A real-life Mario Kart has been banned in Japan as a judge upholds a ruling by Nintendo against MariCar.

17:30, 10 Jan 2021

Our racing dreams have been shattered as a judge has upheld a ruling against a real-life Mario Kart-inspired game that was formerly a staple of Japan's streets. While we wait for the upcoming opening of Super Nintendo World and its (legal) Mario Kart ride, MariCar offered up a slice of the motor mayhem for those who visited Tokyo.

In 2020, a judge ordered MariCar to pay $50 million yen ($483,000/£256,000) for violating Nintendo's intellectual property rights. Although MariCar (now known as Street Kart) appealed, the Supreme Court has dismissed the case.

The case goes back to 2017 when Nintendo sued MariCar. Although there are other companies that offer a similar experience, MariCar caught the attention of Nintendo because it allowed drivers to dress up as Mario, Luigi, Peach, and the rest of the Mario Kart characters. Alongside IP complaints, Nintendo was worried its own reputation would be damaged after MariCar was involved in a number of accidents. 


Why was real-life Mario Kart banned?

According to Endgadget, MariCar was originally ordered to pay 10 million yen, however, things escalated when the company started slapping "unrelated to Nintendo" stickers on its carts. In the aftermath, the judge threw out the appeal and upped Nintendo's claim to 50 million. On its official site, Street Kart has updated its welcome message to read, "Street Kart is in no way a reflection of Nintendo, the game 'Mario Kart'.(We do not provide rental of costumes of Mario Series.) Street Kart is a very exciting once in a lifetime experience tour you can enjoy in the streets of Japan".


Street Kart is still going for now, but is now described as a "Real Life SuperHero Go-Karting". Things look like they're going from bad to worse after Street Kart's own Crowdfunding campaign failed miserably and raised just 1% of its intended target. This hasn't been helped by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and dwindling visitor numbers. 

Unfortunately, this might be the end of the track for Street Kart. It's hardly the Rainbow Road the company was presumably hoping for. There are reports that locals were annoyed by go-karts clogging up their streets, while the Nintendo case could be the final nail in the coffin. Nintendo is known for clamping down on unofficial properties after it recently axed the fan-favourite Super Smash Bros. Melee online event.


Nintendo has come under fire for its various cases, which seem to be growing on a daily basis. Despite Street Kart rebranding as a generic superhero racer, it's clear the Nintendo case is going to cost the company dearly. Nintendo is adamant on controlling all aspects of its IP, which has already been seen with the official unveiling of Mario Kart: Koopa's Challenge next month. Although an on-rails AR ride isn't quite the same as racing the streets of Tokyo while dressed as Bowser, it might be the best you're going to get for now. 



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