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After Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, fans wonder if it’s time for a name change

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A Mario game where you can play as Link in Animal Crossing-land doesn’t sound like Mario

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Nintendo

There’s a tweet going around that highlights the inherent weirdness of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe.

Playing as a non-Mario character, who drives a non-Mario-related kart, on a non-Mario track is a totally real possibility in this Mario-branded arcade racer. (In case you’re wondering: It’s Inkling Girl in the Blue Falcon kart about to race around Hyrule Circuit.)

This isn’t specific to Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, the Nintendo Switch revamp of what was once a Wii U game. What’s different is that the game’s non-Mario characters and tracks were sold separately as DLC on Wii U, giving them the option to keep Mario Kart 8 a purely Mario-based experience, should they want it to be.

The “Deluxe” in the Switch version of the game refers to all the added characters, karts and courses included by default. Anyone who skipped over the Wii U original will start up Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and be able to play as those classic Mario Kart characters ... Inkling Girl, Link and Isabelle.

Most players are fans of variety and diversified rosters. It’s a big reason why Super Smash Bros. has gripped all of us over the years: We like to see all of Nintendo’s characters mix it up in the same space. (One key difference: Smash Bros. has also opened its doors to characters from other companies, which Mario Kart has yet to do.) But fans are now popping the question: Should Nintendo start calling Mario Kart for what it really is?

Nintendo Kart and Super Smash Kart — the most obvious proposed new names — don’t have that same kind of ring to them as Mario Kart does. Then again, maybe Mario Kart only strikes us as catchy because we’ve been playing it for going on 25 years.

We have little faith that Nintendo would ever dare to throw away all that cachet it’s built up with the Mario Kart brand. As for broadening the racer roster, though, Mario Kart 8 director Kosuke Yabuki did say he was open to it back in 2014.

"We’re always considering ways to make the Mario Kart games more appealing, but I don’t think that just increasing the number of characters would make the game better," he told Nintendo Life of a possible Super Smash Bros.-style version of Mario Kart, ahead of the Wii U game’s launch. "Of course, I’m not ruling out the possibility of such an approach in the future though."

These guest spots from The Legend of Zelda, Animal Crossing and Splatoon characters are something everyone would be down to see more of — think of all the possibilities! — but it does leave some players wondering just how far Nintendo is willing to go with injecting the non-Mario into Mario games.