With Mario Kart's ever-expanding roster of eligible drivers, it can be tough to keep track of them all. When you're out there on the crowded raceway, how are you supposed to tell your Dry Bowsers from your Honey Queens? Have no fear: Nintendo Life is here to help you with handy character profiles on every racer in this May's hotly-anticipated Mario Kart 8. Our first entry covered the series veterans—in this installment, we take a gander at characters introduced from 2003’s Mario Kart: Double Dash!! through 2011’s Mario Kart 7.
First appearance: Super Mario Land, 1989
Karting record: Five for eight. The princess of Sarasaland has appeared in every (non-arcade) Mario Kart since Double Dash!!, where she was paired with Peach.
Racing style: Daisy is a middleweight driver.
Home track: After a fancy cruise ship course in Double Dash!!, Daisy seems to fancy quaint European-style tracks, with a French seaside-esque Daisy Circuit in Mario Kart Wii and a Dutch farm landscape with Daisy Hills in Mario Kart 7.
Career highlight: Despite only one major role in Daisy’s career – her debut as Super Mario Land’s damsel in distress – she’s been able to make a living from appearances in Mario spin-offs and sports games. Her mysterious native country Sarasaland seems to be full of ancient human history, from Egyptian pyramids to Easter Island Moai statues.
Baby Mario & Baby Luigi
First appearance: Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island, 1995
Karting record: Three for eight. The Baby Bros. have appeared in Double Dash!!, Mario Kart Wii, and MK8.
Racing style: The lightest of the lightweights, with steering as smooth as a baby’s bottom.
Home track: The Babies’ sole home track is Baby Park, appearing in Double Dash!! It’s the shortest track in the entire Mario Kart series, with seven laps to complete.
Career highlight: Baby Mario and Luigi spend most of their career as supporting characters in Yoshi’s games, but their shining moment came in 2005 with Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time, in which they teamed up with their adult selves for some existential shenanigans.
First appearance: Mario Tennis, 2000
Karting record: Four for eight. After debuting in Double Dash!!, Waluigi has competed in Mario Kart DS, Mario Kart Wii, and MK8.
Racing style: Waluigi fluctuates between middleweight and heavyweight. He’s as skinny as a skeleton, but look at that height!
Home track: Waluigi has two home courses. In Double Dash!! he got the winding, monster truck-themed spiritual successor to Wario Stadium from Mario Kart 64, fittingly titled Waluigi Stadium. He shares Wario’s penchant for lengthy tracks, as his Mario Kart DS course was the longest raceway in the game, the brightly-coloured Waluigi Pinball.
Career highlight: None. None at all. While Daisy at least has a single appearance in a true Mario game, Waluigi exists solely for spin-off purposes. Luigi needed an evil counterpart like Mario has with Wario, so the awkwardly-named Waluigi emerged from the ether. With the Mushroom Kingdom’s huge, diverse population, why did Nintendo need to create a character like Waluigi from nothing? He seems to have a devoted fanbase among the Nintendo faithful (who are upset he’s not a playable character in the upcoming Super Smash Bros.), but Nintendo hasn’t incorporated Waluigi into true Mario canon at all.
First appearance: Mario Kart: Double Dash!!, 2003
Karting record: Three for eight. After her creation in Double Dash!!, Toadette has appeared in Mario Kart Wii and MK8.
Racing style: As light as light can be.
Home track: None. Apparently she gets the scraps of Toad’s old courses.
Career highlight: Toadette was a spin-off creation like the aberration Waluigi, but unlike him, Toadette eventually appeared in a real Mario game, with a substantial role in Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door and a small cameo in Super Mario Galaxy. Toadette begs the question, though: does her existence as a female version of Toad mean every other Toad in the Mushroom Kingdom is male? Is it a Smurfs-and-Smurfette situation? How do Toads reproduce? The true quandaries of our time.
First appearance: Super Mario Bros. 2, 1988
Karting record: Three for eight. After appearing exclusively for Download Play in Mario Kart DS, Shy Guy became playable for all modes in MK7, and he (or she?) is set to make a return in MK8.
Racing style: Light as a feather. Maybe there’s nothing underneath that mask.
Home track: Shy Guy has had a home track since long before he was a playable character. Shy Guy Beach appeared in Mario Kart: Super Circuit, because despite wearing cloak and mask, Shy Guys enjoy tanning in the sun. In MK7, Shy Guys would reconnect with their Super Mario Bros. 2 roots in the Shy Guy Bazaar course.
Career highlight: The creepy Jason Voorhees aesthetic of Shy Guys seems to clash with much of the friendly Mario universe. As many of you know, Shy Guys don’t come from the Mario series at all; they’re some of the original enemies from the real Super Mario Bros. 2, Yume Kōjō: Doki Doki Panic. They’re constantly overshadowed by Goombas and Koopa Troopas, but if Nintendo ever makes another hockey game, Shy Guy should be the goalie.
Baby Peach & Baby Daisy
First appearance: Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time, 2005 (Baby Peach); Mario Kart Wii, 2008 (Baby Daisy)
Karting record: Two for eight each. Both have appeared in Mario Kart Wii and MK8.
Racing style: Baby-sized
Home track: None, unless you count the home tracks of Adult Peach and Adult Daisy
Career highlight: Baby Peach appears in the time-travelling Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time as well as the baby-themed Yoshi's Island DS. Baby Daisy is exactly like her illegitimate competitor Waluigi: an alternate version of an existing character to match similar alternate versions of other existing characters, who exists solely for spin-off games.
First appearance: Super Mario Galaxy, 2007
Karting record: Three for eight. She’s been in Mario Kart Wii, MK7, and MK8.
Racing style: Despite her petite appearance, Rosalina is large and in charge on the racetrack
Home track: Rosalina’s Ice World from Mario Kart 7 is her only official home course, but one could argue Rainbow Road belongs to her, too.
Career highlight: It’s a bummer that every single female-identified character in Mario Kart 8 is a princess, aside from Toadette and Wendy Koopa. What message does this send to kids? “If you’re a boy, you can be whatever you want to be, and if you’re a girl… you can be a princess.” And if Super Mario Galaxy gets representation in Mario Kart, where’s the Super Mario Sunshine representative? We want to race as a Pianta!
Karting record: Three for eight. Miis appear in Mario Kart Wii, MK7, and MK8.
Racing style: Depends on your own height and weight
Home track: The futile struggle that is life
Career highlight: It’s Yuu!
Karting record: Two for eight. Metal Mario is in Mario Kart 7 and 8.
Racing style: Heavy metal
Home track: None
Career highlight: It’s questionable whether Metal Mario is a real character separate from Mario, or simply a different form of Mario like Baby Mario or Dr. Mario. While he originates with Super Mario 64’s Metal Cap power-up, in Super Smash Bros. he seems like a sinister doppelgänger for Mario, like Samus has with Dark Samus and Link has with Dark Link.
First appearance: Super Mario Bros., 1985
Karting record: Two for eight (MK7 and 8) as a playable racer, although Lakitu has played a prominent role in every game in the series as a referee and traffic light holder.
Racing style: Light as a cloud
Home track: In a way, every track.
Career highlight: Despite appearing in many Super Mario platformers as lowly enemies, Lakitu is most famous for its role in the Mario Kart series. Every time you learn which lap you’re on, or the fact that you're going the wrong way, thank a Lakitu.