Super Mario Kart is the best non-serious racing game for Super Nintendo! Rich colors, fun gameplay, fantastic music, items that can be used to get to the checkered flag ahead of everyone and two players can play simultaneous either in the circuit or battle mode. You start by selecting from eight racers. There’s Mario, Luigi, Toad, Bowser, Koopa, Donkey Kong Jr, Yoshi and the Princess. Each racer has variations to their weight, speed and acceleration. Toad and Koopa are pretty quick, while Bowser and Donkey Kong Jr handle better at the cost of slow acceleration.
Then pick your difficulty and one of three circuits to race on. Each circuit has five detailed racetracks from start to finish! These tracks are all bright and beautiful with their own flair. You’ll find a lot of variety between the track themes. You’ve got the standard Mario track racing around grey pavement in a green field. The ghost houses have ghosts everywhere, Bowser’s castle has thromps to come down and crush you! There are mud pits to slow you down, unless you picked Bowser or Donkey Kong Jr and icy roads that make you slide all over the place. These tracks are all a lot of fun.
To make things interesting if not balanced for unskilled players, you can pick up items along the way. When you run over question mark blocks, you’ll get a random item. Things like mushrooms that give you a huge boost of speed, stars that make you temporarily invincible, and green shells that you fire at the other racers! Red shells are the most dangerous, because they’ll seek out other players. There is even a feather that will let you high jump and cross gaps to make shortcuts for yourself. When a racer gets hit by a shell or run over a banana peel, the racer will spin out and lose two coins.
The coins are speed modifiers. The more coins you have, the faster you’ll go. Its also your health, because when you run out of coins you’ll spin out even when you get bumped into by other racers. Coins are pretty easy to pick up throughout each course but once they’re gone, they’re gone.
Skilled players can time their jumps to leap over shells so its a nice system. If your kid brother is always behind and uses shells, you better be good enough to jump them or he’ll take the lead! The game is two player simultaneous, which might not sound like much by today’s standards, but it was awesome being able to play with a friend in split screen mode. In fact the game was really designed with split screen in mind. Even playing single player, the lower half of the screen is the map where you’ll see all the racers in position. I would have preferred to have full screen, but then that might be too much for the Super Nintendo to bare or people would get it confused for F-Zero.
There’s also a battle mode for more than one player that equips each cart with three balloons. Every hit that you take pops a balloon. When you’re out of balloons, you’ve lost and its time to play again. These tracks aren’t as diverse as those in the standard circuit mode, but the selection still makes for a lot of action. There’s even a track that resembles the old Dodgem game for the Atari 2600.
Once you get through the first three circuits, you can unlock a new circuit with cool racetracks like Star Road. There are other difficulties to unlock and even at the hardest difficulty its still a pretty easy, fun game that anyone can play. The controls are simple, pick up and play. You’ve got a button to accelerate, one to brake. You can use the L and R buttons to not only jump, but make sharper turns. Like the brake, its there, but I never seem to use it that much.
After each race, the game takes your place and gives you points that go into your total for the circuit. Its a step over F-Zero that forced you to come in the top three and didn’t really care about your overall score so much as it cared about your time. If you manage to come in lower than fourth place, you’ll need to retry the track with limited continues.
The music and sound effects are really enjoyable and enhance the experience a lot. Some of the songs stand out as being not only some of the best on the system, but the best in video game history. The music keeps a fast pace and quirky feel to them. They evoke a sort of silly whimsical fun to them that adds to the charm of the game. Just like F-Zero there’s some good cool down music between the races to get your pulse down.
The only downfall is that the game is quite dated, because it is for SNES and Game Boy Advance’s Super Mario Kart Super Circuit has this entire game as an unlockable content. Super Mario Kart is still an amazing classic that is still fun to this day like most games from Nintendo of this era.