Super Mario Kart was the first installment in the Mario Kart series and was released in 1992 for the SNES. It featured 8 characters and 20 different courses, as well as battle mode. This particular game was influenced heavily by Super Mario World, and has courses directly based on levels from there. This game is certainly the most different from the rest of the series. Some major differences are:
- There are 5 laps in every course, while most (except for Baby Park and Wario Colosseum) courses in the rest of the series only have 3.
- Items such as the Cape Feather never return in any other game.
- There are 6 games in the series. The first three games in the series had it where every character had only one kart, and cannot choose for a different one. The three games releasing after these 3 have it where you have a number of choices on a kart you want to drive in the race.
- Because this game released on SNES (which has a 2D/sprite engine in it), all the walls are flat and are more of just flat blocks that keep you from going off course.
Mario Kart 64 was the second installment in the Mario Kart series, and was released in 1996 for the Nintendo 64. The game was the first in the Mario Kart series to have fully 3-dimensional graphics. It was re-released for the Wii's Virtual Console for 1000 Wii Points.
Mario Kart Super Circuit was the first Mario Kart game to be released on a handheld gaming system. It was released for the Game Boy Advance in 2001. It had 20 courses, plus all 20 courses from Super Mario Kart. This was the last game to have the Boo Item in it (the two before this one also having it). The Boo Item never returns after this game.
Mario Kart: Double Dash was the fourth installment in the Mario Kart series, and was released in 2003 for the Nintendo GameCube. This game began many new things and left behind many things in the series. An item that debuted in this game that has reappeared in the next two games is the Spiny Shell or Blue Shell. This winged shell, when thrown, will automatically go straight to the person in 1st place, home in on him/her and will make a blue-hued explosion, causing the 1st place person to go flipping and flying. The choice of karts (instead of only having one kart to use) was added in this game, reappearing in the next two games. Other special things in this game do not reappear in the next two games, making this one unique. It featured the ability to have 2 racers to one kart, where one is the driver, and the other uses items. It also featured Special Items. Special Items were items specific to a character, and only that character could use it.
Mario Kart Arcade GP was the first arcade installment of the Mario Kart series. It featured third-party characters such as Pac-man and Blinky. It was published by Namco.
Mario Kart DS was the second Mario Kart game for a handheld system, released for the Nintendo DS in 2005. It features 16 new courses, as well as 16 other course from previous installments.
Mario Kart Arcade GP 2
Mario Kart Arcade GP 2 was the second Mario Kart arcade game. released in 2007. It added 2 new characters: Waluigi and Mametchi.
Mario Kart Wii is the 6th console Mario Kart game, released for the Wii in April 10, 2008-April 30, 2009. It featured 12 characters in a race, rather than 8, as in previous installments, the Wii Wheel, and many new characters and courses. Dubbed as the best in the series, Mario Kart Wii has a wide usage of the internet where players can play friends or people from around the world.
Mario Kart 3DS is an upcoming game for the recently announced Nintendo 3DS system. Not much is known about it, other than the fact that Wuhu Island from Wii Sports Resort appears to be in it.