginative tracks and exciting racing action. Unfortunately, once Snaking became a popularized technique, it really undermined the metagame, especially online.
Mario Kart 64
Now we’re cooking with fire. Mario Kart 64 was a pioneer for four-player local multiplayer and a huge leap forward for the franchise in pretty much every way. My friends and I played the heck out of this game and it’s one that still holds up.
Mario Kart 8
So close. With gorgeous graphics and the best track designs we’d ever seen, this should have been the undisputed #1 when it came out. Sadly, its battle mode was a complete trainwreck, as Nintendo simply used the standard racing courses for battle. Because of this, its place at the top was debatable. That is until…
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
…the release of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. All of the thrills of its predecessor, but now with some new content, all of the previous game’s DLC and a quality battle mode that puts the one found in Mario Kart 8 to shame. I know this is is enjoying some of the new game glow, but I can’t imagine how Deluxe can be topped until the inevitable release of a sequel.