So, I was playing Mario Kart 7 on the bus ride home. Effortlessly whaling on the CPU. And because I'm so awesome (I saw that eye roll) I had time to think about other things. Mario Kart 7, to me, isn't perfect. It's brilliant, and easily the best version of Mario Kart I've ever played. But there are moments where I sit there and go "hmmm". And like the self-absorbed, evil game designer I want to be, I started thinking of ways to make the game "better". I'm not saying I can make Mario Kart perfect but I do have a few ideas on how to make it feel more fresh and original.
Several Mario Karts, particularly the ones from the GBA-era onwards, have proven that you can mix n match new things into the game and still keep the formula.
Let's not throw out the formula as it stands. The general concept of "3 laps" around a track is pretty good. It's like trying to fix a wheel; if it isn't broken, don't fix it.
So, how to improve Mario Kart? Well, for starters, let's not have Mario Kart anymore. Let's start by finally expanding the series. Let's have Nintendo Kart. Or Smash kart. Or whatever your preferred name is. The point is, Mario's kinda been done to death now. Let's have something a bit different.
So what franchises could Nintendo incorporate in this new Nintendo Kart? Well, the more serious series' might not be so good for this. So that kinda takes Twilight Princess, Fire Emblem, F-Zero and Metroid out of the equation. But that doesn't actually mean you couldn't have say... Toon Link and his various cohorts. It might be a bit odd to see Toon Ganondorf playable (of all characters) but you could have playable Tetra and Linebeck! Imagine! Don't forget Skyward Sword, though the art style of that particular stage might be harder to implement.
Then you have Animal Crossing and Kirby - both of these don't have particular areas that could be necessarily divided into courses, but they do fulfill certain stage criteria we've not had for a while. The city from Animal Crossing: Let's go to the City (I think?) could easily form a new playable stage. Kirby could base his on DreamLand quite easily, maybe even going as far as having a Dedede's Castle stage to spoof Bowser's Castle from previous installments.
Pokémon, simply due to how broad the term is, might be rather difficult to fit into Mario kart poperly. I mean, there's a huge number of locations to choose from. Do you want to be driving through Victory Road for example? Or do you prefer being chased by Lugia through the Whirl Islands? Or hell, you could be driving past Professor Oak's lab in Pallet Town!
Star Fox is an interesting one. Due to the way the series works (as in, it's a shoot-em-up in space) it's difficult to pick a particular location that would stand out. I think we can all agree that Dinosaur Planet, whilst interesting, might not be the best place for a race. On the flip-side the alternatives are desert-planet Titania, Macbeth with it's train (calimari desert anyone?) and of course Corneria. It's difficult to properly think how this would work but I'm positive it could.
Mother presents an odd challenge too. It's a massive RPG series with a vast array of locations you could potentially use to create racetracks on.
Pikmin is actually one of my favourite series' and could have tons of potential for Micro Machines based shenanigans.
If we're serious about this, then I guess I'm gonna have to make some kind of list.
Mario Circuit (Mario series)
Impact Site (Pikmin series)
Green Greens (Kirby series)
Pallet Town + Route 1 (Pokemon Series)
Animal City (Animal Crossing)
Eldin Volcano (Zelda series)
Airship Fortress (Mario series)
King Dedede's Castle (Kirby series)
Hole of Beasts (Pikmin series)
Fourside (Mother series)
Jungle Japes (Donkey Kong)
Asteroid Belt (Star Fox Series)
Pokemon League (Pokemon Series)
Temple of the Ocean King (Zelda series)
Bowser's Castle (Mario series)
Milky Way (Kirby series)
I just made up Milky Way as an alternative to Rainbow Road. Anyway, I'll write more when I'm not tired.