The kart beneath the surface
Despite losing hundreds of hours in the past seven Mario Kart games, there's a surprising amount that the average gamer doesn't know about the series. Secrets and Easter eggs are hidden all over, each game is filled with little winks to the dedicated fans, and youll find some of the best ones right here.
From hidden music tracks to rubbing digital salt in your loser wound, these neat little Mario Kart secrets will remind you to search every nook and cranny of whatever track youre playing; you never know just what you may find hidden behind a wall or gate. So, while you ready yourself to uncover all new secrets in Mario Kart 8, check out these retro goodies to prepare.
The 4th place ending in Mario Kart 64 adds insult to injury
Every time you fire up Mario Kart, the goal is simple: take the top spot on the podium at the end of the Grand Prix. Youre so focused on the prize that youre not even thinking about what would happen if we came in second or third or (Heaven forbid) fourth. Nintendo must have accounted for this when developing Mario Kart 64, because the developer hid an ending among the celebrations that most try to never see.
By coming in fourth, youre treated to a special ending where you watch the other more successful racers take their spot on the podium. As they receive their awards, you drive away defeated, only to be pursued by a Bob-omb who sends you sky high before the final results screen appears. Thats some severe insult to injury, both in watching the winners drive by AND getting blown to smithereens afterward, but hopefully you get a little chuckle out of it too. What? No? Too angry? That's fair.
You can voluntarily shrink your characters before a race in Super Mario Kart
So you think youre hot stuff in the original Super Mario Kart, huh? Youve conquered all of the tracks on every difficulty, youve set all the records in the time trials, and your friends cant compete with your awesomeness. Well then fancy pants, how about you really put your skills to the test with this little trick?
You know how certain items make you smaller than the rest of the racers, leaving you vulnerable to being run over? If you hold Y and press A when selecting a racer, youll shrink the racer down and race as the miniature version by default. No more bumping into other racers, because youll end up under their wheels. See how well you perform with that tiny handicap and then come back and tell us how awesome you are.
There's a hidden Japanese contest code in Double Dash
Back when Double Dash first released, Nintendo of Japan held a contest where players could submit their best time trial times for a chance at big prizes. Submissions were made via entering a code on the post-Time Trial menu screen, then taking the code that appeared and forwarding it to Nintendo, who would decode it to see your time. Pretty interesting approach, right?
The cool thing is that this random code generator still exists in the game, even after it was localized and released over here in the States. By pressing L, R, L, R, X, Y, X, Y, and Z at the post-trial menu, you can see the code you couldve submitted to Nintendo if you lived in Japan during the mid-90s. Some astute Internet user even built a decoder online so you can see how it works. Its strange that the code generator would be left in the game; it makes you wonder how many people generated a code without any idea what the heck was going on.
You can drive through Peachs courtyard in Mario Kart 64
How many times have you zoomed past Peachs Castle in Royal Raceway and thought man, Id love to take a drive around that castle just to see if it looks exactly the same as it does in Super Mario 64. Well, with a keen eye and a right turn at the correct spot, intrepid drivers can do just that.
Theres a tiny dirt road off to the right hand side that leads directly to the front of the iconic castle, allowing players to take a quick trip around the courtyard. Sadly you cant go into the castle, as attempting to do so results in a glitch where you fall through the front door into a black abyss, eventually landing in water and being transported back to the track. Even though you cant go inside, its interesting that the developers bothered to make it possible to approach the castle at all.
Wuhu Town hides a rupee in Mario Kart 7
As youre driving through the moonlit village of Wuhu Town in Mario Kart 7, you may not take the time to stop and look around for a while, and I totally get that. Youre there to win a battle against your friends, after all, so you dont have a lot of time to be gazing at the scenery when you have shells breathing down your neck. However, one area has a cool little nod to another long-standing Nintendo series thats worth a peek.
In a tucked away section to the left of the stage lies a cliff overlooking the ocean surrounding Wuhu Island. On the side of the cliff is a hole shaped exactly like a Rupee, the currency of Hyrule in the Legend of Zelda. Could this mean that the Mario Kart and Zelda franchises might one day collide? Who knows, but pitting Link against Mario in a one-on-one kart race would be insanely fun.
There are 8-bit clouds in Mario Kart 7
One of the first memorable examples of a video game re-using art assets can be found in the original Super Mario Bros, where the clouds in the sky and the bushes on the ground are exactly the same shape. Its a little factoid that players have poked fun at for years, but Nintendo never really made any reference to it until Mario Kart 7.
In Piranha Plant Pipeway, stealing a quick look at the clouds to the right of the starting gate will show that they look exactly like the old 8-bit cloud of Super Mario Bros, just in full 3D splendor. Youll also notice the bush on the top of the hill, which is exactly the same shape and size! Maybe this is just a coincidence, but its more fun to think the company decided to poke a little fun at itself to get in on the joke.
A secret title theme in hidden in Mario Kart 64
Im assuming that most of you havent heard this hidden music track, considering what must be done to actually hear it. I didnt even know there was a hidden theme on the Mario Kart 64 title screen until I left the game on for a while one day. However, its a cool little ditty that youll want to hear, if only for posteritys sake.
Heres how to access it: turn on Mario Kart 64, get to the title screen, then walk away for 50 minutes. Thats it. After the time is up, the new hidden track will start playing and youll get to hear a different take on the amazing Rainbow Road music. The only hard part is stopping yourself from pressing Start for 50 full minutes so you can hear it; who wants to wait that long to play Mario Kart 64?
Rainbow Road makes an appearance in F-Zero
This isn't technically in a Mario Kart, but I'll say it fits. Rainbow Road has become a staple of the Mario Kart experience, but its impact isnt limited to just this kart racing series. Another big Nintendo franchise, F-Zero, featured the iconic track in F-Zero X for Nintendo 64. The layout is exactly the same as the Mario Kart 64 Rainbow Road, but with some changes made to better incorporate the F-Zero way of racing.
Playing the course is fun, but the music doesnt quite fit the trackunless you have the Nintendo 64 Expansion Pak. Placing that device into the front of your console grants F-Zeros Rainbow Road a kickass heavy metal remix of the N64 music thats so good I wish it had played in Mario Kart instead of what ended up there. If there were ever a way to justify purchasing an Expansion Pak, that music was it.
No stone unturned
Pretty neat, huh? Whod have thought thered be so much hidden in a game based strictly on driving in circles and finishing before your competitors? No doubt there are even more hidden secrets out there, so if you make a neat discovery share it with us in the comments.