Optimism is a wonderful state of mind especially if it’s rewarded. Around all of the recent renewed talk that Mario Kart 9 is “in active development,” we have definitely succumbed to the dizzying positive outlook, and for some very good reason. Nintendo rarely has that long to work on a major sequel to a series that once came out on consoles – a circumstance gifted to the company by the best-selling game on the Switch.
Yes, of course, this is Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, released on April 28, 2017 as an extended port of the original Wii U game released in late May 2014. In a few short months, she will 8 yearsand it continues to rank among the best-selling games on Switch week after week, month after month. Its latest official total sales on Switch via Nintendo (as of September 30, 2021) is 38.74 millionbut more surprisingly, it was the second best-selling game on Switch in the first six months of this fiscal year. Oh, and it was the best-selling game in the Wii U lifecycle on 8.46 million devices, which means more than half of the system owners had it.
The numbers are crazy, but it is the durability that seems completely unique and has led us to this strange place of waiting and waiting and waiting for a new entry. Yes, there was Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit, but that’s the very definition of a spin-off, and it was arguably more of a toy than a video game. Its modest sales and completely different gameplay focus make it a fun addition to the mainstream franchise – and for the record, this writer applauds these quirkier, more experimental Nintendo games.
But anyway – Mario Kart 9… Or Mario Kart 10if you count the Home Circuit. Or Mario Kart 11 if you count the tour. When Mario Kart 8 Deluxe came out on Switch, Nintendo had already done everything it could to support Wii U and knew it was going to be the winner. Aside from the pack of DLC content and the addition of a combat mode at launch (plus a few free updates), Nintendo has mostly sat back and enjoyed the sales numbers while – presumably – taking the opportunity to carefully plan what comes next. Typically, for franchises like Super Mario, The Legend of Zelda, Pokémon (although this is Game Freak / The Pokemon Company), Splatoon, and even Animal Crossing, development teams finish one entry and immediately start working on the mix of DLC and sequel. However, with Mario Kart, the development team had an incredible luxury of time.
Nintendo no needed Mario Kart 9, which led to a lot of joking comments urging people to stop buying 8 Deluxe.
Nintendo no needed Mario Kart 9, which led to a lot of joking comments urging people to stop buying 8 Deluxe. However, on the other hand, essentially a generational “repetition” gave Nintendo a chance to seemingly work on yet another major evolution (or revolution, as we’ll see over time) of the franchise. We’ve seen glide and anti-gravity aspects come into play in the last few major articles, so it’s a natural instinct to wonder what comes next.
Rumors constantly circulate that Nintendo, while likely retaining the Mario brand, will likely go further, transforming it into a “Nintendo Kart,” presumably with tracks and racers from a wider range of franchises. Of course, the current recording has already done so with crossover content from The Legend of Zelda, Animal Crossing and Splatoon, as well as two excellent F-Zero tracks; our preferred setup is a Mii in a Star Fox outfit driving an F-Zero card.
In some parts of the fandom, there is often little resistance to this cross-pollination, which this scribe never understood. There is no knowledge or need for brand purity in Mario Kart, it is a fun racing game. Whatever makes the experience cool, and crossover content certainly did, it’s worth it.
It also brings us back to Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed, an awesome racer who was a SEGA fan’s dream with a mix of new and retro crossovers. From characters to cars to the most important race tracks, it has been a fantastic journey into SEGA wonderland, racing all the time and presumably breaking friendships in multiplayer.
why don’t we race through the caverns of planet ZDR, or through the surrounding picmins with giant fruits and gadgets, or shoot among the stars as Kirby flies around?
So why don’t we race through the caverns of planet ZDR, or through Pikmin’s scenery with giant fruits and gimmicks, or shoot among the stars as Kirby flies around? Would Nintendo go for third-party crossovers using the all-in-one approach from Super Smash Bros. Ultimate? we saw it Little with some Mii outfits that can be unlocked with the amiibo, so it’s possible. Either way, add varied and pompous settings to the fantastic design we’ve already gotten in Mario Kart, and it can just be gorgeous.
A lot of this, of course, was on our wishlist for the Mario Kart 8 Deluxe DLC, which never showed up. The anticipation of a successor and the lack of updates for the 8 Deluxe can only be reliably explained by Nintendo itself – then it will forever remain a mystery. The timing of the successor will also be interesting. Maybe this will be the most played holiday game this year, or maybe it will be 2023? Will it be a title to launch on new hardware, or a Switch title that will eventually get Deluxe status? Who knows but if it unfolds in one form or another, the hype will be off the charts this year.
We’re excited anyway. We are still playing regular online Mario Kart 8 Deluxe games after almost 8 years of playing, and you can still reliably find matches in no time. It is the most evergreen of the games, making the exceptionally long wait excusable.
And hey, it’s still faster than 2D Metroid.
Optimism aside, let us know what you would like to see in Mario Kart 9 in the polls and comments below!