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by Nintendo

05-01.jpg (7971 bytes)The say that sainthood needs to be validated by the accomplishment of three certifiable miracles. With plenty of tracks and lots of gameplay options the programmers of Mario Kart Super Circuit have more than met that criteria in my books. Someone just needs to contact the Vatican to get the ball rolling.

18-01.jpg (10918 bytes)First Miracle: Mario Kart: Super Circuit has made kart racing fun again. Who would’ve thought that after Bugs, Buzz, Diddy Kong, and Darth Maul, Mario, the one who started it all, would be the one to make kart racing exciting again? It seems like every conceivable franchise short of fast food chains has copied the kart formula without capturing the magic. If I had a nickel for every time I said, "Oh no, not another kart racer," I’d have quite a handful of nickels. I honestly didn’t think that anything new could be done with the genre. What I didn’t realize was that nothing new really had to be done. Mario Kart worked great. As they say, "If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it."

06-01.jpg (9235 bytes)There have been a few changes made to the game, but they’re largely superficial. You’ve got the same characters, power-ups, and pretty much the same tracks, and it all works great. Yes, this is essentially a souped up version of the SNES game, but what a difference a few details can make. Besides the touched up graphics, Mario Kart reintroduces coin collection to your racing requirements, which had been featured in the SNES version, but was not in Mario Kart 64. In order to reach your top speed you have to collect as many coins as possible. It’s a nice little strategic addition that really pays off in gameplay. Your ranking is also affected by the number of coins that are collected through each circuit.

10-01.jpg (8617 bytes)Second miracle: Mario Kart is the best looking game on the Game Boy Advance and better looking than a lot of games that have shown up on the original Sony Playstation. I simply cannot get over how good this game looks. The drivers are all beautifully rendered, the tracks all look gorgeous, and some of them have some great background animations that really add to the overall feel of the game. The game is bright, lively, and moves like a Lamborghini (not that I’ve ever driven one).

22-01.jpg (8714 bytes)I have to admit that I was a little skeptical of how good the graphics really were. I’ve learned that you can get away with a lot when you’re dealing with a really small screen. But when I was at Wal-mart the other night, they were broadcasting vid-captures on their televisions throughout the store. I was struck by how much better the game looked when blown up on a 27" screen. Graphically, this game is about as flawless as they come.

09-01.jpg (8232 bytes)The third miracle is the biggest on in my book; although it may have little relevance to you. Mario Kart Super Circuit got my wife interested in video games again. She hasn’t enjoyed playing video games this much since, well, uh, Mario Kart 64. For the last five years, I’ve been trying desperately to find a game that she would enjoy to no avail. Now, I just have to convince her to spring for a second Game Boy Advance so we can go head to head. She’s very close to caving in. I can just feel it.

04-01.jpg (8789 bytes)Did I mention that the game also supports four players racing off of a single cartridge? With the single cartridge multi-boot, there are only a limited number of tracks, and one character available, but if each player has his own copy of the game (and anyone with a GBA should have their own copy) all levels and characters are available. There’s also a battle mode that only works for multi-player games. The only fault that I can find with the game is the fact that it doesn’t support a single player battle mode. I really would have liked the option of taking on the computer in a Kart to Kart confrontation.

13-01.jpg (10329 bytes)This is a great game, and I haven’t even touched on the miracle of the super tight controls or beautiful menu design. Simply stated: Mario Kart Super Circuit is a big miracle in a small package. Some reviews are torture to write, but sometimes the words seem to flow straight from the mouth to the iridescent computer screen. Chalk up another minor miracle to the gaming gods. If you buy only one game for your Game Boy Advance, make it this one.

Jason Frank   (09/29/2001)


Ups: Amazing graphics; great control; lots of game options; insane number of tracks; multiplayer from single cartridge; still a classic title.

Downs: Maybe you have something against fun?

Game Boy Advance