Super Mario Kart
Super Mario Kart is a racing game for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, which was first released in 1992 and re-released in 1996 as a Player's Choice title, being the first title in the line up. Unlike the other racing games at the time, which focused on single-player pure racing with more complicated tracks, Super Mario Kart had a development focused on two players and was designed to be an easy and intuitive "pick up and play" experience that heavily involves the use of acquiring weapons on an obstacle course-like track to impede another player's progress. The development of a one-on-one Battle Mode was invented as another way to enjoy the competitive system by another means. A notable aspect of the game is its Mode 7 graphics, where the game simulates a 3D plane by rotating and scaling a background graphic on a scanline-by-scanline basis, allowing players to simulate driving through a track. Part of this game is heavily based on Super Mario World in terms of graphics and overall theme, such as sprites reusing assets from Super Mario World and the game's soundtrack rearranging Super Mario World melodies.
The game's high success has created the hugely influential Mario Kart series, as well as being the pioneer of the kart-racing genre. Due to the game's success and creation of the Mario Kart spin-off, many elements from the game has found their way into multiple other Mario series, such as Super Mario 3D World receiving a level designed after one of its courses. The game's use of its wider cast of characters such as Bowser and Peach has likely influenced the creation of later multiplayer-oriented Mario spin-off titles that involved a playable, larger cast of Mario characters such as Mario Tennis and Mario Party. It has ranked among the greatest games of all time by various organizations due to its legacy and its gameplay.
Super Mario Kart was re-released on the Wii's Virtual Console in 2009-2010, on the Wii U's Virtual Console in 2013-2014, on the New Nintendo 3DS's Virtual Console in 2016, is one of the 21 titles included on the Super NES Classic Edition, and is one of the 20 launch titles for Super Nintendo Entertainment System - Nintendo Switch Online, which also released a special version titled Super Mario Kart: Fully souped up! with 150cc and the Special Cup unlocked on May 26, 2021.
Players pick a Mario character out of a cast of 8 characters to race against opponents; racers have their own stats which determine how they will control, though it is not displayed in-game. In a race, players must rank high in the opposition by completing a race around a racetrack first, which consists of five laps due to their short length. Integral to the gameplay is the item system, where players can pick up items from Question Blocks mostly clustered around parts of the track, where the item obtained is dependent on their position. For example, players farther behind obtain stronger items such as the invincible, speed-raising Star or the Lightning that can shrink all racers while players in better positions receive the basic Banana Peels and Green Shells items. Question Blocks get depleted whenever a player runs over them, and they do not respawn their items until all Question Blocks in the track get used up.
At the start of the race, players can rev up for a boost, though if they rev up too much, they accelerate much slower. Players can hop if they press either and . If they hold the button after hopping while holding either left or right, they can power slide, which will enable them to drive through harder turns while losing less speed than steering through them. A slight drift is also possible by only holding either the left or right button after a hop. While karts in this game can brake with , they cannot go in reverse: players need to perform a U-Turn or hop around to go backwards. Some tracks feature water that players can fall into: if players fall into deeper areas, players can move around for a little while before eventually being picked up by Lakitu. Players immediately get rescued by Lakitu if they fall into pits or into lava, however.
In the course, coins are picked up, which increase the player's top speed as well as shield them from other racers: if a player runs into another racer while they have zero coins, they spin out. Having ten coins is the max speed a player can drive in, though players are able to collect extra coins. Players start out with a number of coins depending on their rank: first and second start with two coins, third and fourth start with three coins, fifth and sixth start with four coins, and seventh and eighth start with five coins. Players lose four coins if they are hit with an item, they lose two coins if they are picked up by Lakitu if they fall off the track, and they lose one coin if they bump into another racer. The number of coins found on each course varies from one course to another.
Three speeds are available: 50cc, 100cc, and 150cc. 50cc is the slowest and therefore easiest difficulty while 150cc is the fastest and hardest engine class that much be unlocked by clearing all cups in the 100cc engine class. Vehicles in all modes outside of Mario Kart GP use 100cc engines.
The game is always split in two screens. The top screen is the main screen that players see the gameplay in while the bottom screen displays an overhead map, displaying progress of all characters. If players press or , they can switch the overhead map to a backwards view. When two players are playing, the bottom map is replaced by the second player's screen.
If players want to delete their save data, they need to press , , , and at the title screen. If players want to delete just Time Trial records, they can go to the course records they wish to delete and press the same button combination.
Mario Kart GP
The Mario Kart GP is the main mode in Super Mario Kart. Here, up to two players can race against seven other CPU-controlled opponents in a five-course cup; they first start out in eighth place and must make their way to the top position; players keep their position for the next race if they end in that position. The top four players receive points based on their ranking: first place earns the player nine points, second earns six, third earns three, and fourth earns one, while fifth and below get zero points. Players who rank fifth or below lose one of three lives. If both players rank fifth or below, the race must be tried again. If the player ranks fifth or below without any lives left, the game ends. A single extra life can be earned by placing in the same position three times. The maximum score in a GP cup is forty-five, obtained by winning five times. The three best drivers move on to the award ceremony where they receive their trophies. Third place gives the player a bronze trophy, second gives silver, and first gives gold (the player can watch the ceremony only when they place first: however, a protoype version has animations for second and third). Each race is five laps long.
If players beat all of the cups in the 100cc engine class, the message "Excellent driving, you are now a Super Mario Kart expert" pops up, thus officially telling players that they have completed all four of the cups. If the player wants a harder challenge, they can now replay through the game in the 150cc engine class. If players beat all of the cups in the 150cc engine class, the same message as before pops up. If the player wants a more difficult challenge, they can hold and at the character selection screen. This makes the character permanently small as if under the effect of a Lightning or Poison Mushroom until the player presses the buttons again.
This one-player mode have the player to race through five laps of the selected track the fastest they can without items or coins in the 100cc engine class. The five lap times are recorded which are then combined to make the total time, as well as the fastest lap time and the characters used, for each track.
If the player enters the cheat code , , , , , , , , on the cup selection menu in Time Trial, the Special Cup is unlocked. In the Japanese version, a Boo sound is heard upon successfully inputting the code.
This mode is two-player only: the players can race each other like in GP, except CPU racers do not appear and players can freely choose the track to race in. Bullet Bills slide around the courses as well, and coming in contact with one will result in the kart spinning out and the object disappearing as if it were a Green Shell. The game keeps track of wins and losses of each player.
A two-player exclusive mode where players combat each other with items in an arena. The goal is to eliminate the opposing player's balloons, which are represented by colored spheres rotating around the character. Each player has three balloons that cannot be recovered. The first to pop all the opponent's balloons wins.
The game features eight playable characters from the Mario franchise, such as Mario, Luigi, Yoshi, and Bowser. However, some other characters from the series acts as obstacles in the game's tracks, like Thwomps, Gophers, Piranha Plants, and Flopping Cheep Cheeps. Ghosts do not act as enemies, but both as item and as part of the Ghost Valley tracks' background. Yoshi, Bowser, and Donkey Kong Jr. are the only drivers in this game to have their own taunts when surpassing other racers regardless if they are being used by the player or CPU. The others do not have their own taunts and instead the standard beep is heard when surpassing other racers, but can only be heard when used by the player.
As stated in the game's manual, Lakitu is the owner of all the racetracks, thus overseeing all races. He appears on the track to start the race, to warn the player if they are going the wrong way on the course, and when they fall off the edge of the track or go out of bounds. If the latter happens, Lakitu transports the racer back onto the course at the price of two Coins. A Cheep Cheep balloon distributes the trophy to the GP winner.
Super Mario Kart has eight available drivers, divided into statistically identical pairs of two. While subsequent Mario Kart games would classify characters based on weight class, in this game other criteria are used. The stats presented here are derived and inferred from the manual. The Bros are average drivers with a high top speed, The Dragon and The Lady have the highest acceleration with low handling, The Showdown have low acceleration and handling with the highest top speed and weight, while The Small Guys have high acceleration and handling, which makes them recommended for beginners. Each pair of characters has different engine sounds for their karts, which reflect their appearances and characteristics. All drivers also have a unique theme music whenever they finish a race with a good position.
On a side note, this is only one of two Mario Kart games to feature Donkey Kong Jr. as a playable character (subsequent installments have replaced him with Donkey Kong), the other being Mario Kart Tour.
The Japanese Official Nintendo Guidebook of the game lists the maximum speed in the 100cc engine class in various conditions. This maximum speed is increased by 1 km/h per each coin collected, until 10 coins are collected.
The official instruction manual illustrates a chart that details how well characters perform on tracks and their stats. It notes that Toad and Koopa Troopa have the best steering while the Princess and Yoshi steer worse. Another point it mentions is that Toad and Koopa Troopa can get knocked aside by Bowser and Donkey Kong Jr.
The game has 20 race courses and 4 battle courses, the former being divided in four cups. Super Mario Kart is the only game in the Mario Kart series to have five courses per cup, as opposed to four in later games.
Aside from Rainbow Road, all of the courses are numbered. In the credits, each character is assigned a course.
Some common hazards include the following:
Course features and obstacles
Items are obtained through Question Blocks scattered around the tracks. When the player passes over one, it will deactivate until all other Question Blocks are used. Once a racer passes over one, with a few exceptions, they will receive an item in their box from the following:
The following tables are derived from the Japanese Nintendo Official Guidebook of the game and report the probability of obtaining each item in the various modes with letter codes ranging from A (most likely) to F (unlikely). In the races, the probability of obtaining an item depends on the track theme, on the current lap and on the rank of the driver, while in Battle Mode the probability is not affected by any factor.
Mario Kart GP
In Mario Kart GP races, during the first lap all the drivers receive items with the same probabilities they would obtain if they were in first place, regardless of their rank.
Super Mario Kart has a different rival system from the rest of the series (except for Mario Kart: Super Circuit); the rivals contain one very fast driver, one fast driver, one medium driver, one slow driver and three very slow drivers. It is notable that when one of the three slowest drivers gets hit, that kart will keep its place, while when one of the faster cars gets shot, it will usually resume its previous place very quickly unless unable to catch up fast enough before the race ends. For this reason, the drivers (except the human racer) will (if unaffected) always finish in the exact same order. Also, if the player tries to hit an opponent, the opponent may jump over the item similar to when they jump over CPU-placed items. Also, the rivals are not determined in pairs, so that even if Donkey Kong Jr. is Mario's rival, Mario will not be Donkey Kong Jr.'s rival, as shown in the table below.
The rivals for each driver are always the same, the list will be in the order the line up for the first race. It is possible to change the order if the rivals can't recover their place at the end (for example, if someone is playing as Luigi and Yoshi finishes last, Yoshi will then become one of the three slower drivers while everybody takes the next position up). It happens mostly on 100cc and 150cc.
The rivals are determined by the current points standing, meaning that if Yoshi was still only second to the player, he will boost back to first position from the start.
While Super Mario Kart has no officially released dedicated soundtrack, it is featured in various compilation soundtracks. Super Mario Compact Disco, a compilation soundtrack featuring tunes from mulitple Mario titles released in August 1993, features a hip hop-styled remix of the title screen music from Super Mario Kart. In the 'Nintendo Sound Selection series, Nintendo Sound Selection Vol.2: Loud Music contains the Bowser Castle music, titled simply "Castle".
The staff for Super Mario Kart has consisted of 15 members. Super Mario Kart was directed by Tadashi Sugiyama and Hideki Konno, the latter who would go on to play prominent roles in later main entries of the Mario Kart series with the exception of Mario Kart: Double Dash!! Yoichi Kotabe, Mie Yoshimura, and Yoshiaki Koizumi has provided the illustrations for the game. Soyo Oka has composed the game's soundtrack, with Rainbow Road being one of her favorite compositions.
Super Mario Kart was born out of the idea of making a two-player racing game following F-Zero, which was exclusively single-player. The team wanted to make a fun, multiplayer-oriented alternative and was aimed to be enjoyed "with family and friends." according to Nintendo Producer Hideki Konno. The prototype initially only featured a generic "guy in overalls". The design for the characters onscreen were three heads tall as opposed to F-Zero's seven heads tall to suit the design of the karts. At first, there was no racing involved; it was a test of two karts moving freely. The decision to include Mario characters and concepts was made three to four months in development, when the developers added Mario driving one of the karts moving around because they were curious about how the game would look, and decided that it looked better. Before Banana Peels were added, oil cans that spill their substance out were used to spin karts out. The battle mode was implemented because the developers thought it would be a good idea to include a form of one-on-one battles that did not involve competing for ranks during the races.
Pre-release and unused content
A prototype cartridge of the game features several differences, such as the presence of animations on the podium screen when the player ranks 2nd or 3rd place, a music track for Vanilla Lake 1 that does not appear in the final build and a different Battle Course 3 set in Choco Island.
Turn Off Music
In any two-player game, after Lakitu gives the green light, the player must keep mashing in both controllers. Occasionally, the music will not play.
The player should pick up a Mushroom. They should use and hop very nearby the corner. If done correctly (can be tricky), the player should always facing left regardless they are not steering and will under the effect of a Mushroom longer than normal. Note that the effect can wear off and the player will need to do the trick again. The player should get a time of a lap under 10 seconds.
Glitched lap counter
When some glitches are performed, occasionally Lakitu shows glitched lap counters, such as "LAP 05" or, rarely, "LAP 16". "LAP" is normal, but to the right the counter is invisible, showing the mentioned numbers in pile and red.
Several graphical changes consisting of minor touch-ups and even censoring of questionable material has been made to international versions of the game.
Super Mario Kart met with very favorable reviews, scoring a 93.60% on GameRankings based on 10 reviews. Much of the praise of the game has been attributed to its bright and colorful graphics, fun gameplay involving its items that set it apart from F-Zero, intuitive controls, its Mario franchise theming, and retroactively, its legacy that helped pioneer the kart-racing genre and the overall introduction of the Mario Kart series. While Super Mario Kart does not have an official Metacritic entry due to the game coming out before its inception, the user score for the Wii Virtual Console is mixed, scoring 7.4, with common laments being that while the game is regarded as a classic, it is outclassed by later Mario Kart entries.
Shey Stevens from the magazine, Electronic Games gave the game a 93%, citing how the game changes up mechanics from F-Zero such as the item-based system to deliver a unique experience. Stevens has additionally praised the one-on-one combat modes the game offers. A section by Bro. Buzz from the Game Pro magazine has given the game a score of 5.0 in graphics, control, and fun factor and a 4.0 in sound, ending with, "Super Mario Kart makes wheel-spinning, bumper-grinding, motor racing actually cute! The little guys definitely have a lot of drive." Nadia Oxford from USgamer, reviewing the game's release on the Super NES Classic Edition, has called the game "the SNES Classic Edition's most perfect inclusion." and has generally praised how well the game is held up, despite its simplicity compared to later Mario Kart entries, with Mario Kart 8 Deluxe being compared to in the review. The flaw Oxford has cited was the single-player splitscreen and the fact that the game supports only two players rather than four. Electronic Gaming Montly has given the game an Editor's Choice award in its November 1992 issue.
Super Mario Kart has seen frequent placements in Top Games lists. The game was placed 32nd in the 100th issue of Nintendo Power's "100 best Nintendo games of all time" in 1997. In the book, Guinness World Records: Gamer's Edition for 2009, Super Mario Kart was placed as the #1 best console game. The game was placed 33rd in the 200th issue of GameInformer's "Top 200 Games of all Time" in December 2009. The game was awarded the Most Critically Acclaimed Mario Kart Game by Guinness Book of World Records Gamer's Edition 2009 - 2014.
Super Mario Kart is the 4th best-selling game for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, selling 8.76 million copies worldwide as of December 31, 2009.
Adaptations in other media
Super Mario 4koma Manga Theater
Super Mario Kart is occasionally referenced in the gag comic series, the Super Mario 4koma Manga Theater, alongside other Mario titles.
The sixth volume of the Super Mario-kun by Yukio Sawada completes the Super Mario World arc, though it contains a story that is heavily based on Super Mario Kart; the title even bases its Mario artwork off official artwork of the game.
Super Mario Kodansha manga
Super Mario Kart Dokidoki Race
Super Mario Kart was adapted into a Japan-only electro-mechanical arcade game developed by Banpresto and Atlus called Super Mario Kart Dokidoki Race, released in 1994. The playable characters are Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, Yoshi, and Bowser, with Cheep Cheep, Monty Mole, and Lakitu in supporting roles. The game seems to operate on magnets to move the karts and is based on chance by who can press a series of buttons fast enough. There are five music tracks in total, two in particular being the music for the title screen and the Mario Circuit theme. The latter theme is sped up and has additional notes that play throughout the track with an ending note. A male announcer voice can also be heard throughout the gameplay. The other three music tracks are a preparation theme and two different victory themes.
Due to the game's popularity and success, multiple merchandise based on Super Mario Kart has been sold. Diecast kart racers are frequent merchandise, with a few plush dolls.
References to other games
References in later games
Names in other languages
Super Mario Kart: Fully souped up!