It’s time to review the first of the Christmas games! I ended up obtaining 9, which was a pretty solid amount. For the first time in many years, there were more portable games than home console at 6-3. It’s good to go retro once in a while and this was one of them of course. I’ve always been a big fan of the Mario Kart franchise. While none of the other games will ever come remotely close to taking down Double Dash, the other titles still have a lot of heart. This GBA installment is a rather simple and small version, but it gets the job done. It’s fun for on the go or just to unwind and relax.
As always, the main emphasis will be on Grand Prix mode. You can also play Time Attacks, but most players will probably be going right to the tournaments. There are 4 standard tournaments for each of the 3 difficulty settings and then a 5th that you can unlock by completing the first four. With 4 stages in each cup, that comes down to 20 stages in the game. It’s a pretty decent amount and debatably it is better to have 20 unique stages than 50 color swapped ones. Some of the Wii racing games tried that, but it’s very obvious. Nintendo’s never stopped to such tricks. Each race is only around 2-3 minutes so they go by really fast. Of course, that also means that you’ll be breezing through the tournaments at a very rapid pace.
I completed one tournament on Christmas and then did the next 4 the day after. I also completed one tournament in the other two difficulty settings so I could get a feel for how different they were. The main difference is definitely the fact that your opponents will rarely ever use items on 50CC, but they will use them a lot in 150. Their adaptability also gets a lot better and their cars were already unnaturally fast so it’s tough to stay ahead of them. I imagine that it would be very difficult to come in first on the snow level or the sand one. A bunch of them would be really difficult come to think of it.
Nintendo did a good job on the difficulty with this one. It can also be a little “cheap” at times since you should all be at the same speed, but I guess it’d be hard to program the difficulty in otherwise. As good as the computers drive, getting hit by items would probably mess them up a bit. It doesn’t feel unreachable either though and would probably just take some extra tries. Since the stages are all very short, the replay value is high. Even if you lose, it’s not as if you lost a bunch of time right? I think they should have added some extra incentive to beating the tougher level tournaments though. As it is, you don’t unlock any stages or characters so why would you do it? I believe you get a new title screen or something which is fine…but it could be better. This means that the replay value here mostly just comes from the personal satisfaction of taking down all of the variations of the tournaments. I would mention the multiplayer mode, but a lot of people don’t have GBAs anymore so I don’t expect you’ll find a match. Furthermore, I’m playing this one on the DS myself so I couldn’t play it that way even if I did find someone. The tournaments are enough of an incentive to ensure that you’re not ripped off though. I can’t imagine paying 30 for this, but 5-10? That’s definitely not bad at all.
The gameplay is pretty smooth. Some of the turns can be a little tricky, but it’s the kind of game where you just have to learn when to turn. Once you play enough, you’ll be nailing every aspect of the stage. It is very skill based and with less items being thrown around, you barely feel the gimmicks at times. I know that I need to work on my turning to be a better Mario Kart player in this game. I feel like I lose a lot of speed because I just hit the brakes for every turn. It seems to be the most efficient way to drive, but I somehow just don’t think that this is the case. There’s got to be something that I’m missing. Being able to jump is another fun feature in the game although it’s not all that useful. My L button started to act up towards the end so I couldn’t use the items as well as I wanted to, but you can still get past that with solid driving.
The graphics hold up well for the GBA. The character designs are all fun and retro. It’s cool how they haven’t changed all that much over the years except for Bowser. I have to say that he looks quite different. Between the CD-I games, the Mario comics, and this title, it really goes to show how this style completely died out. The old design was fun, but I probably do prefer the new one. Both have their moments though. The soundtrack is great as always. The tunes are fun to listen to as you play and Nintendo is still at the top of the line when it comes to this. Most Game Boy Advance games did have a soundtrack, but a lot of them were either very limited or only had a few catchy songs. This is a bit of a bold generalization since we do have quite a few RPGs and other franchise titles with fans who are ready to tell me differently, but aside from Sonic Advance and the Pokemon games, what other GBA title has such a solid all around soundtrack? I may be forgetting something myself, but this game is certainly up there.
Overall, Mario Kart: Super Circuit is a solid game. It’s also cool to see some of these old stages for the first time in a while since they were present in Mario Kart Wii as part of the crossover appeal. I like to think that I kept my skills from those other titles which is why I was dominating the computers here for the most part. It’s clearly not as expansive or awesome as Double Dash, but this was a nice way to keep the series going. I’m now one step closer to being caught up with Mario Kart. I just need MK7 and MK8 and then I’m back in biz. It’ll be fun to play those as they’re a lot more modern so it’ll be a very large contrast. If you haven’t gotten this game yet, then it’s still not too late. You’ll have a blast, regardless of how long it’s been. Good gameplay doesn’t feel the same wear and tear that other mediums can get blasted with. Just look at Galaga or Pac-Man.