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Looking Ahead: The Lingering Questions About the Next Mario Kart

Looking Ahead: The Lingering Questions About the Next Mario Kart - Article

by Mark Nielsen , posted on 12 April 2024 / 2,675 Views

10 years. It’s been almost 10 years since the last mainline release in the Mario Kart series. Mario Kart 8 came out for the Wii U in 2014 and became the best-selling game for the system by a sizeable margin, and later pulled the same magic trick on the Nintendo Switch under the stage name Deluxe. All in all, it's sold nearly 70 million copies over the last decade and is still selling like hot cakes to this day, so it’s no wonder Nintendo has been in no rush to replace it. However, with rumors of a new system being just around the corner, and reports a few years back that a new Mario Kart is indeed under way, it seems the era of 8 might very well be drawing to a close. It’s an exciting prospect to be sure, but after two Nintendo systems with Mario Kart 8 at their heart, a lot of questions remain about how Nintendo will choose to follow it up.


How Much Content Will it Have?

A decade after its release, Mario Kart 8 has been through not one but two extravagant rounds of DLC. As a result it's become by far the most content-filled entry the series has ever seen. While the base game started off with 36 characters and 32 tracks, for those who own the Booster Course Pass Mario Kart 8 Deluxe now includes 50 characters and a baffling 96 tracks. In that regard Mario Kart finds itself almost in the same situation as the Smash Bros. series after Super Smash Bros. Ultimate; how can it possibly be topped?

There are lot of possible answers to this question the most likely of which is perhaps that it won’t – at least not a first. After the success of the Booster Course Pass, why would Nintendo pass up the chance for another round of beefy DLC for the next game? Whether it will follow the same format or not remains to be seen (a massive collection of refreshed old tracks would perhaps be less exciting the second time around), but it feels all but guaranteed that it won’t be the last time Nintendo keeps the content coming to its most successful series.

On the other hand, going completely back to the same amount of content Mario Kart 8 had on release could be perceived as a downgrade after we’ve seen how big it can get, and while that certainly is a possibility, we could also see the next game starting off on some kind of middle ground between where Mario Kart 8 started and ended.


Will it Double Down on the Inclusion of Other Nintendo Series?

As the name might give away, Mario Kart has always been about the Mario series, but Mario Kart 8 challenged that idea a little through its DLC, bringing Link, Villager, and Isabelle onto the cart-racing scene, as well as introducing Zelda and Animal Crossing tracks. Later on, Inkling Boy and Girl also made their appearance in the Deluxe version. While the later Booster Course Pass for Deluxe instead looked (mainly) backwards - bringing older retro tracks back for another lap - one can’t help but wonder if this was a taste of more to come.

While I think we can quickly disregard the possibility of Mario Kart ever turning into a general Nintendo cross-over like Smash Bros., the door has certainly been opened to go beyond the mushroom kingdom in some regard. In fact, since most Mario Kart titles have some defining gimmick behind them, there's even the possibility that stepping beyond the world of Mario could be the defining characteristic of the next game. A sort of Mario Kart+ if you will (not a bad title by my own estimation; if you're reading this Nintendo, feel free to use that).

Mario along with his friends and frenemies will of course still be front and center no matter what, but we could perhaps see some portion of the roster and cups dedicated to new faces from other lands. Series like Metroid, Pikmin and Star Fox would be great to see included, and who wouldn’t want the star-racer himself - Captain Falcon - speeding by in a cart he could barely fit in? It would be a balancing act for sure, and it's possible Nintendo will stick to the safer option of a few DLC cameos instead, but the potential is certainly there to create a truly exciting cross-over without overstepping what makes it Mario Kart.


Will it  Retain the Anti-Gravity Mechanic?

As mentioned before, many Mario Kart titles have come with a gimmick of their own, and in Mario Kart 8 this was anti-gravity sequences, cleverly mirrored in the looping 8 in the game's logo. As far as gimmicks go, this was a clear winner; being able to race on walls or upside down was more than just cool on paper, and it allowed for new exciting possibilities in terms of track design.

But when we finally move on from 8 after a decade of that blue shining number, will anti-gravity disappear with it? To be honest, this one is a coin toss. On one hand, while the mechanic is by no means strictly necessary for future games, it just seems better to have that possibility in the level designing kit than not, even if it might not be utilized in every track. On the other hand, with Nintendo being Nintendo, it wouldn’t be the first time the company left a compelling mechanic in the past in order to experiment with other things - and who knows, perhaps those other things could end up being something truly special?

The main takeaway is this: if Nintendo does choose to remove the anti-gravity mechanic from the next Mario Kart title, it’s important that it’s not that removal itself that sets it apart from 8, but whatever the developers choose to do instead.


When Can We Expect to See it?

Unless Nintendo is planning to release Mario Kart 8 Deluxe2, it’s safe to say that the next system will have a Mario Kart title of its own, and quite likely an early one at that. After the great success the company had bringing as many of its flagship series as possible to the Switch early on, it seems all but a given that Nintendo will want to replicate that strategy the next time around. It will also most likely want a true system-seller available right at launch, and while Nintendo has many successful series, there are only a handful that seem up that particular task.

Mario Kart ranks among a few others in that respect, including The Legend of Zelda, Smash Bros., and maybe even Animal Crossing now, but Mario’s biggest competitor is of course Mario. While 2D Mario finally saw an installment last year, 3D Mario is another series that, like Mario Kart, is currently on its biggest hiatus between releases. Therefore, it wouldn’t be a stretch to see both of them launch fairly early on when the next system finally drops. Will Mario Kart be a release title? Possibly, but not for certain. However, chances are very good that we'll see the next Mario Kart within the first year or so of the next system’s life.


And Finally: Will it Sell 100 Million Copies?

Well duh. It’s Mario Kart.

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xMetroid (on 14 April 2024)

I do think they will double down on the IPs. I feel like they could also bring back the more "story mode" from MKDS , that was fun.
As for the timing, it will definitely be year 1 of Switch 2. I can't see them, especially since the Wii-->Wii U transition happened, launch a console without the flagship MK title as part of the launch.
That said, i'm so intrigued by how it will look and what the whole thing will be about.

  • +5
Tober (on 14 April 2024)

Fix the rubber banding. I used to love just going for a run one-player for a few laps. But if you're any good, you get the blue shell every time and don't talk to me about the squid. It gets annoying over time.

  • +4
JWeinCom Tober (on 15 April 2024)

In local play, I do believe you can adjust the item sets so that it isn't as much of an issue. Would be nice if they had that option in the online modes as well.

  • 0
Slownenberg (on 16 April 2024)

If they wanna give players a real treat, they'll expand the content of other series in the game for sure, including items from other series. And yes they should keep anti-grav because it allows for more course variation. I doubt it'll be day 1 release because that has gotta be 3D Mario, but I'm guessing MK9 will follow about a month later. As far as content, I would guess they'll do a similar thing as MK8D, the game coming with 48 track and then have a DLC for another 48 a few years later.

  • +1
OneTime (on 15 April 2024)

They should bring back the "battle modes" . They've been forgotten for a long time.

  • +1
JWeinCom (on 12 April 2024)

Gonna be super Nintendo kart.

  • 0
Wman1996 JWeinCom (on 12 April 2024)

That would be a marketing fail. Even if the game is that it has to be called Mario Kart in some way. Mario Kart has become a flagship IP. If it wasn't its own franchise (more merely a series below franchise status) before 8 Deluxe, it is now.
Mario Kart + Nintendo All-Stars or something like that if it goes heavy in the crossover department.

  • +2
JWeinCom Wman1996 (on 12 April 2024)

I didn't necessarily mean that would be the title. But, it will be a crossover. That seems to be the logical way to go, as it gives this game a new hook, serves as a way to promote other Nintendo titles, and allows them to do more interesting courses/rosters.

  • +5
newwil7l JWeinCom (on 14 April 2024)

Would be a very bad idea

  • 0
JWeinCom newwil7l (on 15 April 2024)

Idk man. I think that racing through planet Zebes with lava rising is a lot more interesting than Bowser's Castle 17, and playing as Kirby is probably more interesting than Magikoopa. And, I'm really not sure where else they go with the franchise in terms of gameplay.

  • 0
Wman1996 (on 12 April 2024)

It should not have as many tracks, even with DLC. 96 tracks are not sustainable. 64-80 tracks are more than enough with DLC. The base game should probably have 40 or more. 32 feels too small now even if all the DLC has less tracks than 8 Deluxe + Booster.
Double Dash mechanic returns. Of course, this would be optional.
Coin mechanic is optional. If you turn it off, you can still get items and your top speed.
More Nintendo characters from other IPs, but just a little. Kirby and Captain Falcon seem like obvious pick.
Mission mode perhaps with fully rendered cutscenes as well.
Make it cross-gen. I know Nintendo is dependent on their exclusives in a big way to get customers to buy the newer system. But still, Mario Kart 9 on Switch and Switch 2 would be a win for customers. Games are easier to scale nowadays, and the Switch 2 version could still look a lot better than Switch.
Retain glider/underwater mechanics and anti-gravity.
Bring back Paratroopa as a playable character and add Professor E. Gadd as a character.
It needs to come out by November 2026. November 2025 or earlier would be even more ideal.

  • 0
coolharry (on 12 April 2024)

I think Mario Kart 8 deluxe + with all the dlc would still sell 30 million copies or more on the Switch 2. So they definitely could go GTA5 with this. Business wise, it might even be the best decision, because topping Mario Kart 8 will almost be impossible and the new Mario Kart might stopp the sales of Mario Kart 8.

  • 0
Radek coolharry (on 12 April 2024)

Come on man... unlike GTA V the game is already 10 years old before going to the third generation of consoles. Last GTA V port on PS5 was when the game was "merely" 8 and half years old

  • +1
JWeinCom coolharry (on 15 April 2024)

People who are going to buy Switch 2 would probably buy Mario Kart 8. But nobody would buy a Switch 2 for it.

  • 0
coolharry JWeinCom (on 16 April 2024)

Yes, that might be true, so if the Switch 2 does not have enough system sellers, a new Mario Kart might be a better option :-)

  • 0