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Mario Kart 9 leaks emerge online, fuelling 2021 release date rumours (updated)

Mario Kart 9 details have started to emerge online, including a rumoured release date and new features. Start your engines!

The Mario Kart series has been a cornerstone of the Nintendo gaming universe ever since gamers decided they would rather speed around in cute vehicles than jump into turtle-infested sewers, so it’s no wonder fans are hungry for Mario Kart 9. Focusing on speedy racing and friendly competition proved extremely successful and made the original Super Mario Kart one of the highest-selling video games of its era.

It was also critical in establishing the Nintendo ethos of sharing characters between games. This helped to popularise an ever-expanding cast of loveable heroes and dastardly villains that people just can’t get enough of.

Mario Kart 9

Fast forward to 2021 and the Mario Kart 9 rumour engine has started its inimitable hum. The people call out for a champion racer and Nintendo must surely be prepared to enter into the fray. It has been over six years since a new Mario Kart game was released and the online community seems convinced 2021 will see the series receive a shiny new coat of paint… with racing stripes to boot of course.

While no official information has been released by Nintendo, the last few days have seen the usual suspects whip themselves into a frenzy of speculation and wishful thinking. That said, after the banana peel gauntlet of a year that was 2020, maybe we can let ourselves dream just a little bit. Or at least pass on the gossip that sounds most exciting and somewhat plausible.

So here we go. Team Mario, start your engines. Yoshi, start waving your flag. Lakitu, roll that camera.

Release date rumours

Mario Kart 9 is rumoured to be coming to a Nintendo Switch near you in Q3 2021. However, possibly not the Switch that you currently own. This release period actually makes a lot of sense as it would coincide with the rumoured release of the Nintendo Switch Pro.

Having a flagship series’ new instalment, such as Mario Kart 9, launch alongside their new console would be a typically calculated decision from Nintendo that would likely bolster sales of the console and game alike.

As of the Nintendo Direct presentation at E3 2021, Mario Kart 9 was not revealed, despite Nintendo unveiling a great number of showstoppers including Metroid Prime 4, a second trailer for their Breath of the Wild sequel, Mario Golf: Super Rush, and more.

The Nintendo Switch Pro was another item that remained unrevealed, despite being one of Nintendo’s worst kept secrets at this point. With these pieces of information in mind, the generally accepted speculation is that Mario Kart 9 will eventually be unveiled as a Switch Pro launch title, much like Mario Kart 8 Deluxe was for the original Switch in 2017.

What’s new?

One of the most iconic aspects of the Mario Kart series is the large cast of playable characters. As mentioned above, this is a critical part of Nintendo’s marketing strategy and it is expected that Mario Kart 9 will see this cast grow to an unprecedented size.

Considering the enormous success of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate we are likely to see a number of that game’s most popular characters jump into their go-karts and go vroom vroom. That is, characters from outside of Nintendo franchises – as is the Super Smash Bros. custom.

I mean who doesn’t want to see pesky little Toad being chased down and eventually devoured by a ravenous, glowing Pac-Man?

All this Super Smash Bros. talk leads us to our final talking point; multiple sources online are getting rather excited about the prospect of finally being able to “tackle” other racers. The extent of this isn’t clear but it’s hardly surprising. Cartoonish violence has always been an important part of Mario Kart, with the battle mode being one the series’ most enduring innovations.

Besides, a little family friendly rough-and-tumble might just be exactly what we all need to look forward to in 2021.

Amiibo and how it might feature in Mario Kart 9

mario kart amiibo
Image: Amiibo / Nintendo

Amiibo, the toy-to-life platform Nintendo has pioneered, could play a prominent role in expanding the cast of characters in Mario Kart 9. While the game will surely ship with a generous number of playable racers, it seems likely that it will be able to be bolstered by connecting Amiibo figurines.

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe allows players to unlock special “racing suits” that correspond to specific Amiibo figurines. For example, if you connect a Link (Legend of Zelda) Amiibo you can choose to have your racing avatar take on the appearance of Link. It doesn’t seem a big stretch that Nintendo will continue this trend – mostly because it would encourage players to purchase more of their products.

So at the very least, keep your Amiibo figurines in a safe place until we get more information!

Mario Kart 9 on our minds

Given these rumours and Nintendo’s unprecedented levels of success, they’re pushing the Mario Kart brand to the extreme in 2021. Perhaps in preparation, perhaps because they’re happy to simply sit on their laurels and eat up that worldwide love.

In early February 2021 Mario Kart 8 officially became the franchise’s best-selling entry of all time, as revealed by Nintendo’s fiscal reportsMario Kart 8 Deluxe – an enhanced version of Mario Kart 8 for the Switch, has sold a whopping 33.41 million units. When combined alongside sales of the original game on the Wii U, Mario Kart 8’s sales figures comes to a total of 41.86 million units. Previously, Mario Kart Wii held the pole position at a measly 37.38 units.

Not to mention the buzz around Super Nintendo World – a theme park opening in Japan, also in February. The latest bit of fun to be unveiled was the park’s Mario Kart ride, meaning fans finally got to hop in the karts themselves.

While the below video may not quite be Mario Kart 9, it’s hopefully enough to tide you over until we hear official world from the overlords at Nintendo HQ.