After hours of playing the almost finished version yesterday, Billy gives the complete low down of Mario Kart Super Circuit. Is it worth the wait? You bet your red shell!
After getting to play just one measly track at Spaceworld, albeit Multiplayer, Mario Kart Advance/Mario Kart Super Circuit is one of my most anticipated Game Boy Advance titles. To a lot of Nintendophiles out there, Mario Kart is an institution. Sure, one player Mario Kart is great to learn the courses and hone your skills. But, multiplayer is really where Mario Kart has its replayability. After getting a chance to play an almost finished version of Mario Kart Super Circuit yesterday, I’d say the game is still on!
Mario Kart Super Circuit’s controls are still as easy as ever. The D-pad controls steering, A – gas, B – break, L – controls powerups, and R- controls hopping and powerslides. Since there’s no analog stick, there’s no left right stick sliding like the N64. There is a power start again, but I had a hard time figuring out how to do it. Our Team Nintendo representative Kelly Powell didn’t know how to do it either, and the manual hadn’t been finished yet. But it’s there. I would say that the racers control fairly well. Slides were a little tricky to get used to, but I’m sure there’s going to be a slight learning curve for most on this game. Though I would call myself a Mario Kart veteran, even Mario Kart 64 took some time to adjust to the slides. What worked best for me with Mario Kart Super Circuit was to initiate the slide, and then pump the gas. As the rest of the series, each of the racers have their different attributes and control. I’m usually a Toad man myself, but I found him (er, it?) a little too slippery for me. I’ve been racing with Yoshi and Peach and having a much higher success rate.
The sound that I could hear was alright. It was your typical Mario Kart Style fan fare. I would have sound for you to listen to, but no audio or video was allowed to be recorded. From what I heard though, I liked. I’ll have plenty of mp3’s for you to download once I get the import version. The in-game music seemed to be your usual remixes of different Mario-type songs in different flavors. The characters racing have their usual one liners, but they don’t seem to get annoying like they did in Mario Kart 64. Very cute, very “bubble gummy” type Mario-esqe sounds and music pretty much sums it up. If you like the previous on Mario Kart 64, you’ll be satisfied.
Graphically, Mario Kart Super Circuit is extremely impressive. I thought Konami Krazy Racers was a Mode 7 lovers dream, but Nintendo has even improved upon that with MKSC. All the characters are animated fairly well, and the environments are very vivid and colorful. The landscapes rotate around with moving interactive elements like Bob-omb pirate ships launching bombs, or volcanoes spewing lava rocks onto the courses. One of the things that gave me goose bumps was Boo Lake, where there were little boos holding candles on the sides of the tracks to light the way. Another course that was extremely impressive was Luigi’s Circuit, where there was rain. When your racer was stopped the rain falls straight down, but when racing the rain goes towards the camera. You’ll have a hard time believing that this is done on a handheld system. Frame rate on the one player version stays at a very steady pace, but when we entered multiplayer there was some serious slow down, particularly when we were racing. If there was any disappointment with this title it would have to be here. We were racing 3 player – 100cc, and all of us had cartridges. Right after the green light flashed it seemed like we were playing a 25cc level. It was really that slow. It is playable, but inexcusable. Granted, this wasn’t a completely final version of the game, but Nintendo better fix this or there’s going to be some disgruntled Mario Kart fans out there.
When it all comes down to it though…it is Mario Kart. I know I will play one-player for a long time. I blew through the 50cc courses with ease, but around the second 100cc course that I raced I was getting my butt kicked because I was still new to the courses. I’m SO happy the coins are back. There are also plenty of insane short cuts, which can either help you…or dump you to the end of the game. I’m also excited about the addition of the ranking setup. My first cup garnered a “B” ranking which I was told was very good, but I placed first in all the races. When I played the 100cc cup, I got an “E” for a grade, probably because I placed 3rd twice, and didn’t get the greatest of times. The ranking is not forgiving in the least, but it will add some quality replayablity to the one player version.
The tracks are also very well designed. There are a lot of obstacles to slow you down, almost to the point where there may be too many. But then again, I am a rookie with MKSC. One course in particular made me literally laugh out loud. There’s a track called Sunset Wilds where there are tee-pees that you can run into where these Shy-Guys wearing feathers hop on your back and ride with you. There are zip strips everywhere here, and it just made me fall over laughing. I think it’s something you need to see to appreciate. Very weird, but very Nintendo.
Multiplayer is where Mario Kart has its longevity, and due to the frame rate issue I was sorely disappointed. It is playable, and trust me, we still raced and battled it out. The racing, even with the slow down was still very good. Laughing, cheering, smack talking and even a few profanities were heard coming from our table (No Nintendo, Kelly really has a Dial soap clean mouth! Really!) as we played. The setup is quick and painless and very easy to do. I received a lot of e-mails after confirming that the one-cart setup only allows Yoshi’s to be raced, but don’t fret. Yoshi seems to be one of the most balanced racers out there, so if you don’t like it…get some more carts (which I would do anyway).
The battle mode was just as fun as the racing. I liked the original on the SNES better than the Mario Kart 64 version, and this brings back the original flavor. To me, it’s just a glorified version of the Atari 2600 game Combat. It’s fine by me! The bomb concept makes life a lot crazier. My buddy Ben would lose his balloons rather quickly (rookie), but he was having fun just chasing us down and ruining our battle. The battle mode is just as frantic as it ever was, but fortunately Nintendo simplified the courses from its Mario Kart 64 predecessor, and brought back the SNES love. The best part here was that there was no slow down at all. I also wish there were more battle areas than just 5, but overall…it’s a screaming good time.
I think veterans are going to be very content with this game. It ain’t easy folks…which I think is good. Yes, the AI still cheats, so make sure you’re packin’ plenty of red shells to take out racers at the finish line. From what I’ve been told, the multiplayer slow down in the final version should be fixed. I would have to say that’s my only gripe about this game. Multiplayer is one of the main reasons people buy Mario Kart. But whether it’s single-player or multiplayer, Mario Kart Super Circuit is at the core, Mario Kart. It looks like Nintendo took the best things from both Mario Kart on the SNES, and Mario Kart 64 and blended them together with some additions and created this game. I’ve said earlier that I thought Konami Krazy Racers was a possible Kart killer. I would say it’s more like a small appetizer for Mario Kart. Konami may have upped the ante, but can’t get anywhere near the fun that is Mario Kart Super Circuit. I’m honestly counting the days until I get my import copy.