Making Mario Kart better: Ideas for the future.

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Mario Kart is pretty much the best racing game franchise ever. They never fail to impress, but there’s always a sense there should be more. Mario Kart generally sticks to a formula and coming up to its 8th game it really needs change before its predictable format gets stale, and for me it’s already getting that way. For some of us, it’s going to take a little more than gravity bending courses, fun as it looks.

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There’s many things you could ask for, like the biggest character roster ever, or for Mario Kart evolve into ‘Smash Bros Racing’! You may want it to extend beyond the Mushroom Kingdom or better portray the art-style history of the Mario franchise. You might want it to do an F-Zero and put 30 racers on the courses, the wish list goes on and on. Rather than list them all I have picked what surely are the 6 most important general areas of the game to improve upon and thrown in some of my suggestions on how to do them.

Fresh and serious approach to Battle mode.

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Battle mode on the N64 might be the last time it felt truly impressive.

Battle mode has always felt like the neglected aspect of Mario Kart and many of us really like Battle mode and believe it’s never been able to beat the height it reached in MK64. In a nut shell:

  1. We need a range of modes to play beyond the balloon and coin modes.
  2. We need a greater range of customisation, in everything.
  3. We need a greater range of levels.
  4. A level editor is a tall order, but it would be very welcome!
  5. Perhaps a different style of control too to better suit battle with more fluid turning and aiming.

On the topic of alternate modes of play, I’d like to see a mode with more involved objectives, something along the lines of the banana or egg collecting challenges on Diddy Kong Racing. I’d like the double dash bomb and shine sprite modes to return, they were really fun!

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Then there’s online play, which has to do something new and outside-the-box: I’d like to see much bigger levels for online play that allow for a far greater number of players, perhaps with a mode based on how long you can survive; The game could run continually adding new players as others are eliminated. It could be based upon balloon mode or holding onto at least one coin. Like with many things on this list, sometimes it’s not about new ideas, but bringing back old ones and rethinking existing ones. 

Less 3 lap-based levels.

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Rainbow Road, Mario Kart 7

Mario Kart 7’s Rainbow Road & Wuhu Islands levels were some of the best, and they took the approach of ditching the 3 lap norm for one long run. Double dash fans will also toot the merits of the other extreme, a very small level with lots of laps; Baby Park’s 8 lap course was incredibly simple but incredibly fun. A new approach could have a level in the style of Yoshi Valley (multiple routes) but forcing you in a different direction on each lap. One thing is very clear, whenever Mario Kart detracts from the 3-lap structure it turns out rather good! Do it more! .

More Levels

Obvious thing to say I know, and 8 cups with 4 levels each is hardly menial, but it’s standard now and doesn’t exactly feel sizeable. We need a few more cups, or perhaps less classic levels and more new ones.

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As this fab fan mock up shows, people want more cups!

Baby Park suggests that a cup of small simplistic levels would probably go down rather well. Baby Park proved that the smaller the level the more bonkers the action! 4 very simple levels might seem like a cop-out to extend the game because it’s not exactly hard work for Nintendo to put together, but I have no doubt 4 such levels would probably end up being people’s favorites. The idea is perfect, cheap and easy to make, but really fun to play, and as a 9th cup much welcomed extra content.

I will say too as someone generally against paid DLC I would absolutely support new cups being added as in such a way, it makes sense with Mario Kart. BUT!!!! DLC only works when it feels like it is adding to a game you felt came with plenty of content and Mario Kart would have to approach DLC having already given us more content than we have come to expect.

More fun with weapons!

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You again have to look to Double Dash for the last time a serious effort was made to do something fresh with the games weapon system. I’m not saying repeat what Double dash did, but I don’t think you have to get too clever either. More weapons both old & new is the obvious thing to do, but of course too many causes a variety of issues, but what if while adding lots more weapons you limited what was available per level, to keep a sensible balance, or create an amusing imbalance. For example on the hardest CC settings, it might be fair to eliminate the more unfair weapons that can render perfect driving pointless. While for example on a Baby-park inspired level, it might be funny on an easy setting to only allow sets of 5 bananas to be collected creating a minefield of them in such a small space – This idea could also be its own CC setting, speaking of which….

Change the ‘CC’ System.

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Following on from the previous thought the 50CC 100CC 150CC & mirror difficulty settings needs shaking up. It hasn’t changed at all in 7 games except to add a bikes only mode, it’s time to get more imaginative. Here’s some of my favorite ideas.

  1. Different CC’s could have different weapon sets
  2. Or just 1 mode could play around with the weapons as mentioned above
  3. A mode with basic obstacles added to levels to force you to adjust gameplay tactics would add variety
  4. As would doing the common thing of adding light and seasonal changes to levels.
  5. A backwards mode rather than a mirror mode would be a welcomed change. Might require some level editing but if past games are anything to go by, not that much.
  6. Even more simple, a totally optional no weapons (but still boosts & stars) mode based on pure driving skill…I know that’s basically Time trial mode but, but it’s so simple to do it would kill to throw it in as an optional grand prix mode.
  7. Best of all what if one CC setting brought back Double Dash mode? That would be perfect!
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2 player to a Kart was freakin sweet!

Even sticking to the original system, alternate music wouldn’t kill them, Mario Kart games always have rather slim soundtracks. Visual changes across the CCs would freshen up the routine of the old system too, even just weather/time of day settings. Basically Nintendo, anything! Just something to break the routine!

Bring back Missions!

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Missions were only ever done in Mario Kart 6 (DS) and to keep this one very short, they were a really fun way to extend the gameplay I hoped they were a new norm for the franchise. Bring them back!

And that’s it! Feel free to share your ideas on what you’d like to see change or added to the franchise in the comments section below. Mario Kart 8, is due out in 2014, and as these pictures show, if nothing else, Mario Kart 8 is set to be very pretty indeed!

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