SNES Super Mario Kart Revisited - 22 Years Old! Super Nintendo Video Games
The original SNES Super Mario Kart (not Mario Cart !) was one of two games that I got along with my Super Nintendo back in the early 90s. I have to admit, I was a bit disappointed when I opened the game. I would have gladly taken Super Mario World over this game. When I think about it these days, I can’t help but think that I was right. Super Mario Kart has come a long way since the original title came out, but on the SNES this game got old pretty darn fast. I mean I just didn't play it at all after a certain point.
When I was a kid, though, the original Kart game won me over with its music, graphics, game play, and general awesomeness. I remember not wanting to play it that much, though. Why? I couldn’t explain it then, and it’s not easy to explain it now.
Old Vs. Young
For those of us who are older, this game still makes us want to say that it kicks butt. When you play SNES Super Mario Kart on an emulator it still looks great, but those of us who still play this old game are adults now. We have changed a ton over the years. Believe me when I say that we’re looking at this game through rose-colored glasses. I actually had intended to write a retro look at how great this game was, but the truth is that it just wasn’t that interesting when I got it. It had a very brief time of enjoyment for me, and it's still hard to describe why.
Mario Kart was eclipsed by lots of other games at the time – especially Pilotwings. Pilotwings was a phenomenal game for its time. Who the hell wants to ride around with Princess Toadstool in a bumper car when you can play a semi-realistic flying game? The only equivalent flying games I had played up until that point were some very crappy flight sims on an old IBM XT. In other words… Pilotwings blew my mind. Sim City, Castelvania IV, and Super Contra just owned the crap out of MK (seriously... MK? Why not just call it "cart?") when I was a kid.
MK? Why Not Mario Cart?
Wait a minute… why did they spell Mario Kart with a K? It looks like Mortal Kombat. Oh, hell. Who cares?
Right, so… let’s talk about why this game sucks for some kids but still rules for many adults. Now, I’m sure many of you loved this game when you were younger. The heck with you. Who cares about you? Hah.
The biggest problem with the game is that, when you strip away all the bells and whistles that make it “fun,” it’s just an awkward racing game. How many people honestly loved playing Rad Racer or F-Zero all that much? Sure, some people did. A lot of people don't like racing games though - mostly because they are boring as all crap. But Super Mario Kart is supposed to be one of those genre bursting games that people everywhere love. The sad truth in the matter, at least for me and a lot of people, is that SNES Super Mario Kart (not Mario Cart !) is nothing more than a bare-bones, awkward, silly racing game that has little payoff for the gamer.
You are seriously just going around a tiny track trying to do it faster and faster each time. For an adult, this is fun because it presents a difficult challenge. For a kid, though, once the graphics glimmer fades - the game stops being interesting. There's no allure to pop in the thing and play it anymore. Most kids aren't good enough to really take this game to the next skill level anyway. So what you end up with is a beautiful game that looks like a lot of fun, but is actually just a boring old racing game under the hood. And very few people like boring old racing games.
So, naturally, the beauty fades away slowly but surely. Only adults who can learn the tracks and make progress on their skills will find this game rewarding over a longer time. For kids, the battle mode and other 2 player aspects were great - but finding friends to play it with (for a lot of kids) wasn't as easy as it is nowadays with the internet. So, that aspect of the game suffered for some kids.
Yeah, I'm sure you had a million friends to play with. Good for you!
Classic Game Room's Review
Let’s take a look at some basics about the game.
You go around a small track that gets repetitive. They end quickly and are fairly easy to learn on the original. As you go through trying to get the best time on each race for every Cup (Mushroom Cup, Flower Cup, etc.), the tracks just become eye rollingingly repetitive. You, like me, probably laughed and loved playing the game when you first played it. Eventually, for some reason that you couldn’t explain, you stopped feeling like putting it into the SNES. Why? Because the game is all about memorizing each track and exploiting it the best that you can in order to get a quicker time. Does that sound like fun? Since when was memorizing stuff fun?
That’s what original Mario Kart is about, though. It's about memorizing the track and learning how to do it properly. No amount of special items, colorful tracks, or special designs can make that basic fact fun. But that’s how racing games are, and you can’t take this aspect away from Super Mario Kart.
The music in this original version is great. So great are the graphics, music, and power up selection that they really serve to overshadow the hidden crappiness of the game. It takes a long time to finally realize that you don’t want to play this game, because there’s just so much to love about it. There's a lot to love, except for the actual game concept itself. It's boring! And yes, I do love this game. I’m just trying to find answers, because I know I didn’t want to play this game that much when I was younger.
The two player mode is fun. I’ll say that much for Super Mario Kart. But for adults nowadays, it’s hard to find anyone who still wants to play a game that’s over 20 years old
In Comparison to Other Games...
Some years ago, I got around to playing SNES Super Mario Kart Wii (Wii? are we peeing or playing video games?) with some friends. Now, that game is super fun. The whole awesomeness factor stems from the internet playability, though. When you start playing the Wii version single player, it gets boring pretty darn fast. So that's really my entire point here - this game in all of its forms is just way too multiplayer based for my taste both then and now.
Eh, but even the multiplayer thing gets boring. It gets boring at a slower pace, though. It's fun to own the crap out of real people. Owning the crap out of a computer-controlled Koopa Troopa from the original just isn't very satisfying.
Did I like any racing games? Yeah, I think F-Zero was better than this game for single players. Why? F-Zero didn't try to jazz up the basic gameplay for racing too much, but rather tried to take it to the next level. F-Zero was fun without being way too gimmicky. In my opinion, the original Kart game should have taken more inspiration from F-Zero. That was a game that you could respect. Mario Kart just lowers your IQ and seems stupid in comparison.
What Do You Think?
Is This Game Not Really As Great As We Remember?
Choices Choices Choices
It’s interesting that you can choose different drivers from the Super Mario world in this game, and the special items made the game seem a lot less monotonous than it actually was. Seriously, though, was throwing around green turtle shells and collecting stars really that interesting? There are other racing games where you can leave oil slicks (banana peel, anyone?). These aspects only serve to slightly disguise how utterly boring and simple the design of the game actually is.
Maybe one of the reasons why this game becomes sour to an adult like me is because we are more centered on winning a game as we age. When I was 10 years old and playing this game, I wasn’t as worried about winning. I wanted to win – but I also just wanted to have fun. Once the game stopped seeming fun (which was probably faster than most games for some reason), I stopped playing.
When I return to the game in order to beat it nowadays, it just seems like a bunch of nonsense. It's like a three year old came up with the whole concept. Take F-Zero and take a huge rainbow crap all over it and let the cars shoot random crap at each other. Now that's fun!
But no - it's not fun. It's just a huge rainbow crap on F-Zero.
Put It All Together and... Flush!
Seriously, the game is ridiculous. The concept is funny enough. The execution is flawless – Nintendo programmed it well. But – despite everything, I just don’t like the game anymore. SNES Super Mario Kart may be a beloved classic – but it’s also boring as all heck. I bet if you think long and hard about it, you didn’t play this game as much as you “should have.” Why? Because beneath it all, it’s a pretty simple and stale game that doesn’t have much replay value at all. After you get past all the good points, the game is just about getting a lower time over a relatively small and repetitive set of race tracks.
But the battle mode was great at parties, and the graphics were great for the time.
Thanks for reading my retro game revisited article for this title. I’ll put links to any future inane banter about other games if I do more of these.
You know, reading over this, I notice that I try to say I love the game a few times. It's hard not to have a soft spot for Snes Super Mario Kart. The trouble is, the game just really doesn't deserve the kind of fondness that we attribute to it. It's a lot more stale than most of us want to believe.
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