Mario Kart: Super Circuit (2001) was the third entry into this hallowed series, right after 1997’s Mario Kart 64 (a title we still consider to be pretty flawed, but entertaining).
Super Circuit was the first handheld version of the series, arriving on the Game Boy Advance. We never played it! For some weird reason. But its arrival on the Switch’s online catalogue saw is correct that most heinous of crimes this week.
Mario Kart: Super Circuit is More Karting Fun and Games in Handheld Fashion
It may seem controversial of us to dare criticise Mario Kart 64. Whilst a terrific game at its best, there were also all sorts of issues with it. And some of the gaming press did note that.
Within about 10 minutes of playing Super Circuit, a game that’s over 20 years old, we clocked on to its merits and… were pretty blown away.
It holds up really, really bloody well. And is just a whole heap of challenging fun, as it’s also one of the more difficult entries in the series.
The gaming press noted its brilliance at the time, as Mario Kart: Super Circuit met with considerable critical acclaim. Back in 2001, you could make a solid argument it was the best entry int the series (which now firmly belongs to the incredible Mario Kart 8 Deluxe).
But Super Circuit is like all other Mario Kart games.
You pick your character, you go racing, you drive over item boxes, you use the items to try and get a competitive advantage, and the goal is to win. Behold!
The tracks are far more advanced than on the SNES Super Mario Kart, although lacking the undulations and whatnot from Mario Kart 64.
But Super Circuit is a real challenge, with tough competitors and much better AI (artificial intelligence). Your competitors readily use item box stuff on you, sending you crashing down the order.
Plus some of the tracks are a bloody menace. The rain sodden Luigi Circuit is a menace! Absolute pain in the backside.
It’s no wonder it’s never appeared on any other Mario Kart title.
The courses look great, too, although occasionally the graphics get a little indistinct. It can make it tricky to figure out where to go. That or the track design is just outright malicious, making it a nightmare to traverse. As with Sunset Wilds.
Yes, then, it’s a tough title is Super Circuit. The controls are fiddly at first, but stick with the game and you’ll soon be surprised at how good you become.
Bravery is rewarded, so cling onto your controller for life and you may just come through the other side in first place.
In other words, it’s the usual mayhem you’d expect from a Mario Kart game. The carnage is encapsulated rather well in this predictably nuts Japanese ad from 2001.
All in all, we were massively impressed by this. Like we said, this one skipped us by back 2001 (for some odd reason). But playing it now… and it’s awesome!
Really, really good. We were surprised on that. But why should we be? The series is epic and been delivering much escapist thrills over 30+ years. This is another winner.