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Ten Things You Might Not Know About Mario Kart

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You can never get enough of Mario Kart trivia, if you ask me. Thankfully, the internet seems to feel the same way.

Appropriately named YouTubers Fun Facts recently gave their standard treatment to Nintendo's flagship kart racing game (I poured one out for Diddy Kong Racing after typing that). Watch the short clip here:

Mario Kart is the stuff of gaming legends, of course, so ten facts aren't nearly enough to do the series full justice. But again: is there ever a bad time to brush up on some Mario Kart lore? I think not. If nothing else, the details about outtakes can give us all something to hunger for in future Mario Kart 8 DLC, or whatever comes next now that Nintendo's created next-gen mustaches.


Since the video is pretty short and to the point and many of you Kotaku-ers prefer reading stuff to watching it, here are the points covered within with some added context.

The Evolution Of Mario's 'Stache

Mario Kart 8 is the first game in the series to feature a "fully animated" mustache for Mario. Just look at the thing!


I've spent an embarrassing amount of time ogling at Mario's mug in all its flapping, bushy glory. But can you blame me, really? I mean, look at how static the 'stache was back in the Mario Kart Wii days:

Man, how did we all suffer through so many years of stationary mustaches? Gamers can sure be patient. Sometimes.

Waluigi's Auspicious Debut


Waluigi, generally thought of as a series staple by Mario Kart fans, actually hasn't been around for that long. His first appearance in a Kart game was in 2003, for the GameCube version (and the best version, if you ask me), of Mario Kart: Double Dash. The video claims that he first appeared in an arcade version of Mario Kart, but that didn't come out until two years later. In either case, he sure needed the Mario Kart boost too, if you ask me. Waluigi twin has long been criticized for not really bringing anything new to the table as a token "evil twin" version of Luigi, like a lesser version of Wario.

The Laughing Thwomp


The sound of the rock-like Thwomp half-character, half-obstacle, was actually recycled in the classic Mario Kart 64 by taking the audio of Wario's laugh and slowing it down. Nintendo has done a lot of similarly neat audio tricks in various Legend of Zelda games.

The Blue Shell's Funny Origin Story


Now the most divisive item in Mario Kart by far, the blue shell was first introduced to the series for purely pragmatic reasons. The technical limitations of Mario Kart 64 meant that the game simply couldn't handle it when a large number of characters crowded together on one part of the racetrack (and therefore all needed to be rendered at the same time to appear on-screen without a hiccup). The game's designers therefore concocted a clever work-around: add an ultra-powerful item that could quickly scatter drivers every which way.

The Song Of The Shy Guy (And Others)


Fun Facts astutely observes that if you drive up close to the Shy Guys who are dutifully toiling along the sides of the track in Mario Kart 8's Shy Guy falls, you can hear them singing along to the stage's music. That's certainly cute, and something I hadn't noticed up until now. But in a case of wonderfully serendipitous timing, fans just happened to discover a legendary musical easter egg in another track from the game around the same time. Turns out, some of the Yoshis in his eponymous Mario Kart 8 track hum along to Totaka's Song.

Pac-Man's Short-Lived Kart Career


Despite its heavy reliance on Super Mario lore, Mario Kart has been known to dabble in other franchises—even non-Nintendo ones. The original Mario Kart Arcade GP featured three characters from Pac-Man: the man himself, Ms. Pac-Man, and Blinky, the red ghost. Really puts the Pac's newfound presence in Smash in perspective. And Link's in Mario Kart 8, I guess.

The Lost (But Not Forgotten) Characters Of Mario Kart Wii


One of the reasons that purists stand by Mario Kart Wii, or even the GameCube console's Double Dash, as the definitive Mario Kart games is because Mario Kart 8 made some unfortunate choices for its roster—leaving out series regulars in favor of ones like...every single one of the koopalings. But Mario Kart Wii left some guys on the cutting room floor as well. Petey Piranha, Koopah Paratroopa, and a Hammer Bro (is that the singular of "Hammer Bros.?) were all meant to appear in the game originally, but were cut before release. Ah well. I'm gonna keep fighting for #bringbackbirdo.

Bowser And Peach's Boozy Past


Long thought to be mortal enemies, Princess Peach and Super Mario supervillain Bowser were shown chugging respective bottles of champagne in a manner that would make Rick Ross proud at one point. Specifically, it was in the original Japanese version of the 1992 SNES game Super Mario Kart. Nintendo ditched the animation when bringing the game to North America. Prudes.

R.I.P. Chain Chomp

The chain chomp, a particularly feisty offensive item in Double Dash, was supposed to appear in Mario Kart Wii in a similar capacity. Sadly, the item went the same way as Petey Piranha. The piranha plant in Mario Kart 8 is sort of similar insofar as it chomps on nearby opponents, but it doesn't pull you along like an over-eager dog.


The Thwomp's Mythical Inspiration


So this is already the stuff of Super Mario canon, but I'd almost forgotten about it so I think a quick reminder is in order. Mario Kart's animate barrier characters "Thwomps" are closely related to the "Whomps" from other Mario games, whose creation was inspired by a charming piece of Japanese folklore.


Nintendo looked to "nurikabe" when first creating the Whomps in Super Mario 64. These are spirits that take the form of, well, walls to stand in the way of prospective travelers and impede their progress. They look a little less peeved in their original form than the irascible Whomps and Thwomps do in any number of Mario games, though.

Sounds like somebody could use some family therapy time!


Ok, that's enough Mario Kart trivia for now. In conclusion: please, Nintendo, bring back Birdo.

UPDATE (1:57 pm): This post originally stated that Waluigi first appeared in a Mario Kart game with the arcade version Mario Kart Arcade GP 2. In reality, he first appeared in the 2003 GameCube game Double Dash. I regret the error. Also since some have pointed this out: yes, Waluigi did debut as a character even earlier than that. I was only referring to the guy's presence in Mario Kart specifically.


To contact the author of this post, write to or find him on Twitter at @YannickLeJacq.