If you haven’t seen, we here at The Outerhaven are very excited for the imminent release of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe for the Nintendo Switch. With all the DLC from the Wii U version being bundled in (and that’s a LOT of DLC) as well as a brand-new battle mode, there’s a lot to look forward to. So much so that we’ve been looking back at what was had made the series so special…or not special. We’ve laid out the best tracks in Mario Kart 8, and stated why Mario Kart 64 may not be as good as you remember.

But now, we’re breaking things down to the most basest of levels. It’s time to talk about the racers themselves. Now, who you pick to race with can say a lot about you, whether you’re doing a fan-favorite pick for yourself, or one that is built on strategy, there’s a lot that goes into it. So it’s not surprising that everyone has their own list, and this one you’re about to read is my personal picks based on my experience with the franchise.

Now, some of these won’t have “logic” per se, but it is something I’m confident in listing out. A note before I start, some of these characters are mainstays, and some have only been in certain titles, but to me, their place is deserved. So…shall we count down the Top 5 Mario Kart racers?

5. Mario

What’s that? “Blasphemy!”? Is that what you’re saying? Ok, I can understand that to an extent, and you might think it’s cheating to have Mario on a Mario Kart top 5 character list, but here me out. First off, every Mario Kart game is different in some way, it’s part of what makes the series great, but one thing you KNOW will be there, one character you KNOW you can count on…is Mario. He’s the “safe” pick because you know he may not be the best, but he’s definitely not the worst, and if you put him in the right car, he can take on anyone!

And let’s not forget that Mario can handle himself in just about anything, so when you’re in a pinch, you know Mario can pull through, and in racing it’s no different. Could he be higher? Sure. But not on my list. I will say though that I’ve had MANY fun experiences racing as Mario, and I’ve won countless cups and online battles because of it. “Safe”? Sure. But I’ve won with safe, and that’s what matters in Mario Kart.

4. Yoshi

Is it…raining salt in here? I feel like I’m getting peppered here (unintentional pun but it totally works!) Anywho, if Mario was the “safe” pick, then Yoshi is a flat out fan-favorite pick. He’s one of the characters that you just feel is faster than everyone, especially when he’s in the right vehicle like his Egg Racer, he seems to just blaze by people no matter what they’re in.

One of my favorite Mario Kart experiences was Mario Kart 7, and aside from a certain other character on this list, I played as Yoshi the most on that game, and I won a LOT, and I know that there’s a lot of players who play as Yoshi throughout the series. He’s consistently put in the top 5 of most racer lists, and it’s not hard to see why. Plus…it’s Yoshi! Who wouldn’t want to race as a dinosaur?!?!?

3. Bowser

Oh, you like this one huh? Figures, bunch of villians…

Moving on, yes, Bowser is totally one of the greatest Mario Kart racers, and not even for his heavyweight quality or anything like that (though it totally helps), but frankly…because he’s one of the few villains you can play as in the series (yes, there have been more, but for a while he was it!) And it’s about dang time he left Mario, Peach, and the rest of the Mario crew in his dust!

There’s nothing more satisfying than knowing that you aren’t the fastest racer, yet you blast away your foes on the way to the finish line. And yeah, Bowser’s weight makes it so you can smash your fellow racer right off the stage, and that’s satisfying in and of itself.

So go on…be a villain…you know you want to.

2. Link

*gets pelted by popcorn and rocks* Oh come on! It’s Link! Why wouldn’t he make the list!?!?!?!!

Hear me out! Hear me out! Yes, he is one of the literal most recent additions to the game, and yes, he’s only been in one title officially (since Mario Kart 8 Deluxe technically isn’t out yet), but…it’s clear when you watch and race as him that Nintend took their time into bringing him into the series. Heck, not only is he beautifully detailed, he comes with a custom bike that is literally made for Link! Try and tell me that bike isn’t cool? That’s what I thought.

The other reason he’s here is that Link isn’t like the Mario crew. He ISN’T in a lot of games outside the Legend of Zelda series. He’s had cameos in games, sure, and he’s a mainstay in Smash Bros., of course, but…not much after that. So to get the chance to play as Link? To be able to try and race for nothing more fun and glory, no “saving the world” aspect to it? That’s pretty cool for the character, and let’s be honest, Link is one of the hardest working characters in Nintendo lore, he deserves to have fu

1. R.O.B.

Heh, and you were salty before huh? Yep, R.O.B. is my all-time best/favorite racer in the Mario Kart series, and no one can convince me otherwise.

Yes, he only appeared in Mario Kart DS and has returned since (much to my chagrin), but his singular appearance makes him worthy in every way. Why? Because though he’s a heavyweight character, his karts are fast, and they can handle the courses as good as any other. For me, I put R.O.B. in the Yoshi Egg racer and I rarely lost a race, even in the highest difficulties or in online mode. R.O.B. was that good for me. 

And on a personal note, I just love that Nintendo respected their history by putting him in the game. That means a lot to a Nintendo fanboy like me, now if they could just put him back in…

So there you have it, my best racers in the Mario Kart franchise, what did you think? Were you able to make it through the list without raging? I doubt it…but if you did, props to you! I’m honestly proud of you. Let me know what YOUR favorite racers are in the franchise in the comments below!

About The Author

Todd Black

A self-proclaimed Nintendo fanboy, born, bred, and Mushroom fed! He’s owned every Nintendo handheld and every console since the SNES. He loved games so much he went and got a video game degree and dreams of writing video game stories