On May 30Mario Kart 8 will hit stores in North America, opening the doors for a new generation of gamers to fall in love with one of racing's iconic franchises. Over the years, the Mario Kart series has given us all plenty of happy moments. Flower and Star Cups were won, and close friends and enemies were defeated, all while controlling our favorite heroes and villains from the Mushroom Kingdom

Indeed, since Super Mario Kart's release in 1992, racing games have been completely different, and from early trailers and previews, Mario Kart 8 figures to be a title with the exact same impact as its most notable predecessors. 

But what exactly defines Mario Kart? What makes it so great? In 15 handy GIFs, we break down the essence of the series, distilling it with a handful of unforgettable and beloved snapshots. 

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