Super Mario Kart: Where The Genius Series All Began

Super Mario Kart on the SNES cartridge

Super Mario Kart, the 1992 SNES classic, started off this much-celebrated series. It’s excellent and still holds up remarkable well today. Plus, no blue shells!

Super Mario Kart

Back in 1992 Nintendo took Mario and a batch of his antagonist and protagonist mates and stuffed them into a frenetic world of 5 lap dashes.

There were more “serious” racing games on the SNES, such as Nintendo’s launch title F-Zero, but for anyone who grew up in this era Super Mario Kart was the one.

As game mechanics go, the gameplay is timeless. That’s why the series remains iconic.

That intro screen alone is legendary and sets the scene for what’s ahead.

You get a bunch of beloved Nintendo characters, have them race across vibrant circuits from the world of the Mushroom Kingdom, and you can pelt each other with objects to hinder progress.

Plus there’s a multiplayer mode. Back in 1992, that meant two controller pads and you could take your mate on.

We’ve got some really fond memories of that, whether in grand prix mode or the increasingly legendary battle mode matches.

Of course, back that everyone was restricted to two-player action for battle or grand prix.

It really doesn’t hinder things much, despite modern gaming sensibilities. It’s still a great laugh and leads to all sorts of trickery.

Indeed, you can read our post about the psychology of Mario Kart. About what we think is happening there.

Plus, Super Mario Kart was a difficult game. It’s accessible, sure, but for top players taking on 150cc (mode) is hard work.

Only thanks to the Nintendo Switch version did we finally win the final Donut Plains track. That’s the one we could never, ever win. We think third was our best effort over the years.

As for the Super Mario Kart as a gaming experience now in 2020. Well, we still absolutely love it.

A bit of nostalgia is talking there, but you really can’t beat gameplay of this standard.

And the attention to detail is astonishing, such as little celebrations for each and every playable character.

Every course (apart from that final Donut Plains one) is lovingly crafted and offers a fun and unique challenge.

The graphics are colourful and welcoming. The music upbeat and lively. The two-player options still a joy to behold.

Well, what can we say? It’s been a part of our lives since 1992. We used to play it when at primary school.

Now we’re still playing it into our mid-30s in work and still trying hard not to grow up properly.

But there’s still one track that scares us. Where we just have to lift… where barriers just aren’t a thing.

Rainbow Road

Certain freaks of nature could become seriously good and perform impossible feats, which we’re still in awe of.

For instance, some got ridiculously impressive around the hellish nightmare horror story of Rainbow Road with its notorious lack of barriers. The very final track.

This is the Super Mario Kart equivalent of Formula One’s the Nurburgring in the 1960s. All you have to shout is “Rainbow Road!” and you’ll have gamers quaking in their boots.

For this track one would have to steel oneself and drive flat out between moments of anxiety-ridden terror. No lifting, just total commitment.

Should one fail, the sheer embarrassment would be enough to see you laughed out of your country.

Retro Gaming Heaven

The great news is it’s readily available to everyone even now. There are even hacks of the original, such as a Super Mario Kart F1 adaptation.

Hacking it is illegal, of course, but the good news is you can easily get it legally. It was bundled with the SNES Classic Mini a few years ago.

You can also get it on the Nintendo Switch if you sign up to the online service the Japanese company provides.

Heck, even Retro Game Magazine did a special edition copy back in 2017.

If you’re wondering what the old SNES box used to look like, well we have our old copy of that as well.

Having stupidly sold our first SNES when the Nintendo 64 came out in March 1997, in 2003 we hit eBay with a vengeance to get a new SNES.

The below was the result, which is still in rather good knick these days.

Super Mario Kart box for the SNES
The old box, with its iconic front cover. 

And the series is ongoing anyway. After 1992, gamers were able to enjoy the great fun (if flawed) Mario Kart 64 version, the pretty decent GameCube effort, and two fun handheld efforts.

Then things really went up a notch with the epic 2008 Wii romp, which was bettered in 2014 by the arrival of Mario Kart 8 on the Wii U.

After that, Nintendo ported it over to the Nintendo Switch as Mario Kart 8 Deluxe.

For us, it’s the total masterpiece of the series. It’s so good Nintendo hasn’t had to make a new console Mario Kart since 2014!

We’re sure Mario Kart 9 is on the way in one form or another.

But as it stands right now, Deluxe is a glorious and fitting title for the Switch. And we’re still playing it as of 2020.


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