Ahhh, the game that started a new series of an already-existing one. I mean side-games btw. Super Mario Kart was released and it became one of the better SNES games for its interesting take on a racer (but I think we all know it was popular because Mario was involved). It was also using the Mode 7 tech which gave the game a lot more to work with.
It’s not bad that the first game of the series only had 8 characters: Mario, Luigi, Bowser, Toad, Yoshi, Donkey Kong Jr., Peach (though going by Princess Toadstool) and the oddest one IMO was Koopa Troopa. They were all split off into 4 sub-groups, Mario & Luigi being the beginner, average characters, Yoshi & Peach were more of the ones with better acceleration that the Mario Bros. Toad and Koopa were super light and DK and Boweser were the heavyweights.
Also the CPU in this game couldn’t use items themselves which is odd >.> and gave a couple unique items instead. Mario/Luigi had invincibility for a short time like the Star power. Peach and Toad had mushrooms that turned your (or any kart that ran into it) into miniature versions and can be squashed XD. Koopa laid green shells or shot them depending on placement and DK with bananas. Bowser and Yoshi though had unique items though…Bowser had fireballs which he laid or shot forward and they go in a small circle round the area it was placed. Yoshi’s egg was stationary but both items spun you out…which by the way…
Let’s talk about the items. Like any kart racer out, they share a lot of the same type of items. I mean Mushroom for extra speed, banana peels and green shells act as traps (the latter moving). Red shells homed in on the opponent in front of you (if you have any) and the Star made you temporarily invincible. There were three other interesting items though. The Boo makes you go invisible and possibly steal your opponents item (SWEET). The lightning bolt shrinks everyone BUT the user and the forgotten feather just makes your kart hop super high (AKA making shortcuts happen).
Of course coins also come into play as well since the more you have the better you are. If you have none at the moment any kart that comes in contact will spin you out so be careful with that!
I find it interesting as SMK is the only game from the series to have 4 cups with 5 tracks in each of them…kind of odd nowadays when compared to multiple releases after this. As far as locales go this also has the weakest assortment IMO since there’s some recycled areas (ok every locale has at least two tracks representing it except for Rainbow Road). Also, sharing with MK: Super Circuit, all of the tracks are FLAT but this was just because it was limited to be honest, so the creativity in the tracks isn’t as great as later releases show (and most of the tracks were given new facelifts in the later games too). I will say, the Special Cup tracks were the best of the bunch.
Simple, it’s a racer and you have to win. Though I will say every Mario Kart has a different feel to it and this one is honestly the easiest one to get into because there’s no true importance to it. I mean you still drift but not in the way it was implemented in 64 and up. The game does have a little problem with its A.I. called rubberbanding. Kind of means that the harder the cc is, the more obvious it is. What that is is if you’re too far ahead the CPU will ungodly chase your ass down and prevent you from winning (unless you’re good at this game and used to it).
Graphics / Sound
Graphics: So as I said earlier, it’s under Mode 7 which is a rather unique mode of graphics which induced a 3d-like scene…but in 2D….A couple other games used this (like the other Nintendo racer F-Zero). I have to say, it worked well for sure and it worked. There was a way that if you won a time trial without hitting walls or falling off…you could swing the camera around the kart….it was awesome at the time! Otherwise, there wasn’t too much to gawk at besides the bright colors. Characters looked stiff and didn’t do much in their kart…hmmph weird.
Sound: Sound though was a plus here IMO. I mean I can remember the exact way the Mario Circuit theme went and most of the characters winning themes (the only one the had character-specific win themes actually). The tracks songs are great and all of them are actually memorable in its own way.
Other Things To Do
Well…let’s be honest there’s not a lot to do in this game…just 4 things….
- Cup Races: Like I said split into 4 cups each having 5 tracks isn’t going to last long but you can race them in 50cc, 100cc, 150cc. Meaning the higher the cc the harder it gets (it’s a well known sentiment in the series),
- Time Trials: Get your best time here! There’s even times where you can race a ghost of yourself which is pretty cool and makes you want to defeat yourself in the race.
- VS. Races: Actually this could’ve been put above time trials…but essentially 2P races. Though I think you could also do singularly too…?
- Battle Mode: Though if you have a second person with you, you’re more than likely to find yourself here where you can battle your friend. It’s essentially pop ur friend’s three balloons before he/she does and vice versa. Having only four choices though of battle courses kind of suck…but the Ice one and Beach one is the best!
As it is the first of a happy series (especially for Nintendo’s sales) SMK was such a smart move for them to be honest and really blew the kart racer genre out. I mean it brought out another GREAT one but that’s a different review for later. The original Mario Kart might not be as held on a high pedestal as before but it’s still a pretty fun game. I will say that the flat tracks is probably one of the reasons (same problems goes with Super Circuit but that one is the least popular). Nostalgic game for sure ^_^