Super Mario Kart – what can I say about it that you won’t all have heard a million times?
I cant even build anticipation by trying to hold my opinion back until the end and starting this review by talking facts and figures. So let’s just start by saying I love this game and work from there.
Mario Kart was developed by Nintendo EAD it came out in 1992 in the US and Japan and 1993 in Europe. It went on to sell nine million copies worldwide. This figure in the end made it the third best selling SNES game overall. If you add this on to all of the sales it has made digitally with its release on both the Wii and Wii U Virtual Consoles then you start to realise what a golden egg laying goose this game has been for Nintendo.
Nowadays everyone knows what Mario Kart is and the announcement of a new version is met with an onslaught of happiness, sales jumps for the platform it’s coming to and a media frenzy. It wasn’t always quite like this as far as I can remember though. When people first got wind of the original Mario Kart the responses were more on the lines of what the heck is Nintendo doing? Sure Mario had been used for tiny cameos in Nintendo sports related titles and such but a babyish looking car racing game, ‘What were they thinking?’ was the sort of question I remember being asked by other kids at school. There was a genuine belief by some that Nintendo had lost the plot. Yet not one kid could manage to keep this opinion after they had played it. A lot of the guys at school did that thing guys at school always seemed to do when presented with something that proved there initial opinion wrong, they denied ever having said a bad word, they claimed that they had been Nintendo’s biggest supporter all along and knew that Mario Kart would be an all time classic from its inception.
Super Mario Kart received positive reviews across the board no one seemed to have a negative word to say about it. Apart from Sega that is, who tried to use it in their adverts to show Nintendo to be some kind of slow, old-fashioned baby toy compared to their sleek, fire-breathing Mega Drive (the advert were Mario Kart is running on the side of an old caravan. This now seems crazy because Mario Kart is not a slow game).
Mario Kart is often credited with creating the cart racing genre. More than this though it was the game that gave people a sense of confidence that Nintendo could achieve anything they tried after the first Mario Kart game. If Nintendo had told you they were making Mario’s Bungee Jump Massacre you would just nod and go: “They know what they are doing.”
For those of you who haven’t played the original Mario Kart, the young and hermits, I will quickly talk a little about the game itself. In Super Mario Kart the player takes control of one of eight Mario characters, each with different qualities – high top speed, good acceleration, great handling. All of them are basically equal but lend themselves to certain play-styles. In the single player mode players can race against computer controlled characters in multi-race tournaments trying to win the gold, silver or bronze cups. There are power-ups found on the track, you pick up flashing boxes which then give you one of several power-ups – a red shell which acts like a heat seeking missile, a banana skin which causes anyone who drives over it to skid out, etc. The screen is always split in two with one half showing you racing and the other showing a map. The graphics are not necessarily amazing for the time, they are however colourful and full of character. This is not just some carting game with Mario and co thrown in it, you actually feel like you’re driving through the Mario game lands and this is one of the game’s greatest advantages. The music is brilliant, you can hear noises related to your driving – the car engine, the tyres skidding – but they are always nice little background touches never interfering with the great music that plays.
I just cant fault this game. The SNES version is still brilliant. I wasn’t going to review this game so early on but recently I brought my third copy of this game. I got a Japanese cart for £5 loose and ever since the day I got it I have put it in to my machine and had 20 minutes on it every single day. Some games age badly but this is still brilliant and I feel sure I could put this in the slot 20 years down the line and still feel the need to play it, for this reason I can not help but give it 10 out of 10.
If you want Mario Kart the news is good in that It is still available on both the Wii U and Wii Virtual Consoles and is well worth the cash. With a bit of effort you should be able to get a PAL cart of this for about £17 or a boxed copy for around £40. It’s super popular but it sold by the shed load so there’s no shortage of copies.
BONUS CONTENT: Super Mario Kart R
Having played Mario Kart to death both on the SNES and all of the other future systems it has appeared on I realised there had been a few Mario Kart mods over the years but one of them in particular kept appearing on eBay and other selling sites actually on cartridge. The mod/game in question is called Mario Kart R. With this learned I got myself a ROM file of it and put it on my Super Everdrive. Now normally I have not reviewed games on the SNES which I don’t own officially licensed copies of but seeing as this was a ROM hack I thought what the heck. Overall I enjoyed playing it and I would say that if you are a fan of the original and would like to play a little more of something like that then give it a bash. Here is my YouTube video review for your viewing pleasure.