Thursday 12 November 2015

Super Mario Kart (SNES review)

Developer: Nintendo EAD
Publisher: Nintendo
Released: 1992

Super Mario Kart is a racing game and the inaugural title in the long-running series.

The 1-2 player GP mode features four cups and three difficulty settings. There's also eight characters to choose from (Mario, Peach, Bowser, Koopa, Luigi, Yoshi, DK Jr. and Toad) and each has their own strength and weakness which encourages you to test out your preferred racing style. Lots of familiar items are included such as Red Shells and Banana Skins but one unique power-up is the Feather which lets you jump over gaps (great for shortcuts!). The track design is outstanding and includes races on Koopa Beach with its lush scenery, Ghost Valley with its lack of outside barriers and Bowser's Castle with Thwomps lining up to block your path. Some themes are reused throughout the cups but the courses are varied enough to not feel repetitious. The controls are amazing with power slides being performed with L and R; if you're used to more modern Mario Kart games it might take a while to adjust to the cornering as it requires more skill and precision. Part of this is that the tracks aren't as wide as in the sequels so memorisation and mastering the controls is key. My only minor complaint is that you can't turn the map off as it takes up one half of the entire screen. The multiplayer Battle mode takes place in square-shaped arenas and the objective is to hit your opponent with items to burst their three balloons. It's really enjoyable and addictive as you forget about racing and end up stalking each other while looking for an opening to strike! There's no slowdown and although the draw distance isn't the best the action is smooth. The Mode-7 graphics and music are also of high quality throughout.

Super Mario Kart is a ground-breaking title that kick-started the entire genre and it's a credit to the developers that it still plays fantastically well today. Whether you're racing alone or with a friend it has everything you could ask for with great course design, innovative controls and irresistible gameplay.

Random trivia: If you win a Grand Prix in the Japanese version the characters celebrate by drinking champagne. This went against Nintendo of America's policy on alcohol so in the Western versions of the game the characters simply toss bottles in the air and catch them!

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