Super Mario Kart - Virtual Console Review

Super Mario Kart - Virtual Console Review
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Challenging and Addictive Kart Racing - Super Mario Kart Review

Most Nintendo console owners have fond memories of some iteration of Mario Kart. There are Wii owners who enjoy the more streamlined Mario Kart Wii. Others consider the varied Mario Kart DS the best game in the series. And there are those who have fond memories of Mario Kart 64. Where it all began, though, was on the Super Nintendo. In 1992, Super Mario Kart put kart-racing games on the map and provided an addictive racing experience unlike any other.

Super Mario Kart Gameplay (4 out of 5)

This is the game that started it all.

Super Mario Kart introduced ideas that would be used in future installments in the series, but it really feels like a completely different game from its followers. What separates Super Mario Kart from later games in the series is its approach. Yes, this is a kart-racing game with speed boosts, power-ups, and characters from throughout the Mario universe; but it isn’t as streamlined as the more modern games, and its difficulty is a lot less forgiving.

You race around the game’s tracks, completing five laps to finish a race, and as you play, you have to really keep an eye on the opposition. It’s not uncommon for your opponents to sneak up from behind you and beat you to the finish line. You can use weapons to aid you in your race, but don’t expect them to completely incapacitate the other karts. In other words, if you want to win, you’re going to have to try hard.

The track design in Super Mario Kart is extraordinary. Each of the game’s 20 courses consists of tight turns, persistent roadblocks, and constant obstacles. All that and you have to deal with seven other rabid racers trying to beat you to first place! It can become a bit frustrating having to retry multiple times to win in the more complex tracks, but this is all a part of what Super Mario Kart brings to the table. Some gamers might throw their controllers out of annoyance, while others will keep at it and improve their skills.

Super Mario Kart features all of the modes that have become customary for the series. You can play through the Grand Prix, which here consists of five tracks per cup. You can set records in the game’s Time Trial mode. Or you can race and battle against a friend. Super Mario Kart has all the ingredients for an addictive, long-lasting kart racer.

Graphics and Sound (4 out of 5)

Super Mario Kart features a colorful cast of racers from throughout the Mario universe.

Super Mario Kart, like all of the games in the series, is a bright, colorful, cheery-looking racing game. Everything drips with charm, and as you race through the game’s courses, you get that Mario universe vibe. Whether you’re speeding through tracks full of trees and greenery in the background or cutting other racers off in Bowser Castle, there’s no denying that this game has that recognizable Mario look.

The game’s soundtrack is also solid. You hear a variety of quirky themes as you race, and they all go nicely with their respective locales. Don’t expect any wacky catchphrases in this Mario Kart game, though. Mario and company didn’t start shouting nonsensical lines until Mario Kart 64.

Lasting Value (4 out of 5)

Koopa Troopa is considered by many to be the best character in the game due to his overall balanced style and handling.

While it doesn’t include the vast majority of stages that modern entries such as Mario Kart DS and Mario Kart Wii do, there’s still a lot of value in this package. Be prepared for a big challenge as you try to succeed in the game’s higher difficulties. Getting that gold cup is a lot harder to do after you’ve gotten through the 50cc Grand Prix. And of course, there’s plenty of game for players who want to get together and race with a friend. But most of Super Mario Kart’s lasting value comes from its sheer addictiveness. Even after you’ve won the gold, it’s hard to put the controller down.

Super Mario Kart Review - Overall Score (4 out of 5)

Super Mario Kart is a lot more challenging than later games in the series, but it’s awesome nonetheless.

Super Mario Kart is a very different game from the rest of the Mario Kart series. That said, it’s an excellent kart racer that hardcore gamers should have in their collection. If you’ve never played it before and you’re wondering how it stacks up compared to the rest of the series, all you have to know is that this a must-download title on the Virtual Console and one heck of a kart racer. Whether you play it alone or with others, you’re bound to spend countless hours with Super Mario Kart.