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Finally, someone used Pareto’s economic theories to find the best Mario Kart 8 racer

Who hasn’t spent sleepless nights pondering what would happen if we applied Vilfredo Pareto’s (the early 20th-century Italian economist) theories to Mario, the Mushroom Kingdom’s Italian high-jump champion and part-time elephant cosplayer? Data scientist Antoine Mayerowitz, PhD, tackled that age-old question, and the resulting work provides an objective way to tell us the best Mario Kart 8 racer combinations. Hint: It sure as hell ain’t Koopa Troopa.

When you break down the build options (including driver stats and various vehicle details) in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, there are over 700,000 possible combinations. Yikes. But once you eliminate duplicates that differ only in appearance, you can narrow it down to “only” 25,704 possibilities. How do you narrow it down to find the best racer from there? Enter Mr. Pareto.

Pareto’s theories, most notably the Pareto front, help us navigate the complexities of choice. They can pinpoint the solutions with the most balanced strengths and the fewest trade-offs. Pareto’s work is about efficiency and effectiveness. Now we’re talking.

Mario in his Tanooki (racoon-like) suit, jumping in the air and sticking his ass out above his striped off-roader.Mario in his Tanooki (racoon-like) suit, jumping in the air and sticking his ass out above his striped off-roader.

Nintendo

When choosing a Mario Kart racer, you have to consider their stats for speed, acceleration, handling, weight, offroad and mini turbo. That’s a lot to weigh.

Even if you decide that speed and acceleration are the most important, you’re still left with imbalances. For example, it’s tempting to go all in on speed (like Bowser or Wario), but they have weak acceleration. However, if you prioritize acceleration instead (such as Baby Mario or Dry Bones), you may be left with quick surges that plateau at a lousy top speed.

Meanwhile, some racers are always dominated in the most important stats — meaning their balance of speed and acceleration consistently comes out behind. Koopa is one example of that, so don’t pick him if you care about winning. (But you can absolutely choose him because he has cute bug eyes and a snazzy shell.)

Mario racing on a neon track in Mario Kart.Mario racing on a neon track in Mario Kart.

Nintendo

Mayerowitz’s Pareto front analysis lets you narrow your possibilities down to the 14 most efficient. And it turns out the game’s top players were onto something: One of the combinations with the most ideal balance of speed, acceleration and mini-turbo is Cat Peach driving the Teddy Buggy, roller tires and cloud glider — one already favored among Mario Kart 8 competitors.

Of course, if that combination isn’t your cup of tea, there are others that allow you to stay within the Pareto front’s optimal range. As Eurogamer points out, Donkey Kong, Wario (my old standby, mostly because he makes me laugh) and Princess Peach are often highlighted as drivers, and you can use Mayerowitz’s data fields to find the best matching vehicles. Keep in mind that others have identical stats, so racers like Villager (female), Inkling Girl and Diddy Kong are separated only by appearances.

To find your ideal racer, you can head over to Mayerowitz’s website. There, you can enter your most prized stats and view the combos that give you the best balance (those highlighted in yellow), according to Pareto’s theories.

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