Super Mario Kart Was Almost Called Something Horrible

Sometimes getting a name right can make or break a product. The original Super Mark Kart was nearly called an awful name that might not have worked out.

By Jason Collins | Published

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We all use language to communicate, but sometimes things get lost in translation or take an entirely new meaning. Most of the time, the confusion stemming from various language barriers makes for some incredibly funny stories. However, there are times when things take another, less entertaining meaning. For example, the beloved Super Mario Kart that was released for Nintendo’s SNES consoles was originally supposed to be called Mario’s Race Wars — the title that wouldn’t be as entertaining as the beloved game.

According to Deluxe News, during an interview with Shigeru Miyamoto, the creator of some of the most acclaimed and best-selling game franchises of all time — including Mario and The Legend of Zelda — the legendary game developer revealed that the iconic Super Mario Kart was originally going to be titled Mario’s Race Wars — the worst possible name a video game could get in English. Admittedly, the Japanese translation of the original title translates to Minzoku Funso and has zero ambiguity about its meaning — translating to “racing wars.”

Luckily, someone managed to explain to Miyamoto why the iconic gaming title about Mario and his friends racing go-karts would be stuffed with the worst possible name in English had the title retained its original name. Thus, the name of the game was changed, and it was released in Japan and North America in 1992 and in Europe the following year, selling over 8.7 million copies worldwide and becoming the fourth best-selling SNES game of all time — with 1990’s Super Mario World being number one with 20 million copies sold.

While 8.7 million sold copies of Super Mario Kart is still a respectable metric, even by today’s standards, it’s safe to assume that the game wouldn’t reach the same level of success as Mario’s Race Wars. Ultimately, the English-speaking fandom was shocked by the news, and fans worldwide understood Nintendo’s decision. One of the fans even stated that his mother would never allow them to play a gaming title called Mario’s Race Wars, despite the fact that we’re discussing a go-kart racing game.

Of course, Nintendo issued a statement clarifying that at no time did the company, Mario brand, or anything related to Mario characters, ever support or advocate the idea of Race War. “Not even Wario,” added Doug Bowser, the Nintendo of America president who happened to share a name with one of the Mario franchise’s characters. Bowser, the president, not the anthropomorphic dragon, also added that Nintendo as a company has always strived to be family-oriented, and as such, it wouldn’t accept the idea of a race war.

Shigeru Miyamoto, on the other hand, issued another statement following the original one, stating that he was delighted with the idea that he managed to change the weapons in Super Mario Kart to turtle shells and banana peels instead of originally imagined human feces and flammable Bibles. It’s highly unlikely that was ever the plan, considering that Mario was always family-friendly, but one can never know what nasty shenanigans members of the development team play with one another during the game’s development cycle.