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Mario Kart XXL: The GBA Racer That Never Made It Past The Pitch Phase

"Mario Kart: Super Circuit" was released for the GameBoy Advance back in 2001, two years before the still-worth-playing "Mario Kart: Double Dash!!" for the GameCube. Developed by Intelligent Systems, it performed very well for its time, becoming the fourth best-selling GBA game according to the now-defunct gaming magazine Next Generation (per The Wayback Machine). Given better circumstances, however, another GBA "Mario Kart" from a different developer might have been released after "Super Circuit."


Failed games or pitches have made waves before. Some like Kanye West's bizarre gaming pitch never took off past the concept stage. Even established developers like Retro Studios couldn't impress Nintendo when they pitched a spin-off "The Legend of Zelda" title starring a male Sheikah survivor (via Zeltik). The shelved "Mario Kart" project, on the other hand, featured a mostly functional demo. Gaming preservation site Forest of Illusion unveiled last month that it had found said demo for a GBA title called "Mario Kart XXL," pitched by Denaris Entertainment Software in 2004. Evidently, the studio never received Lakitu's green light for the project.

The downfall of Mario Kart XXL

Denaris Entertainment Software created its "Mario Kart XXL" demo mostly out of pre-existing series assets (via Forest of Illusion), putting together a single course. While the demo failed to track Mario's laps, it did count when he fell out of bounds. Videos have shown Mario careening off the track into the waters — or land — below with a splash before teleporting back to start (per Hard4Games).


The demo also dabbled in an artistic choice not seen in previous "Mario Karts." It placed a vertical layer below the track, giving the course an extra layer of depth. Coins dotted the track as well, though players could not collect them.

Notes from Manfred Trenz, founder of Denaris Entertainment Software, went over the demo's primary feature. Players could adjust their perspective a full 360 degrees around the kart and zoom in and out. Modern "Mario Karts," including the increasingly-popular "Mario Kart 8 Deluxe," have only allowed players to look in front and directly behind themselves at the same fixed distance.

Once finished, Trenz approached Nintendo of Europe with the demo for "Mario Kart XXL." But it apparently never went anywhere. Hard4Games attributed this potentially to Denaris' lacking track record with Nintendo. Trenz's most recognizable work for Nintendo arrived more than a decade before Denaris Entertainment Software when "Super Turrican" was released for the SNES (per Nintendo). Denaris Entertainment Software itself produced a lineup of smaller titles, including "Paws & Claws: Pet Vet" and "Crazy Frog Racer," but most of these arrived after the pitch to Nintendo (via MobyGames). While the demo was undeniably rough, the promise of a 360 perspective in a Mario Kart title was certainly tantalizing.