Review by BimmyandJimmy
"I still prefer F-Zero, but this game is still great"
There have been many racing games that helped shaped the genre into what it has developed into today, especially in the golden age back in the early 90's with games such as F-Zero or the Sega Genesis classic Road Rash. One specific game in particular was Super Mario Kart. Not only was it labeled as one of the most original and creative racing games of its day, or even by today's standards, but also served as the foundation of showing that even racing games, when done properly, could in-fact spawn lucrative franchises.
You know as much as I do that this game was incredible back then, but what about now?
Like many SNES racers at this time, Super Mario Kart uses mode seven graphics, the 3-D mapping system designed for the SNES. Once again, like many racing games which used this program before, all on-tack visuals look relatively flat. Then again it's a game released in 1992 so I'm willing to forgive it a little.
Despite the flat looking visuals, the game still looks great. Each of the tracks present are filled with a wide variety of color and shadowing, and populated with many of you favorite Nintendo enemies, each completely updated and polished from previous games. Granted, while all this color might scare off many newer gamers today, what with their somewhat limited color pallet that they're so use to, for retro gamers, this mix of colors was what made games like this great. The same can be said for the actual controllable character sprites as well, creating a wide variety of look, feel and goofy personality for the overall game.
Audio wise, Super Mario Kart has once again, succeeded nicely. Musically, the game is a mixture of both original, atmospheric songs and older Mario songs from the past games, rearranged to fit with the overall personality and mood of the game. Combine that with the original, arcade style sound effects and you've got one hell of a classic video game composition that will leave you begging for more.
Super Mario Kart is a game filled with fast paced action, more items that you might know what to do with, and an entire all-star cast of you're favorite Mario characters. That being said however, the character selection in this game is actually quite pitiful.
My main gripe I have about the character selection is that most of the racers are useless. Unless losing is your overall plan, picking one of the three lighter, faster racers is your only sure way to win in this game. To put it this way, why would I want to play as Luigi, my favorite Mario character, when I can play as a Koopa Troopa, you standard enemy from any given Mario game? Ya, cause I really want to play as someone who tries to kill me. They might as well called the game SUPER CHOOSE THE FASTEST KART'. The only way that they could have made each and every single character balanced was if they let each character control their own special weapons in a balanced formula, such is in the later games.
As for everything else, it's limited, but engaging overall. In single player, you only get to race in the Grand Prix, or race yourself in the time trial mode. Not great, but more modes that F-Zero at least. Speaking of F-Zero, Super Mario Kart does have three difficulties all conveniently named 50cc, 100cc and 150cc. Again, not great but they serve a purpose.
So, after you choose you mode and one of the three good characters to choose from, you get to choose your track, and wow, there are a lot of them. Each track has their own personality or challenge to them and they just add to the games overall quality. Unfortunately, the creators recycled some of these personalities and created similar tracks out of them. No mater what cup you play in, you will always race on a track that looks like one from the previous cup. It's lazy, but it works.
As for the actual racing, surprisingly, it's spot on. The controls are simple to get used to, the many items that you can use range from being monstrously powerful to quite useless, and the overall presentation of in game controls and design are quite adequate, even if some of the tracks feel empty. The real major problem that I have with the racing is that the other racers can ruthlessly push you to the side if they hit you. There is nothing worse than almost finishing the race in first, getting pushed OFF the track and end up last, forcing you to restart the race all over again.
The two-player game is the best part, and why not, most games usually should have a great multiplayer option. In two-player mode, you can either race each other in the two player Grand Prix or have a big brawl in the battle mode. The racing is just the same as the single player mode, so it's nothing really special. As for the battle mode, despite its lack of tracks, it's still a really satisfying experience. Each track has their own unique elements to them and they add a lot of variety to the overall two-player mode.
Still, despite all the cool little things in Super Mario Kart, there isn't much to do after you beat it either than to just play the two player mode. I would only recommend only picking up this game if you are a true Mario Kart nerd who some how doesn't own this game to begin with, or just dieing to experience what its really like, but either than that, its best to stick to the newer games.
So, it appears from this review that this game isn't what its use to be, and I can accept that. Despite its lack of variety and recycled tracks, it's still a satisfying experience and it did lead to a franchise that has made millions. So, while this might not be as good as the other Mario Kart games, it's still the first one and it always will be the first one.
Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 06/24/08, Updated 01/11/13
Game Release: Super Mario Kart (US, 09/30/92)
Got Your Own Opinion?
You can submit your own review for this game using our Review Submission Form.