torstai 12. elokuuta 2010

REVIEW - Super Mario Kart (1992)

Genre(s): Racing
Released: 1992
Available on: SNES, Virtual Console
Developer(s): Nintendo
Publisher(s): Nintendo
Players: 1-2

During the first half of the 90’s, Mario the platformer was cast aside. Many titles related to the franchise, from edutainment to puzzle games – all of which weren’t even made by Nintendo – reared head, but no game was met with such critical acclaim as Mario’s very own go-kart racing game Super Mario Kart. This immensely influential title quickly achieved cult status and despite the technical advantages of its many sequels, the original game is still regarded the best in the Kart series by many fans and critics.

Having Bowser as a playable character says it all

Sometimes, evil DOES win.
The graphics are Mode 7 to the max! The rough, ugly pixels of the off-road scenery in F-Zero are smoothed out. The environment is filled with colourful, comfortable pieces of texture true to the Mario franchise. Overall, the game is still an honest treat to watch. The music comprises of classic, remixed Mario tunes, and it’s laid back enough to grant a balanced atmosphere.

I’m not a big fan of racing games in general, but there are some major exceptions to that rule, and this game’s slapstick presentation of the genre definitely makes it one of my favourite racing games of all time. We have an all-star cavalcade of drivers familiar from the Mario universe to choose from: Mario, Luigi, Toad, Princess Toadstool, Koopa Troopa, Donkey Kong Jr., Yoshi and last, but definitely not least, Bowser. I ALWAYS use Bowser, no exceptions. This was the first time we had a chance to do that, and what can I say? It’s awesome. Bowser rules. All of the drivers have their own weight class, which has an effect on their performance regarding speed and durability. The two heavyweights, Bowser and Junior, are the toughest drivers to handle, but they’re also moderately tough to beat once they take the lead and manage to stay on track.

Very familiar textures.
There are two game modes available for a single player: the Mario Kart GP and Time Trial. Mario Kart Grand Prix is the main game, in which you choose between 50 and 100 cc, and race against all the other drivers in three different cups, plus one special cup, which unlocks after you’ve won each of the Mushroom, Flower and Star Cups. The courses, naturally, become trickier as you progress and there are usually some sort of thematic stipulations, for example in the lava course there’s a happy family of Thwomps that can easily mangle you if you fail to time your pass correctly. You don’t have to win on all the courses in one cup to conquer the whole thing; the winner of the cup is determined by total score. In Time Trial, you drive by yourself and go for the best possible time – duh. The Time Trial seems to be cult nowadays, fans even have a website dedicated to their best scores in Time Trial. I’m not a big fan of it myself, I prefer the GP.

The multiplayer game modes are the GP, Match Race and Battle Mode. Match Race is a head-to-head race between two drivers, and Battle Mode, which is arguably the best mode in the whole game, is an all-out “deathmatch” in one of four different mazes designed to be used exclusively in this mode.

The GP starts off easy, but it can get pretty
tricky once in a while, thanks to sharp curves,
mud and other obstacles.
What makes the race interesting is that you have a variety of weapons at your disposal, collected from the question block icons on the road. Each driver also has a special weapon only available to them. All of the weapons are just as well related to the Mario franchise and have their own unique effects, which more or less mirror the effects they’re associated with. For example, a Starman makes you invincible and enables you to crash into other drivers unharmed, while they become handicapped for a short while. Different types of Koopa shells can be used as projectiles, and a mushroom gives you a brief speed boost. Coins are collected to raise your top speed and protect your kart from handicaps caused by collisions. Of course, the ramps and boost zones from F-Zero are also here. The developers wanted to one-up Nintendo’s classic racer... and they succeeded, most definitely.

The single player game isn’t too difficult, and not fun for very long, especially due to the quite average A.I.. Also, when you get a taste of the multiplayer in this game, you find it hard to look back. The game was created to be multiplayer heaven, and it certainly is one of the most essential multiplayer games of all time, surpassed in this particular genre only by its 1996 sequel Mario Kart 64 – arguably. The multiplayer mode will offer you hours and hours of delightful combat racing. Just remember it’s only a game! Too many friendships have suffered because of this series of games...

Alongside its spiritual predecessor F-Zero, Super Mario Kart is one of the most essential retro racing games. Still fun to play, and in my opinion it provides just as much excitement as it did upon arrival. Once you try the multiplayer, you can’t get enough of it.

Graphics : 9.1
Sound : 9.0
Playability : 8.9
Challenge : 8.5
Overall : 8.9


GameRankings: 94.00% (SNES)

Nintendo Power ranks Super Mario Kart #40 on their list of the Top 200 Nintendo Games of All Time.

Guinness World Records notes Super Mario Kart as the game having the most impact on the video game industry.

Super Mario Kart’s release on Wii’s Virtual Console service was rumoured as early as in 2007, but it was postponed until 2009, due to apparent, strange difficulties in emulating Mode 7 graphics on the Wii.

The first game on the SNES to use a DSP-1 chip.

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