Of all the crazy ideas for brand deals out there, a real-life Mario Kart seems like a no-brainer. But for some reason, Nintendo hasn't been too speedy on making it happen. There is one of those child-sized, battery-powered toy cars that has the official Nintendo seal of approval. And Nintendo's theme park in Universal is allegedly going to have a Mario Kart ride. But what is there for adult Nintendo fans who can't wait for whole a theme park to be built? Apparently there's MariCar, the Tokyo-based kart rental service that has absolutely nothing to do with Nintendo.
Despite not being associated with Nintendo in any way, MariCar sells go-kart tours through downtown Tokyo in vehicles that are heavily inspired by the gaming giant's hit racing game series. Problems started, however, when MariCar drifted a little too close to Nintendo's lane.
It turned out that MariCar actually rented Mario-themed costumes to riders. Videos of costumed drivers in MariCars took the internet by storm, with titles such as "real-life Mario Kart." That, and several accidents attributed to go-kart tours, gave Nintendo a case of road rage. Nintendo sued MariCar and won, according to SoraNews.
MariCar was forced to pay a fine as well as stop renting out Mario-themed costumes. Faced with an opportunity to rebrand, MariCar decided to focus on a simple message: We totally have nothing to do with Nintendo.
All of MariCar's go-karts have recently been decorated with the phrase "Unrelated to Nintendo" in both Japanese and English. The message appears on the cars around 15 times, visible from every conceivable angle.
If that wasn't enough, MariCar has added a diverse selection of costumes to the mix. Since Nintendo wouldn't approve of Mario and Yoshi costumes, MariCar now offers costumes from popular children's anime Doraemon, Disney, Minions, and other copyrighted brands it probably has no right to offer.
It seems that MariCar hasn't learned its lesson, and probably won't anytime soon. Then again, why would it want to leave its customer-given status of "real-life Mario Kart" in the dust? The MariCar website even still includes references to Mario Kart, such as a warning to "not throw banana peels” when driving. Nintendo might have won the legal battle, but until it gets a good alternative out there, it can't stop MariCar from turning a profit.