Mario Kart Super Circuit is the third game of the now iconic franchise and the first to be on a portable system. It returns to the 2D visuals of the first game, featuring eight characters to play as, all with their own unique stats such as weight and speed. Upon starting up the game you are given three choices if you are playing it alone, them being Grand Prix, Time Trial then finally quick run. Grand Prix is your campaign like mode where you race through a set of 4 maps while Time Trial has you on the tracks alone in a race against time.
Quick run allows you to race on a single map of your choosing and is a laid back experience. If you have ever played a Mario Kart game, you know exactly what to expect while racing which is fast paced, chaotic action. How fast your kart is able to go depends on the engine selection you choose if playing Grand Prix, going from 50cc,100cc to 150cc. Not only does the game get faster the higher up you go, so does the AI’s difficulty as they become more aggressive and less prone to errors.
Scattered around the tracks are both coins which affect your grade at the end of a race and item boxes that spawn a random object to use. Bananas to set a trap for those behind you, mushrooms for a quick turbo boost and the accursed blue shell that takes down whoever is unlucky enough to be in first place to name a few of the items. Your position in the race may change on a whim due to this, it is not uncommon to go from first place to last and vice versa.
That’s not to say there is no skill involved. Alongside your luck, you must be very careful where you thread as every track is full of unique obstacles be it ghosts, puddles, quicksand or just plain safety rails that can stop you in your tracks. The view distance may be a problem at times so quick reflexes and paying attention at all times will go a long way towards assuring your victory. Your motivation for actually winning the races is to unlock a 5th cup to race in, then afterwards unlocking 20 more maps, all of which come from the original Mario Kart though slightly tweaked.
Each track has you going around it three times, and all are rather short, being able to be completed in under 2 minutes making it a solid game for when you have a bit of time to kill wherever you may be. It’s frame-rate never drops regardless of how much is happening on screen, helping the game always feel great to control. From jumping to drifting at very high speeds, the controls are tight & responsive. Most of the fun of the series comes from playing with friends though I unfortunately was not able to try multiplayer or its two modes, Vs and Battle.
As you may imagine, this is a game any GBA fan should have in their collection, considering they enjoy the chaotic nature of the gameplay. It doesn’t reinvent the wheel in any way, so Mario Kart fans will obviously enjoy Super Circuit while at the same time it will win nobody that didn’t enjoy the series before over. With that being said, it is still as fun as ever and does an excellent job at bringing the experience over to the handhelds. If you ever wanted to flip out in public over getting a blue shell to the face a few feet from the finish line, this game will suit that need just fine.