10 Hidden Secrets In Mario Kart Games
VOICE OVER: Johnny Reynolds
WRITTEN BY: Johnny Reynolds
Though you might not think it, the "Mario Kart" series has some pretty well hidden secrets. For this list, we'll be looking at our favorite small details and Easter Eggs throughout Nintendo's beloved racing series. Our list includes Luigi's Best Mansion from “Mario Kart: Double Dash” (2003), The Merry-Go-Round from “Mario Kart 8” (2014), The Sphinx's Face from “Mario Kart Wii” (2008), and more!
Script written by Johnny Reynolds
Welcome to MojoPlays, and today we’re looking at 10 Hidden Secrets in Mario Kart Games. For this list, we’ll be looking at our favorite small details and Easter Eggs throughout Nintendo’s beloved racing series. Did you know about all these secrets? What’s your favorite “Mario Kart” Easter Egg? Let us know in the comments.
Salt in the Wound
“Mario Kart 64” (1997)
We all know how a Grand Prix ends in “Mario Kart 64”: with a celebration of the top three placers. But there’s an additional hidden ending that’s honestly kind of mean. If you place 4th or lower overall, you’ll get a cutscene of your racer watching from the sidelines before they drive away sadly, only to be blown up by a bomb. Nintendo even rubs it in your face with a “What a Pity!” message. It’s actually a bit tough to get this ending since placing 5th or lower in an individual race counts as a loss, and the game will only give you the options to quit or retry.
“Mario Kart: Double Dash” (2003)
In 2004, Club Nintendo of Japan held a contest for “Double Dash!!” It tasked players with striving for the fastest time trials on 4 different courses: Luigi Circuit, Baby Park, Mario Circuit, and Yoshi Circuit. Once you were satisfied with your times, you’d input L, R, L, R, X, Y, X, Y, Z on the menu, and be given a code linked to your time to submit online. While the contest was never held outside of Japan, you can access your time trial codes through the same method on whatever version of the game you’re playing. Perhaps this feature was left in accidentally, or Nintendo intended to hold contests elsewhere. Funnily enough, the top prize for all 4 tracks went to the same person.
“Mario Kart 8” (2014)
Kazumi Totaka is a legendary composer at Nintendo, having worked on multiple big franchises like “Luigi’s Mansion” and “Animal Crossing.” In every game that he works on, he hides a simple, 19-note melody now known as “Totaka’s Song.” It’s a wonderful Easter Egg for fans to discover as it’s usually very well-hidden, requiring methods like waiting on a certain screen for a certain amount of time. In “Mario Kart 8,” the “Totaka’s Song” Easter Egg isn’t hard to find per se, but it is hard to hear. On any track with Yoshis standing on the side, some of them will hum a particularly adorable rendition of this famous melody. The course’s theme music mostly drowns it out, but separating the tracks makes it unmistakable.
The Sphinx’s Face
“Mario Kart Wii” (2008)
The Wii was all about the Miis, incorporating the little human creations into multiple games or aspects of the console. In “Mario Kart Wii,” you could bring any of your Miis in, to race with the best. Some tracks, like Coconut Mall, also incorporated your console’s Miis into the background. But Dry Dry Ruins held an Easter Egg reference to them. When driving with any other racer in the game, one of the track’s largest landmarks, two Sphinxes, would have the face of a Yoshi. However, if you chose a Mii as your racer, the Yoshi faces would be swapped with those of random Miis. It isn’t exactly subtle, but it’s something you may have missed if you never cared to race as the Miis.
Return of the Cloud Bush
“Mario Kart 7” (2011)
In the original “Super Mario Bros.,” Nintendo used the same sprites for clouds and bushes, but just colored them differently. This was likely a decision made out of ease, though it’s become a fun fact for Mario fans. Nintendo seemingly paid homage to this in the Piranha Plant Slide course in “Mario Kart 7.” In the outside sections at the beginning and end of a lap, you can see that the clouds and bushes are the same sprites, just in much higher quality. There are other courses in the game with clouds that don’t resemble those here, but Piranha Plant Slide seems to be based on the ending of World 1-1 and beginning of World 1-2. It’s a pretty neat discovery that wasn’t in “Mario Kart 8,” where the track was remastered.
Luigi’s Best Mansion
“Mario Kart: Double Dash” (2003)
Despite some impressive feats, Luigi rarely gets the same level of recognition as Mario. At least Luigi Circuit from “Double Dash!!” shows that he’s pretty well off. Off the side of the track, you can spot an impressive mansion in the distance. This isn’t just any mansion; it’s the Rank A mansion from the end of “Luigi’s Mansion,” released in 2001. Getting a Rank A is pretty hard, requiring you to earn 100,000,000 gold in the NTSC version or 150,000,000 in the PAL version. Needless to say, we didn’t quite reach this Rank and, as kids, simply thought it a Luigi-themed mansion for a Luigi-themed course. Good for you, Luigi.
License Plate Messages
“Mario Kart: Double Dash” (2003) & “Mario Kart Wii” (2008)
Tracks that come with automobiles as hazards are usually littered with Easter Eggs, with logos on buses and trucks that reference different characters or locations within the Mushroom Kingdom. But many cars also hide messages on their license plates, which you may not spot at first if you’re trying not to crash. Both Mushroom Bridge and City from “Double Dash!!” have cars with license plates that read things like “POW,” “W1-1,” “SMB3” and “1UP.” Nintendo carried this Easter Egg over to the Wii entry for the Moonview Highway course. So far, only Mushroom Bridge has been remade, appearing again on the DS without the Easter Egg. But perhaps Nintendo will include them in further DLC, and we’ll get this neat Easter Egg again.
An Extra Small Challenge
“Super Mario Kart” (1992)
There aren’t too many noteworthy secrets and Easter Eggs hidden in the original “Super Mario Kart.” The coolest is one meant for those seeking a greater challenge. On the character select screen, holding Y and A while picking your racer will shrink them down in size for your entire Grand Prix. Similar to if they had gotten struck by lightning, but permanent, this makes every other racer around you a hazard to avoid. It was clever not just as an Easter Egg, but a way to make the game harder for those who had mastered it. But honestly, racing a whole Grand Prix with this miniature status sounds pretty annoying to us.
“Mario Kart 64” (1997)
“Mario Kart 64” began the trend of including ads for in-game companies for some fun worldbuilding. On some courses, like Luigi Raceway and Kalimari Desert, you’ll spot logos for companies like ‘Mario Star’ and ‘Koopa Air.’ Which aren’t nearly as clever as those seen in later games, but we digress. However, in the original Japanese release, the tracks featured logos that were parodies of real-world companies. A logo for ‘Yoshi 1’ looked identical to that of Mobil 1, ‘Marioro’ resembled the logo for Marlboro cigarettes, and a big, orange spherical sign with ‘64’ across it was meant to parody 76, a gas station chain found across the US. If we had to guess, we’d say these logos were altered so Nintendo didn’t get sued multiple times in a row.
“Mario Kart 8” (2014)
Easter Egg hunters may know to look for “Totaka’s Song” in each project he works on, but “Mario Kart 8” features another well-hidden music-based secret. On the Water Park course, an underwater section takes you past a merry-go-round-like ride called the Aqua Cups. Most racers wouldn’t choose to stop but if you do, you might pick up on something familiar. Although it’s hard to make out over the track’s theme music and the typical “Mario Kart” chaos, this merry-go-round’s music is the same as another found in the Big Boo’s Haunt level of “Super Mario 64.” Why Nintendo would choose to hide an obscure reference here is beyond us, but there’s no denying it’s an awesome Easter Egg to stumble upon.