The original Mario Kart was initially conceived as a multiplayer prototype for SNES launch title F-Zero, and had nothing to do with Mario or karts.
In a new interview with Retro Gamer (via GamesRadar), original development team members Shigeru Miyamoto, Hideki Konno, and Tadashi Sugiyama revealed that the fast-paced single player racer F-Zero eventually morphed into 1992’s Super Mario Kart.
“Our original plan didn’t include Mario or karts,” they explained. “The game’s roots lie in one of the launch titles for the SNES: F-Zero. The game was designed for single-player gameplay because of our focus on getting across the sense of speed and the size of the courses.
“It was a prototype for a multiplayer version of F-Zero that ended up being the starting point for Super Mario Kart, and from there we went through a period of trial and error to find what worked.”
Hideki Konno admits that even though the change of scale between the two titles that happened during development “seemed a huge challenge,” the addictive and fun essence of Mario Kart came to reveal itself.
“I really played the game a lot during the adjustment and debug phases of the development,” he said. “Because of the strong competitive gameplay, once I started test playing I would get excited and start shouting out while I played. We aimed to create a game that’s fun to play with family, friends, with everyone.”
Multiple installments and console generations later, Mario Kart remains one of Nintendo’s most popular franchises, with the highly-anticipated Switch port Mario Kart 8 Deluxe set to launch later this week.