Existential Kart Racing: Mario Cars 2

Poor old Sonic.

If Nintendo won’t bring Mario Kart to PC, well, we’ll have to make our own. No PC kart racer I’ve played has come close to Nintendo’s joy and Mario Cars 2: 64, well, Mario Cars 2 is shooting for a very different feeling. Less a kart racer than a kick of existential dread, it sees Mario, Peach, Sonic and the gang reflecting on death, dying, dying over and over, and longing to stay dead. And it’s a mite silly, as if I needed to point that out. It is funny and free too, so c’mon c’mon.

Mario Cars 2 is slow and awkward to control with tracks that drag on and on. It doesn’t even matter if you finish first or not. It is deliberately hostile to players to set up the gag. Its racers – Mario, Luigi, Peach, Bowser, Sonic the Hedgehog, and Pikachu – are confused, lost, and tired. Their charmingly ugly portraits chat between races, going through the motions, wondering why they keep racing, and wishing for it all to end. Sonic is a man in a crude costume obsessed with Eggman and emeralds, Pikachu’s a chilled-out fatalist with a head like a dog skull, and Mario’s sure this next race will cheer everyone up.

“What if video game characters were aware?” is an old class of gag, and one I often find awful. But I cackled at Mario Cars 2, sympathising after slogging through those awful races. The game is funny, and it is pretty, and the silly music is pleasant (play as Sonic and you’ll have a real treat on one level).

Mario Cars 2 was made by Chelsea ‘Pixelatedcrown’ Saunders in about a week with a few others chipping in. No, you don’t need to have played the first Mario Cars to get it. I recommend following her Tumblr as she’s always working on something interesting in her ace low-poly untextured style. I’ve been especially keen to see cooking game The Chef’s Special and doll’s house game In the Witch’s House.

Anyway, here’s Saunders playing through Mario Cars 2:


  1. Barchester says:

    Might I suggest you try Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed? I thought that was the next best thing to Mario Kart, not owning a Nintendo console myself.

    • LionsPhil says:

      It is also a radical idea at the polar opposite of this: a game which pulls out every stop to be full of joy and fun.

      I get that it’s a joke, but I cannot see why I’d ever want to spend half of an hour of my life playing a deliberately miserable game, even if I was suffering a terminal case of British.

      • Greggh says:

        Yes, what a waste of an impressive looking design (and the ready made fun factor that comes with any Mario Kart inspired game).

        Oh well, guess it’s back to Tux Racer and/or emulators for those without consoles…

    • Gabe McGrath says:

      And… Sonic Racing Transformed is still available for tiny money in the Humble Bundle.

      I’m not a ‘racing fan’ – I’m just a guy who loved playing Outrun, etc etc back in the day
      and if that sounds like you – grab this bundle for this game.

      It is absolute ‘Blue Skies Old School Sega’.

  2. Premium User Badge

    Harlander says:

    It’s going to be hard to keep reading your stuff now you’ve admitted to not liking Wacky Wheels

    • kalzekdor says:

      Ah… Wacky Wheels. So many hours of my youth wasted throwing hedgehogs at go-carts.

  3. Jamesworkshop says:

    “What if video game characters were aware?” is an old class of gag, but the punchlines rarely deliver. I cackled at Mario Cars 2, sympathising after slogging through those awful races.

    The game is funny, and it is pretty, and the silly music is pleasant (play as Sonic and you’ll have a real treat on one level).

    -what is funny if the punchlines don’t deliver

  4. Guvornator says:

    For a minute there, I thought someone had finally married Mario Kart and Hard Drivin’. As a result, I am now spend the rest of the day in heart aching disappointment…

  5. Anthile says:

    That forest reminds me of Kentucky Route Zero, the one game that needs a racing game spin-off.

    • Ross Angus says:

      The forest (but mostly the driving physics) reminded me of Stalker: Lost Alpha.

  6. Puppaz says:

    Looks a bit like Big Red Racing.

    • The First Door says:

      Well now, that’s a blast from the past! I don’t remember much about that game beyond the weird voices and the sometimes surprisingly racy things they were saying!

  7. Ham Solo says:

    I somehow read everything pikachu said in Matthew McConaughey’s voice.

  8. Premium User Badge

    Oakreef says:

    nobody wins at mario cars

  9. sirdavies says:

    On the desert level, instead of loading the dark part at the end, there were some other structures and no road. I fell through the level for a few minutes until I concluded it was probably a bug.

  10. Heliocentric says:

    Loved the portraits, very Hotline Miami. I accidentally drove into a white abyss in the beach level after the end of the beach and floated in limbo, I guess that’s my ending.

  11. forddent says:

    The portraits were done by KC Green, aka one of the best webcomickers doing his thing. Seriously, his comics are fucking great.

    This game is delightful, in its way. I’m a sucker for these sorts of things.


      I knew the style was familiar, but I thought I was just being reminded of Eegra (which apparently is offline, but if you find it, it’s hella NSFW).

  12. dsch says:

    Did RPS change their YouTube embeds so the fullscreen button is gone?

    • padger says:

      Whoa, that’s weird.

    • bonuswavepilot says:

      Erm, I can still see the fullscreen button…

      Although when people post utoobs in the comments, there often isn’t enough horizontal space, so the right hand side gets truncated – maybe this has happened to you somehow?

      • dsch says:

        Hm, no, it’s the video in the main post. I see this: link to i.imgur.com

        And double-clicking to go fullscreen doesn’t work either. Maybe it’s something to do with the renderer.

  13. Golden Pantaloons says:

    Pikachu’s face looks like a mask from Hotline Miami.
    In fact, all of the cutscene faces somehow remind me of that game.

    Oh dang, someone already said that. Oh well.

  14. bad guy says:

    Write about Super Tux Kart

    also: Re-volt