Source Gaming Presents: Nintendo Kart

Greetings SourceGaming fans, today we have something a little different for you! You may have seen a previous article in which Spazzy_D, Nantendo and TheAnvil presented their views on what a Konami-driven Smash Bros. mascot game may (or rather could) look like if such a thing were to ever exist. Today we’re going to be diverting ourselves in theme from Smash Bros. and look at Nintendo’s other big multiplayer phenomenon. Without further adieu we are proud to present you with our view on what a Nintendo themed Mario Kart roster should look like!!!

We’ve compiled a writeup below on our reasons for selecting these characters. Find out why the characters who made the cut, made the cut, and find out who was oh so close to being included. Read on for the juicy deets!

A little additional information
This project came about while TheAnvil, Spazzy_D and Nantendo were finalising our Konami roster. The Source Gaming team began talking about Mario Kart 8, and how its DLC could indicate a ‘testing of the waters’ for shifting the focus towards Nintendo as a whole for future games. We thought that would make for an interesting topic, so we opted to cover it.

Characters were mainly chosen by the three of us, although the other SourceGaming staff contributed also. We took many things into consideration, including but not limited to: weight classes, track potential, franchise representation and series importance.

Putting together a roster that we were all happy with was an extremely difficult challenge. Our first task was to really narrow down our specifications. We decided to focus primarily on Nintendo, and leave 3rd Party characters as an afterthought. So it was decided to separate any 3rd Party characters and make them downloadable, which is why they have differently coloured box icons in the character select screen. Our primary roster has 36 characters (plus Miis). This felt like a natural number to choose, as Mario Kart 8’s roster stands at 36 characters including its DLC. We needed enough room for a good, satisfying roster, while also trying keeping it as realistic as possible. Mario Kart games don’t typically have the kind of huge rosters that Smash Bros. games do for example.

Before we go over our choices we want to give special thanks to Hat-Loving Gamer for supplying nearly half of the Mario Kart styled sprites for this article. If you recognize any of these sprites then you may have seen his recent video: ‘Super Mario Kart… with 101 players!’ If you want to see more of the sprites he made for this video then either check out his facebook or his patreon page for more on what he can do.

We also want to give credit to NICKendo DS, a sprite artist who not only made the Samus and Link sprites found on this article but also made the sprite of an empty kart that was used as a starting point when we made our own sprites. A lot of the sprites not made by us can be found on or the Spriter’s Resource.

Super Mario:
Mario Luigi Wario waluigi peach Daisy Bowser Bowser jr Koopa troopa Yoshi Rosalina toad

Clearly, the Super Mario series is the backbone of the world of Karting games. We felt it was important to maintain a healthy amount of Mario characters. There are legitimately Mario purists out there who enjoy playing as some of the lesser utilised Mario series characters so we wanted to make sure those fans wouldn’t be alienated. 12 seemed like the perfect number (excluding Donkey Kong, but including Yoshi and Wario), as we unanimously agreed on 11 of these characters, we disagreed on the last of the 12. Rosalina, Birdo and Nabbit were all in line to occupy a spot on our list, so we left it up to the twitter verse to decide for us by running a poll.

Most of the other Mario characters are self explanatory, really. The inclusions of characters such as Waluigi, Daisy and Koopa Troopa felt like no brainers as they are essentially Mario Kart staples.

Donkey Kong:
Donkey Kong diddy E Dixie Kong
Donkey Kong has been one of Nintendo’s flaship franchises since 1981. Don’t let that mustacheo’d plumber fool you, DK put Nintendo on the map.

Like the Mario characters, Donkey Kong was simply a no brainer, as the primary protagonist of his entire franchise. Donkey Kong, and its characters have a rich history with not only Mario, but Mario Kart as well. In fact, every single Mario Kart game has had at least one playable Donkey Kong character (capping at 3 in the Wii version). Of course, wherever Donkey Kong is, Diddy is not far behind! As our final of the 3 Kong characters, we opted for Dixie. She was one of the last characters we decided on, partly because she added a much needed female character.

Kirby King Dedede
Definitely some of Nintendo’s cutest all-stars and one of their top 5 franchises overall, the Kirby series has seen a lot of titles and moderate success over the years. To show this off we elected to give the Kirby series two racers: the titular hero himself and his eternal rival, the goofy King Dedede! Kirby is extremely light whereas King Dedede is extremely heavy so they are polar opposites in terms of stats. They’ve raced on stars before so karts is no big deal but a motor-bike is a new experience. Then again a Wheelie enemy is close to one so maybe it is not all the strange.

Pikachu Mewtwo N Pokemon
The Pokemon series is a goliath and is Nintendo’s second best selling franchise of all time after Mario himself. This meant that three representatives made the most sense but with a cast of over 700 potential Pokemon how did we decide on three? Well Pikachu is the obvious one as the mascot of the series so he gets an instant pass but we had a real debate over the next two. A Pokemon Trainer is such a recurring theme of the Pokemon games that rarely gets some love outside of the main series so we wanted one here. The problem was deciding which one. Our two initial choices were Red, the original and most recognized trainer, and the Trainers from X & Y as the most recent. The reason we went with neither of these and instead with Black & White’s N is because Red gave us an over-representation of the first generation and we felt that was unfair and then the trainers from X & Y are soon to be irrelevant as the seventh generation with Sun & Moon was just announced. N is both a popular, main, recent and recurring character in the series so he became a best of both worlds in the end. Our final Pokemon was generation 1 Pokemon being Mewtwo. Mewtwo is not only incredibly popular, the big first Legendary and the de facto final villain of the first game but he is relevant with Mega Mewtwo Y being the first Mega Pokemon revealed and Shadow Mewtwo being the final boss of the new Pokken Tournament. Fun fact: Mewtwo does not drive with his hands. Instead he steers with his psychic powers. Using your hands is for chumps!

Link Zelda
It’s hard to overstate Zelda’s legacy and impact on the world of gaming. After gracing the hearts and minds of gamers for the first time in 1986, it has since gone on to produce some of the most critically acclaimed and commercially successful games that Nintendo has ever seen. As one of Nintendo’s three pillars of success, its influence and legacy reaches further than most games could only dare dream of.

In many ways, Link can be attributed to the idea of this entire article. His inclusion in Mario Kart has paved the way for the future. It’s still surprising that Zelda wasn’t included in Mario Kart 8, it felt like a natural fit. We decided that the art style for the Zelda characters was to be a cross between Ocarina of Time and Twilight Princess. While Twilight Princess is the accepted art style for the current Zelda games, the Ocarina of Time graphical style most closely matches Mario himself. A third Zelda character (Ganondorf) was a whisker away from a spot on this list!

Nintendo’s heroic bounty hunter has decided to take a break from blasting pirates and blowing up planets and instead is hitting the road and racing Nintendo’s other main mascots. Metroid is a big Nintendo franchise and Samus is very much a Nintendo all-star so her inclusion here should be of no surprise. The real question was whether Samus should be in her Varia suit or Zero suit. In the end we went with her Varia suit for both karts and motor-bikes as it works well for both. She wears a helmet which is also very important for road safety. She would be a perfect role-model for the kids if she did not permanently have a gun stuck to her arm.

Star Fox:
Star Fox is a forward-scrolling, on-rails shooter. Gaining a huge following early with its SNES and N64 entries, it has become somewhat stigmatized as of late, with its most recent entries being widely considered to be less than stellar. It may have sat out the last console generation, but it’s all set to make a roaring comeback this April.

There’s no Nintendo cross over without some good ol’ Star Fox content. Our resident Fox, aptly named Fox very quickly secured a spot on our list. Not only did Star Fox offer some cool character potential (visually), but having an Arwing themed Kart, and the potential stages that could come from the franchise made him one of the most appealing choices. Both Wolf and Falco were strongly considered for spots in our roster, but it didn’t quite pan out.

little mac
Starting with 1984 arcade game, Punch-Out is one of Nintendo’s longest running and most beloved IPs. The series has had iterations on a wide variety of Nintendo hardware, ranging from the NES classic to the most recent Wii release in 2009. The series is far from dormant, and the games diminutive lead most certainly deserves a spot on this roster.

In the majority of the Punch-Out titles, players take control of Little Mac in his quest to gain the WVBA title. Little Mac has already met Mario and Donkey Kong in his games, so it just makes sense that he would get an invite.

Captain Falcon
F-Zero is Nintendo’s other racing game, one that dates back to 1990. Albeit one with a more futuristic take. Known for its high speed, difficulty and its impressive ability to push technology to breaking point. F-Zero is like the little engine that couldn’t. While it has featured some incredible games, it has never been able to catch up to Mario Kart in popularity and has thus fallen by the wayside in an attempt by Nintendo not to clutter their own market.

That’s why Captain Falcon is such a perfect fit. He’s already a racer, and he already has a Kart based on the Blue Falcon waiting for him in Mario Kart 8. Maybe his invitation just got lost in the intergalactic mail?

Animal Crossing:
Village Girl Village Boy Isabelle
Animal Crossing, Nintendo’s very own community simulation series has really become one of the most important Nintendo franchises, steadily becoming more and more prominent over the past few years in particular. There’s a reason why it was the only other franchise chosen (along with Zelda) for inclusion in Mario Kart 8. Villager and Isabelle seemed like the ideal characters to include for us for obvious reasons. We did consider the possibility of adding Tom Nook as a third character, but decided that it wasn’t a priority.

Earthbound was Nintendo’s original attempt at a Japanese Role-playing game. Made by the famous Shigesato Itoi, the series has done consistently well in Japan but is more of a cult series in the west. Recently though the series has begun to become bigger in the west with the release of Earthbound Beginnings on the Wii U and rumours of a Mother 3 localization for this year. Still the series is not a massive one and out of all the Earthbound characters Ness is the most well-known across the world having been in every Super Smash Bros game and his title being the only one officially released in the west until recently.

Inkling girl Inkling Boy

Splatoon is an ink-based 3rd person shooter, that first saw the light of day in 2015 on the struggling Wii U. Nintendo showed off their version of paintball by adapting the idea to use beings who are able to transform into squids to replenish ink supplies and for faster navigation around the map.

I don’t think many people really knew how much Splatoon was going to blow up. In what could be considered Nintendo’s only major new Smash hit IP of the past decade it easily led to our inclusion of Inklings.

While a retro rep is not required for Mario Kart as it is less about celebrating Nintendo’s history, like in Super Smash Bros, and more about having other popular Nintendo all-stars together in a racing game. However, R.O.B. has plenty of precedent to be in this game. Unlike most other Nintendo all-stars, outside of Mario and his extended universe, R.O.B. has already appeared in the Mario Kart series in Mario Kart DS and was in fact the first crossover character pre-dating the DLC in Mario Kart 8 and is only beaten by Pac-Man in the Mario Kart GP series who pre-dates R.O.B. by less than a month. R.O.B. makes sense as a returning character for this game and would make fans of the character in Mario Kart DS very happy.

Xenoblade is a relatively new franchise that has made a splash on Nintendo consoles as of late.  The original 2010 release did well enough, after all, to warrant a character inclusion in Smash Bros. It was decided early on then, that we would include a Xenoblade character into our roster. When looking over the possibilities, one stood head and shoulders above the other, the Legendary Heropon Riki.

Riki is a playable character in the first Xenoblade game on Wii. A member of the Nopon race, Riki is a cute and courageous puff ball that acts as a bit of mascot for Monolithsoft. His overall look and personality would be a perfect fit for a kart racer, and choosing him over a character like Shulk would really help to differentiate this roster from the Smash Bros. roster.

Fire Emblem:
Lucina Marth
In Super Smash Bros for Wii U and 3DS people have been recently calling Fire Emblem over-repped with six characters. That is as much as Pokemon and almost Mario. While we understand this sentiment we do believe that two Fire Emblem reps are very much deserved as the series is very relative and is selling better with each new instalment. So, our two choices were Marth and Lucina. Marth is the original protagonist and essentially the games poster boy. Lucina is like Isabelle from Animal Crossing, the new female lead who is incredibly popular and essentially another mascot for her series. Plus, Marth and Lucina are very similar and can be built off of each other which is something the development team for Mario Kart like doing (e.g. Mario, Metal Mario, Tanooki Mario).

Kid Icarus:
Similarly to Fire Emblem, Kid Icarus has re-risen to prominence in the last few years with a game on the 3DS. Again, similarly to Fire Emblem it has drawn a deal of controversy about the quantity of content featured in the latest Super Smash Bros. title. Regardless, Kid Icarus is a prominent Nintendo franchise, more than worthy enough of a spot. Pit was chosen as the main protagonist of the franchise.

Mii’s and Amiibo:
Since their introduction on the Wii, Mii’s have become a staple in many Nintendo games and Mario Kart is no different. Introduced in Mario Kart Wii, they then later appeared in Mario Kart 7 & 8 and will likely appear in the next title as well. So they were an obvious pick for this game as well but Amiibo is somewhat special. With how big Amiibo have gotten we wondered how it might work in this game and came up with two options. The first is like in Mario Kart 8 where it unlocks Mii costumes but the costumes are mapped to a separate slot like in Mario Kart Wii. The other is that Amiibo work similar to how they do in Super Smash Bros or Mario Tennis where you can train an Amiibo up. The latter is hard to figure out without actually trying it which is why we have two potential thoughts here.

3rd Party DLC:
sonic rayman Pac-man bomberman Mega Man crash bandicoot
When thinking about the 3rd Party DLC, we had a lot of options thrown out there. We first looked at the Smash Bros. 3rd Party characters to see who had the most relevance to Kart games, who were the big stars, and who visually fit into the world of Mario Kart. Sonic, Mega Man and Pac-Man all made a lot of sense, as those 3 characters had all featured in Karting games previously. Mega Man in Mega Man Battle & Chase, Sonic in the Sonic & Sega Racing games, and Pac-Man in Pac-Man Kart Rally (as well as Mario Kart Arcade). Crash Bandicoot, Rayman and Bomberman naturally fit as our final 3rd Party character picks due to their history with the genre also (Crash Team Racing, Rayman Kart and Bomberman Kart).

Honourable Mentions:
Like with deciding any roster not everyone will inevitably make the cut. We previously mentioned the two Pokemon Trainers we had for consideration but there are many more characters we had planned, some that got further than others. There was a lot of debate over the final few non-DLC characters. Some of these included Ashley as a new Wario rep, Falco, Wolf or Slippy as another Star Fox rep and Meta Knight as a third Kirby rep. The previously mentioned debate over the final Pokemon character also led to some ‘Mons not making it in like Charizard and Lucario. Tiki from Fire Emblem or Geno from Mario both popped up as choices briefly but didn’t make it for different reasons. There was a plan to have another retro rep alongside R.O.B. but this idea was dropped due to it not being a necessity. Three characters that fell under ‘retro’ rep were Excite Biker, Duck Hunt Dog and Balloon Fighter. Lastly in regards to DLC a Square Enix character was in consideration with Black Mage and Geno leading the charge but the decision to have only six DLC racers cut that out as well.

Do you agree with our choices? What Nintendo characters would you like to see in a Nintendo themed Mario Kart? Let us know in the comments!

Sprite Credits:
Nintendo Co. Ltd: 
Mario, Luigi, Peach, Bowser, Toad, Yoshi.
Nantendo: Dixie Kong, Little Mac, Inkling Girl, Inkling Boy, King Dedede, Zelda, Mewtwo, N, Marth, Lucina, Riki.
TheAnvil: Character Select Screen, and all sprites therein.
Hat-Loving Gamer: Bowser Jr, Bomberman, Diddy Kong, Crash Bandicoot, Fox, Isabelle, Kirby, Rayman, Pit, Pikachu, Pac-Man, Ness, Mega Man, Sonic, Villager Boy, Villager Girl.
NICKTendo: Samus
Sprite by Nintendo Co. Ltd, Edited by Nantendo: Koopa Troopa (skin).
Sprite by Hat-Loving Gamer, edited by Nantendo: R.O.B. (wheels), Olimar (head).
Sprite by NICKtendo DS, edited by Nantendo: Link (skin), Captain Falcon (body/size), Empty Kart.
Toni (MFGG): Donkey Kong.
Frafrio (MFGG): Wario.
PurpleEggplant (MFGG): Waluigi.
EdpR (MFGG): Daisy.

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  1. A Nintendo Kart title is an interesting idea, but I think I’d prefer it to stay Mario Kart, but just have a larger selection of Nintendo characters. As for 3rd Parties, Sonic for sure but I’m not too keen on anyone else.

    1. Well the idea was more Mario and Nintendo All-Stars racing rather than Smash Kart but I understand your sentiment. Also Pac-Man is just as likely as sonic for DLC as Pac-Man has been in Mario Kart before in the arcades.

  2. I’m surprised how they haven’t done this yet. As Nintendo stated: they want to leverage the unique strengths of their IPs much more in the future and I feel like this is one of the easiest ways to do it.

    The biggest boons to the existing Mario Kart template are the sheer number of characters that can be used for a game without worrying if they’re “fighting fit” in a game like Smash, the fact that Mario Kart characters don’t require the immense workload of Smash Bros characters, and that the various locales of other Nintendo games make for more appealing track ideas than those in the Mario universe.

  3. This list feels surprisingly quite solid. I am not sure how I would feel about losing the pure Mario part of Mario Kart. At least in terms of race tracks, they always have found a really creative ways to expand and use the Mario world. With characters on the other hand… I do feel like they been running out of ideas. (So many alternate versions of Mario… XD)

    If I were to give feedback on this roster…
    I almost feel Metaknight is lacking (because of him being in Kirby Air Ride, but there is always Nintendo Kart 2. XD)
    Regarding Zelda, while I understand the idea of a cross of Ocarina of Time and Twilight Princess artstyle, but I think Zelda from Skyward Sword would really fit in.

    By the way… what’s next? Nintendo Tennis? I can totally see Link and Ganondorf going at it. ^-^

  4. Looks great.

    Tho I would personally choose Bayonetta over Bomberman./Crash any day because YES SHE CAN WORK and mostly for the Stages & Music – they would likely be just fantastic.

    I would also add some more humanoid Xenoblade character tho Its fine since he is cool & looks funny. 😛

    And replace Little Mac with anyone. I don’t see why he is there when there’s better choices. I still count him as a retro character despite the Wii reboot. Add in Ashely/Palutena(I admit: this is bs)/Starfox character/Tiki/Anna or any other honorable mentions excluding Geno..

  5. Unlike in Smash, every Mario Kart character is functionally just a clone with altered parameters. And the Mario Kart team has certainly played fast and loose with roster choices lately (Honey Queen? Pink Gold Peach?!?!). If a character can physically fit in a Kart, they can be a racer. Even Ridley.

    …just so long as they never bump Waluigi or Bowser Jr. from the roster ever again. *grumble grumble*

  6. “I believe Nintendo will eventually take Mario Kart down the Smash Bros. route of having characters from its various franchises and beyond racing around. This transition I believe will be taken slowly and not just happen overnight. I also believe that they will want to preserve the Mario Kart branding and any characters who appear outside of the core Mario universe are guests.” –

  7. Olimar is included in the roster at the top of the article but appears to be absent from the additional information section that follows. Seems like he may have been forgotten. I was about to comment on the lack of Pikmin representation when I took anouther look at the roster image and he caught my eye.

    N seems like a weird choice even with the justification given, but admittedly I’d be hard press to come up with a better Pokemon trainer rep who isn’t from gen 1.

  8. Well, it seems like a reasonable character roster for a Nintendo Kart game. Certainly more so than some of the roster choices in recent Super Smash Bros titles!

    That said, I’m not sure I’d ever want something like this. Feels like we’ve already got too many great Mario characters and locations going ignored as it is, and I worry a Nintendo Kart game would just include the most basic, ‘safe’ choices from each franchise. And we’d lose the chance to get new interesting track ideas like Waluigi Pinball, Electrodome and Koopa Cape in the process.

    But that’s just my worry.

  9. A really interesting idea, and I can imagine there’d be a lot of room for creative course designs with a cast as varied as this. It would be an odd shift from the standard form for Mario Kart games, but I’d appreciate the variety. Though I really gotta ask, how would Little Mac drive with boxing gloves?

    Personally, I would prefer Excite Biker as the retro rep over R.O.B. because as it has been stated, R.O.B. already appeared in Mario Kart DS. Then again, he already has a course in Mario Kart 8, so it might just be over-doing it.

  10. I like the list but Crash, Rayman, and Bomberman seemed kind of random. I would prefer Cloud and Ryu, they have actually had a presence in Smash and are not dead series. (aside Rayman) Plus, Cloud could drive the motorcycle from FFVII and Ryu could drive the car that you beat up in the bonus stage from SFII.

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