Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Producer on the game’s popularity and accessibility

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Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is the best-selling game on the Switch with over 40 million units sold since its release in 2017. Its popularity is likely to increase well into 2023 with the gradual release of new titles via the Booster Course Pass.

Now Kosuke Yabuki, producer (and director of the Wii U release of Mario Kart 8), spoke to Nikkei to discuss the game’s popularity and how accessibility is contributing to it. Thanks to our friends at NintendoEverything, you can glean some key points from the following interview:

Did you expect the game to be such a historical hit that it would sell over 40 million copies?
We didn’t, but in hindsight, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe goes well with the Switch. You can play the console anywhere and even split the controller in two so you can easily pick it up and play with a nearby sibling or friend. 5 years after the game’s release, that appeal hasn’t waned.

What do you think makes the Mario Kart series so popular?
Generally in racing games you don’t try to hinder your opponent, but in Mario Kart you spend races throwing shells at them and trying to make them slip on banana peels. These unique tactics are what make Mario Kart so appealing.
It is both an accessible and deep game. There are people who only play the game on Christmas or New Year’s Eve, while others work on improving their skills every day. We’re always careful to balance the experience for both types of players.

How did you take accessibility into account when developing Mario Kart 8 Deluxe?
We wanted the game to be a fun experience for everyone. It can be frustrating to lose, but a lot happens during the races that make players lose a smile or play another round. The hope for players to experience emotions beyond the outcome of the race. We designed the game so unimaginable things like slipping on a banana just before the finish line happen one after the other.

At [March] On the 18th, more downloadable retro tracks were made available to players.
The word “remaster” may sound cheap, but we’re confident that it will create new and unique experiences that differ from the original tracks. We had to make all sorts of adjustments because simply leaving the tracks as they were wasn’t enough. The Game Boy Advance track “Sky Garden” (released in 2001) was originally a flat plane, but we added something vertical to the Mario Kart 8 Deluxe version.
Players will have their own memories with each course, so we’ve been careful not to alter them too much. Intellectual property discussion often revolves around characters, but classes are also part of that conversation. We want to honor players’ memories while polishing the appeal of each course as an IP.

How do you plan the future development of the Mario Kart series?
Former Nintendo President Satoru Iwata often mentioned the phrase “from 5 to 95 years of age”. The ultimate goal is something that everyone can enjoy. “Steering Assist” and other systems that make it easier to attract new players bring us step by step closer to this goal. Former developers have often told us that “Mario Kart is a competitive communication tool” – we’ll always appreciate the meaning behind that phrase.

It’s clear that Iwata’s influence continues to be felt at Nintendo and will likely inform future projects across the company. When and where we’ll see the next main installment in the Mario Kart series is unclear, but at least we can rest assured that new content will make its way to Mario Kart 8 Deluxe in the coming months, and we can. Don’t wait to see which tracks make the cut.

What do you think of Yabuki’s comments on the popularity of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe? Did you buy the Booster Course Pass for the game or would you rather have Nintendo release a full sequel? Let us know! Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Producer on the game’s popularity and accessibility

Fry Electronics Team

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