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 Petey Piranhas from your Ludwig von Koopas? 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. We begin this three-part feature with the series veterans who have been around since the first two entries, 1992's Super Mario Kart and 1996's Mario Kart 64.
First appearance: Donkey Kong, 1981
Karting record: Mario has appeared in all eight of his eponymous Kart titles since 1992.
Racing style: Mario is the archetypical Everyman of kart racing, with a middleweight range in every single Mario Kart title.
Home track: Mario Circuit, a Mushroom Kingdom-based course that has appeared in every Mario Kart in some form. It appears Peach lets Mario build his tracks in her castle's back yard.
Career highlight: You've heard about Mario saving Princess Peach and defeating Bowser dozens of times... but do you remember when he won an epic arena fighting tournament in Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door under the name "the Great Gonzales"? "Squarin' off next, folks... are the Hoppin' Hardheads... the GOOMBA BROS.! Aaaaaand... A newcomer with a hankerin' for hammerin', the Greeeeeat GONZALES!"
First appearance: Mario Bros., 1983
Karting record: Eight for eight, just like his more famous brother.
Racing style: Like his bro, Luigi is a middleweight racer. In Mario Kart: Double Dash!!, the two Bros. rode a car together. Using default settings, Luigi had to sit in the back seat. Of course.
Home track: Luigi Circuit is usually one of the simplest tracks in every Mario Kart entry, a generic course playing second fiddle to Mario Circuit, but in MK8 the Lesser Brother gets the unique Twisted Mansion track instead. I guess he’ll never live down that legacy of his…
Career highlight: Luigi finally got a coveted starring role in GameCube launch title Luigi's Mansion, but instead of the burly hero that we all know he is, Nintendo presented him as a cowardly custodian with a vacuum cleaner. His wondrous mansion turned out to be slightly haunted, and much like the man himself, Luigi's Mansion was totally underrated by fans and critics when it hit stores in 2001.
First appearance: Super Mario Bros., 1985
Karting record: Eight for eight
Racing style: Peach tends to fluctuate between lightweight and middleweight, usually sporting quick acceleration but relatively low top speeds.
Home track: Mario races outside her castle, but since Peach is royalty, she can afford all sorts of luxurious tracks, from Peach Circuit to Royal Raceway to Peach Gardens to the Super Mario Sunshine-themed Peach Beach.
Career highlight: The less said about Super Princess Peach, the better. Apparently the perpetual Damsel in Distress is so forgettable to residents of the Mushroom Kingdom that when she went on a Hawaiian vacation in an episode of The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3 cartoon, the Koopas made a robotic duplicate of her and no one could tell the difference. This wasn’t the last time Peach would be turned into a robot: in Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga, an evil witch makes three Peach-bots to conquer Mushroom Kingdom.
First appearance: Super Mario World, 1990
Karting record: Eight for eight
Racing style: Like Peach, Yoshi ranges from light to middleweight in each of the Mario Kart entries.
Home track: Yoshi’s had a variety of mid-range courses courses, from Yoshi Valley to Yoshi Desert (with Yoshi Sphinx!) to Yoshi Circuit (he shaped the track like himself!) to Yoshi Falls. Lately, though, Yoshi hasn’t gotten any love. Neither Mario Kart Wii nor MK7 included a new Yoshi course.
Career highlight: Did you know Yoshi has an evil rival, like Mario’s Wario and Luigi’s Waluigi? In Super Mario RPG, Yoshi races against Boshi, a blue Yoshi with an edgy spiked choker, sunglasses, and toeless shoes. Boshi is the only Yoshi not to wear closed-toe footwear. Have you ever thought about what Yoshi’s feet look like before? Sadly, Super Mario RPG has been Boshi’s only appearance to date.
First appearance: Super Mario Bros., 1985
Karting record: Eight for eight
Racing style: Bowser has been the heaviest racer around for his entire career, with low acceleration and terrible steering but a powerful ability to knock all the smaller racers off the track.
Home track: Bowser’s Castle is the most consistent course in the entire Mario Kart catalogue, appearing in every single entry in all its fiery glory. In every sequel after the original Super Mario Kart, Bowser’s Castle appears as the penultimate track, right before Rainbow Road. In Mario Kart 7, Bowser ventured outside his castle for the first time with the futuristic Neo Bowser City.
Career highlight: The 1992 PC classic (yes, classic) Mario Is Missing features an ending cutscene in which Luigi rips off Bowser’s shell to reveal polka-dot boxer shorts, and then violently kicks Bowser off a castle wall. This may be King Koopa’s most humanising moment of all. Haven’t we all been there at some point in our lives?
First appearance: Super Mario Bros., 1985
Karting record: Eight for eight
Racing style: Toad is always one of the most lightweight competitors in Mario Kart, with buttery smooth steering and acceleration but a top speed that leaves something to be desired.
Home track: Contrary to what we’re led to believe in the core Super Mario games, Mario Kart lets us know Toad is a true urban dweller. Toad’s Turnpike in Mario Kart 64 features bustling city traffic, and Toad’s Factory in Mario Kart Wii is all about industrial development. Toad took a sightly more standard route with Toad Circuit in MK7, but the mushroom head is set for a return to city life with Toad's Turnpike in MK8.
Career highlight: Toad’s only starring role was in the final game ever released on NES in the United States, Wario’s Woods, which also happened to be the first Mario game not to feature Mario in any capacity. But was it really Toad? With a species full of lookalikes who all dress the same, it’s tough to tell if Toad from Mario Kart is the Toad or simply a Toad.
First appearance: Super Mario Bros., 1985
Karting record: Despite appearing in the inaugural karting game, Koopa Troopa hasn’t always received MK love. He’s appeared in five of eight: Super Mario Kart, Double Dash!!, MK Wii, MK7, and MK8.
Racing style: The Koop Troop is a lightweight to middleweight racer.
Home track: Being a turtle, Kooper Troopers have had many coastal-themed courses, even in some games in which Koopa Troopa wasn’t a playable character. Koopa Beach, Koopa Troopa Beach, and Koopa Cape.
Career highlight: You might have thought Koopa Troopas made their début in the original arcade Mario Bros., but in fact those were Shellcreepers, the Koopa Troopas' four-legged ancestors. By the time the Troop was formed in Super Mario Bros., they'd learned to walk on two legs. According to the Koopa Troopa trophy in Super Smash Bros. Melee, “They all wear T-shirts and shorts under their shells.”
First appearance: Donkey Kong, 1981
Karting record: Seven for eight. It was DK’s shirt-wearing son Donkey Kong Jr. who premiered with the series in Super Mario Kart, but by the time the N64 sequel rolled around in 1996, the success of Rare’s Donkey Kong Country had pushed Junior out of the limelight. Like an unwanted child, he would never be seen again in the Mario Kart series, and Donkey Kong Sr. has appeared in every subsequent MK title.
Racing style: A wise man once said, “He’s bigger, faster, and stronger too!” so DK has always been a heavyweight in Mario Kart.
Home track: Donkey Kong has had a variety of jungle courses over the years, although for some reason, in Mario Kart DS and Wii, his tracks are winter-themed. Gorillas are known to live in snowy climates, right?
Career highlight: Donkey Kong and his family are virtually the only characters outside the Mario series to appear in Mario Kart, likely due to Mario’s origins in Donkey Kong. DK’s most tragic encounter with Mario came when he was imprisoned by the portly plumber in Donkey Kong Jr., the only game to feature Mario as a true villain.
First appearance: Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins, 1992
Karting record: Seven for eight. He’s appeared in every entry since Mario Kart 64.
Racing style: Wario is a heavyweight, with low acceleration but high bumping power. With anti-gravity spin boosts recently revealed for Mario Kart 8, Wario should be a formidable foe.
Home track: Wario’s tracks are some of the longest in the Mario Kart series. Traditionally they’re based on monster truck courses like Wario Stadium and Wario Colosseum, but lately he’s branched out to a Gold Mine, a Shipyard, and in MK8 he’s set to get his own snowy Mount Wario track.
Career highlight: Whenever Wario shows up in Mario titles, Nintendo likes to play up his old coin-hungry ways. But when Wario is left to his own devices, he’s become a budding indie game developer, as seen in the wondrous WarioWare series and the recent Game & Wario. If only he could get a trippy microgame-themed Mario Kart course.
So those are the veterans, which is your favourite?
Yoshi's usually my favourite.
I considered Koopa Troopa and Yoshi to be my main in Mario Kart games, if someone were to pick one, I'll stick to the other one but usually to me it's always Koopa Troopa.
Is Donkey Kong as we know him now supposed to be DK Jr. grown up? I seem to remember Cranky Kong's dialogue hinting that he himself was the star of the original arcade games, now usually resigned to his rocking chair.
You can't beat Luigi. The other brother always gets love from me!
Toad all the way.
I've always had a soft spot for Koopa troop don't really know why I also like Yoshi as well.
Even though she's not here rosalina is always my main since MKWii it's a shame they removed her Luma since 7 I really liked that detail about her :/
That is what Rare says. Rare has stated that the DK in the DK Country series (and subsequently in all other appearances) is the grown up version of DK Jr.
Nice article. I played Princess Peach on the Wii as my daughter liked her. I was a proud father when she got her first gold cup in MK7, so she gets to play peach herself in MK8! Sadly, no King Boo for me! Let's hope we see an article and poll about those racers left out of MK8!
"For some reason in Mario Kart DS and Mario Kart Wii, DK's tracks are winter themed".
Of course they were. It ain't called Tropical FREEZE for nothin!
Oooh sorry to do this but I have to point out when MK DS was released Tropical Freeze was but a gleam in the eye of some developer. I think DKC: Returns was on it's way to being released but def not Tropical Freeze.
I still have my doubts that the 30 racers we have seen for MK8 are the whole roster. It would make it the first MK in a long time without hidden racers.
I've been using Koopa Troopa for a long time now, and I have no idea why.
I know. I was just kidding because it made so much sense.
Believe me, I know good and well when DKC Returns released and when Tropical Freeze development began. It was just a slick remark, nothing more.
I don't know why it didn't work before but I choose Koopa Troopa. He was my choice to clear 150cc Special Cup on the SNES and I still use him today, although to be honest he was replaced by Dry Bones on the Wii
I really haven't had a main in MK. I played as Luigi in 64, then ditched him for my Mii in Wii, but I really found a favorite in MKDS, Shy Guy. I didn't own the game, but I used download play all of the time. In MK7, I mained with Shy Guy, using Luigi to unlock him. Don't worry Luigi, you'll always be one of my favorite MK racers. until I unlock a new one to replace you...
Puts squeaky stupidity mallet away Good... then I won't have to use this
But on that note, you're right. Those tracks do make a little more sense now.
I always go Yoshi, but I have a soft spot for Shy Guy. Since I don´t own a portable, this will be the first time I get a chance to play with him. Guess I´ll end up alternating between the two. The wait is killing me, more so than for X, Bayonetta and Smash. Fancy that.
My favorite wasn't in SMK (I don't think, anyways), always loved Dry Bones. No clue why they took him out in 7... :c
Try guessing who my main is. Go on, I dare you.
@Mizore Or why he doesn't return for 8, for that matter.
Toad. Forever and for always.
I use 'em all, especially in Double Dash‼︎. D.K. Kong tends to be my favorite out of the mainstays, partly for his classic banana-colored (AKA yellow) go-kart. In Mario Kart 7, though, I almost always use Metal Mario, I practically never touch the small vehicles in Wii, and Mario's my favorite in Super Mario Kart.
"It's a Mario (Kart) Party!"
I know we all love Mario, but please don't give them ideas.
Luigi and Mario.
@RantingThespian I believe Nintendo at the time also accepted and stated that as a fact too that once DK grew up, he dropped the Jr from his name and that Cranky is the original DK. That being said Cranky is retired and no longer known as DK anymore. So the article needs to be updated to reflect the fact that the DK Jr in the original kart game is one in the same as the other DK in the later games, and not separate characters.
As for the topic on hand, I always ended up using either Toad or Yoshi when I played. On a side note, I dont really care if there are 30 racers or not, that number is of little concern as opposed to the game itself. If it is half as fun as it looks, then it will be worth it no matter how many or little racers there are to select from.
The DK in all the games we play today was DK Jr.
Luigi will ALWAYS be my favorite. Watch out Mario, you have a big bullseye on your back.
In the iterations where heavyweight racers are good I main Wario, but the ones where lightweights are better I'll do Toad or Koopa (Toadette and Parakoopa in Double Dash).
A micro game mariokart course is a great idea!
I all honesty I rarely experiment with all the characters in any give Mario Kart game, I usually just stick with Luigi from the get go.
Wario and my snide Club Nintendo mk7 survey response seems to have worked since Waluigi is making his return.
@Nintendo_Ninja In which sections of the track are partitioned by elevator doors ♥︎
Man, am I nostalgic for the days of ubiquitous hand-drawn Mario artwork.
I haven't really played much Kart to have a favorite charact, but back in the days of the Super NES original, I typically opted for Toad or Peach. On that note, what's your beef with Super Princess Beach, @JakeShapiro?
I don't see DK Jr. as the current DK, despite what Cranky alluded to back then. The whole thing's a big mess really, with Baby DK being brought into the franchise. Would that make him the baby version of Cranky? I can't imagine Nintendo prioritising Cranky's background over the "current" DK. Would be nice to hear from Miyamoto about it, like how he stated the Koopalings weren't Bowser's kids.
(That said, I'm not denying that was the concept Rare was going for back then. Just that I think Nintendo dumped the idea.)
in 1992, Donkey Kong jr. made more sense because the original Donkey Kong game was so far from kids' consciousness (i.e. no internet to refresh everyone's memory). After Rare's DKC in 1994, all of that changed and that's what we have now.
@absuplendous Peach has always been a stereotypical damsel-in-distress, and Super Princess Peach gave her the chance to be fleshed out as a real character. Instead, it was all about the generic trope of "WOMEN ARE SO EMOTIONAL!"
I used to play Yoshi all the time back in the days of Mario Kart 64; nowadays I usually play as a different character every time. They all have value and meaning to me.
In the SNES one I went from Toad / Koopa Trooper to Mario or Luigi to DK or Bowser. Never needed to get better in more recent entries so just used whatever had the highest max speed and practiced with that.
@JakeShapiro The Mario franchise doesn't have very well-rounded characters in general (or social commentary for that matter), so I don't know why anyone would expect SPP to make one of Peach. Those who assert that the game paints women as irrationally emotional (Peach necessarily representing all women, apparently) forget that the entire game is based around an island filled with characters who are magcially overcome with emotion; as Peach is the only one capable of actually controlling her emotions--becoming happy or sad or mad when she chooses to be, and using those emotions to her advantage--one could argue that Peach represents emotional fortitude, not weakness. Or not--one could just not read too much into it either way and enjoy a pretty good platformer for what it is.
@retro_player_22 Yes! Koopa Troopa all the way!
@Mario_maniac I am sure both Rare and SMB Wii said current DK is DK III.
Honestly, i miss the simple go cart designs. Ive never been a fan of the bikes, cars, and bizarre vehicles that are in recent Mario Kart games. Especially the bikes lol
A warioware themed track would be excellent. It could be like the Samba De Amigo! track in Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing where you warp from one small section of track to another with vastly different designs for each section.
My character used to be Mario all day every day, but lately I have been our resident Shy Guy driver (and tennis player) in the games he is actually in, or Yoshi otherwise because I don't like drifting in the first three games and Yoshi corners very well without with decent speed and control. I also play Toadette if she is available, and team her up with Baby Mario in MKDD.
I also sometimes play Waluigi in MKWii because I like his purple Off Roader kart.
Wa-wa-WARIO! Have a rotten day!
Nice write up. My favorite vets are Yoshi, Koopa Troopa and Wario.
Well, from the looks of this article. For me, it was definitely BOTH Luigi and Peach. Trust me, I have nothing AT ALL against Koopa Troopa or anything like that. It's just that with me, I always found Luigi and Peach to be fast racers for me when I played Super Mario Kart.
@ToneDeath Actually I believe Donkey Kong as we know him now is DK Jr's son, with Cranky Kong being current DK's grandfather.
@MadAdam81 Source? It's just that if we have a ghost of Wrinkly Kong who is the supposed original DK's wife and we're up to DK the Third, wouldn't the supposed original Cranky have a ghost by now too? Rare shouldn't even have a say in DK lore since they left Nintendo.
I recall using Yoshi in the first games because I thought he was super fast. Now I mostly use Luigi, he's meant to be a middle weight but his karts are usually lighter and good for turning. Anyways, this was a fun read.
PS. Toad is OP!!
Koopa is my favourite~
Toad is my man for Double Dash. In other versions, however, I use Shy Guy.
I never had a problem with the snow themed DK tracks. They tend to mix the themes around anyways. DK doesn't really not fit the ice theme any less than Wario or Rosalina.
SMK: No real favorite. Probably go with Peach.
MK64: Wario, but I used Peach or Toad for Time Trials. Bowser for MK Battle Mode. I hardly ever used the middlewieghts in that game.
MKDD: Waluigi and Bowser Jr. Occasionally Baby Mario. Heavywieghts sucked in that game. Daisy got on my nerves as well with her "Hi, I'm Daisy!"
MKDS: Luigi, for his road-hugging Vaccum Cleaner. I won more races with him. ROB once I unlocked him. Too cool for words.
MKWii & MK7: Rosalina. She had me at hello in Mario Galaxy. I loved how she gracefully handled on a bike too! Funky Kong in MK Wii was too cool for words. My best friend, die hard Waluigi fan since MKDD, was highly disgruntled of his omission in MK7.
@Yosher As if we know the full roster.
Always Peach until better and more elegant Rosalina enters the scene.
@Mario_maniac my source is Smash bros on Wii and every wiki page that talks about it.
I think Rare initially said son, but changed it to grandson when they found out about DK Jr.
With Smash Bros, Nintendo made it official that Cranky is his grandfather.
Which is my favorite? Check the picture!
characters don't matter anymore since now they all play the same and you need to cuztomize the cars, I wish they went back to the old style where each character had its own characteristics
My main is Daisy. If I have to unlock her I'd go with Luigi to do so.
I hate to be that guy, but Super Mario World should be 1991 on Yoshis profile. Good article though
@PrincessEevee9 It's heavily implied so far that what we know now IS the full roster.
On a side note about the whole DK Jr. being DK situation that some NL users are talking about on here. I myself think highly that DK Jr. imo is ACTUALLY DK currently, but then again, if that was the case, then why did DK Jr. appear as a stand alone unlockable character in Mario Tennis back on the N64? It's a bit of a puzzle to think about when you go back to that one game.
Toad in every game and teamed with Bowser Jr. in Double Dash.
@Joshers744 Super Mario World came out in Japan on November 21, 1990.
@Yosher Secret characters exist.
@PrincessEevee9 There are 16 starter characters, while the Koopalings, both Rosalinas, Toadette, Lakitu, both metal characters and Mii are unlockable. So yes, secret characters exist.
But if you take a look at previews (more specifically the ones from GameXplain), they say that they unlocked characters at 150CC and it was nothing beyond what's known right now. So I genuinely believe that we know the entire roster right now.
Of course I HOPE I'm wrong because there's several characters who SHOULD return but (by the looks of it) don't.
@MadAdam81 I looked at the relevant trophies on both Brawl and Melee, and there's nothing there about Cranky being a father or grandfather to, or even being the original DK. As for Wiki sites, I'll believe them when they add official sources. To think any Wiki has relevancy to an argument without a source is a joke.
All I'm saying is, there are people who are so certain that DK isn't the one from the arcade, when it was pretty much something hinted at decades ago by a company that had creative freedom over the series. We won't know for certain until someone asks Miyamoto.
@3DSLUIGI An argument on your side is that both Mario and Baby Mario were featured in the same game too.
I'm not saying it is and I'm not saying it isn't, because Nintendo themselves never discuss it. But if there's a 3rd generation DK now (as suggested earlier) with Baby DK, and that 3rd generation DK is the star of the new DKC games, then what happened to Diddy and Dixie and Funky from the original DKC games? Surely the "aging" rule wouldn't be limited to just DK, and they wouldn't just vanish.
And I have a hard time believing Baby DK is Cranky Kong. Apart from the baby appearing in that baseball game with DK and not Cranky (and the rest of the babies having their adult selves too), Nintendo would want to be showing off Baby DK as the young version of the current one, since that's the one kids know and love. So where does that leave Junior?
@Mario_maniac it was a cut scene with Solid Snake talking to his people about DK.
@MadAdam81 Well, that shut me up. That's interesting to think that DK has different generations adventuring with the gang. I guess it's plausible that Baby DK is like a retcon of DK Jr., or (more likely) grew up to become the current DK's father. Either way I'm totally confused now haha.
Does anyone know, will this hit the e-shop at 00:01 on the 30 May or does it usually update in the early hours? Also, white price will this be, £39,99 or £49,99.
I dont want to risk Amazon not delivering on launch day so may go digital just to get Karting as soon as.
@ToneDeath agreed in all Mario Karts its Dk Jr who is the current Donkey Kong and Cranky is the original from the arcade games.
Yoshi is the way to go.
I'm siding with you on your choice of characters. For me, it was Mario in Super Mario Kart, Mario and Wario in Mario Kart 64, and Waluigi since Mario Kart: Double Dash!!. They all feel like well-rounded characters despite the differences in class size. In Mario Kart 7, I stuck with my Mii
@Magrane: Wario and Peach worked pretty well for me in MK64. For some reason Middle weights tended to suck in that game. Light and middle Wieght carts in Double Dash. The heavy weights in DD had such abysmal accelleration that recovery after an item hit was impossible and it was practically a handicap to play as them. Light weights could get knocked off so easily but did fairly well on open courses. Special cup sucked though with light weights since all the stages having thin paths with drop offs on either side. MK-Wii, 7, and 8, it's Rosalina all the way. She's got great stats running on the low end of the heavyweights.
In MK8, I try to get a cart combination with great top speed and good acceleration. The ultra-heavyweghts like Wario and Bowser are really good with time trials but it's hard to get a balanced cart combo in GP or Versus, and they look really stupid in the waddle bug kart with the tiny wheels (although that particular combination does work). I've seen a lot of people playing with babies online (featherweights) but I can't seem to get a cart combination with them that has good speed and accelleration. Featherweights (babies) might be a good choice for casual racers as they can recover quickly from item hits and tend to perform fairly well in the middle heat of the pack. However, I can't really recommend the featherweights if you plan on actually winning races, because with their low top speed it is very difficult to gain distance ahead of the pack. That's why IMO the cruiser class racers (Rosalina, Waluigi, etc) with the right kart combo are great at gaining a lead once you get ahead of the pack. Just drag an item behind you to block the red shells, drift around every curve for the mini-boosts, and you'll gain enough distance ahead of the rest of the racers that you can take a couple of Blue Spiny hits without falling terribly behind. And when you do fall behind, it is possible to fight back to the top with moderate acceleration and good wight, since you tend not to be knocked terribly about by the other racers.
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