Next to Super Smash Bros, the long running Mario Kart series is Nintendo’s most popular Mario spin-off property, with eight games released to date since the franchise roared to life in 1992. Unlike Smash Bros, which has incorporated characters from third-party games as well as Nintendo-owned franchises over the years, Mario Kart has always stuck to characters from Nintendo games whenever the series has made roster additions. Still, even with a smaller pool to choose from, the Mario Kart series has made some surprising omissions over the years, with some of the Nintendo’s most popular characters being left out of the mix. Although Nintendo took steps in expanding the roster with characters from The Legend of Zelda and Animal Crossing in Mario Kart 8, they should consider adding these 10 kart racers in future installments.
Seeing as how we’re probably not getting a new Earthbound game anytime soon, series protagonist Ness needs something to do and Mario Kart racing may be just the ticket. Although Ness got his start in the Mother franchise, his popularity can largely be attributed to his inclusion in Smash Bros, as he has appeared in every game in the series.
Ness arguably comes tailor-made for Mario Kart, as his trademark baseball bat could make for a great offensive weapon and his kart design has the potential to be something really special (somethings tells me Ness would roll with a homemade boxcar design, which has charming written all over it). Lucas would be a good addition to the roster too but if Nintendo is going to choose one Earthbound star, it has to be Ness.
9. Splatoon Squid Kids
Splatoon was one of the biggest surprises of 2015: a family-friendly arena shooter that also happened to be a wholly new franchise from Nintendo, both of which are an all-too-rare occurrence in the gaming industry these days. Considering it came out after Mario Kart 8, Nintendo can be forgiven for not including any Splatoon characters in the game, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t seriously considering adding one or more of Splatoon’s Squid Kids to Mario Kart 9.
Nintendo could even incorporate the game’s ink mechanics into the kart racing gameplay, like a squid power-up that dumps ink all over the track causing adverse road conditions for other drivers. Plus, who doesn’t want to see a Splatoon-themed track with “You’re a kid, you’re a squid!” pumping in the background?
Interstellar bounty hunters probably have better things to do than cram themselves into little racing cars and compete for the Mushroom Cup, but even Samus Aran needs a break from hunting space pirates every now and then. Despite Nintendo’s seeming reluctance to make a proper Metroid game ever again, series protagonist Samus is still one of the company’s most popular character and would make for an excellent addition to the Mario Kart roster. Like in Smash Bros, Nintendo could even have Samus take up two character slots; one with her traditional armor and a Zero Suit option. Samus would work well as either a middle or heavy racer, depending on her suit.
Kirby is a Nintendo stalwart, with a new game devoted to the charming pink blob released on a practically yearly basis, so it’s rather surprising that he hasn’t been invited to participate in any Mushroom Kingdom racing yet. Kirby would fit in well with the bright, colorful tone of Mario Kart and his small stature would make him look right at home in a kart. If the series were to ever go back to having signature moves for characters, Kirby could make use of his patented ability to suck up objects and other characters, though the logistics of this would have to be figured out (for instance, if Kirby sucks up Mario, does he gain the plumber’s fireball ability?).
Admittedly, Kirby’s lack of fingers may make it difficult for him to grasp a steering wheel, but then again, Mario Kart isn’t a series that’s known for realism. Kirby would likely be a light racer similar to Yoshi and Toad.
6. Captain Olimar
The main protagonist of the Pikmin series, Captain Olimar seems like an obvious choice to be a Mario Kart racer, so it’s odd that Nintendo hasn’t included him yet. Like most of the other kart racers, Olimar is small in stature and would fit in well with the franchise’s visual design. Olimar’s presence would also be a great excuse to incorporate the Pikmin, whether as a power-up or even just a track design that features the little multi-colored alien creatures. Olimar would likely be a light to middle weight racer.
5. Dixie Kong
To date, the Mario Kart series has featured three Donkey Kong characters, but strangely, Dixie Kong hasn’t been one of them. The female chimp with the long blonde ponytail and a knack for guitar shredding has been a playable character in multiple Donkey Kong games, including the most recent entry, Donkey Kong: Tropical Freeze for the Wii U, but Nintendo has given her the cold shoulder for some reason. If Funky Kong of all monkeys can get a placement on the Mario Kart roster, then Dixie should be front and center when it comes to future characters to be added to the series. Plus, her hair whip attack is begging to be used as an offensive kart maneuver.
Yeah okay, I’m breaking the rules quite a bit with this one. Sonic the Hedghog isn’t a Nintendo character and he’s already got his own racing series with Sonic’s All-Star Racing, but come on: haven’t you always wanted to pit Mario and Sonic against each other in a race to the finish? If Nintendo were to ever break their unofficial policy of only including their own characters in Mario Kart titles, Sonic should be the first to make the cut.
He’s a character built for speed, whether it’s on the ground or in a car, and we’ve already seen that he can handle himself on the track in his own racing series. And hey, Mario’s already gone up against Sonic in the fighting arena and at both the Summer and Winter Olympics, so it’s not much of a stretch to imagine them trading paint on the track.
Princess Zelda arguably has the best chance of any character on this list of being added to Mario Kart, if only because Link has already been given an invite. Really, Zelda is kind of an obvious choice, but that doesn’t make her a bad one. For one thing, Mario Kart could always use more female representation and why should the likes of Princess Peach and Daisy get all the fun?
While any incarnation of Zelda would do, Nintendo would arguably want to go with an adult version of Zelda, as they could then also feature her alter-ego Shiek in the game too. Princess Zelda would be a welcome addition to the middle weight tier and would probably have some of the best kart designs in the game thanks to her close connection with the Triforce and royal background and Hyrule could definitely afford to trick her out with the best vehicles, after all.
2. Star Fox
Fox McCloud is a master pilot and has also been known to drive a land vehicle or two, so why hasn’t he received an invite to Mario’s racing league yet? The lead protagonist of the Star Fox series should be at the top of Nintendo’s list for future Mario Kart roster additions, as he’s ready-made to race. Fox is known for flying his iconic Arwing fighter and his kart design would likely be a variation on his ship’s overall design (complete with laser cannons perhaps?).
Fox’s reputation as a fast-playing character in Smash Bros leads me to believe that he would be a racer with fast acceleration much like Yoshi or Toad and if we’re getting Fox in a Mario Kart game, we better be getting Falco too. Just not Slippy, though. Nobody likes Slippy.
1. Captain Falcon
Captain Falcon races for a living and even has his own line of racing games with the F-Zero series, so it’s actually shocking that he has yet to make an appearance in Mario Kart. Granted, Falcon is used to racing at much higher speeds than what the Mushroom Kingdom denizens are used to, but I’m sure he could make an exception in this case, as it’s not like Nintendo is in a hurry to let him race in a new F-Zero game.
There’s really not much else to be said about Captain Falcon, as he is the most obvious Nintendo character to make the jump to Mario Kart, but I’ll just finish this off by reiterating how ridiculous it is that we haven’t seen a new F-Zero game in 13 years. For shame, Nintendo.