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Nintendo and Mario had already changed the video game industry with Super Mario Bros for the Nintendo in 1985 and they would do it again with Super Mario Kart in 1992. Released for the Super Nintendo, the game would create a whole new genre for video games with competitors copying the formula like crazy in the following years. Today, Mario Kart is still going strong with a new release every couple of years. How does the original Super Mario Kart hold up today? Rainbow road starts here, so let’s avoid the edges and finish first in this Super Mario Kart review!
Super Mario Kart Plot:
You won’t find a story here, just good ole’ fashion racing against your buddies.
Super Mario Kart Gameplay:
Nintendo is the king of finding new formulas that work for video games. Super Mario Kart would become a household name combining popular characters from the Mario Universe and sticking them on go-karts zooming around tracks throwing banana peels and red shells at each other. A simple concept that would become the staple of many weekends for friends that continues today. My wife in particular wanted to be included in the playthrough for my Super Mario Kart review.
In Super Mario Kart you’re able to select from eight racers, each of them having different driving abilities. Mario and Luigi are the standard racers, good at handling, acceleration, and top speed but masters of nothing. Whenever I play Mario Kart I always pick Mario, I know, not exciting but I’ve found that it suits me. If you’re playing against them, they’ll try and block your path. Bowser and Donkey Kong are slow at accelerating but get them up to speed and they drive faster than the rest. When you race against them they’ll be throwing banana peels and fireballs at you. Princess Peach and Yoshi accelerate quick and when you’re behind them they’ll leave poisonous mushrooms and eggs in your path. Finally, you can race as Toad or Koopa Trooper who excel at handling and drop poison mushrooms and green shells on the track when racing them.
You can see already that Super Mario Kart has a great cast of characters, and I feel like eight racers is a decent number on the Super Nintendo. When you race you’ll be able to select from four different cups. Mushroom, Flower, Star, and Special Cup make up the circuits you can try your hand at but you can only race the Special Cup unless you beat the first three circuits on 100 CC. Speaking of racing classes you’ll be able to race on 50 CC (easy) 100 CC (normal) 150 CC (hard). You have to really suck to lose any race on 50 CC. I completed my Super Mario Kart review on 100 CC.
Each course will have question mark boxes that you can run over to gain a weapon. This is where Super Mario Kart gets real good. You don’t have to be a great racer to win, Super Mario Kart is about luck too. Weapons include green and red shells. Green ones are thrown in a straight line while the red ones track the racer in front of you. Banana peels can be left behind to spin out opponents, feathers will make you jump over obstacles and racers, coins speed you up, mushrooms give you a short speed burst, stars make you invincible and a lightning bolt will shrink racers slowing them down. Super Mario Kart has the “rubber band” effect which means the worse off you are in the race, the better weapons you’ll get to help you catch up to first place.
It’s not just weapons from other racers you have to avoid but each course will have obstacles. You can expect ice blocks, jumping moles, oil spills, flopping fish and green pipes scattered around while you zoom around on the track. There’s a significant skill increase when racing on 50 CC to 100 CC. I can lap opponents on 50 CC but when 100 CC comes around I struggle to place. I didn’t spend a lot of time practicing for the Super Mario Kart review and I’m sure with enough time I’d be able to crush opponents as my wife does. After all, every other Mario Kart game I’m almost unbeatable when it comes to my circle of friends, but for some reason, I really struggle with the original. I think the handling is too sensitive for my taste. Don’t even get me started on the original rainbow road.
There are a few other modes you can play including a time trial, one-on-one race but the only one worth your time is the battle mode. You and another opponent will have three balloons attached to your driver. The courses aren’t race tracks, instead, they are arenas filled with question boxes to pick up weapons. Shoot your opponent three times and you win. Simple as that, but lots of fun.
I don’t have too many memories of Super Mario Kart. I never had a SNES growing up so my time with the game came after college. My wife and I spent a night playing it where she kicked my ass up and down the courses on 100 CC. At 50 CC I was able to actually beat her in a cup, but when the skill ramped up she beat me. She had it as a kid and would play it with her brother so she had the advantage. It’s the only video game she’s able to beat me at and I could tell she was loving every moment of it.
Super Mario Kart Review Score:
Super Mario Kart should get all the credit for starting the kart racing genre. I think it’s a little rough around the edges with the skill level and annoying music. The cast of eight racers gives a great variety of choices and there’s a decent amount of courses to race on. Battle mode is an important inclusion for people that aren’t racing experts. Super Mario Kart was a solid start in the genre but other Mario Kart games would certainly outshine the original.
Super Mario Kart scores a 7.9 out of 10.
What would you write for your Super Mario Kart review? What did you think of Super Mario Kart when it first came out? Who is your favorite racer to use? Have you mastered Rainbow Road? Do you prefer battle mode or cup mode? Let me know your thoughts and memories of Super Mario Kart, I’d love to read them!
If you’d like to own a copy of Super Mario Kart, you can purchase a preowned copy on eBay for the SNES for $15-$20.