Mario Kart Series Retrospective – Part 1

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It’s the release date for Mario Kart 8: Deluxe on the Switch so I’ve decided to do a complete Mario Kart series retrospective from 1992 to 2017!

The Mario Kart series is one that is near and dear to my heart. I’ve played every game in the series and have spent considerable time in my life shooting people with shells. To celebrate the release of Mario Kart 8: Deluxe, I decided to take a look back at every Mario Kart game that came before it. I’m going to show how the game has evolved in the 25 years since it first debuted on the Super Nintendo. With that said, let’s take a look at the game that started it all.

Super Mario Kart (SNES, 1992)

This is the game that started it all. While it may look primitive now, it was ground-breaking at the time. It was one of the few games that made use of the mode-7 chip that allowed for the background to scale and rotate which was a huge deal to create a sense of speed and to simulate 3D environments in a racing game. The Rocket Start was introduced in this title by holding the accelerate button until the right moment on the countdown to the race, It has since become a feature of the series.

Super Mario Kart

Game Modes

Super Mario Kart includes the standard Mario Kart GP where players race for a bronze, silver, or gold cup. There are 3 difficulty modes, 50cc (easy), 100cc (medium), and 150cc (hard). Players get points for placing 1st, 2nd, 3rd, or 4th. Match Race is a race between only you and a friend in which the game keeps tracks who wins each race. Objects slide around the course making your player spin out if you come into contact with one. Time Trials keep track of total time for 5 laps as well as

Match Race is a race between only you and a friend in which the game keeps tracks who wins each race. Objects slide around the course making your player spin out if you come into contact with one. Time Trials keep track of total time for 5 laps as well as

Time Trials keep track of total time for 5 laps as well as the fastest lap time.

Battle Mode involves you and a friend trying to pop each other’s balloons with the various items available. First to pop all 3 balloons wins.

  • Mario Kart GP (1-2 Players) (50cc, 100cc, 150cc)
  • Match Race (2-Player Only)
  • Time Trial (1-Player Only)
  • Battle Mode (2-Player Only)

Characters

There are 8 characters in Super Mario Kart. This marked the only appearance for Donkey Kong Junior in the series. Each CPU controlled character has a unique special ability in this game ex. Yoshi drops eggs which cause players to lose coins and spin. This is the only game in the series with such a feature. There were 4 different classes (The Bros, The Small Guys, The Dragon and the Lady, The Showdown) where both karts in each class had identical stats instead of the weight system introduced in later games.

Super Mario Kart
Photo credit: MobyGames
  1. Mario
  2. Luigi
  3. Princess Peach
  4. Yoshi
  5. Donkey Kong Jr.
  6. Bowser
  7. Koopa Troopa
  8. Toad

Tracks

Super Mario Kart
Photo credit: MobyGames

This was the only game in the series to feature 5 tracks per cup. There are a total of 20 tracks and each race is 5 laps rather than the traditional 3 laps that started with Mario Kart 64.

MUSHROOM CUP FLOWER CUP STAR CUP SPECIAL CUP
Mario Circuit 1 Choco Island 1 Koopa Beach 1 Donut Plains 3
Donut Plains 1 Ghost Valley 2 Choco Island 2 Koopa Beach 2
Ghost Valley 1 Donut Plains 2 Vanilla Lake 1 Ghost Valley 3
Bowser Castle 1 Bowser Castle 2 Bowser Castle 3 Vanilla Lake 2
Mario Circuit 2 Mario Circuit 3 Mario Circuit 4 Rainbow Road

 

Battle Courses

Super Mario Kart

Battle Course 1 Battle Course 2 Battle Course 3 Battle Course 4

ItemsSuper Mario Kart

There were a few items included in this game that were never seen in a Mario Kart game again. Those items are the poison mushroom, the egg, and the feather. This was also the lowest amount of items (not including battle mode and cpu exclusives) to appear in a game in the series.

  1. Banana Peel
  2. Red Shell
  3. Green Shell
  4. Poison Mushroom (Only CPU Peach & Toad)
  5. Mushroom
  6. Feather
  7. Star
  8. Ghost (Only Battle/Match Race)
  9. Coin (Not in Battle Mode)
  10. Lightning (Not in Battle Mode)
  11. Egg (Only CPU Yoshi)
  12. Fireball (Only CPU Bowser)

Super Mario Kart hasn’t aged that well. It’s still playable today but if you’ve played a more recent title in the series, it’ll be hard to go back to. Still, this is the game that started it all. If you haven’t played it, you really need to check it out. Some people still consider it the best game in the series.

Next up is Mario Kart 64 on the next page!

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