Max takes the new Mario Kart for a spin and finds it to be everything the original was and more. Read his red shell ramblings here!
I got my hands on Mario Kart Super Circuit the other day and although I only got to play for a short period, got to tryout much of the game. From what I played, I am very much impressed, very much in love with Mario Kart all over again.
The game overall feels and looks like the SNES original, though with similar visual enhancements, style and attention to detail seen in Mario Kart 64. Other improvements taken from the N64 version, such as the improved power-ups, detailed landscapes with mobile 3D obstacles (like say, penguins, crabs or cannonballs being fired at you) or the enjoyable inclusion of voice so you can cheer when you hear your opponents wail after getting slammed with a red shell.
Speaking of red shells, there are several improvements in the execution of this coveted kart power up. When red shells are fired, they do a better job of rounding corners and actually tracking down your opponent, opposed to running into walls as the track curves. Red shells can also be dropped behind your kart, and will sit there stationary, but will zoom after your opponents to attack as they come closer to it. There is also the trio of red/green shells, the spiked shell the invincibility/glow/music-inducing star, the mushroom & the lightning bolt, which all work the same as ever, albeit a little visually enhanced. For example, using the mushroom (or achieving the boost start) sets off a big cloud of dust. On the haunted track, using the lightning bolt caused a bolt of lighting to crack in the distance and then across the night sky as everyone else shrunk; just some of many of those “little things” Nintendo packs into its software time & again.
Coins have returned, and I suddenly realized how much I missed them in MK64. The more coins you get, the faster you go. Without coins, any collision will send you flying, so it’s important to pick them up for that alone. Coins also figure into a grade that you get for each track. How/if you place, whether or not you have to continue and other factors help determine your overall grade. While I was able to go thru 50cc & 100cc races without too much trouble, I received final grades of “D” and “E.” If you want to unlock any of those ever so sweet classic tracks, you’ll have to get top marks. I suspect few will complain putting in the time to master these tracks however; I know I wouldn’t.
The track design is really lovely. Many of the similar themes/obstacles from older games are included, but some new stuff is here too. Some of the tracks could almost be mistaken for Super Mario Kart tracks; there are even similar shortcuts.
I also really love the music. While somewhat similar, it’s an all-new soundtrack and quite varied. You can pick up a bit without headphones, but for true enjoyment/appreciation, definitely hook-up the headset. It also greatly improves the voices in the game. Although some of the phrases are repeated across characters (“Here we GO!”), there’s overall good variety and good quality too, even indicating distance at times. I especially like Toad’s Mario Party cry “YoHooooo!” as he zooms into the lead… To my personal disappointment, Wario also sounds a bit more like he did in Mario Party opposed to his maniacal MK64/Mario Golf laugh, but he still does sound pretty evil… Luigi and Peach might sound a bit alike too, but here again, half of ‘em say the same thing.
Multiplayer off of one cartridge is limited, but certainly improved over F-Zero’s. The four tracks are good ones. I found Yoshi to slide out a little more than he used to, but he’s still all around a good contender. The true action is in playing with everyone having a copy of the game. Seeing how this is Mario Kart, most GBA gamers should be picking it up. I’m hoping to do so soon, so I can rematch with the pal who thwomped me on all 4 tracks...
A quick rundown on the other characters I played: Luigi does indeed rock, Mario is just about the same; Toad is still one of the better contenders; Peach is indeed speedy but gets bumped around/looses coins EASILY—and the big ‘uns seem to go right for her; Wario doesn’t seem to kick as much ass as he did in SMK64. (Remember these are brief impressions!) True to Mario Kart form (especially SUPER Mario Kart form) the AI is tricky and downright dirty at times. With power-ups, good reflexes and coin collection, you can prevail. Your opponents are not to be underestimated but the challenge they present makes it all the more satisfying when you can knock them outta the lead.
I don't own the game…yet! I wish I did though, and am yearning and saving for my next round on the Super Circuit. This game is a fantastic addition to the Mario Kart series. The best part is its handheld and provides the potential experience long have hoped for: 4 player matches with each person having their own screen. If you can pick this up, do so immediately. Tons of games have spun off of Mario Kart—this is the original and it’s back better than ever.
One more thing I can say about this game: at various points I found myself laughing out loud while playing it, for different reasons too. It’s just that entertaining & fun.