If you’ve ever played Mario Kart and said “This would be super fun in real life, and even better in a Mario/Luigi/Bowser/Princess Peach costume,” then the good news is that someone in Japan made your dream a reality. The bad news: They didn’t get permission from Nintendo.
If not for the copyright problems, a trip to MariCar sounds pretty fun. Starting at ¥8,000 per person, or about $71, you get a two-hour guided tour driving around Tokyo on public roads. No, we’re serious, you can dress as Mushroom Kingdom characters and drive a Go-Kart. They don’t pick up gold coins along the way by driving through them, but the tour looks pretty fun otherwise.
In a statement to the New York Times, the company behind the karts explained that it had checked with legal experts and also told Nintendo about its plans. The legal experts allegedly said that there was no problem with using Nintendo’s characters in this way.
“We cannot even imagine how much it would cost in a court dispute against the world-famous company,” the operator said in the statement. “We are afraid that our business will be hugely influenced.” Yes. Yes, that would be a problem.
Nintendo does have plans to bring its characters out into the real world by opening small areas in Universal Studios theme parks in Japan and in the United States that feature characters from the Mario Brothers franchise. The company just doesn’t want the characters tearing around Tokyo. Without giving Nintendo money.