The Mario Kart racing video game franchise has come a long way. Originally, in 1992, there were eight characters, one generic kart to drive, and 8-bit graphics. Now, after eight games in the franchise (nine if you count Mario Kart 8 and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe as two different games), there are now over forty playable characters; a tremendous amount of vehicles including many different karts, motorcycles, and ATVs; perfectly crisp HD graphics, and online multiplayer. Mario Kart 8 added some great new mechanics to the series like vehicles transforming into hover cars in certain areas, a hilarious replay cam to watch the best and worst moments from a race, and even featured characters from non-Mario franchises like the Legend of Zelda, Animal Crossing, and Splatoon. It’s essentially the ideal Mario Kart experience. However, where does Nintendo go from here? What could they possibly do in future Mario Kart games to keep things fresh and new?
A cool way to update the series is to continue on the path of adding non-Mario Nintendo characters. Characters like Captain Falcon or Fox McCloud would be really fun additions. However, I personally feel that adding too many outsider characters would stop it from being a Mario Kart game and make it more of a Super Smash Bros. racing game. That would still be awesome, don’t get me wrong, but the gaming world would be weird without the presence of a true Mario Kart game. Nintendo could also change things up by adding flying vehicles or boats, but that would just make it feel like Diddy Kong Racing for the Nintendo 64 rather than Mario Kart.
The best thing that Nintendo can do is to put their focus into customizability. There is already a sense of customizability in the series’ recent installment with being able to choose your vehicle’s tires and glider for a race, but they could do so much more. The ability for players to create their own race tracks would be amazing, and the ability to play tracks made by other players online would be even better. Nintendo had a successful release with Super Mario Maker that let fans create levels for other people to play. The next Mario Kart could use that same idea easily. We’ve had sixteen years of Mario Kart, so fans are familiar with what makes a good level by now. It’s definitely time to put this ability in the hands of the players and see what they can come up with.
Not only should the race tracks be customizable, but Nintendo should add a kart customizer into the next game as well. I don’t just mean the tires and gliders, I mean the whole thing. Being able to alter the vehicle’s size, shape, color palette, and decorations would be a lot of fun. I would love to jump into an online race and see what other players would come up with for their vehicle. Allowing players to be able to change things up and play their way is always a positive element of a video game. Customization to vehicles and race tracks would absolutely be an ideal way for the Mario Kart franchise to move forward in future games.