By Alayna P.
Mario Kart Super Circuit is my favorite game in the Mario Kart series, though that is something of a unique point of view; most people would list a different Mario Kart game as their favorite, or list this game as a weak point for the series. For me, it was my very first Mario Kart game, the one that made me fall in love with the series, and I still hold it in high regard today! After having spent the following years playing a few more Mario Kart games (Mario Kart DS, Mario Kart 7, and Mario Kart Wii), and learning all the ins and outs of each game; despite the fact that the Mario Kart games following Mario Kart Super Circuit being clear improvements over it, it does do a few things that are worth a return to the series, and would definitely improve the game!
The first thing that you can do in Mario Kart Super Circuit but not in later Mario Kart games, and that I find myself missing the most, is what happens when you shoot a red shell behind you. In later games, firing a red shell backwards is virtually usesless. A red shell fired forwards chases after the opponent in front of you, but shot backward, it just moves in a straight line until it hits something, at which point, it gets knocked out. Even launching a green shell backwards is better, at least those bounce! However, this game does it better. Shoot a red shell behind you, and it sits right there on the track, and it will wait for someone to drive past. Then, it emits a tell-tale beeping sound, and will chase after the driver who went past! When compared to what red shells do when sent behind you nowadays, you can see why I miss it so much. It gave the red shell that one extra useful dimension to it, and ever since then, I just can't help but feel like we're missing out.
Next up is something else regarding the red shells. With great power comes great need for ability to counteract that power, and Mario Kart Super Circuit had us covered. In this game, red shells will not immediately hit you as soon as they catch up to you. Instead, they follow behind you for a short moment (this leading to yet another trick I will go over later). In all Mario Kart games, shells can be blocked by carrying another item behind you, and this game is no different. However, Super Circuit has one extra way to combat red shells: the turbo boost from using a mushroom will knock it out! As long as you're crusing along at your kart's full speed, the red shell will hesitate just long enough you can blast it with your turbo boost from a mushroom. That's just one more way to avoid those shells, which is definitely appreciated. I don't feel the disappointment of this being gone as much as the first one, but it'd be welcome back all the same!
Now, so far, these things go together to help combat a major complaint I often hear about Mario Kart; that being that it is based too much on luck. As I hope this article helps you see, Mario Kart Super Circuit was based much more on skill than the games that have followed (even though I think that skill will bring you a long way in any Mario Kart game; that could use its own article in the near future, I think). All that said, this next feature is the main reason that skill is a major player in Super Circuit. In most Mario Kart games, there's nothing to be done if you hit a stage hazard or a banana peel. You're gonna spin out, and that's all there is to it. However, that's not the case in this game! When you run over a banana peel, or hit a stage hazard (such as a puddle), your character will first shake, then pause a moment, and then spin out. If you hit the B button before the spin out, your character will whistle instead, and keep on going like nothing happened! This is another one I miss a lot and I find myself trying to do in other Mario Kart games. It's that one extra ability that gives it just that much more skill involved. I think Super Circuit finds a better balance between luck and skill than the following games managed to get.
The next feature is another one that brings some more skill in, and another that I miss! In most Mario Kart games, you hit an opponent with an item, and they are basically invincible (which sounds like a good thing for whoever got hit, except for that they can't move while being knocked over or spun out); until they finish spinning out, they can't be affected by anything else. Not so in Super Circuit! If you hit someone with an item (or someone else hits them with an item), you can drive into them and set them spinning out for a second time! I suspect this feature was taken out in later games with the shift to more chaotic item shenanigans; there's enough stuff bombarding you now without the other racers knocking into you, too! But, if they re-adopted these other mechanics, too, then this feature would fit right back in as well. And it feels so satisfying, too!
On the previously mentioned topic of the chaotic items in more recent Mario Kart games, another trend has been that of very skewed item appearance rates depending on what position you are in. Super Circuit had a much more even spread of the items you could recieve, no matter what position you were in. You still couldn't get things like spiky shells (this was before they were blue!) or lightning bolts when you're in the front, but unlike more recent titles, you could still get mushrooms and red shells even in first place, both very useful for keeping that position! One more thing that you could get, however, is the Boo item. For those who don't remember it, the Boo item hasn't been around, sadly enough, since Mario Kart DS. But Super Circuit did it the best. Having it as an available item to recieve in first place meant you could potentially get anything from there (the Boo item steals an item from an opponent), including power stars for invincibility! Not to mention that the Boo had an extra ability that it unfortunately lost in Mario Kart DS (likely due to the increased ability of the spiky shell), that of hounding the person in first place and slowing them down if used from a lower position in the race! Very handy little item it was, and I would love to see it return with all of the characteristics it had in this game.
Last, but not least, is a feature that I am not sure was actually intended, but I liked it all the same! You may recall earlier, I mentioned there was another trick that comes from the fact that red shells do not hit you instantly when you are at full speed. If you're going fast enough, the red shell will never hit you, just follow, as long as you don't slow down! Eventually, it will just knock itself out for taking too long. Heavy weight characters take this a step further; their higher top speed allows them to outrun even the spiky shell! Could you imagine being able to do this in modern Mario Kart games? Simply driving so fast that you'd outrun the shells? I can think of not much else more exciting than that!
Mario Kart Super Circuit may show its age in numerous ways, and Mario Kart has definitely been improved upon since, but it does have its features that it got very right, but have for one reason or another been abandonded. I hope after reading this, you can see just how right Super Circuit got things, how worthy they are of making a return to the series, and how they could bring back a little (or a lot) of the skill to the series! Are there any features from other Mario Kart games that have been lost that you think should return as well? Feel free to post your thoughts on any or all of the features discussed above in the comments below!