Review by horror_spooky

"Mini Kart"

Game Boy Advance offered Nintendo the first viable option of releasing a Mario Kart on a handheld device. Modeled mostly after Super Mario Kart, the first game in the series, Mario Kart: Super Circuit reminds us why this quirky racer is king of the genre on all Nintendo systems.

Mario Kart: Super Circuit is a nearly flawless translation of the franchise from the TV screen to handhelds. It even has better visuals than its SNES predecessor, which is impressive for the GBA. The graphics are still very sprite-like and there's a lot of jagged edges, but Nintendo makes you forget about all that with its vibrant colors and fantastic designs.

There's not a whole lot of tracks here, but what is here is great and memorable. The tracks are designed very well and altered to work better on a handheld device. Super Circuit features all the typical Mario Kart mechanics and they work well with these tracks. There's a lot of sharp turns that will make the drifting feature come in handy, for example.

I was annoyed with some of the tracks, mainly the ones that are designed to screw you unless you know all their secrets before hand. This is mostly common with the "special tracks" that are unlocked after completing all the other cups. These tracks feature heinous traps and tricks that can make you go from being in first place with a great lead to being in dead last. Mario Kart has a history of screwing players over just for the hell of it (blue shell, anyone?), and Mario Kart: Super Circuit accomplishes this with some of the irritatingly tricky track design.

But the majority of the tracks are great, just as the majority of Mario Kart: Super Circuit is great. The roster is somewhat small compared to other games in the series, but it hits all the right notes and all the necessary characters are here. Let's face it, the later Mario Kart games feature a lot of padding just to brag about the number of racers available, whereas Super Circuit only features the best of the best, from Mario to Bowser to Donkey Kong, all the series juggernauts are front and center as they should be.

Another issue with the game is that the controls can be kind of awkward. The trigger buttons are used for drifting and deploying items, but this can result in having to hold the system awkwardly at times. It is uncomfortable, but it is the best possible control scheme for the game.

Besides the standard cup races, there's also a Time Trial mode, though I found myself mainly sticking with the standard cup race for the most fun. Back in the day, players were also able to link two Game Boy Advance systems together with a connecting cable to play some multiplayer Mario Kart, but of course, this required two systems and two copies of the game. Unfortunately, other versions of the game, such as the 3DS Ambassador version, lack such multiplayer functionality.

Mario Kart: Super Circuit is yet another notch in the Mario Kart belt that Nintendo can brag about. At the end of the day, the most important thing about a game is whether or not it is fun to play, and I can say with extreme confidence that Mario Kart: Super Circuit is an immense joy, incredibly impressive, and it sets the standard of how racing games can work on a handheld.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 07/30/13

Game Release: Mario Kart: Super Circuit (3DS Ambassador Program) (US, 12/16/11)

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