Best Mario Kart 64 Characters, All Ranked (Using Math!)This post may contain affiliate links. If you buy something we may get a small commission at no extra cost to you. (Learn more).
For years passionate fans and casual trolls alike have argued the question: which character is in fact the best racer on Mario Kart 64?
We actually have a provable answer.
Speedrunners and programmers worked with TAS-software to figure out (mathematically) which characters in MK64 are the best.
Note: TAS programs are tool-assisted speedrunning applications made to find strategies to improve a player’s speed. Using this and in-game data pulled from the ROM, which works with emulator software, players sifted through lines and lines of code to bring to light actual data that proves mathematically which MK64 characters are better than others.
Note 2: World record competitors and dedicated speed runners more often compete on the PAL version of the game, which is a touch slower than the NTSC version. At 25 frames per second and 55 hertz, the racer’s mobility and maneuverability is improved despite running at a lower transmission rate. Examples throughout this article will refer to the PAL version, since it allows for complex inputs to be executed in slow-mo.
So with all due credit to these tireless and dedicated nerds, we give you the definitive guide to the best Mario Kart 64 characters, based on math.
The first, and thus the worst player on our list needs no introduction.
Bowser is an iconic, fiendish… lizard or some shit, and Nintendo character most likely to be #metoo’d.
When the beloved nerds on Reddit investigated all the dirty little secrets of the game by looking inside the ROM data, the discovery most important for our purposes is that speeds were capped based on gameplay mode.
For example, Bowser (the slowest racer) has a top speed of:
- 290 in 50cc
- 310 in 100cc
- 320 in 150cc
320 what, you may ask? No idea, but that’s as fast as he goes!
The top speed, however, is not the only defining factor.
The Breakdown: Bowser’s one redeeming feature is having the fastest Triple A speed in the game, which you’re going to need to catch up from being in last place all the time because you picked Bowser like some kind of damn fool.
Wario has the same speed as Bowser, that of 320, but is slightly less embarrassing because he keeps an eye on his physique.
A running theme of this article is that the lighter the racer, the faster and more maneuverable they tend to be.
With a top speed of 320, Wario is a shapely size 6 and weighs 1.8, giving him a slight edge over Bowser’s massive 2.3.
Another measurement our dear nerds provided was turn speed. And in this category, as well as many others, Bowser and Wario are on the same shitty plane.
Wario’s turn speed is 1.15, and turn speed reduction is -0.002, which is just pathetic.
6. Donkey Kong
Now to that damn dirty ape and his absurd tie. This is a good time to bring up is that of turn speed reduction.
With the same constant speed as Bowser and Wario, he also shares the same speed and turn speed reduction — our fourth category of estimation that together make up the numbers we’ve used to make this new, scientific list.
Turn speed reduction is the time it takes for a player’s speed to slow down as they begin to edge a curb, which becomes essential when you’re racing for a world record and a 500th of a second is all that stands between you and eternal glory.
The reason Bowser, Wario, and Donkey Kong are so similar comes down to efficient coding. As a developer, reusing resources is a great way to save space and work around the limitations of the N64’s cartridge.
Since each character has the same stats over each of the three gaming modes as well as battle, the three vary in weight and size.
Bowser and Wario are each a 6. Donkey Kong is somehow smaller than a shouty Italian man, rated at a 5, though he’s slightly heavier, designated at a 2 in this category.
These numbers are a fancy way of saying we can calculate the exact reasons why he sucks, but why he also sucks slightly less than the previous degenerates on this list.
Note: Donkey Kong’s turning speed is among the best in the game, which offsets his size and same lame racing rig that Wario and Bowser use. Maybe they got a discount for buying in bulk.
Finally to some damn decent racers, and we start off with the worst.
Yep, it’s the disgraceful Bro in the Super family. The man in green who literally has an L on his forehead and a therapist on speed-dial.
Luigi, also known by the kids as “Green Mario” because kids are stupid, has the same top speed across the game modes as the prior three – but again, the other factors play a big part in making him decent enough.
Specifically his turn speed, turn speed reduction, and in the last category measured, Triple Tap A.
Triple Tap A is a rapid burst enabled by triple tapping A. While Bowser’s is 3, Wario’s is 2.5 and Donkey is wearing a damn tie, Luigi’s is slightly better than the ape at 2.
This makes up for being a disgrace to the Bros family and eternal number 2. Though here he is, superior to Business Ape, Cocaine Mario and Bowser – but not by much.
Mario is the little Stalin looking working man we all admired growing up.
If there was evil all about, and a monster stole our head of state, it was our duty to smash the shit out of blocks and throw hammers like a mad man until we saved the world.
He’s an average racer, and if you’re talented enough you could rise to the heights of mediocrity with this lil guy.
With the same basic stats as Luigi, except slightly better, Nintendo’s mascot is in the middle of the pack.
A good representative for the new system, Mario is a decent racer but rarely used by “world class speedrunners”, but that (nor anything else in this list) should make you feel bad about the racer you most prefer.
Gaming, in the end, is about having fun.
Speedrunning is a type of madness that manifests in people who have a weird mixture of obsession and neuroticism.
You don’t have to be the fastest player on earth to enjoy games, that’s not the whole point of gaming.
We can’t give those kind of answers here; but we can tell you, any character you enjoy playing with is good enough.
3. Princess Peach
Peach is where we finally get to some boots that are made for walking.
Her top speed eclipses that of the previous losers on our list.
- She burns the road at 294, 310, and 320 in the corresponding modes of play
- Her turn speed is better than the next two racers on our list
- And being of the second lowest weight, she’s a favorite of some of the game’s most prolific world record holders
Her triple A tap is where she really excels, and her stat line in its entirety shows why she has been a fan favorite since the first time this game ruined a Thanksgiving.
Peach is my personal favorite, so it is with great shame I put dear Peach on the bronze medal platform for this ranking.
But facts are facts, and MK64 nerds are a passionate lot. I dare not excite their wrath.
Now to Toad, everybody’s favorite walking sentient potato (I guess).
Toad has a top speed of 294, 314, and 324 in his own right, and is still smoking to keep his weight down. So his slight build gives him extra mobility.
His turn speed reduction is also low, making this racer one of the most likely record holders in any of the current speedrunning categories; pretty good for a potato with a nappy fetish.
Toad is a racer of choice for a number of top runners, and his small frame allows for extreme precision and great maneuverability.
But that’s not enough to get to number 1, because obsession is real, and we’re using math.
Taking the number one spot is the best half-lizard half-horse we all know in love.
Yoshi is a character designed to wreck friendships, offering:
- A top speed of 324
- T triple tap of 3
- And a turn speed reduction of 0.002
His weight and character design also lend him stability that makes taking sharp turns and executing game-breaking stunts slightly more possible for human beings.
And that mostly does it!
We wanted this ranking to be measurable, scientific, and to annoy anyone who still argues on behalf of Luigi as a racer.
Mario Kart succeeded among such gems and all-time great games by being such a joy to share with others; and this, the way it brought people together and used its native hardware to great advantage, made it a lasting favorite to throw on with a group of friends.
Gaming, in the end, is about the experience and the competition we share with our fellows, the times we spend doing all we can to better ourselves and encourage our fellows to do likewise.
Gaming, at its best, brings people together and will continue to be a source for inspiration — and argument — for the foreseeable future.
The N64 (like the GameCube, the Wii, and the Switch) looked to be disappointing at first.
Why would Nintendo boldly pander to the niche but passionate three-armed gamer crowd? Why would they go to cartridges when the first PlayStation is making CDs?
As Mario Kart and Goldeneye 007 redefined what the multiplayer experience could be, the idea of four players playing at the same time was as ridiculous as whatever the hell Toad is.
But those games continue to be played the world over by some of the most dedicated, knowledgeable, and passionate fans this industry has to offer.
Because Mario Kart 64 spoke to what makes gaming so enjoyable.
And with all that said, sheer fun is often a good enough reason to justify whatever racer you choose, whatever game you play; even if that racer is Bowser, and even if the game is Pilotwings 64.