MKU Logo
Developer(s) Fantasy Factory Letters
Publisher(s) Fantasy Factory Letters
Platform(s) Nintendo 3DS
Release Date(s)
September 2012
Single Player, Multiplayer, Online
Age Rating(s)
ERating 3Rating
Genre(s) Racing
Media Included Nintendo 3DS Cartridge

Mario Kart Unlimited, also called Mario Kart 8 in Japan, is the 8th and newest installment in the Mario Kart series for Nintendo 3DS. It is the first time two installments will be released on the same handheld. Like Mario Kart: Double Dash!!, players race with two characters on one kart again. New characters, courses, and modes are added, as well as an online mode, using Nintendo Network. The game is in development by Fantasy Factory.


The gameplay is much like Mario Kart: Double Dash!!, players race with 2 characters on one kart, and Special Items return (which are now called Super Specials). A team consists out of a driver, and a character who takes care of the items. However, there are also some differences. The classes the characters are seperated into are not longer depended on size, but classes like Speed, Technique and Power are added. Like Mario Kart 7, 1st person mode is added, and Tricks also make a comeback. Also added from Mario Kart 7, Gliders do reappear. However, Coins, Kart Customization and Underwater Racing don't. For the first time in the series, the players are invincible against their own items.


3DS A Button A Button Accelerate
3DS B Button B Button Brake/Drive in reverse
3DS X Button X Button Use item
3DS Y Button Y Button Look backwards
3DS R Button R Button Drift
3DS L Button L Button Trick
3DS D-Pad Control Pad Switch to 1st person mode
Circlepad Circle Pad Steer your vehicle
3DS Select Button Select Button Options Menu
3DS Start Button Start Button Pause Menu
DS Stylus Stylus Switch Map


Single Player

Grand Prix

In Grand Prix Mode, the player needs to win the cups against computer-controlled opponents. The difficulty level against CPU racers increases while selecting the engine class which are four:

  • 50cc - Easy. The minimum top speed is low for all karts and CPU racers have a very limited selection of items.
  • 100cc - Intermediate/Medium. The minimum top speed is fairly average, while CPU drivers have a wider selection of items: they may Red Shells to shoot it to the player in front of them.
  • 150cc - Hard. The minimum top speed in the karts is high, and CPU drivers have a wider selection of Items, most notably, the Spiny Shell's addition. In this level, CPU drivers can take down players using the items against them. Additionally, all characters race in mixed teams. CPU-controlled heavyweight karts always take the top positions.
  • Mirror - Very Hard. Similar to 150cc engine class, as well all racecourses are turned. CPU-controlled heavyweight karts always take the top positions.

There are mainly four cups in Grand Prix mode, each one with four stages to race. These cups bear their difficulty levels as well as the racecourses within. The most basic is Mushroom Cup with simple courses and few gimmicks. The Star Cup, on the other hand, contains long and gimmicky racecourses.

Quick Race

In Quick Race Mode, a single player battles against computer-controlled opponents. The player can customize options, like how many races, racing in teams or not, which engine class, turn Super Specials on/off, and which items.

Time Trials

In Time Trial, a single player races courses over a set number of laps to record the fastest completion time. When a race gets started, the characters will have three mushrooms in hand for speed boost. The best time elapsed in a lap and a race on a specific track will be saved after completing the race. Once completed the race on that racecourse, the user is able to compete against either their ghost from the current ghost data or the staff ghost within the stage. Otherwise, if a race is failed, the ghost data will not be saved.

Balloon Battle

In Balloon Battle, a single player battles using items. If he/she got hit by an item, he/she will lose a balloon. If all balloons are lost, the player has lost. The last player standing wins.

Coin Thief

In Coin Thief, a single player should collect Coins, which are spread over the stage. He/she also can also earn coins by hitting other players with items.


In Mission Mode, the player should clear special missions. A mission is unlocked after winning a cup in Grand Prix. A Boss Battle is unlocked after clearing a Grand Prix. All misisons and Boss Battles are different. Some examples are racing through gates in order, collecting special objects in a short amount of time, or kicking a villain of a platform.


In Story Mode (called The Golden Wheels), the player should clear various minigames (which are mostly missions from Mission Mode with a twist) and a boss to clear a world and obtain a golden wheel. It contains 4 worlds: Mushroom Kingdom, a grassy valley where Toad Town and Peach's Castle are located, Dark Village, an haunted and spooky village where Luigi's Mansion and King Boo's Haunt are located, Jungle Park, a wild jungle where Yoshi's House and DK and Diddy's Tree House are located, and Lava Land, a world made out of lava where Boom Boom's Bunker and Bowser's Castle are located. The world itself is the hub, but using shiny spots (sometimes with a character standing next to it), which activates minigames, are all over the place. Several minigames have to be won to unlock new minigames, areas or worlds. The mode is unlocked after the player has earned all gold cups and cleared all missions with at least 1 star rank.



In Versus Mode, players battle against each other in races. It is similair to Quick Race mode, but now with multiple players.

Co op

In Co op Mode, multiple players can form a team and work together to win the race, similair to the mode from Mario Kart: Double Dash!!.


In Minigame Mode, multiple players battle against each other in several twisted missions from Mission Mode. Like Quick Race Mode, the options can be customized. The player who won the most minigames wins.


In Battle Mode, the player can select Balloon Battle or Coin Thief. The games are very similair to the single player variants, only the computer-controlled opponents are now human opponents.


The game marks 18 teams of 2 characters and Mii, making it 37 characters in total. Characters are seperated into 4 different classes.

Balanced: The character performs well in all classes.

Technique: The character is great in turning and aiming items, but isn't fast or heavy.

Power: The character throws items at high speed and is very heavy.

Speed: The character is very fast, but isn't technical or heavy.

Each character has its own Super Special, an item that can only only be used by one specific character and its partner.

Starter Participants

Image Team Super Special Standard Kart
MKU Mario Luigi Mario


Luigi Balanced

Fireballs: Mario throws several fireballs on the course, burning players if hit.

Poltergust: Luigi can suck players so they can't move for a few seconds.

Red Fire
MKU Peach Daisy Peach


Daisy Speed

Parasol: Peach can hit players with her parasol and damage them, similair to the Tanooki Tail.

Fire Flower: Daisy can throw 7 normal sized fireballs which can burn players.

Heart Coach
MKU Yoshi Birdo Yoshi


Birdo Power

Dash Pepper: Yoshi turns red and the car goes at maximum speed for a few seconds.

Birdo Egg: Birdo throws an egg which will chase and hit the player in front of her, and it will then reveil 3 items on the course.

Turbo Yoshi
MKU Wario Waluigi Wario


Waluigi Technique

Wario Bomb: Wario will throw a bomb which will cause mist for the other players, so they can't see where they're going.

Oil Tub: Waluigi will throw Oil on the course, which will let the other players slip.

MKU Bowser Bowser Jr Bowser


Bowser Jr. Balanced

Bowser Shell: Bowser throws a massive Shell, shaped like his own, on the course, it crushes a player if hit.

Paint Brush: Bowser Jr., using his Paint Brush, can throw 3 paintballs on the course, which let players slip if hit.

Koopa King
MKU Koopa Paratroopa Koopa


Paratroopa Technique

Aqua Koopa: Koopa lets tons of water appear, which will make all other players drive very slow for a few seconds.

Spiny Shell: Paratroopa throws a Spiny Shell which will automatically go to the player driving in first, and then cause an explosion.

Koopa Dasher
MKU Baby Mario Baby Luigi Baby Mario


Baby Luigi Speed

Mini Chomp: Baby Mario's kart will be pulled by a Mini Chomp, making it go really fast.Fire

Fire Chomp: Baby Luigi will throw a Fire Chomp on the course, which will burn a player if hit.

Goo Goo Buggy
MKU Donkey Kong DK Jr Donkey Kong


Donkey Kong Jr. Balanced

DK Barrel: Donkey Kong will throw a Barrel, which will roll in a straight line and crush a player if hit.

Jr. Vine: Donkey Kong Jr. will throw a vine on the kart in front of him, pulling himself forwards.

DK Jumbo
MKU Toad Toadette Toad


Toadette Speed

Mushroom Shield: Toad is surrounded by multiple Mushrooms for a short amount of time, which act like the Triple Green Shells, but they won't break if hit someone.

Golden Mushroom: Toadette can speed up 10 times, as if she has used a Mushroom.

Toad Kart
MSM- Mii Icon Mii Varies Look at Mii!: Your Mii will make the course darker for a short amount of time, so it's difficult for the other players to see where they going. A shiny spotlight is aimed at the Mii, so he/she can still see where he/she is going. Standard Kart

Unlockable Participants

Characters that aren't available from the start and have to be unlocked.

Image Team Super Special Standard Kart
MKU Rosalina Luma Rosalina


Luma Technique

Power Star: Rosalina gets a Power Star, so her kart flies at high speed for a short amount of time.

Star Bits: Luma throws several Star Bits on the course, when hit, players will get launched into the air. If not hit, the Star Bits will grow giant and explode.

Twinkle Star
MKU Magikoopa Shy Guy Shy Guy


Magikoopa Technique

Shy Guy Spear: Shy Guy will throw his spear on the course, which will spread fireballs over the course.

Super Wand: Magikoopa will cast a spell on the player in front of him, freezing him/her for a few seconds.

Wild Wing
MKU Diddy Dixie Kong Diddy Kong


Dixie Kong Speed

Banana Boomerang: Diddy Kong will throw a massive Banana on the course, which will act like a boomerang, and damage a player if hit.

Banana Hoard: Dixie Kong will let a massive hoard of Bananas fall on the course, blocking or crushing players if hit.

Barrel Train
MKU Hammer Bro Dry Bones Dry Bones


Hammer Bro. Balanced

Mega Bone: Dry Bones will throw a massive bone on the court, which will cause a earthquake, like a POW Block.

Power Hammers: Hammer Bro. will throw several hammers on the court, which will explode when a player comes close to it.

Bullet Blaster
MKU Boom Boom Pom Pom Boom Boom


Pom Pom Power

Boom Block: Boom Boom lets a giant Brick Block appear on the course, which will cause a powerful earthquake and it'll block or crush other players.

Pommerang: Pom Pom will throw 3 boomerangs on the court, which will explode when close to a player.

Super Airship
MKU Dino Piranha Cosmic Mario Cosmic Mario


Dino Piranha Power

Gold Flower: Cosmic Mario will turn gold and can create a wall of coins to block and damage other players.

Spiky Ball: Dino Piranha gets spikes on his tail, and using it, he can knock back other players.

Flame Flyer
MKU Baby Peach Baby Daisy

Baby Peach Technique

Baby Daisy Speed

Hearts: Baby Peach is surrounded by 3 hearts. When hit by an item, instead of being damaged, she will obtain it. It works 3 times, as there are 3 hearts.

Flower Bean: Baby Daisy will throw a bean on the course, which will immediately grow to a massive flower field, which will slow down the oher players.

Cheep Charger
MKU Dry Bowser King Boo

King Boo Technique

Dry Bowser Balanced

Mini Boos: King Boo is surrounded by Mini Boos, which make him invisible and invincible for a short amount of time.

Blue Fire Flames: Dry Bowser can spit 5 Blue Fireballs, which can be controlled by the player after spitted.

MKU Timber Tiptup

Timber Speed

Tiptup Speed

Air Plane: Timber's kart transforms into an airplane, so he can fly for a few seconds.

Turtle Dash: Tiptup dashes around the kart in his shell, eventually creating a large gab for other players to fall into.

Jungle Kart


Despite the characters' special items, other items that can be used by anyone are also included.

Image Item Availability Description
BananaPeel Banana Common (1st-3rd place) Other players can slip over it, or the player can use it to protect him/herself against Shells.
TripleBananaPeels Triple Bananas Common (1st-3rd place) Other players can slip over it, or the player can use it to protect him/herself against Shells.
GreenShell Green Shell Common (1st-5th place) After thrown, it will go in a straight line and hurt a player if hit. It can also be used to protect the player against Shells and Bananas.
TripleGreenShells Triple Green Shells Uncommon (3rd-6th place) The player is surrounded by 3 Green Shells. After thrown, it will go in a straight line and hurt a player if hit. It can also be used to protect the player against Shells and Bananas.
RedShell Red Shell Common (2nd-6th place) After thrown, it will automatically follow the player in front of the player and hurt him/her.
TripleRedShells Triple Red Shells Uncommon (4th-7th place) The player is surrounded by 3 Red Shells. After thrown, it will automatically follow the player in front of the player and hurt him/her.
SuperMushroom Mushroom Common (1st-7th place) Let the kart go at maximum speed for 2 seconds.
TripleMushroomsMKC Triple Mushrooms Uncommon (3rd-8th place) Let the kart go at maximum speed for 2 seconds. It can be used 3 times.
Fake item box Fake Item Box Common (1st-4th place) Looks like a normal Item Box, but a player will be damaged after hitting it.
Stand-omb Bob-Omb Uncommon (3rd-6th place) Can be thrown on the course, and it will explode after 4 seconds, or if a player/item hits it.
Star Invincibility Star Very Rare (7th-8th place) Makes the player invincible for about 10 seconds.
Bullet Bill MKW2!! Bullet Bill Very Rare (8th place) Transforms the kart into a Bullet Bill, which goes at maximum speed and steers automatically.
ThunderboltNoGlow Lightning Bolt Very Rare (8th place) Shrinks the other players for a short amount of time.
Bowlo Candy Bowlo Candy (new) Rare (5th-8th place) Transforms the kart into a rubber ball, crushing players if hit. Using the Touch Screen, the player can control it, which is pretty hard.
Tweester1 Tweester (new) Very Rare (7th-8th place) After thrown, it will drag a player into the air if hit.
Monster Wheel Monster Wheels (new) Rare (6th-8th place) The kart will have massive wheels, so it goes very fast and it'll crush players if hit.
Power Flower Red Super Special Uncommon (1st-8th place) An item introduced in MKDD makes its comeback! Its effect is different on each character.


Nitro Grand Prix

The courses in the Nitro Grand Prix are introduced in this game. They are seperated into 5 cups: the Mushroom Cup, the Flower Cup, the Shell Cup, the Banana Cup, and the Star Cup. The Mushroom Cup contains easy and short courses, and the Star Cup contains great and hard courses. All courses have 3 laps, except Wario City (2 laps) and Timber Island (1 lap).

Mushroom Cup
Flower Cup
Shell Cup
Banana Cup
Star Cup
Toadstool Circuit Daisy Deserts Sky High Station Mario's Mountains Trouble Town
Flower Valley Yoshi Park Wario City Block City Penguin Playgrounds
Blooper Beach Luigi's Mansion Jungle Japes Timber Island Bowser's Castle
Peach's Palace Birdo's Badlands Dark Land Piranha Courtyard Rainbow Road

Retro Grand Prix

The Retro Grand Prix contains courses from past installments, redesigned and remastered with new elements. The courses are seperated into the Coin Cup, the Acorn Cup, the Lightning Cup, the Leaf Cup and the Shine Cup. The Coin Cup contains easy and short courses, and the Shine Cup contains great and hard courses. All courses have 3 laps, except Maka Wuhu (1 lap) and Wario Colosseum (2 laps).

Coin Cup
Acorn Shroom
Acorn Cup
Lightning Cup
Leaf Cup
Shine Sprite1
Shine Cup
Ribbon Road GBA Mario Circuit DS Bowser Castle 4 GBA

Neo Bowser City 3DS

Tick-Tock Clock DS
Vanilla Lake 1 SNES Dry Dry Desert GCN Wario Stadium DS Sherbet Land GCN Yoshi Valley N64
DK Summit Wii Music Park 3DS Toad Factory Wii Wario Colosseum GCN Bowser Castle Wii

Rock Rock Mountain3DS

Riverside Park GBA Maka Wuhu 3DS Grumble Volcano Wii Rainbow Road GCN


Other cups are extra cups, not including different tracks, or they're downloadable.

Special Cup
Special Cup
The Special Cup contains 10 random races from past Grand Prix's.

Battle Courses

Like every installment, Battle Courses appear. These are special courses specially made for the Battle Games (Balloon Battle and Coin Thief). Missions can also be held on these courses. There are 5 new courses (Nitro Courses) and 5 returning courses (Retro Courses).

Nitro Courses
Retro 1up Shroom
Retro Courses
Castle Gardens Battle Course 2 SNES
Jr. Airship Luigi's Mansion GCN
Nintendo 3DS Tart Top DS
Bowser's Pinball Machine Delfino Pier Wii
Good Egg Galaxy Honeybee Hive 3DS


References to Other Games


  • The Super Special item takes the form of a Power Flower, probably because that item also has a different effect on each character.
  • The game was originally selected to be in the August 2012 episode of Fantendo Power, but was replaced with New Super Mario 64 3D.
  • Courses returning from Mario Kart 7 are indicated by 3DS, but this game is also for 3DS.