even though i’m not a huge fan of racers, for the most part i’ve been enjoying working my way through the mario kart series. the games provide fairly worthwhile challenges while allowing you to recover from mistakes through the use of items, which generally makes the experience more fun than frustrating esp. when compared to other racers. i had skipped over mario kart: super circuit for GBA and played the gamecube entry, but then i realized the DS and wii games include some courses that originated in super circuit and felt i should backtrack to it before continuing on.
the main reason i had wanted to skip over MK:SC was because i knew that it was going to be similar to the SNES version, so it’s not surprising that when i started playing it i really rather disliked it, particularly because of the flatness and sameness of the courses. the majority of the courses are riffs of the original SNES courses anyway, and i found myself missing the variety of the N64 and gamecube versions. but by the time i’d gotten 1st on all the cups i was able to appreciate, although still not quite love, the limitations of the hardware and somewhat enjoy the retro (GBA) on top of retro (SNES) feel of the game. the ranking system definitely adds to the replay value and makes the game much more worth playing (i’m still not quite convinced that collecting coins is more than just a tiresome chore, but i do like that it forces you to drive different routes through the course), and the inclusion of all the SNES courses is a great bonus. while replaying the SNES courses i was amazed at how extremely short they are; no wonder they require five laps instead of what has become the customary three. since the SNES courses are so short, even though they’re extremely similar to the new GBA tracks those cups have a distinct feel.
incidentally, for anyone wondering, i used wario throughout the game. usually i don’t use heavyweights, so either the game is easier than the others or my skillz have improved, because he turned out to be a good choice for me, despite his weird voice (apparently the same as the japanese N64 mario kart voice). another bit of trivia: the game was developed by intelligent systems, much better known for their work on some of my favorite series of all time, namely fire emblem and advance wars.
in the end mario kart: super circuit turned out to be a step back in more ways than one. aside from the ranking system (it’s with mixed emotions that i note that ranking appears in the DS and wii versions as well) and the first appearance of retro cups (oh, and a 180-degree move you can do by pressing the A and B buttons simultaneously), the game didn’t really introduce much that was really new to the series. still, i suppose as the first portable mario kart it’s great for what it is, namely a sequel instead of just a straight port, and it was nice to revisit the original SNES experience. definitely looking forward to the DS and wii versions, though.
vroom! these mario kart: super circuit links are leaving you in the dust!
– a lot of good info at mariowiki.com: also includes a lot of the official artwork
– good page at themushroomkingdom.net: includes screenshots and wallpapers
– here’s a good FAQ at gamefaqs that includes detailed ASCII maps and character info
– this FAQ has detailed info on the ranking system
– and just for fun, here’s a video of a driving simulation system for the SNES mario kart (that i first read about in nintendo power haha)