Mario Kart 9 hasn’t even been officially announced by Nintendo, but it’s still one of the most anticipated games for anyone who owns a Nintendo Switch. There’s not a lot we know about the title despite infrequent leaks that have emerged, but here’s a recap of what we can surmise about the game based on Nintendo’s silence and the immense success of its predecessor, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe.
When is the Mario Kart 9 release date?
Since Nintendo hasn’t announced Mario Kart 9, we can’t assume much on an official basis with regard to its release date.
That being said, some of the high-profile leaks surrounding the game do offer estimates with regard to arrival. Nintendo insider Zippo wrote in a May 2021 blog post that a new Mario Kart entry not associated with Home Circuit or the Universal theme park ride has been in the works for about three years and is expected to debut during the 2020 holiday season or early 2021. Given that Mario Kart was entirely absent from Nintendo’s E3 20201 catalog, this sounds like an early- or mid-2022 title if this sourcing holds true.
More recently, Kantan Games CEO and Japanese gaming industry expert Dr. Serkan Toto published a January 5, 2022 article on GamesIndustry.biz that shed some light on the future of Nintendo’s popular racer. “Mario Kart 9 is in active development (and comes with a new twist) and Nintendo could tease it this year,” Toto said.
From our own analysis, we also feel it’s important to consider the success of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe when setting expectations about a possible Mario Kart 9. Mario Kart 8 just so happens to be the most popular game on Nintendo Switch and the best-selling racing game in U.S. history, selling 38.74 million copies globally as of November 2021. As long as this 2016 entry continues to move units, Nintendo may not be that incentivized to release a follow-up anytime soon. The rumors suggest a more imminent arrival, but it’s still important to keep these facts in mind.
Is there a Mario Kart 9 trailer?
Since the game hasn’t been officially announced, we don’t have a trailer yet. But, we’ll do our best to post the footage as soon as it becomes available.
What do leaks say about Mario Kart 9 tracks and characters?
As with all popular Nintendo games, Mario Kart 9 is privy to its fair share of unsubstantiated leaks, largely originating from 4chan posts that are inevitably copied over to Reddit. As of now, there are two main schools of thought with regard to Mario Kart 9. The first vision offers more of a “Nintendo Kart” experience with a large crossover roster of characters similar to Super Smash Bros. According to this leak, allegedly sourced from someone working on the art for its instruction manual, confirmed characters include:
- Ice Climbers
- Zelda (in her Breath of the Wild design)
The leak also suggests its controls are similar to Mario Kart 8, except for the addition of features for “tackle” and “boost.” The only known stage comes from art that appears to feature the Big Blue F-Zero course from Mario Kart 8. One detail possibly debunking this particular leak, however, is that the source projects a Q3 2021 release date for the game. Since we haven’t heard about it at all, that’s not happening.
Beyond the combined roster, a second 4chan leak copied by Spheromancer on Reddit suggests Mario Kart 9 will be called something like Mario Kart Maximum and will be the “ultimate” version of Mario Kart, featuring all past tracks up to Mario Kart 8 fully remastered for the latest hardware. The SNES tracks will allegedly be restyled with 16-bit flair. Here are some other concepts from this leak.
- The game has 16-player races with additional options for eight and 12 players.
- There’s a total of 120 tracks.
- There are 54 characters:
- Starting Roster: Mario, Luigi, Peach, Yoshi, Bowser, Donkey Kong, Wario, Waluigi, Toad, Koopa Troopa, Birdo, Shy Guy
- Unlockable: Daisy, Rosalina, Luma, Dry Bones, Piranha Plant, Paratroopa, Wiggler, Bowser Jr., Goomba, King Bob-Omb, Diddy Kong, Baby Mario, Baby Luigi, Lakitu, Pauline, King Boo, Star Mario, Hammer Bro, Dry Bowser, Metal Mario, Paper Mario, Professor E. Gadd, Boom Boom, Pom Pom, Kamek, Spike, Funky Kong, Larry, Roy, Lemmy, Iggy, Wendy, Morton, Ludwig, R.O.B., Link, Villager, Isabelle, Inkling, Captain Falcon, Kirby, Mii.
- Characters can be unlocked by accruing a certain number of coins, winning a certain number of matches, and winning gold trophies.
- Alternate outfits and car parts can be purchased from the new “store” feature that uses these coins. 10 unowned parts or alts refresh in the store at random intervals. There are around seven alts per character.
- Alts include Mario: Inverted Colors, Feather Mario, Mario with Cappy, Summer Mario, Retro Mario, etc. Luigi: Fire Luigi, Mansion Luigi, Ice Luigi, Tuxedo Luigi, Mario Colors, etc. Peach: Wedding Peach, Cat Peach, All Black Peach, Glowing Crown Peach, Rainbow Colors, etc.
- Difficulty is no longer in the CC system and will instead be Simple (eight players 50cc), Normal (12 players 100cc), Advanced (12 players 150cc), and Mario Kart Pro (16 players 150cc). There’s also an unlockable 200cc variant for those who want it.
- Battle Mode: There are reportedly 15 courses with 10 new stages - Good Egg Galaxy, Star Road, Nintendo Switch, Beep Beep Tower, Super Seaside Shore, Bowser's Blazing Kitchen, Warp Zone, Peach's Castle, Flower Hills, Planet Popstar.
- New Modes: In the new “Party” Battle Mode each item block is a dice block, and these blocks can be stacked to get higher numbers. Each number corresponds to an item when rolled, and players win when they roll above 50. The other new mode is King of the Circle. In this team-based mode, players accrue up to 100 points for staying in one area of the course.
As with all leaks, we’d advise taking these with a grain of salt. Even theoretically, though, these concepts may offer a sneak peek at the kinds of things Nintendo’s developers are thinking about when developing Mario Kart 9. Both ideas sound like versions of Mario Kart 9 that fans might want, but, as we recently saw with the Nintendo Switch OLED Model, Nintendo doesn’t exactly have a history of designing its wares around what their players expect.
What is the “new twist” in Mario Kart 9?
The GamesIndustry.biz report linked above suggests Mario Kart 9 will feature a “new twist” for the franchise, but it’s still mostly unclear what that means. It’s also worth noting that since these words could’ve been run through Japanese translation, they should be taken with a pinch of salt when consumed by an English-speaking audience.
Regardless, this caveat hasn’t stopped the Nintendo faithful from discussing the possibility of potential twists that might shake up the established Mario Kart formula. In a video published January 7, 2022, the Nintendo enthusiast crew at GameXplain spent 45 minutes discussing what shape Mario Kart 9 may take.
GameXplain discusses the new twist in Mario Kart 9
Over the course of the discussion, everything was considered including the return of Double Dash mechanics with enhanced item controls for the second player in a co-op race. Other suggestions included cameos by a larger roster of Nintendo mascots, the possibility of an “open-world” single-player campaign, and even specially designed tracks that can be lined up with one another to produce cups that are essentially one continuous race. These are just predictions, of course, but they prove just how malleable and ready for change the Mario Kart franchise actually is.
In our estimation, we suppose the aforementioned hook for Mario Kart 9 is likely something nobody’s really talked about yet. More so than other major publishers, Nintendo tends to be at its best when introducing off-the-wall ideas to its legacy brands. In other words, Mario Kart 9 will likely be completely bonkers while maintaining the simplistic driving loop that has made the franchise so successful over the past 30 years. The inclusion of more Nintendo characters seems like a lock to us, but we imagine gameplay will be tweaked one way or another with regard to driver abilities or track design.
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