Mario Kart Super Circuit
I was quite surprised when I first started playing Mario Kart Super Circuit. It was strikingly similar to the SNES version, the best version of the game in graphics and racing, yet featured all the advancements of the N64 version. I was shocked to find that it was actually one of the better games on the GBA too. I came in with such low expectations, and it turned out that all the haters were wrong.
If you haven’t ever played the Mario Kart series, Mario Kart is a Go-Kart racing title, except the drivers are replaced with Mario characters. Bowser, Mario, Yoshi, Princess Peach, Toad and others all race around various tracks to win the coveted gold cup. Different drivers have different statistics, all which play an important role in determining the outcome of the races. Bowser for example is insanely heavy and slow, yet because of his size he can push around the other drives. Toad on the other hand is very fast and light, and easily knocked around. These aren’t your typical Go-Karts though. These ones can jump and have boosters.
Mario Kart Super Circuit has a few gameplay options. Single player mode consists of Mario GP, Time Trial and Quick Run Modes. Time Trial is fun as you can race any track and see how you fair against the default times, and it even has a nifty little time saving feature built in so you can see how you stack up with different drivers.
Quick Run is a very fun little mode as well. In this one, you are allowed to set the number of laps and turn on and off items and coins. First, you choose which difficulty you want (from 50cc, 100cc and 150cc) to race in. After, select the track you want to race on (there are a total of 16 default levels, plus if you excel in the default races you unlock some of the old SNES tracks) and then you go. Quick and easy.
Mario GP is where you will likely spend more time, at least at first. In this mode, you select the cup you wish to compete in; the choices being lightning, flower, star, and mushroom and go through a series of 4 tracks. If you score in the top three after the final track, you win the cup. Depending on where you place, you win Gold, Silver or Bronze trophies. If you manage to get Gold in all of the tournaments, you win a cookie…no wait; you unlock the special cup. Pretty neat eh?
As you race around the tracks you must collect power ups and coins to survive. The coins allow you to bump into other drivers without crashing or spinning out, which is very handy in narrow turns. The power ups include various objects such as turtle shells and mushrooms. My favorite power up would be the ghost, as it allows you to steal the power up an opponent has, which makes them defenseless and gets you a new tool for your use. There really is nothing like cursing down Shy Guy Beach (gotta love the Shy Guys anyhow) armed with a turtle shell and smacking Bowser right of the track. This isn’t the story of the tortoise and the hare; the fastest (and best armed) really does matter.
The A.I in the game is wonderful. The other drivers all race fairly, but they will be willing to shoot a turtle shell or drop a banana in order to keep you from winning. Unlike the N64 version, the A.I stays constant and doesn’t have to resort to cheating in the single player mode.
The tracks are all pretty fun to race on. The tracks are pretty varied, all with unique obstacles. For instance, the Snow Land track for instance has wholes in it’s icy road that if you go over plunge you into chilly water. Luigi’s Circuit is covered in rain, making control hard (and visibility worse). The varied track design really helps the replay value, and makes the multiplayer very interesting.
Graphically, Mario Kart Super Circuit is top-notch. The 3D racing looks much better and cleaner than newer racers that have been released on the system, specifically Cruis’n Velocity. The graphics are a bit pixelated at times, but the distance drawing makes up for that. The racer models are well detailed and the obstacles on the track are well visible. The game uses a whole lot of color too, which is a nice touch. The one thing I didn’t like is that it was kind of hard to see through the weather effects on some of the tracks. I mean granted, it’s tricky to see in the rain but still it irritated me.
The music is pretty good too. The music is lighthearted stuff that you would find in a standard Mario game, just slightly different to make it sound more competitive. The sound effects are pretty decent as well, characters speak when they pass you and tires make noises on the pavement in turns.
The multiplayer adds a lot to the game. My friend Jeremy and I sat in the backroom of work during our brake and linked up the game and played for the entire break. It’s very competitive and good clean fun. It’s just as good as it was playing it four-player on the N64 and it’s just as good as going to the arcade and playing against each other in a unit.
The game is better than most games around. It’s got a ton of options, and it easily is the best GBA Kart racer around. Hell, I would go as far as saying it’s the best GBA racer, period. I really can’t see why anyone wouldn’t like this game. The varied tracks, the fun multiplayer and the wide-variety of racers makes Mario Kart Super Circuit a true gem of a title to own on the Gameboy Advance.