In the Mario series, the phrase time trial is synonymous with the Mario Kart series, wherein it is a game mode that involves racing around a track of the player's choice in order to achieve the fastest time. It is a one-player mode and only one-player. They contain a replay feature that allows the saving of the best time such that it can be replayed in the form of a ghost that can be raced against. Time Trials have appeared in every single Mario Kart game.
The player can save Ghosts, which are replays of Time Trials. The player can race against these ghosts on the track that the ghost was saved on. In Mario Kart 64, Ghosts were saved on Controller Paks. As such, ghosts can't be saved in the Virtual Console version of the game.
In later Mario Kart games, there is a "Staff Ghost" already in the game for each track, a saved time created by a member of the Nintendo staff. If the player can get a fast enough time they will unlock a time made by one of the developers who made the game. These times are very tough as they use the best tricks for their track. In Mario Kart Wii, there are 2 developer times per track: 1 called a "Staff Ghost" the other called a "Expert Staff Ghost". The normal ghost can be easily beaten with practice on the track. The Expert Ghost uses every trick in the book, Mushroom placed perfectly, stunts everywhere, and drifting right at the edge of the track. They are professionals, basically.
Ghost race is a mode that only appeared in Mario Kart Wii. When you connect to the internet, you can race a random ghost that a player has made in Time Trials using Wiiconnect24. Every win or loss counts towards a simple scoring system that tells you how many times you won or lost. Unfortunately, the Wiiconnect24 service has ended, thus making this mode unplayable. The only way to play this feature again is through some homebrewing.
Often, the player starts out with three Mushrooms, which can be used for speed boosts similarly to other modes. However, in Super Mario Kart, the player starts out with none. Also in Mario Kart: Double Dash the player starts out with two, one for each character. Finally, in Mario Kart DS, the amount of Mushrooms the player starts out with depends on the item statistic: the highest amount of mushrooms is three, and the lowest amount is one mushroom.
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