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Mario Kart 8 has 703,560 customisation possibilities, but which racer is statistically best?

Everyone has their favourite Mario Kart character to play as, but is there really a best option? A choice which will actually give you an edge to beat your rivals – to go just a little bit faster, or recover that little bit quicker?

Well, yes – some characters are mathmatically better than others. This is even true when you factor in the many different kart pieces – bodies, wheels and gliders – which you can mix and match to tweak your overall racer stat. So how do you pick?

According to a fasincating and beautifully put together piece of research by data scientist Antoine Mayerowitz, there are 703,560 different build options to choose from when you cater to all the different characters and kart pieces. But many of these are carbon copies of each other – so you can quickly whittle that down to just 25,704 distinct statistical options.

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Mario Kart 8 Deluxe’s Booster Courses, available on Nintendo Switch.Watch on YouTube

From there, it’s process of narrowing down the best for different playstyles, which can alternatively favour speed or acceleration. Helpfully, 19th century French polymath Vilfredo Pareto has a clever solution to do just that, and Mayerowitz used it to plot the best outcomes.

The fastest characters by speed stat are Bowser and Wario, but these are hampered by their acceleration. The perfect character in the middle of Pareto’s max utility curve is… Cat Peach (although you could substitute her for the equivalent Villager (female), Inkling Girl or Diddy Kong.

You have options, then, for who is best. But there are still some characters who are just always overshadowed (and yes, Koopa Trooper, that includes you). Using the Pareto front method – which finds the optimal solution for a multi-objective optimisation problem – Mayerowitz plotted 585 distinct builds with unique speed and acceleration properties, then whittled those down to just 14 ‘most efficient’ front candidates.

From 703,560 down to 14? That’s not a bad start. And from there, you can use X’s 3D tool to explore your options further (after a bit of fiddling, Donkey Kong, Wario and Peach get highlighted a lot).

So who is best? The analysis concludes with a popular build used by pro players: Peach, the Teddy Buggy, Roller tyres and the Cloud Glider. It is on the Pareto front for optimised speed, acceleration and your mini turbo boost. That may well be it.

But do you want to play as Peach? Maybe, maybe not. I’ve always erred towards playing smaller, speeder characters – and my main will always be Toad.

It’s fascinating research, even if the margins are small – and well worth playing around with, to investigate some of its modelling. But will it stop you playing as Koopa?

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