Some people swore by zippy Yoshi, others argued that big, heavy Bowser.
June 11, 2018 4:06 PM   Subscribe

Here's The Best Mario Kart Character According To Actual Science by Henry Hinnefeld [Medium] “Most of us love a good Mario Kart session every now and then; there aren't many better things in life than ordering in a pizza, having some friends over, and proceeding to throw your controllers at each other in uncontrollable rage as the umpteenth blue shell of the evening comes hurtling towards you. One question always slows things down a little, though: which racer do you pick? While we suspect many players will simply stick with childhood favourites for the most part, one man has worked out exactly which character is best for the job with real, actual science. The data has been collected by Henry Hinnefeld, who has used nineteenth-century Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto's concept of Pareto efficiency to work out precisely which racer should be number one.” [via: Nintendo Life]
posted by Fizz (46 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
 
This is relevant to my interests.
posted by Ashwagandha at 4:16 PM on June 11 [3 favorites]


Like many of us, I am largely alienated from the child that I was. I have learned things that she never dreamed about, live in a future she never would have imagined; often, I ache for that lost self. And, again, like many of us, I make poor decisions in an attempt to connect with that self. Some people make very poor decisions indeed, like forming revanchist Star Wars harassment cells or creating bots to tank Rotten Tomatoes scores.

Me? I pick Princess Peach every god damn time. I've picked her since she was called "Toadstool" in SMB2, and I'll pick her today. Is she the best? Is she the fastest? No. But she's the Princess, and by God, I pick the Princess. It's what I do.
posted by Countess Elena at 4:21 PM on June 11 [64 favorites]


Is it just me not having played enough mario kart? this bit seems really handwavy:

There are variations in the other stats as well, but to a large extent, the speed and acceleration dominate the performance of a particular set up, so we’ll be ignoring the rest of the stats.
posted by juv3nal at 4:24 PM on June 11 [9 favorites]


With Mario Kart Wii U, I usually choose Bowser with the Sports Coupe and Cyber Slick (purple) tires. The car goes quite fast and instead of worrying about handling I do a lot of drifting. The bigger characters can also smash smaller characters out of the way.
posted by JamesBay at 4:29 PM on June 11 [2 favorites]


I am upset that it doesn't say that it's talking specifically about Mario Kart 8.
posted by aubilenon at 4:30 PM on June 11 [17 favorites]


When I played Mario Kart DS I almost always picked Mario, but for whatever reason once I started playing Mario Kart 8 with my kids I settled on Wario pretty quickly. Maybe the fact he's the best is why. I play him a lot on Smash Brothers as well (although I'm barely past the button-mashing stage on SSB even though I've had the game for years). It is just more satisfying to be Wario when you're playing with little kids.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 4:33 PM on June 11 [3 favorites]


Rock on, Countess Elena.

Are you a countess of the Mushroom Kingdom? Just how eponhysterical is your comment?
posted by Caduceus at 4:43 PM on June 11 [1 favorite]


Did someone say zippies?
posted by mwhybark at 4:46 PM on June 11


Do different character/vehicle combinations have variant effects from the boosts, pickups and weapons? A vehicle that might ordinarily not be optimal might be the best option if it gets more powerful-than-average boosts and you're playing a course that has easy-to-hit boost pads.
posted by ardgedee at 4:47 PM on June 11


Koopa Troopa's my standby, when he makes the cut. He's appropriately terrible, but I've got a weakness for an underdog. He exists in all other games to be stepped on, but in a Kart he can race Bowser and win. Like the race is the big democratizing factor in Bowser's domain.

For weeks before the Big Race, the goombas and the shy guys all talk in hushed tones, "Did you hear? There's a Troopa in the finals this year."
"Really? I mean, he'll never win. Will he?"
"No, of course not, but... what would happen if he did?"
"Do you think?"

Go get 'em, little nameless Troopa. You are your people's blue shell.
posted by Phobos the Space Potato at 4:51 PM on June 11 [54 favorites]


I've always been partial to Donkey Kong because I just feel like he has a real ugly history with Mario (I mean most characters do) and I empathize with him and his situation, he's been pegged as the bad guy from day one (along with Bowser). What I'm saying is Mario is the enemy and fuck Mario.
posted by Fizz at 4:55 PM on June 11 [10 favorites]


Fizz: I usually pick Wario for the same reason.
posted by lkc at 4:59 PM on June 11 [1 favorite]


Rosalina is space explorer princess. I feel like this shouldn't be discounted.
posted by Merus at 5:02 PM on June 11 [10 favorites]


Largely unrelated but kinda neat trivia: for some reason, they changed Rosalina's name for overseas to be different from her in-Japan name of "Rosetta," originally named after a type of orbit.
posted by DoctorFedora at 5:12 PM on June 11 [1 favorite]


Donkey Kong or Bowser whenever possible. I mean yeah, bigger/heavier/etc, but mostly because their repeated soundbites are slightly less annoying to listen to - for Mario Kart Wii, at least. Don't believe me? Just cue up Mario (posted by 'Luigi Fan', not that he's much better).
posted by sysinfo at 5:22 PM on June 11 [1 favorite]




I feel vindicated that my biddybuggy is one of the best carts. I always choose my Mii character cause I love the way she says “YahhoOoo”
posted by bleep at 5:34 PM on June 11 [4 favorites]


One of the nice things about your friend owning a bar/venue is that when it's open but still slow, the two of you can put Mario Kart SNES on the big screen and play. A crowd always gathers.
posted by Beardman at 5:40 PM on June 11 [5 favorites]


Is it just me not having played enough mario kart? this bit seems really handwavy

For that matter, I don't see any evidence that he attempted to validate the claim that the different karts and characters actually have different stats in the game, rather than just on paper.

I wouldn't put it past a fairness-minded dev like Nintendo to sneakily run the paper stats through a convoluted formula so that the actual in-game performance differences are almost entirely negligible.
posted by tobascodagama at 5:51 PM on June 11 [3 favorites]


SNES mario kart doesn't get as much attention as the 3D versions, but I beat a *lot* of people using Koopa Troopa.
posted by scose at 5:52 PM on June 11 [4 favorites]


HI I'M DAISY

(Have not really been interested in Mario Kart since Double Dash, which is objectively the best Mario Kart. Please, Nintendo, let me share a Kart again so I don't always lose.)
posted by asperity at 6:31 PM on June 11 [8 favorites]


In the open source Linux game Super Tux Cart one of the add on cart packs gives you x-moto, which is a very light weight and very narrow vehicle, meaning that it can avoid obstacles or collisions that no other vehicle can, and has very tight turning and fast acceleration. Handling is hecking squirrelly though.
posted by idiopath at 6:37 PM on June 11 [2 favorites]


Bowser/Yoshi switch.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 6:37 PM on June 11


I use "Dry Bowser" just because it's one of the weirder characters.
posted by cell divide at 6:39 PM on June 11 [1 favorite]


Lakitu on a bike.

I gave my Wii U to my brother and his family cos I wasn’t playing it anymore, but I do miss MK.
posted by curious nu at 6:55 PM on June 11


I’m surprised this is a debate... I thought it was common knowledge that Toad’s the best.

Personally, I’ve always been partial to Yoshi and Peach.
posted by jennyesq at 7:09 PM on June 11


My favorite is Boo because the physics of him riding on and controlling a motorcycle make no sense, and I need to get my suspension of disbelief firmly in place before I enter mariokart world.
posted by Tandem Affinity at 7:16 PM on June 11 [3 favorites]


and I need to get my suspension of disbelief firmly in place before I enter mariokart world.

This reminds me of Sega's recent announcement of Sonic from Sonic Races and why he rides in a car.
“So we’re going to set the record straight just in case. If he’s not in a car guys, the race is over before it’s begun. You know this. You know he’s fast. He’s faster than cars, so we gotta equalize the playing field. So please, spread the word if you see anyone curious why he’s in a car, there you go.”
posted by Fizz at 7:32 PM on June 11 [9 favorites]


Political Alignments of Mario Characters

This was WAY more entertaining than it should have been and the end made me actually laugh out loud.
posted by Ruki at 9:11 PM on June 11 [2 favorites]


I give a favorite for spreading links from Nintendo Life. I guess I should have known it existed in digital form, but the magazine was pretty much the only periodical I cared about as a kid.
posted by kaibutsu at 9:52 PM on June 11


KoopaTroopa4Lyfe
posted by infinitewindow at 10:33 PM on June 11


I'm a little confused, there seem to be a lot of words and graphs instead of just this?
posted by EndsOfInvention at 3:32 AM on June 12 [5 favorites]


I think a lot of the differences are going to depend on player skill, aren't they?

Acceleration is more important if you find yourself stopping a lot, whereas if you can manoeuvre well enough around obstacles you'd prefer the higher speed.
Likewise, handling and traction are things that can be mitigated by skilled play.
(I'm not sure I've actually played mario kart, but regardless Mario is clearly a pro-monarchist and so I can't support him)
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 3:53 AM on June 12 [2 favorites]


Link on the Master Cycle, with the Triforce Tires, and the Hylian Glider, because Zelda is the reason I keep buying Nintendo systems to begin with.

Of course my son has fallen in love with Lemmy (on Mr. Scooty) and got good enough to kick my ass regularly on the higher cc levels.

Interestingly, once you find “your” combination, it is actually pretty difficult to adjust to a different driver/kart combo, believe me I have tried. I can do pretty well with a Shy Guy, because I like the sound effects they make. Mreow...
posted by caution live frogs at 5:31 AM on June 12


King Boo, I like his silly face and floating. Plus I don't have to fight my kids for him.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:49 AM on June 12 [1 favorite]






Dry Bowser because nobody's more fuckin' metal than him.

(At least in Wii. I guess there are actual "Metal" characters in the newer Karts?)
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 7:24 AM on June 12 [1 favorite]


I too pick Princess Peach. Because she's tall and pretty and likes pink. And I'm tall and pretty and like pink. The fact I'm cis-male just makes Peach even more my character to play. Queer all the games.
posted by Nelson at 7:31 AM on June 12 [3 favorites]


Hard Same!
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 8:03 AM on June 12


All 30 Mario Kart 8 characters, Reviewed (AV Club)
Every Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Character Ranked (Rolling Stone)

(I like King Boo.)
posted by box at 8:47 AM on June 12 [1 favorite]


My GF gets down with the Boo Crew, but I like Ludwig because we have the same hair.
posted by SpiffyRob at 11:22 AM on June 12


Speaking of extensive characters, we now have every character ever in Super Smash Bros Ultimate. I'm wondering if it deserves its own post, but also considering a catch all -E3 post like I did last year for all the trailers that are out. That's probably better.
posted by Fizz at 12:38 PM on June 12


"Is it just me not having played enough mario kart? this bit seems really handwavy:

There are variations in the other stats as well, but to a large extent, the speed and acceleration dominate the performance of a particular set up, so we’ll be ignoring the rest of the stats."

The other stats in question can only really be evaluated on the basis of an actual player and their skills and performance. Can't really delve into that statistically and even if you did, it'd be too linked to individual player variance. If you aren't good at staying on track, traction and handling become more important than if you've mastered it.
posted by GoblinHoney at 3:58 PM on June 12


I wouldn't put it past a fairness-minded dev like Nintendo to sneakily run the paper stats through a convoluted formula so that the actual in-game performance differences are almost entirely negligible.

I haven't played the very latest iteration. But in the several variations I have played, the acceleration and top speeds are noticeably different even without measuring. Especially if you are doing time trial mode, where you can race your "ghost" from other runs, with no interference from player interactions.

Whether top speed or acceleration is more important also depends on your skill level and whether you have opponents and what track you're on. in time trial mode, top speed is usually most important, as you should only ever be accelerating once.

This was mostly a fun but very handwavy exercise, IMHO - there was no mention of competitive Mario Kart players and how the factors analyzed affect high level play.
posted by mrgoldenbrown at 8:01 PM on June 12


Do different character/vehicle combinations have variant effects from the boosts, pickups and weapons? A vehicle that might ordinarily not be optimal might be the best option if it gets more powerful-than-average boosts and you're playing a course that has easy-to-hit boost pads.

Not from the on the track boosts, but different character/vehicle combinations get a variant effect from the mini turbo boost that you get from drifting around corners. So if you have a more serpentine track certain characters would have a slight advantage.
posted by dances with hamsters at 1:59 PM on June 13


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