Image: GamesPress/Nintendo

Where on earth is ‘Mario Kart 9’?

It has been seven whole years since the last proper Mario Kart game, which leads me to wonder.. just where is Mario Kart 9? Mario Kart 8 was originally released on the Wii U in May 2014, received some great DLC, and was eventually ported to the Nintendo Switch with some minor changes, such as the inclusion of the DLC tracks in the base game, itself renamed Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. Whilst Nintendo have experimented with a mobile game (Mario Kart Tour) and with augmented reality (Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit) the next full console game has remained suspiciously absent from their plans. Having waited seven years already, with more likely to follow, we might end up having to wait a decade before the next instalment. It had better live up to the wait.

Certainly, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe has been rather successful. The Wii U version of the game basically carried that console, so it was no real surprise that with its continued high sales Nintendo decided to port it to Switch, in order to bring in even more money with very little effort. I had originally wished for some more DLCs on the original game, and again found myself wishing for the same when the Deluxe version was released. 

Speaking as someone who played the original to death, the Deluxe version isn’t really a new game at all. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve played the Switch version even more to death; it has spawned many drinking games and I’ve had great fun thrashing everyone at it, although success makes it all the more painful when I – very rarely – slip up and lose to someone. But it has to be said that it gets a tad boring playing for 7 years what are essentially the same tracks, with no successor in sight.

If Nintendo wanted quick money, they could release another Mario Kart game, or give us a DLC, maybe even release a game akin to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Unfortunately, the greater the gap becomes, the less likely I think it becomes that Nintendo will make a follow-up game for the current iteration of the Switch. However, as we have no clue as to what is happening with the Switch and its successor, it is hard to guess Nintendo’s plans. But it is undeniable that neither Nintendo nor we can rely on a single Mario Kart game across a decade and two consoles. The nightmare scenario would be Nintendo porting the game again on its next console.

In the meantime that a new Mario Kart is released, Nintendo should really consider releasing a DLC for Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. More variety is needed, and a DLC would certainly help, but it would only be a placeholder until the next game. 

My dream is a Smash Ultimate-type of game, a Mario Kart that brings back as much content from past games as possible, and which is continually polished as time goes on. It might be a pipedream, but one can dream

What Mario Kart needs in general are more cups and things to do. Usually we have eight cups, four being new ones and four retro. But with four DLC cups mixing both new and retro tracks, I don’t see how they couldn’t give us 16 in the next game. Returning to eight cups in the next Mario Kart game would just feel like getting less of a game. Even 12 feels small now, so 16 would be a great option and would allow for more interesting choices and combinations.

Honestly, there is no need for a strict binary between new and retro cups anymore. We should certainly still have four fully new and four fully retro cups to keep with tradition. But by being more experimental and imaginative with the DLC tracks, Nintendo has shown the path the series should go down. The formula is perfect and doesn’t need to change. We just need more content. Mario Kart 7 had gliding, 8 brought in anti-gravity, and the DLC brought in other franchises such as F-Zero, Animal Crossing, and Zelda into the game. All this should be built on and expanded. Maybe we could even see the return of Double Dash’s signature mechanic.

We need a larger roster of characters, tracks and vehicles, and to bring back characters who have been left out, such as Funky Kong and Birdo. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe fixed the worst part of the original, the awful Battle Mode. Hopefully, in the next game, they expand the Battle Mode again and add some new modes. Maybe they could even add an adventure/story mode since, after seven years, it is starting to feel like there is a distinct lack of things to do. More content and more varied content are what is needed to make the next game feel fresh and worth the wait. They need to do something special if they ever do make a Mario Kart 9. And on the note of waiting for franchises to be revived – Nintendo, when are you going to bring back to life F-Zero?


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