MariCAR - Mario Kart - Nintendo - go-kart
Photo courtesy of CNN

Real-life Mario Kart is a thing. No, it doesn’t include throwing turtle shells or bananas at racing opponents. However, it does grant fans the opportunity to dress as Mario characters while driving go-karts, but Nintendo wants to shut it down. Despite Nintendo winning a lawsuit against the business, the Mario go-karting cosplay hasn’t stopped.

About MariCAR

Let’s dial it back to the beginning.  Just in case you weren’t aware, some time ago a business in Japan called MariCAR brought the residents of Tokyo and tourists a chance to drive through Tokyo dressed in costumes… with go-karts. Obviously, a Mario Kart theme was bound to materialize out of this. According to MariCAR’s website, here are the services they offer:

“Just imagine yourself on a custom made go kart specifically tailored to realize the Real Life SuperHero Go-Karting experience! Dress up in your favorite character costume, playing the music of your choice and driving through the city of Osaka. All eyes on you guarantee! You can ride with a group or ride privately, MariCAR is fully equipped to make your experience a very important one.”

MariCAR really packs the experience with all the frills one could want. The go-karts are outfitted with Bluetooth speakers so that you can play whatever kind of music you so desire. Additionally, a 4K action camera records your experience in the kart. And, the best part? Each kart will offer the capability of talking to your friends in other karts while driving.

The lawsuit

Last year, according to a report from Kotaku, Nintendo put the legal pressure on the go-kart adventure business with a nice and tidy lawsuit over an obvious intellectual property violation. MariCAR lends out costumes to its customers of various characters and heroes. Notably, however, characters from the Mushroom Kingdom were included in the selection. I mean come on, who wouldn’t grab a gnarly Bowser, Yoshi, or Mario costume when faced with the choice? It’s go-karting in Japan!! Nothing would feel more right than that. So, you might as well make it an experience.

Violation? What violation?

Well, it seems that’s exactly what many have done. And, Nintendo took notice. Again, Kotaku reported that in late September, MariCAR was ordered to pay $90,000 in damages due to the intellectual property violation. Apparently, however, MariCAR has seemingly turned its nose up at the ruling and has carried forth still allowing customers to cruise the city in Mario attire.

But honestly, forget the violation. MariCAR’s liability risk must be high! That seems like a more concerning element here just looking at these pictures. From the looks of it, customers are given total control of a go-kart on busy streets in the city… with other cars. I don’t know too many business owners that’d want to take that risk no matter how thrilling the prospect might be.

Despite all of this, would you snatch up the opportunity to drive a go-kart in Japan wearing a Mario costume? I know I would, regardless of any risks! But, for those of who can’t make it out to Tokyo these days, we might just have to be content with the Labo Mario Kart experience.  Let us know what you think about all of this in the comments below.

Sources: Kotaku, Livedoor News

Chris Hinton
Accountant by day, video games enthusiast by night.  Somewhere in between all of that, I'm a husband, dad, and generally a giant man-child, too.  If a game is all about action, there's a safe bet I'm playing it.  I started laying waste to virtual worlds as a youngin' on the ol' Atari and haven't stopped since.


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