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Super Mario Kart (SNES) artwork

Super Mario Kart (SNES) review

"I want you to be my friend. I want you in my house, right now. We can intertwine our bodies on my patchwork beanbag every night and together we’ll while away the hours. There will be no pain, there will be no confrontation; there will be only the sunshine that can come when you look into the eyes of another and know deep down that they’re feeling you. "

I want you to be my friend. I want you in my house, right now. We can intertwine our bodies on my patchwork beanbag every night and together we’ll while away the hours. There will be no pain, there will be no confrontation; there will be only the sunshine that can come when you look into the eyes of another and know deep down that they’re feeling you.

We can have that, because I have Super Mario Kart. You and I will race and race again, our perfect embrace bathed in the spectacular glow of my television.

We will to and fro on the speed of our game. You, my darling, will clamour for the slow tempo, in an attempt to reduce the incessant buffeting of my enormous cart. I, of course, will insist upon a race that is hard and fast. Compromise and goodwill will naturally rule the day, as we lose ourselves to first one then the other. With Super Mario Kart, we will be taken to a parallel world of pleasure, and we will frolic there blissfully until the sun comes up again. Just don’t get upset if I finish before you do. Such is my way.

You see, my friend, Super Mario Kart is a game that can bring us together more so than any other. It can be a frustrating and unapologetic experience; but the ultimate exhilaration and fulfillment that exists within my little cartridge is always there to be found. Thankfully, foreplay is never an option. One is forcefully ejected from the menu screens onto one of the many curvaceous, unforgiving tracks, alongside a throng of hardened racers. They will dance their little dance around the track, and we must do our best to match their silky, skilful moves.

Super Mario Kart is a kart racing game, a fearsomely frenetic kart racing game that stands head and shoulders above the rest. And although this game may be “old” and “decrepit”, its place in our lives is still warranted. For with the gamers of the world turning further and further away from the pleasures of the body - and the company of the opposite sex - in order to further pursue their lifestyle, Super Mario Kart is more relevant than it has ever been before. It may not be sex, but it is undoubtedly the best alternative we gamers have got.

This is a game that has no need for the many bells and whistles that adorn its fiercest karting competitors. It is a success, for of all the karting games in existence it is by far the most pure and easily the least pretentious. This is a game that spits upon the ideas of fancy track design, highly interactive scenery and overly customisable characters. The reliance is instead upon pulsating, competitive action and the development of true racing ability. Why would I want to explore a giddying, incomprehensible, 5-minute long track when I can spend my time careening around a never-ending S-bend, trying in vain to fend off two flanking racers with a solitary green koopa shell? Super Mario Kart is the reason we play karting games, we want the sheer unadulterated adrenaline, and this is the game that gives us that rush best of all.

It pounds you like a British bank. The vibrant, colourful graphics set the screen aflame, stretching off well into the distance. Track after gorgeous track unfold before your eyes, taunting you mercilessly with their many tricks. In the background, energetic tunes meld with the incessant revving of engines, telling us even before the green light flashes that we’re on the verge of something special, something intense. It’s no lie. The race itself is like a good, hard slap in the face. A string of racers zoom off, zigging and zagging with careless abandon through the many turns of the track. The novice racer is left behind as they carefully skirt around each deviously placed obstacle, and one can only watch, impotent, as the poor, lone kart in your control slams painfully into the obstacle’s side, stopping completely. Meanwhile, the bulky body of Bowser trundles further and further away. To offset the damage of any potential mishap, an array of powerful weapons is on hand, capable of boosting your speed and strength or merely sending your opponents spinning foolishly onto the slow, grassy outskirts of the track. Of course there’s scarcely time for such bold ventures, for with every twist and turn in the track comes a new challenge, a new obstacle in this almighty struggle.

More often than not, these man versus machine jaunts are little more than a precursor to confrontations with other Super Mario Kart enthusiasts. The intensity rises dramatically, for as easy as it is to derive enjoyment from smashing Princess Peach to smithereens, such enjoyment is a trifle compared to the sheer ecstasy that comes from steamrolling a human opponent, with the invulnerable powers of the star pick-up, mere inches from the finish line. Friendships are forged and shattered irrecoverably in one sitting as the honour of victory quickly takes precedence over all else in life. For when one is enthralled in the technicolour beauty of Rainbow Road, flirting constantly with its precarious, borderless edges and hanging on for grim life as their kart scoots underneath the ominous shadows of its vicious, pounding rocks, is there really room for anything else? Super Mario Kart is infinitely playable and accessible to all, and this is why countless obsessed racers will continue to face off with this beauty long after Mario Karts 64 and Double Dash have been consigned to the dusty shelves of second-hand stores. A one player race can be outrageous fun, but with two the experience is simply divine.

The appeal of Super Mario Kart is a rare thing. With its inherent simplicity comes countless hours of breathtaking action and an alarming level of addictiveness. Very rarely can a game stand the test of time so long and manage to slug it out so successfully with newer, more advanced adaptations of its basic premise. Super Mario Kart has stared down the competition time and time again. I myself will never want for another karting game, for with each new generation comes a further dilution of the ideals best exemplified in this one. This is the template, and the game designers might continue to stray from it but the people who play the games never will. Convoluted, excessive tracks are not for me!

Just let me in and out, real quick.

kingbroccoli's avatar
Community review by kingbroccoli (June 29, 2004)

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