Mario Kart Super Circuit
Reviewed by MaxH
I didn't want to give it a ten before I played it. I
looked at all the reviews and said' It's all hype!'
while stroking my non existent beard. But you see,
the thing is, occasionally (Make that VERY
occasionally) a game will entirely live up to it's
hype. The unfortunately named Mario Kart: Super
Circuit is one of those games. For those who have
been searching for the ULTIMATE Mario Kart experience
their whole lives (Haven't you got anything better to
do?) they have finally found what they are looking
for. You could even say it's the second coming of....
No, hold back Max, hold back.
For those of who who have been sitting in a cave for
the last few years, raving about the technological
achievements of Pong, I shall explain for you. Mario
Kart is a kart racing game. It pits eight Nintendo
characters against each other in a three lap race on
a relatively short and cutesy Nintendo track. It
doesn't sound special I know, but you must experience
it to believe it. Mario Kart invented the karting
genre, and it's sequels have constantly raised the
bar for lazy developers. And I can happily say that
this is the best incarnation yet.
Super Mario Kart was a way of life on the SNES, and
the 64-bit sequel didn't quite live up to it. It was
a brilliant game in it's own right, but it didn't
have the handling or the battle mode to compete
properly. Also, winning was quite often a case of
good luck and good weapons (Some of the people who
beat me are a testament to this. And no, I'm not just
a bad loser). Because the brilliant handling is at
least a third of the reasons why you should own this
game. Unlike quickly cobbled together licensed
rip-offs, the handling isn't about luck. It's all
about learning to time EVERY SINGLE button press just
right and using your weapons tactfully. The
satisfaction in Mario Kart comes in the reward of
practicing. Not necessarily a tangible shiny award,
but the pleasure in gaining experience and becoming
more skilled. In Mario Kart, the best player will win.
Controls are simple and easy to pick up. Button A
will power the kart forward, B acts as the breaks,
and the D-pad will control your direction. Those are
the basics, but if you want to know this game then
you're going to have to make friends with the
shoulder buttons too. The left shoulder button will
fire any of the weapons you might have happened to
pick up. The right shoulder button will perform the
powerslide. This is one of the most important moves
in the game, without it, you'll be forever bumping
into walls, or worse, surrounding lava or water. It's
not a simple case of randomly jabbing at the R
button, you have to learn how to master it.
Especially tight corners will need an early and
prolonged holding of R, while tapping the shoulder
button will shave milliseconds of your time when
faced with the easier, more sweeping corners.
The perfect handling is also helped by a well
balanced set of weapons. The power of the red shell
and the pathetic banana have become well-established
facts with most people over the past few games. But
even the shamefully pitiful banana can bring on the
biggest wave of gloat-inducing happiness when used
correctly and timed well. In fact, just all of the
weapons here can be used for last minuted
place-climbing or sweet sweet revenge. Like
everything else in the game, the weapons aren't there
for the sake of it. Everything in Mario Kart, such as
this, is geared towards having a good time and being
easily accessible, while still remaining a gamer's game.
Now onto the second third of why you should buy this
game. The track design. Easily the best tracks in a
karting game ever, these manage to include bits for
you to practice (and show off) all your skills, but
they also give plenty of chances for any racer to
win. While lesser racers are content with a confusing
string of set pieces that makes navigating the track
wholly unfair, Mario Kart delights with it's quietly
thrilling genius track design. If you fall to last
place, there's hardly ever a chance that you can't
get back to first. The decent dealing of weapons
helps this, but that brilliant handling also helps.
If you find you always lag behind in the Grand Prix
Races then play them again and again. Because instead
of remaining stinky, you will find that the distance between you
and the rest will get shorter and shorter. Because the more you race,
the more you get to grips with the controls, the more
you know the controls inside out and the better you'll do.
So by keeping the tracks fun to navigate to newer
players, while making them tough enough for hardened
ones, Nintendo manages to keep everyone ecstatic.
Practice does indeed make perfect. There's nary a
gaming experience more satisfying than racing a
perfect three laps on Mario Kart. It's scarily well
balanced and there's also lots to do and unlock. As
well as 5 cups of new tracks, each containing four
tracks (One cup locked at the beginning) there's also
all the old SNES tracks to unlock! They aren't quite
as impressive as the new ones, but they're still
clever and solid, and make for a good teary eyed trip
down memory lane for people like me. There's also a
time trial mode, and a mode where you can have a
quick run on any track. And it all comes in three
different difficulties! (Well, speeds technically,
but they get more difficult anyway).
The last, and most prominent, third of the reason to
buy Mario Kart is the multiplayer. Despite early
warning signs from goldeneye on the N64, nothing
comes close to four player Mario Kart. Racing against
your friends as your favourite characters (You have
to have one, it's the rules) is unbeatable in terms
of sheer hilarity. Those of you with male friends
like me will hear constant arguing on who's better at
powersliding. While girl gamers will be content with
'not smashing into that wall again!'. No offence to
girl gamers as a whole, the one i play with just
aren't very good.
And that's just the normal racing, bring in the
weapons, and that's when the fun begins. Gameboys
will be thrown across the room, punches will fly, and
swearing will fill the air. Fantastic stuff. You will
learn to build a love/hate relationship with the
thunderbolt (A weapon which shrinks your opponent,
therefore slowing them down and making them
vulnerable to flattening). Hating it, and your friend
when it is used, but relishing the moment when you
possess it. But really practicing hard reaps the real
rewards in multiplayer. Generic computer characters
who shout 'Oh no!' when they lose, are no match for
breathing human opponents who scream 'No that's not
fair, you must have cheated!'.
And that's just half of the life-sucking multiplayer.
The battle mode is, as MK veterans will know, a whole
other game. The rules couldn't be simpler, four
players are placed in a relatively compact arena,
each has three balloons (or hit points) get hit three
times and you're out. Racing is all well and good,
but THIS is what gets the competitive juices flowing.
Turning yourself invincible just as you are about to
be hit by a red shell, and then going and killing
your attacker. Take a moment to absorb that sentence,
for it is most definitely on the 'top ten best things
about games' list. Goldeneye who?
As well as playing perfectly it looks the part too.
The character sprites are exactly the same as the
ones found in the N64 version, rather than the ugly
SNES sprites. The characters all move smoothly and
are animated exactly as you'd expect. The tracks are
also mesmerisingly beautiful. While not quite as
expansive and epic as the N64 tracks, they are
nowhere near as dull looking as the SNES ones. They
incorporate a lot of colour and detail and
(Especially) charm into the tracks, while keeping a
stylish simplistic look.
The track details are mind-blowing. Scenery such as
the presents on the gorgeous Ribbon Road or the
mountains of cheese in Cheese Land is almost enough
to distract you from the race. And the colors, my goodness
are they primary. And so bright. This is so good to
look at, that it almost seems to impress as much as
the current next gen games do. On the GBA, it doesn't
get better looking than this.
The sound is Nintendo through and through. Sound
effects are cartoony but snappy and strangely
realistic at the same time. While the music remains
cut, hauntingly catchy and packed full of references
to past Nintendo tunes. The voices are all authentic,
my only problem is that they've replaced Yoshi's cool
noise (Which sounded a bit like a vacuum cleaner
turning off) with the horribly sickly speech from
Yoshi's Story. Once again Peach proves to be the MOST
ANNOYING VIDEO GAME CHARACTER EVER. Besides
constantly trying to nudge me her voice remains as
shrill and loathsome as ever. But if this wasn't so,
then I'd scream bloody murder. Not being able to hate
Peach would take a considerable amount of fun away
from any game containing her.
Will this game last you a long time? I have no doubt
that you'll be playing it months after you get it.
Even after you've unlocked everything, you can always
do better on your times. And you'll want to because
playing the game is an immensely joyous experience,
and make no mistake. And if you have a constant
supply of Mario Karting friends, then don't expect to
ever be rid of it. This one's a keeper.
Despite not wanting to fall for the hype, it didn't
take me long to love Mario Kart like it was my own.
It's all made to give gamers a good time, and that's
exactly what it does. As a racing package, it's just
about impossible to find fault. An out and out
classic, and the best kart racing there is to be had.
If you haven't been persuaded yet, come out of your
pong-loving cave and give it a go.
Peach is dead!
+ Sublime handling
+ Genius track design
+ Easy to pick up, satisfying to master
+ Always fair, always fun
+ Unspeakably brilliant multiplayer
+ Full of nods to past nintendo games, in sound and graphics.
+ Very challenging
+ It doesn't get old
+ Lots to unlock
+ Looks dazzling
+ Those voices
Wait, she was just sleeping.
- Those voices
- You don't like the previous Mario Karts? Expect to hate this.
- If you don't plan to multiplay, then you'll get considerably less
out of the game.
- I'm assuming Nintendo were on their 'power up' mushrooms when
they named this one.
If you like this....
Super Mario Kart- SNES: The game that started it all,
and you're only chance to play as Koopa Troopa!
Mario Kart 64- N64: Impressive and enjoyable karter, with a
couple of letdowns.
Konami Krazy Racers- GBA: It seems unnecessary with
Mario Kart ruling the handheld now, but this is still
a solid, fun karter.
Overall: 10 out of 10