Tag Archives: Mario Kart

Scouse Gamer 88 Mario Kart: Super Circuit Header

Mario Kart: Super Circuit (Game Boy Advance)

Developer(s) – Intelligent Systems

Publisher(s) – Nintendo

Director(s) – Takashi Ando & Yukio Morimoto

Producer(s) – Shigeru Miyamoto & Kenji Miki

PEGI – 3

 

Handing over the development of the series to Intelligent Systems, Mario Kart: Super Circuit marked the first time that the series appeared on a handheld console, and was well received by critics upon release, and went on to become the fourth best selling game on the system behind Pokémon Ruby & Sapphire, Pokémon Fire Red & Leaf Green and Pokémon Emerald. Speaking as a long-time fan of the series, the contenders for the worst game, in my opinion, was this and Mario Kart: Double Dash!! But after having replayed both of them in recent years, I’ve come to the conclusion that Super Circuit is indeed the worst game in the series. But still, this is not to say that it’s a bad game; it’s just the worst of an excellent series.

 

Graphics – 5/10

One of the worst things about it is most definitely the conceptual design, which track by track, ranges from good to barely passable. A lot of the ideas Nintendo tried for new track designs outside the usual tropes of the series are pretty poorly designed, such as Cheese Land and Riverside Park, but at the same time, many tracks that go along with the motifs of the series, such as Peach Circuit and Mario Circuit, are also quite poorly designed. The best kinds of tracks in the game are those following the themes of Bowser’s Castle and the haunted house courses. The uniquely themed tracks also get fractionally better as the game progresses, but the best in conceptual design throughout the series would be yet to come.

 

Gameplay – 7/10

The game plays out like a mixture of both Super Mario Kart and Mario Kart 64, and for the most part, the courses do provide a fair level of challenge. But again, there are courses that can be criticized in this respect too. Mario Circuit is a prominent example since it was placed in the Flower Cup, yet I personally found it easier to win on than Peach Circuit in the Mushroom Cup, which goes against not only the tradition of Mario Kart but that of gaming in general, since games are supposed to get harder as they progress. Otherwise, it plays out just as well as any other game in the series.

 

Controls – 10/10

By proxy, there are also no issues with the controls. Both the prior games in the series had been largely a test of trial and error since they were both drastically different from the other (with both of them passing that test), but somehow, the controls feel a lot smoother than Super Mario Kart with elements of the control scheme of Mario Kart 64 thrown in. It seems easier to make narrow turns and easier to accurately aim weapons than in the original game.

 

Lifespan – 8/10

If players don’t have another gamer to partake in multiplayer with (which would make the game last for as long as their own interest in it), it can take fractionally longer than the original two games to complete, since it has five tournaments as opposed to the traditional four. There are also additional game modes to add to the title’s longevity in the battle mode, quick run, and time trial modes, so fans of the series will have more than enough to do throughout.

 

Storyline – N/A (10/10)

The Mario Kart series has never had a story attached to it, and it never should, I don’t think. At this point especially, I believe that trying to add a story to a Mario Kart game would be a pretty bad move on Nintendo’s part unless they can do it in such a way that it does nothing to hinder gameplay to any kind of extent. It worked particularly well in Diddy Kong Racing, so if Mario Kart were to ever become an open-world kart game, a story may work.

 

Originality – 2/10

The Mario Kart series would later become quite innovative, including a number of new features with each installment, but in Super Circuit, there is next to no innovation, as it was indeed largely influenced by the two prior games. Nintendo tried to create a game that was more evolutionary rather and revolutionary, but due to the mixed quality in track design, I didn’t find it to be the evolutionary experience that Nintendo intended it to be.

 

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However, much as I’ve complained about Mario Kart: Super Circuit, it still remains a solid gaming experience, and much better than any generic racing game that was either out at the time or what had been released prior; or even that has been released since. To me, it’s acceptable since it plays out as any Mario Kart game should, but other games in the series have since gone above and beyond what was on offer here.

Score

42/60

7/10 (Fair)

Scouse Gamer 88 Mario Kart: Double Dash Header

Mario Kart: Double Dash (GameCube)

Developers(s) – Nintendo EAD

Publisher(s) – Nintendo

Director(s) – Kiyoshi Mizuki, Yasuyuki Oyagi, Futoshi Shirai & Daiji Imai

Producer(s) – Shigeru Miyamoto, Tadashi Sugiyama, Shinya Takahashi & Takashi Tezuka

PEGI – 3

 

The fourth installment to the most successful spin-off series in video gaming history, Mario Kart: Double Dash provided gamers with a slightly different take on the kart racing genre, by adding the feature of having two characters to each kart allowing for more weapons to be held at any one given time, and also allowing for online play; though in a much-limited capacity to what gamers of this day and age are accustomed to. Unfortunately, however, I’ve never thought as much of this game as many other entries in the franchise. It would be a choice for me between this and Super Circuit as the two main contenders for “the” worst game in the series, for a number of reasons.

 

Graphics – 5/10

One reason why I believe this game doesn’t match the quality of most other Mario Kart titles is because the visuals are not the best on the GameCube; either from a graphical or conceptual standpoint. The tracks are some of the worst in the series; even including my all-time least favorite track; Baby Park. Aside from that, it also had most probably the worst incarnation of Rainbow Road in the entire series. There are a select few tracks that stand out, but nowhere on the same levels as the track in entries such as Mario Kart 8, Wii, or even 7.

 

Gameplay – 6/10

For the most part, the game plays out pretty much like any other Mario Kart game, and the addition of a second driver does make for an interesting twist in gameplay since players can be at a disadvantage if the passenger falls off after taking too many hits from items. The problems are that most of the tracks in the game don’t necessarily make for a particularly grueling challenge, in lieu of the series’ tradition, and they also added something else, which has been a recurring thing in other Mario Kart games since, that I have never been a fan of; cannons. In some tracks, there are cannons that transport players from one area of the course to the other, and to me, it’s always been a sign of developers literally cutting corners.

 

Controls – 10/10

The best thing I can say about this game is that despite the introduction of new mechanics, it stays true to the classic Mario Kart formula, and consequently, there are no complications to address. The only problem that can be even vaguely associated with it is that the sound effects of switching drivers can become relentlessly repetitive.

 

Lifespan – 8/10

Completing each tournament in each class can take up to 5 to 6 hours, but after that, if players have access to the Internet via the GameCube, they can, of course, indulge in online play, which will add even more to the lifespan; an idea which in all fairness, I am pretty happy to have seen become a stable of the series. There is also a little bit more incentive added in the unlockable characters and unlockable cars; something else that would become a regular feature, much to my delight.

 

Storyline – N/A (10/10)

The Mario Kart series, has never had a story attached to it, and it never should, I don’t think. At this point especially, I believe that trying to add a story to a Mario Kart game would be a pretty bad move on Nintendo’s part unless they can do it in such a way that it does nothing to hinder gameplay to any kind of extent. It worked particularly well in Diddy Kong Racing, so if Mario Kart were to ever become an open-world kart game, a story may work.

 

Originality – 3/10

As I’ve reiterated, Double Dash ultimately plays out like most other games in the series; only being much less enjoyable. It does have the one saving grace of having two characters to every one kart, but the cannons throughout a good few of the tracks in this series started off a trend, which I personally would rather have not seen started, making this game original, but for what are in my opinion, the wrong reasons.

 

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To summarize, however, although Mario Kart: Double Dash makes for a bad Mario Kart game, it doesn’t necessarily make for a bad game in general. It’s much more enjoyable than a fair few other sixth-generation games released at the time, and it still beats any other generic racing game out there hands down.

Scores

43/60

7/10 (Fair)

Mario Kart 8 Header

Mario Kart 8 (Wii U & Switch)

Developer(s) – Nintendo EAD Group No 1

Publisher(s) – Nintendo

Director – Kosuke Yabuki

Producer – Hideki Konno

PEGI – 3

 

Boasting new tracks, anti-gravity mechanics, and of course online multiplayer, Mario Kart 8 has warranted a small boost in Wii U sales over the last two weeks; but for how good this game is, and how good past games for the system have been, I think the Wii U deserved more than a small boost in sales.

 

Graphics – 9/10

The majority of the new tracks, namely Sunshine Airport, Twisted Mansion, Thwomp Ruins, and Cloudtop Cruise among others, are exceptionally brilliant in design, and posthumously make up for the traditional inclusion of some of the more generic ones, such as Mario Kart Stadium and Mario Circuit. The level of detail put into every other track is staggering, making it even more possible than in previous games to get too caught up in the scenery to concentrate on the race. Furthermore, the retro stages are also visually breathtaking; most of which have been re-designed to the point of being seldom recognizable. For example, Grumble Volcano from Mario Kart Wii, a track I’d thought to be somewhat generic in the original version, has been given an extremely different feel. Now looking comparable to the land of Mordor, it’s as if Lord of the Rings has taken over for a part of the game, and it’s a massive improvement on the original version.

 

Gameplay – 9/10

As a veteran Mario Kart player, I already had a very good idea of what I would be getting with the latest installment. Deceptively unforgiving as normal, Mario Kart 8 present challenge on a particularly large scale; even on 50cc at times. Though I’ve yet to play online, I can already tell that I am in for something, particularly testing. In terms of gameplay, however, I did find a fault with the implementation of anti-gravity segments. I found that whilst the novelty is there, it doesn’t add as much to the table as what I’d anticipated, and doesn’t necessarily add to the challenge either. There are some tracks where it works a bit better than others, but for the most part, it seems a little redundant. But the worst thing about Mario Kart 8, I believe, is the inclusion of coins being part of the item roster. People may say that adds to the challenge, but in my opinion, that can add quite a bit of unnecessary frustration when players are in front and need something to defend themselves with. It may be in homage to the original game, but there’s a good reason why they were removed. However, despite these two faults, this game is still exceptionally fun to play.

 

Controls – 10/10

Tailored to play using a variety of different means, I can say that there are no problems with the game’s control scheme. I did have concerns that the controls would suffer because of the anti-gravity feature, but Nintendo has handled it flawlessly, and players can virtually skip from Mario Kart Wii to Mario Kart 8 without skipping a beat. There are two changes to playing the game with the Wii remote, but that doesn’t take any time at all to get used to.

 

Lifespan – N/A (10/10)

It will take about half an hour to play through each tournament, and there are the traditional four classes to complete each tournament on, so that should take about 16 hours overall. But after that, there’s the online play to immerse players, which will make for hours upon hours of entertainment. As a racing game, there is no fixed lifespan, simply making for a game that can be picked up and played without much worry of making conventional progress beyond the Grand Prix mode.

 

Storyline – N/A (10/10)

The Mario Kart franchise has never needed a story attached to it, and there was no reason why they would start now. Maybe in the future, a sort could be implemented to make an installment play out more like Diddy Kong Racing as opposed to staying in lieu of tradition in order to mix things up, but lack of story is nothing that Mario Kart 8 should lose marks for, in my opinion.

 

Originality – 5/10

A lack of uniqueness, on the other hand, is something I think that the game should lose marks on. On one hand, it’s wonderful how the developers have designed the latest tracks, and how they’ve painstakingly re-mastered old tracks for the retro tournaments. But on the other hand, I was sorely disappointed by how under-whelming the anti-gravity feature is; bearing in mind that it has been one of the game’s main selling points for the longest time. Also, I found that the character roster is a little bit generic compared to others in the series. I think the inclusion of Bowser’s minions may have been a mistake, as I can think of many more standout Mario characters than them, who could have been included instead.

 

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Overall, however, I think Mario Kart 8 is a particularly impressive game with all the fun and challenge of a traditional game in the franchise and makes for one of the best gaming experiences of 2014. I would have advocated people buy the Wii U over the Xbox One before the release of this game, but I think this game warrants a lot more units to be sold.

Score

53/60

8.5/10 (Great)