Mario Kart Super Circuit
My first experience of the Mario Kart series was on the Nintendo 64. I'd always thought it was a good game but couldn't understand the anticipation from those that had played the SNES version. People who have played the SNES version usually list Mario Kart as being one of their favourite games of all time but for some reason Mario Kart 64 didn't strike me as being a classic. Mario Kart Super Circuit is supposed to very similar to the old SNES version in the way that it plays and while I can't personally vouch for that, not having played the SNES version, I can say that this version is definitely a classic and far better than Mario Kart 64 was.
The single player game consists of the Mario GP, Time Trial and Quick Run modes. The Mario GP mode is the heart of the game and allows you to pick a race category, (50cc, 100cc or 150cc) one of eight riders, (Mario, Luigi, Peach, Toad, Bowser, Donkey Kong, Wario or Yoshi) and compete in a cup. Each cup has four races and you must finish in at least fourth position in each race in order to progress. Failing to finish fourth in any of the races will result in you having to do that race again. The Quick Run is just a one off race to allow you to practice. Time Trial is just you on the track attempting to set faster lap times which are saved to the game pak. You can also save the ghost data for upto ten tracks. This ghost data can also be transferred using the Ghost Exchange from the main screen. This allows you to swap ghost data with a friend and attempt to beat their best times.
Mario Kart just wouldn't be Mario Kart without a multiplayer component and thankfully Mario Kart SC comes up with the goods. Provision has been made to either use a single-pak link (4 GBA's off 1 game pak) as well as a multi-pak link (with all 4 GBA's each using a game pak). The single-pak mode is rather limited in that it only offers a Vs. mode, all racers will be a differently coloured Yoshi and only four tracks are available. The first racer to complete five laps is the winner. Multi-pak mode allows for a Vs. and Battle mode. The Battle mode is a 2-4 player game where you have to burst the balloons on your opponents kart. The balloons pop when you drive over a banana, leave the track or get hit by a shell. For 4 player GBA action, this mode takes some beating.
Of course the Mario Kart series has always been a simple racer in many respects but it is the power ups and weapons that you can collect that add spice to the gameplay. Classic items such as banana skins - driving over these will cause the driver to skid, stars - make you temporarily invulnerable, mushrooms - temporary speed burst, lightning - used to smite your opponents by temporarily shrinking them and slowing them down, red shells (which home in on your opponents) and green shells (which simply fly off in the appropriate direction) etc. are all here and are easy to use. To activate one of these you simply press the L shoulder button.
The controls feel great and are very easy to get used to. As we've already mentioned the L button allows you to activate the items you collect. The R button is used for mini-jumps and to power slide around the corners. The control pad is used to steer, of course, and the A and B buttons are used for accelerating and braking. Each of the characters have different ratings for speed and weight and this will affect the handling. Of course on top of this you have to take into consideration that initially it will be easier to handle the 50cc karts with the 150cc karts being the most tricky especially when controlling characters that are heavy and slow (Bowser) compared to light and speedy (Toad). Lightweight class drivers tend not to be slowed down too much by coming off the track where the heavyweight drivers will slow to a crawl. It's all about experimentation and finding a driver to suit your style.
One thing you can definitely say about Mario Kart SC is that it looks equally as excellent as it plays, the screenshots really don't do the game any justice as they look far better on a GBA screen. I have seen screenshots of the SNES Mario Kart and this game looks far superior to that version. In fact it's fair to say that it's not far behind Mario Kart 64 in how it looks. The colours are clear and vibrant and the whole thing moves very quickly indeed without any hint of slowdown.
As you would expect, Mario Kart SC is absolutely fine for deaf gamers with no reliance placed on hearing anything. The characters will occasionally make little noises whilst they are driving and when you select them to drive with. Mario will say "Let's a go" when you select him, for instance. This doesn't have any bearing on the gameplay though and is simply there for ambience rather than anything else.
Along with Golden Sun and Advance Wars, Mario Kart Super Circuit is the best game on the GBA at the moment. Challenging and fun races, not to mention good multiplayer options and the unlockable collection of tracks that await you, make this easily one of the best racing games on any platform. Mario Kart may be a long way off on the GameCube but this will more than satisfy your Mario Karting needs until then.
Game Rating: 9.5/10