New rumors suggest that Nintendo plans to deliver Mario Kart 9 sometime soon, and that it'll have some kind of major twist. One leaker has already claimed that the next Mario Kart game will act as a crossover title that unites many Nintendo IPs under one roof, but it's possible that Nintendo has another twist in mind. Previous installments like Mario Kart: Double Dash introduced special gimmicks that mixed up the racing formula, so it wouldn't be surprising to see Nintendo build Mario Kart 9 around a new mechanic of some kind. Until Nintendo makes a reveal, though, fans will be left guessing.
It's possible that Mario Kart's next big twist is that it won't focus on karts and motorcycles at all. Instead, maybe Nintendo will have players race each other across multiple environments. Mario Kart 9 could see players choose vehicles for sea and sky as well as land, introducing new courses where players drive boats and fly planes within a set track. A Mario Kart game with these new vehicle types would certainly need to make some adjustments to its items and controls, but diversifying the game's racetracks in that way would definitely set it apart from Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, which continues to succeed on the Switch.
An All-Terrain Mario Kart Game
Mario Kart 7 and 8 actually set precedent for a Mario Kart game that leaves the ground behind. Although players don't literally hop into planes and boats to compete with one another, Mario Kart 7 added hang-gliders to the game's vehicles, which allowed for gliding segments in courses. Mario Kart 7 also featured courses where players drive underwater, going against water's normal status as a hazard. Mario Kart 8 kept these variations on terrain while also introducing antigravity segments where players drive on walls and ceilings.
These Mario Kart experiments have been pretty successful so far, so it wouldn't be surprising if Nintendo took those concepts to their logical conclusions by adding flying and sailing courses. The Super Mario brand certainly isn't short on famous locations that could serve as water levels and sky levels. Speedboat races could take Mario Kart fans anywhere from Isle Delfino's beaches to a Super Mario Bros. forest's poison hazards to the lava lake surrounding Bowser's castle. Sky levels, meanwhile, could send players on a course composed of Bowser's Airships or take fans to Super Mario Galaxy-inspired courses filled with tiny planets.
A Mario Kart game with boats and planes wouldn't just diversify the game's courses; it would also push Nintendo to innovate on the franchise's items and obstacles. It's pretty hard to lob a Banana Peel at someone in the sky, but Nintendo could introduce Winged Banana Peels that hover in place once they're dropped. Similarly, water levels could see players tossing Cheep Cheeps at each other instead of Koopa Shells. Water and sky levels will also need unique ways to keep players on course, whether players are simply trapped in tunnels or reined in by whirlpools and thunderstorms.
While Nintendo has certainly innovated on Mario Kart in the past, the franchise can be slow to change on the whole. Rather than being drastically different from each other, they usually just distinguish themselves by means of their playable characters and racecourses. After the overwhelming success of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Nintendo shouldn't be afraid to try new things when developing Mario Kart 9, including adding new vehicle types to the game. Increasing the learning curve of Mario Kart a little with the introduction of new vehicle types would pay off in the end thanks to the potential for player engagement, as well as all the new content that more vehicle types could bring to the Mario Kart experience.
Mario Kart 9 is rumored to be in development.
The Mario Kart series should take advantage of its true potential and explore a fun open world that incorporates the franchise’s best assets.