But this system can be destroyed completely if players start working together. With voice chat enabled, you could see players forming pacts to help each other rank up.
One player could hang back, getting good items and slowing up the competition while their partner in crime speeds off ahead - a perfect rank-boosting tactic. But with no voice chat, these pacts - between strangers at least - will thankfully be impossible.
Nintendo has included the ability to play split-screen online so you won't fully stop teaming up happening, but if Nintendo knows what it's doing it'll only allow those players to join unranked races. Or else there'll be trouble.
There's a limit to how much Mario Kart you can hammer in one session. After an hour or so, enthusiasm starts to fade. First, the losing person begins to accept they're rubbish, which erases the competitiveness. Then, the apathy rubs off on to the other players, and within two tracks you've packed up and moved on.
Sloth-like players, in our book, are the ones who continue to play and win even though they're having no fun. Would we actually want to listening to their monotone drones of non-excitement? No, and that's another reason why no voice in Mario Kart is a good thing. It's bad enough that the internet has given every nine year old a soapbox to stand on, but let's try and keep Mario Kart as pure as possible.
Of course, the other end of the spectrum is when someone cares too much. Shouts and screams are fine when playing against friends, but we're not too sure the 'banter' in the office at lunchtime would be taken as friendly if we heard it coming from random strangers online.
The F-word will be used. It's a fact. With a well-placed banana, a well-timed lightning strike or just a last-minute blue shell, Mario Kart is a game that would have the Queen swearing like Cartman with Tourette Syndrome.
There are those who vent their rage down the microphone, throwing out insults and verbally abusing everyone who manages to beat them (don't look at us). Hear someone explode once or twice and you'll laugh. But get lambasted for fifteen minutes and the fun would soon stop. Maybe Nintendo's been playing Halo 3 and thought better of including voice chat?
Even without voice chat, we're expecting to feel some repercussions of our obvious Mario Kart greatness when we play online. They'll always be the odd person who takes things to heart, does a 180' on the starting line of the next race and spends the track just hunting us down.
People are very protective over their perceived greatness of Mario Kart, especially when they encounter someone who is actually better than them. We've seen racers completely neglect the other players and the race itself, just to ensure their nemesis doesn't beat them.
Which is all good fun when it's a competitive friend, but anonymous envy online is a little more insidious. Voice would only increase the barrage of sarcastic comments towards one individual to personal and abusive levels. Like Halo.
We'd prefer envious players to direct their feelings at our little kart on their own screen and not directly at us. The idea of a stranger's voice pouring bile out of our speakers directed straight at us would be like having a disembodied stalker right in our living room.
And lastly, the main sin of Mario Kart. Getting good at Mario Kart brings on a sense of pride. Being the best in a room full of competitors tends to bring out the worst in people. And if it's not us, we really don't want to hear about it.
When you're playing offline or with friends, you know exactly how far the smack talk can go. Online and with strangers though, there's no boundaries. A tirade of snide, sarcastic comments is sure enough to drive you straight from the game. At least without voice-chat, you can't hear them over-gloating. Or they can't hear you...