How to Improve Mario Kart’s Battle Mode
Based on a fairly old video I uploaded to our Youtube channel, here are my thoughts on how Mario Kart’s battle mode could be salvaged and made better to the point people would play it about as much as they do vs mode.
Because unfortunately, battle mode has been woefully neglected over the last few installments. The arenas have become smaller and generally less interesting, the amount of battle mode arenas in total has been reduced significantly and long time fan favourite elements like balloon battle have practically been phased out entirely. While Mario Kart DS, Wii and 7 seem to have moved the rest of the series in the 21st century, it’s clear battle mode has languished and been ignored ever since Mario Kart 64. So with that said, here are what I think could improve battle mode in the next Mario Kart game.
1. Have more arenas
Just look at how few arenas Mario Kart 7 has, it’s absolutely pathetic. You have what, six arenas total? And just three of them are actually new to the game? Even Mario Kart 64 and Super Circuit had more levels to choose from than this, and that was over ten years ago!
Instead, Mario Kart needs to up the total to about 12, with six new ones and six retro ones to keep the mode varied and fun. Maybe even split them into cups like the tracks are, with the first set of four arenas being the easy/basic ones, the next ones being harder and the final ones being for experts.
2. Have more interesting arenas
But with that said, it still doesn’t get you interesting battle arenas. Why bother if they’re going to all be as boring as much of the arenas from Double Dash, or Wii or Mario Kart 7? Instead, here are some ideas which I think could be interesting:
A large arena based loosely around the location from the Gamecube game, which would allow about 20 players to be involved in the same battle. It’d have a few different areas, such as the graveyard and front/back gardens of the mansion, the first, second and third floors and various obstacles to avoid like ghosts.
Of course, it wouldn’t be as large as the eponymous mansion from the original game, just about 10 rooms and a fairly decent sized exterior where you got to explore some of the grounds and race across the balcony and rooftop. There would also be various glider pads, ramps and updrafts, and you could enter or exit the mansion through things like broken windows.
That harbour with multiple levels of girders and metal beams from Super Mario Sunshine. It’s nowhere near as big as in game, so everything would be much closer together and you could literally jump via ramps from one bit of walkway to any other. But the interesting part of this arena isn’t ‘floor area’, it’s height. While the area itself would be about the size of Delfino Pier:
Height wise it’s much bigger, with about six floors. Namely underwater/sea level, to show off underwater mechanics…
Dockside/ground level, which is pretty open and flat. Also, has some boats you can drive on.
Rooftop/girder level 1, which includes some metal beams and platforms as well as building rooftops.
Girder level 2, more beams and platforms above the other levels
Girder level 3, even more beams and platforms above the other four levels of floor.
Another level, some metal platforms from fruit adventure, giant cage and glider ramps.
You know the place, the first level from Super Mario 64. However, it’s a bit different, because:
It’s now about half the size, with the areas of the level much closer together, making for a more interesting battle (still has a lot of open space though). All enemies bar the Chain Chomp, rolling cannonballs and maybe another type have been removed, as have all the cannons and breakable boxes.
There’s also a glider ramp on the floating island.
Based on Bowser’s Castle from Super Mario Bros 3 and Super Mario World, it’s a pretty large (although not large enough for 12 or 16 players) castle level with lots of lava, traps and other Bowser like things.
You only ever explore the interior of the castle, so there’s none of this silly ‘lava filled wasteland’ stuff than all Mario Kart games from 64 onwards seem to have in Bowser’s Castle.
Layout wise, it’s as follows:
Foyer: Front part of the castle, not that big. Has three paths, one leads upstairs and around to the top of the main room, one just leads around the outside of the main room to another entrance to it. There are Bowser statues above the floor which shoot down lasers at people who approach, flipping them over like a shell and vapourising their items.
Main Room: Three story lava room, with each level getting more dangerous as you go up. Ground floor is a bunch of stone bridges and platforms over lava, medium sized but very boring. Some Podoboos to dodge. Floor 1 however is made up of narrower paths and Donut Blocks (which fall down, dropping you to the ground floor). More item boxes though, as well as good places to wait or lay traps. Finally, the top of the room has glider pads and very narrow platforms, one having a ‘Super Item Box’ (always gives a star or triple red shells). However, the Podoboos DO reach the ceiling, so you can easily get hit in mid flight and send straight down to a floor below. More risk; better reward.
Ground Floor Passage: Simple passageway like the entrance room of Bowser’s Castle from Double Dash. Thwomps line it, so you have to dodge between them when they smash down. Leads from foyer to main room/vice versa, going around the right side of the building.
Stairway Room: Absolutely lethal, dangerous room. Why? Two reasons. One, it’s like Mario Kart Wii’s main Bowser Castle room, with giant Bowser statue shooting fire down the hallway. That’s bad, because the item boxes are in the centre. It’s also more narrow. The other issue? Giant metal spikes like in Super Mario World and New Super Mario Bros Wii slam into the floor in timed intervals, also near the centre and item boxes.
Part of the first planet, except fairly redesigned, without enemies bar some of those Mario 3D Land like bees and much smaller.
Imagine something a bit like that, except:
No slide, the area with the flowers is moved behind the tunnel and directly links the tunnel, the bit near the fountain and a bit near the left of the level together. No wooden building or tree top access, and with ramps and jumps leading to higher ground. Extremely peaceful, easy to play on battle arena.
A medium sized arena based on the NES Super Mario Bros 1, it’s about the size of a standard Mario Kart 7 arena, except with three ‘levels’, a small area underneath based on the cave levels and a small area above based on the mushroom and bridge levels.
Goombas are in this arena to make it a bit more Super Mario Bros 1 like, and the graphics style is eight bit (although the characters are normal styled)
That place from Snowman’s Land in Super Mario 64. It’s a tiny arena, but has plenty of transparent ice walls that you can see opponents through, yet cannot pass through.
Item boxes are scattered around in the small, more open areas.
Mushroom Plains/Battle Arena Standard
Just like the battle arenas from Mario Kart Super Circuit and Super Mario Kart, a flat field with various walls to hide behind. However, it’s much smaller, so it doesn’t usually support a high number of players.
3. Have it decide the number of players based on the arena
This would solve quite a few problems really, such as the overcrowding Mario Kart Wii had with its twelve players fighting at once, or how overly barren and empty larger arenas in Super Smash Bros felt (such as how it seems New Pork City was dull as heck due to people being able to avoid actually fighting each other and constantly stalling the match). And my solution to this is simple:
Split up the groups, or add players to said group, depending on the size of the arena. Small ones might have four to eight players, medium ones eight to twelve players and larger ones anywhere up to sixteen or twenty players at once. That way, in smaller arenas it would be never become too chaotic and luck based while in larger ones you’d always have at least one or two opponents nearby at all times.
How would this work in a game or community with groups? Simple. When a smaller arena is chosen, the group splits into two smaller ones which go off and battle seperately from each, and when a larger one comes up, the different groups playing get merged into one bigger one and end up in the same match. Which would also have the added benefit of letting people stuck in groups they don’t want to be in actually go up against some decent opponents.
Of course, this would only be a mandatory option when playing over wifi on worldwide, and both communities and local vs matches would options to either use all current players in a ‘group’ and no more/less, the minimum amount of players or the maximum amount of players as well as an amount of opponents dictated by the size of the arena chosen.
4. Bring Back Survival/Last Man Standing
And I’ll be honest here, this would be just an option. There would still be team battles, point based battles and coin collecting battles, but there would also be an option for a traditional death match/stock type mode where the last man standing wins. It would also be the default mode.
5. The match would end if no players moved/attacked for a certain amount of time (on wifi)
Yes, I do know people hate how all matches have time limits, but hear me out here. It’d be no ordinary time limit, plus it could be removed for community matches or local multiplayer. However, for the purpose of making the meta game not stall heavy/based purely around evasion, and to stop griefers spending half the match deliberately not fighting to annoy everyone (and for the same reason competitive Pokemon matches ban moves like Double Team and Minimise), there would be a count down that’d start whenever players didn’t do anything for a long enough period of time.
So for example, after about forty seconds of no one being hit, you’d have a ten second countdown. If someone gets hit, the initial counter gets rest and the match continues as normal. If not, after that ten seconds the match ends. Similar (but quicker) methods would be used for if no one moved for a certain amount of time, to stop people just screwing around.
It’d only be on worldwide though, because let’s face it, no one would want to have to wait a few hours for the battle to be over and for them to be able to join because one or two people couldn’t be bothered to actually play.
It’d also only affect free for all and point based battles with no time limit, for obvious reasons.
6. Bring Back Bob-omb Blast
Yes you can do nearly the same thing with communities where Bob-ombs are set to be the only items (and an Iwata Ask’s interview even gives this as an example of why the community feature is so useful), but it doesn’t manage to match said mode game mechanics wise.
For example, in Double Dash, you could carry about six or so bombs at once and throw them rapid fire style. You could also have the different teams Bob-ombs as colour coded and make them only damage players on the opposing team. Being able to have that in the next Mario Kart game would be fantastic.
7. Bring back the Mini Bomb Kart/once eliminated abilities
Remember how in Mario Kart 64 anyone who got eliminated would become a Bomb Kart and be able to drive around and blow up those who were still playing? That was kind of cool. As to a limited extent was being able to drive around and lay down item boxes as a ghost in Mario Kart DS.
So the next game should have an option for battles where you can decide what happens to any players who get defeated. Do they become Bomb Karts? Become item box laying ghosts? Or just sit it out and watch those remaining fight the match? It’s something that should be down to player choice.
All in all, those ideas I’d say would significantly improve battle mode if introduced into the next Mario Kart game. Would they be hard to implement? Well, they’d take more work than Nintendo’s really used to with spinoff games, but they’d make the mode so much better people would actually play it every now and then. And who cares if you don’t like the new ideas? Because you could still use the same settings from Mario Kart Wii and Mario Kart 7, if you preferred that style of gameplay.
So does anyone else think all this would improve Mario Kart 7’s battle mode?
Based on this video: