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The Worst And Best Mario Kart Guest Characters Of All Time

The many titles in the "Mario Kart" franchise have never been the flashiest or most technically advanced car racing games on the market, yet the series has somehow managed to grow more popular every year. A lot of the love it's received from fans over the decades is likely due to the sheer turtle-shell-tossing chaos of the gameplay, but another factor has to be the roster of iconic playable characters.

Gamers get to take on the roles of their favorite characters from various "Mario"-adjacent titles such as "Super Mario Galaxy," "Donkey Kong," and "Luigi's Haunted Mansion." Nintendo also occasionally usually adds a handful of guest characters from other universes. Some fans aren't fond of these characters and feel that the franchise should stick to "Mario"-specific characters only, but others argue that guests add variety to the game.

After all, "Mario Kart" players have already got regular Mario, Tanooki Mario, and even Baby Mario, do they really need a metal and gold version of the Italian plumber as well? Isn't it better that Nintendo adds some of its other properties to the mix?

Well, sometimes. While giving players a wider pool of characters to choose from is always good, some of the characters that Nintendo has chosen have been a lot better than others. Here are two of the best and two of the worst "Mario Kart" guest characters of all time.

Worst: Blinky

"Pac-Man" is a classic IP that holds a special place in the hearts of many retro gamers. So it was really cool when the titular character and his wife, Mrs. Pac-Man, made their appearance in "Mario Kart Arcade GP." They were great additions to the usual lineup, and it was fun having them be exclusive to the arcade version of the game. This was a callback to the Pac-Man family's origins on arcade cabinets, and it made "Arcade GP" a unique experience from the home console versions. That said, the third "Pac-Man" character in "Mario Kart Arcade GP" didn't have nearly the same draw.

Blinky is the little red "ghost" from the quartet of specters that served as the primary antagonists in the original "Pac-Man" games. His design was simplistic to begin with, but it sort of looks like someone just threw a red sheet over a ball and gave it arms, so it could drive when it's translated to 3D. His animations are also a bit boring. He just sort of bobs around, not doing much of anything. This is especially bad when compared to the "Mario" universe's resident ghost, King Boo, who has a much more interesting design and more personality on screen.

It seems clear while playing the game that Pac-Man and Mrs. Pac-Man were the ones Nintendo really cared about while Blinky feels more like an afterthought who was thrown in there to hit a quota of three new characters from the property — especially considering he gets a lot of hate in "Pac-Man" alone.

Best: R.O.B.

One of the strangest additions to any of the "Mario Kart" rosters has to be R.O.B. Many fans might recognize this lovable robot from the "Super Smash Bros." franchise, but he wasn't initially a video game character at all. The Robotic Operating Buddy, (or R.O.B.) was originally a toy that was sold as an accessory for the NES back in 1985. Some have argued that the creation of R.O.B. saved Nintendo from the drop in sales following the video game crash of 1983 by producing toys that coincided with games as a valid sales strategy. Its appearances in games is always a fan favorite though and many have suggested that the automaton more than deserves to get its own game.

R.O.B. also made an appearance as the sole guest character in "Mario Kart DS" when it came out in 2005. It had decent stats, but it also had a really cool design where his body was the cart. The little robot had some fun animations as well. Its arms would bounce around to convey its frustrations during the race, and its upper body would spin around in celebration whenever it landed an attack. It would be great to see what Nintendo could do with R.O.B. in its next "Mario Kart" game.

Worst: Villager

There's no doubt that "Animal Crossing" has grown into one of the most beloved franchises available on Nintendo consoles following the explosive popularity of "Animal Crossing: New Horizons," so it doesn't come as a surprise that the company would want some of its characters to be represented in "Mario Kart."

Tom Nook, for instance, would have been an excellent addition to "Mario Kart 8," but that isn't the character that Nintendo chose. Instead, players got The Villager. This is the blank-slate character that the player controls in "Animal Crossing." Part of the appeal of The Villager in the "Animal Crossing" games is that the player gets to customize their appearance. It would be great if players could do this in "Mario Kart," but sadly there is just a generic male and female version for them to choose from. This is particularly boring when compared to the Mii character, which is customizable and can be imported into "Mario Kart 8."

Blank-slate characters are fine in games when they are designed to simply be a window to the rest of the game, but they tend to feel a little weak in games like "Mario Kart" where much of the value of a character comes from the personality of its design. Needless to say, players want customization here.

Best: Link

If you're going to include any Nintendo character from outside the "Mario" franchise, then Link is the obvious choice — and players are hyped. "The Legend of Zelda" franchise arguably did for RPGs what the early "Mario" games did for platformers, bringing millions of gamers into the genre. It's actually kind of strange that the series made it all the way to "Mario Kart 8" before the Hero of Hyrule made his appearance.

Not only is he one of Nintendo's most iconic properties, but Link is also a great middle-weight character that is immensely fun to play as. The voice work on display in "Mario Kart 8" feels reminiscent of the style of voice acting for Link that was established in "Twilight Princess." He has a number of entertaining animations, such as how he will occasionally raise the master sword into the air when he's victorious. "Mario Kart 8" also includes some "Legend of Zelda" themed gear to go along with the elf-eared hero. There is a motorcycle modeled to look like Link's horse Epona, and there is a glider that bears the triforce symbol. There is also a full Hyrule level that replaces the familiar gold coins with green rupees, adding to the fun.

The only question is, will they finally add Zelda in "Mario Kart 9?"