This lovely image represents the entirety of the final roster in Mario Kart 8.
There's a lot of excitement surrounding the upcoming release of each game in the series, and there's a lot of hope that Nintendo has riding on the success of the upcoming racer after disappointing sales for its Wii U console thus far. That said, there's nothing stopping gamers from anticipating the arrival of the new karting title.
Fans are always intrigued to learn what racers and stages await them in the latest iteration of Mario Kart. The entirety of Mario Kart 8's roster and tracks have been unveiled, and some gamers were disappointed by the lack of fan-favorite options. A number of key mascots are missing from the 30-character roster, and while the Koopa Kids make for nice additions, other racers like Baby Rosalina and Pink Gold Peach seem more pointless than preferable.
It's because of this that we decided to create a list of 10 characters that should be playable in Mario Kart 8. While we know these drivers won't ship with the game later this May, perhaps they could arrive in the future as DLC. Keeping that in mind, here we-a-go!
Debut: Super Mario Bros. 3 (1988)
One of the most bone-chilling baddies (in the most literal sense of the word) from the Super Mario series, Dry Bones has proven that it's capable of racing with the best of them. The light weight of the character, not to mention its legitimately cool appearance, makes it a solid option for players looking to speed past the competition.
Add in the fact that Dry Bones hasn't appeared as a playable character since Mario Kart Wii, and there's no doubt that it would be a welcomed addition to the Mario Kart 8 roster.
Debut: Super Mario Bros. 2 (1988)
The dinosaur-thing is easily one of the more recognizable characters not featured on the Mario Kart 8 roster. Often seeing socializing with Yoshi, it's baffling that the character failed to make the cut this time around.
While she's only appeared as a playable option in two games thus far, many thought that there wasn't much chance of her missing out on some kart-based madness once again — especially since Shy Guy (another character that debuted in Super Mario Bros. 2) will be making his console debut.
Debut: Super Mario Sunshine (2002)
Easily the most surprising absence from the Mario Kart 8 roster, Bowser Jr. was thought to be guaranteed a spot at the starting line. As we've now learned, Bowser's heir to the throne won't be making a playable appearance in any form whatsoever, effectively leaving many fans high and dry.
Considering that Bowser Jr. is one of the more significant characters currently in Mario games, he'll be first in line if DLC is planned for the title. That said, he should have been in from the beginning.
Debut: Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest (1995)
Recently appearing in Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, the chimp with a head full of flutter-inducing hair is as relevant as she's ever been before. Keeping with that momentum, Dixie Kong would be a wonderful addition to the Mario Kart 8 roster. Since the Donkey Kong series is tragically underrepresented in the latest iteration, Dixie could help even out the monkey to Koopa ratio in a much needed way.
Besides, if Funky Kong can make the cut in the Wii version, then there's really no reason Dixie can't go for a spin.
Debut: Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island (1995)
Kamek has a rather odd past with the Mario Kart series, and it's left him as one of the most desired characters for quite some time. Originally planned to debut as a playable racer in Mario Kart 64, the character was instead replaced by Donkey Kong in the final version with no explanation.
We're far from upset that D.K. has become a staple of the franchise in the years proceeding, but there'd be something magical (pun intended) about the prospect of bombing through some high definition tracks as Kamek.
Debut: Luigi's Mansion (2001)
While the king of Koopas is present and accounted for, King Boo is sadly nowhere to be found. After having a prominent role in Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon on the 3DS and a pair of appearances as a playable racer in past installments, many thought he'd be a solid contender for a spot in Mario Kart 8.
We now know that's not the case, but having the regal spectre return as a driver would be a great way to bring representation to the longstanding breed of Boo baddies in the series. Just be sure not to look him in the eye.
Debut: Donkey Kong Country (1994)
Another character that many thought would be a shoe-in for Mario Kart 8, Diddy Kong apparently won't be swinging into the action alongside his buddy D.K.. In fact, there are no other representatives from the Donkey Kong franchise in Mario Kart 8 aside from the tie-wearing ape himself — something that many would agree is far from a good thing.
Taking a look at the 30 character roster, there are only a handful of karters that should take priority over the iconic chimp and the fact that he isn't in on the high-speed action this time around is truly baffling.
Debut: Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga (2003)
Originating from the Mario & Luigi series, Fawful is a reoccurring baddie in that particular RPG franchise who's amassed a cult following since his debut. Often speaking in mismatched English, the character has been a highly requested participant for both Mario Kart and even Super Smash Bros..
While he hasn't made the cut for any roster outside of M&L yet, he'd easily make one of the more interesting additions as a playable racer in Mario Kart 8. Make it happen, Nintendo.
Debut: Luigi's Mansion (2001)
No stranger to both Mario or Luigi, Professor E. Gadd is personally responsible for building recognizable items like F.L.U.D.D. from Super Mario Sunshine and the Poltergust from Luigi's Mansion. Traditionally, the scientist prefers to let others get their hands dirty, but the allure of testing out new karts may be enough to drag the lab rat from his dungeon and onto the starting line.
There's no question that E. Gadd deserves to be playable, and the sooner he joins Mario Kart the better.
Debut: Super Mario Bros. 2 (1988)
Alright, we'll admit that this character is a long shot, but what better way to bring the character back to relevancy then to reintroduce him in Mario Kart. Derived from the same game as Birdo and Shy Guy, Wart hasn't been seen since his debut in Super Mario Bros. 2. While Bowser was quick to retake the mantle as the lead baddie, the fact that Wart continues to resurface as a suggestion amongst fans is a true testament to the lasting impact the boss has had on gamers.
We think it's about time that the King of Koopas got some competition.
There are a number of racers that would make for great additions to the Mario Kart franchise, but there are far better representatives to have than metallic or baby versions of pre-existing participants. That said, narrowing down which characters should make the cut is hard given just how many there are in the Super Mario and Donkey Kong franchises.
Keeping that in mind, which characters would you like to see that weren't featured in our list? Which character were you most surprised didn't make the cut in Mario Kart 8?
Mario Kart 8 will be rolling onto store shelves and the eShop on May 30, exclusively for the Nintendo Wii U.
Follow Riley on Twitter @TheRileyLittle.