By Gemma ~ @Juicy Game Reviews
Back in the 90s most of my friends used laugh at me because of my obsession with Super Mario Kart on the Super Nintendo. You may ask “Why?” as there is no denying the ingenuity of Super Nintendo’s best racing game.
Super Mario Kart was released in Japan on August 27th 1992 and later in 1993 to Western gamers and it was a first of a kind type of release. Never before had we seen a go-kart racing game, jam packed full of Nintendo characters that oozed with fast paced, furious fun. Super Mario Kart is not only a game but it’s become an institution that spread across the globe. I notice people of all ages wearing Mario Kart t-shirts at expos, which symbolises the lasting effect, and love of the series. Before I explore the importance of the first ever Mario Kart game let’s also take a moment to appreciate the box art of Super Mario Kart. The PAL version comes in two wrap colours of baby blue (the initial release colour) and red (The Nintendo Classics release). I was captivated by the box art. The game looked like it was going to be so much fun to play. Mario, Luigi, Donkey Kong, Peach, Toad, Koopa, Bowser and Yoshi are all crammed in with crazy expressions plastered across their faces. Banana skins, coins, question mark blocks and a red shell also appear. I would go as far to say that Mario Kart on the Super Nintendo has some of the best box art of the time.
Super Mario Kart has three initial difficulty settings to race. We all know them to be 50cc, 100cc and the 150cc categories. Let’s not forgot the four Tournaments/cups that we have to race through: Mushroom, Flower, Star and Special (an unlockable cup). In simple terms the goal is to top the overall rankings in all three kart categories and each character has a rival which will always be the one to beat in the chosen cup. I always chose Yoshi (in fact I still do) so my rival was/is Koopa. Super Mario Kart wears this formula very well. The menus are incredibly easy to navigate, player selection is as basic as ever and there are no long, drawn out cut scenes to affect starting the game. In fact, there is no story at all! For me, the lack of story is one of Super Mario Kart’s strongest assets. If I want to play Super Mario Kart on my Snes, I can be racing around within a few minutes of blowing the cartridge and popping it in. In stark contrast, I’ve often found later Mario Kart games to over complicate what I loved about the original. Mario Kart Wii U has far too customizing options for my taste. I would have liked to see more originality in the tracks.
During races, Super Mario Kart packs a real punch. Nintendo did a great job at making the gameplay fast and fun, partly because of the awesome range of power ups that are activated by running over the Question Mark blocks. I always prayed for a red shell but would end up with a banana. Oh the disappointments over seeing the banana skin populate the box! I’m sure you can relate to this?
Super Mario Kart has an awesome battle mode that has not been matched in the succeeding games. Balloon Battle is my personal favourite. Racing around an arena using unleashing skills of agility and great timing are crucial to bursting our opponent’s balloons. It’s a three strikes and you’re out setup. The only downside to the Balloon Battle is the lack of arenas. There are four in total. Nonetheless, the Balloon Battle provides a welcome break to the main races.
I’ve always considered Longevity to be an important part of Retro Gaming. How many times can you go back to a game and still enjoy it? I play games like Ghouls and Ghosts (which is a great game) but it lacks Longevity because it’s far too difficult. I cannot lose myself in it because I’m re-starting levels constantly. Super Mario Kart has a ton of gaming glue. It sticks, it’s immersive, it’s cooperative and it is timeless. Timeless, because it was the catalyst for a legacy of Mario Kart games to follow. Timeless, because I can still lose myself in the myriad of tracks. Timeless because I never get bored of playing it.
Super Mario Kart on the Snes is legendary. In all fairness I’m struggling to think of any low points to the game. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
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