Balloon Battle is the most common battle of the Mario Kart series, as it is in every Mario Kart game to date. All racers get three balloons, and when one of the racers gets an item and hurts their enemy, their enemy will lose a balloon. When one person loses all his/her balloons, the other person wins. It was introduced in Super Mario Kart and was featured in every Mario Kart game since. In Super Mario Kart and Mario Kart 64, it was the only battle option. In Super Mario Kart, the balloons would float and rotate around the kart, but from Mario Kart 64 and onwards, the balloons hung on the back of the kart. In Mario Kart DS, you can press SELECT to inflate another balloon.
In Mario Kart DS, Shine Runners was introduced. Players can also blow on the DS microphone or hold down SELECT to make new balloons. They start with five balloons and whenever you lose one you are able to blow another (unless they are already used).
In Mario Kart Wii, there are 2 battles to choose from: Coin Runners and, as always, Balloon Battle. The Balloon Battle is now team-oriented, points-based, and lacks the "last man standing" approach it was known for and enjoyed as. What happens is you get three balloons. Every time another person on the other team loses a balloon because of an item you dropped or threw, you get a point. Every time you lose all three balloons, you are regenerated but you lose a point. The team and individual points are tracked and the battle lasts for three minutes.
In Mario Kart 7, the Balloon Battle rules remained the same from Mario Kart Wii, but with a two-minute time limit. Coin Runners also returned; marking the first time any battle mode besides Balloon Battle recurred in multiple Mario Kart games. Battles do not have to played in teams, unlike Mario Kart Wii.
In Mario Kart 8, Balloon Battle returned as the only playable battle mode for the first time since Mario Kart: Super Circuit. Battle no longer takes place in Battle Arenas, but on regular racetracks. The last man standing objective is partially brought back, however the point system is also integrated, making it possible to win even if you lose all your balloons early. Like in Mario Kart 64 and DS, you can still play after you are eliminated and now you can still attack others and earn points. The time limit returns but now can be set by the player.