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Mario Kart: Super Circuit (Game Boy Advance) artwork

Mario Kart: Super Circuit (Game Boy Advance) review


"Mario Kart standís out as one of Nintendoís ever-appearing franchises on all their 16-bit consoles onwards and all share the basic principle of being a fun, entertaining racer that anyone can pick up and play and compete against each other regardless of ability. Super Mario Kart started the franchise off on the SNES and was technically impressive s well as some top gameplay, while Mario Kart 64 bought the series into full 3D and while successful, was too easy for some. Mario Kar..."



Mario Kart standís out as one of Nintendoís ever-appearing franchises on all their 16-bit consoles onwards and all share the basic principle of being a fun, entertaining racer that anyone can pick up and play and compete against each other regardless of ability. Super Mario Kart started the franchise off on the SNES and was technically impressive s well as some top gameplay, while Mario Kart 64 bought the series into full 3D and while successful, was too easy for some. Mario Kart: Super Circuit brings the series on its third outing, combining the SNES graphics and N64 style game-play in an impressive fashion.

MK:SC presents you with the usual combination of 50, 100 or 150cc races, the higher the harder as you have a tendency to go faster, and the option of a Championship race, a time trial where you have to break preset targets or a quick run. No less than eight characters are at your disposal, all varying in abilities, from the super-fast but lightweight racers such as Toad and Daisy, to the easy-handling yet heavy DK and Bowser, other characters have more of a balance between weight and speed. When to use who varies, Bowser is a rock in races and whilst his poor acceleration lets him down, intelligent use of items against foes and his ability to take turns well and barge others out of the way can help you battle your way to trophies, but Toadís speed means youíll need him to beat those daunting Time Trial record targets.

Most of the traits in the Mario Kart series usual game-play remains intact, power-ups are scattered in clumps around the tracks, how good your power-up is will depend on your position in the race; anchoring the back can give you a mushroom or a blue turtle to stall the leader, but leading the race way only give you a green turtle to throw away. Coins on the tracks allow you to go faster and are needed to unlock extra tracks. Annoyingly the coins are rendered as part of the flat track, and thus are hard to make out, and you can only pick them up when driving right through them as skimming them slightly wonít do! Control-wise, MK:SC handles pretty well, the only criticism is the usage of shoulder buttons, a flaw in the GBA design itself, feels a bit awkward on the figners expeiclaly when trying to jump, but definitely responsive and fast.

Mario Kart: Super Circuitís difficulty presents itself to be quite a challenge but nonetheless itís still good fun, the race always remains competitive, even if youíve buried yourself at eighth itís always possible to barge back in through the use of some cheeky power-ups. Fortunately though falling off the edge does not cost you the race either, unlike Mario Kart 64, which makes it easier in that aspect but tracks are littered with barriers and crashing can easily hinder you. A mushroom can give you that boost of speed which works wonders on the speed boosters whilst triple red turtle shells that auto-find themselves on rival racers works great to leapfrog three places. Inevitably, having the return done to you can be annoying. But what isnít? The treat others how you would like to be treated principle doesnít work here Iím afraid!

MK: SC consists of 16 default tracks, split into groups for competitions, and doesnít even include all the extra cups. While the limitations of the Mode 7 graphics means the tracks are all completely flat and canít have walls, the tracks themselves are still pretty well varied, from the dangerous tides of Koopa Beach to the edgeless Rainbow Road and Ghost Valley where you canít afford to fall! Having said that, there are too many Bowser castles (Bowser castle 4 anyone?) which does kick in the dťjŗ vu in due course. Obstacles are aplenty, from water pools, tides on the beaches, breakable edges to random trees, slow muddy areas and the ubiquitous stone boulders designed to flatten in Bowser Castle whereas there is the occasional cross-track jump and speed boosters aplenty. While itís a welcome addition to have the Super Mario Kart tracks put in as extras, theyíre not quite as much fun as the new tracks; they seem a lot simpler in design, are shorter, and several obstacles are missing that were in SMK, the flying feather has been omitted and many hazards are gone, while the backgrounds are Super Circuit ones reused.

If you think youíve beaten MK: SC for good, thereís always the multiplayer option as well, and you only need one cart for up to four Game Boys in case the three other guys on the bus donít own Mario Kart when they should. It does have shortcomings such as only four tracks being available and Yoshi is the only available character to play as, but nonetheless it retains the essential multiplayer that the series became famous for after MK64.

Despite the GBA technology being similar to the SNES, MK:SC is nothing like a port of its SNES cousin. The tracks themselves are new (although the SNES tracks are available later as unlockables) and the courses are more complex whilst the graphics are much better with better spritework and backgrounds. The graphics donít push the GBAís capabilities beyond anything playable, using the Mode 7 capabilities (in which you have a massive flat textured plane in which all the sprites are placed upon), and while you donít get the advantage of walls and slopes in tracks the graphics still look rather artistic, with crisp detailed sprites of the characters and typical Mario-world backdrops. The sound is passable, with all characters having their own grunts for when theyíre hit but the music is barely noticeable, with randomly repeated beats which arenít amazingly inspiring to be honest.

While Mario Kart: Super Circuit isnít a game I will be giving a fanboy-esque 10 unlike some, itís still a more than respectable racer on the aged GBA. Options and tracks aplenty with plenty to unlock, challenging but ultimately entertaining, Super Circuit is an essential to anyone who owns a GBA, whether you like Mario or not. The graphics look bright and vivid, plenty to do and a decent multiplayer mode and plays fast, smoothly and is accessible to anyone of any ability. Itís an essential pick-up for some fun to fill in those long holiday hours or otherwise, which you wonít regret. 8/10

Rating: 8/10

bigcj34's avatar
Community review by bigcj34 (September 02, 2007)

Cormac Murray is a freelance contributor for HG and is a fanboy of Sega and older Sony consoles. For modern games though he pledges allegiance to the PC Master Race, by virtue of a MacBook running Windows.

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