Blue shells be damned, Mario Kart is still influential after all these years.
One of the most amazing things the Super NES ever did was be the home of some of the most beloved and original franchises ever seen in gaming. If not, it reinvigorated classic series into super stardom. Super Mario Kart is a funny example of both mentalities at play. It took the classic and familiar Mario franchise and placed it into a new genre of gaming: the kart racer. The game was so successful it gave Mario an indisputable presence in the sports genre and created a very respected and influential game series.
Super Mario Kart starts out as a basic racer, with the main objective being racing around the track, trying to cross the finish line first. It's here where the beauty of the game lies. Each character, made up of protagonists, villains, and supporting characters of the Mushroom Kingdom, is a different class of racer: light, medium, and heavy. This affects the speed and performance of the karts as light characters have slower speeds but control better, while heavy characters are quite fast but harder to control. This game mechanic offered a very clever feeling of depth as players would often master a character and taking advantage of their skills.
On top of this, weapons were introduced to the race genre, effectively turning Super Mario Kart into a battle racer. The weapons would become a significant part in the Mario Kart experience. The results of a race often depended on how the racers use their weapon. Even a racer in last place can turn things around and be the winning player by the end of the last lap. This concept has been both celebrated and heavily criticized as players have often created strategies that some either deem as brilliant or too underhanded, but it all plays a role in the enjoyment of the title.
Finally, and easily one of the elements that have made Super Mario Kart into a classic, there are the multiplayer modes. Standard racing was offered, but it was the battle mode that defined the game for a lot of players. Being just as competitive as the normal races, battle mode would become tied to the franchise thanks to how beautifully implemented it was to Super Mario Kart. Each battle map was host to a frantic series of matches where everything players had learned on the racing tracks was applied to battle.
And that's why Super Mario Kart is one of the best Super NES games ever created. It created a new genre of gaming many have tried to imitate, but have yet to come close to the polish and ingenuity Nintendo's efforts yielded. This fall, the series will see its seventh iteration for the 3DS. Each new game has tweaked, upgraded, dropped, and added new ideas and features to the classic formula to the point where each game has their own sets of fans and naysayers. But for a lot of people, the classic and original Super Mario Kart still remains the best. Regardless of how outdated some of its concepts may seem, it has proudly passed the test of time, making it a Super NES title that is iconic, definitive of its genre and one that should always be remembered and celebrated.