SUPER MARIO KART
DEVELOPED BY: Nintendo EAD
PUBLISHED BY: Nintendo
PLATFORMS: Super Nintendo Entertainment System
RELEASE DATE: (JP) August 27, 1992, (NA) September 1, 1992 (EU) January 21, 1993

25 years ago a lot of amazing things were going on. L.A Gear’s L.A Lights were making regular trainers look boring and hiding from your friends impossible; Wayne’s World was making you scher-wing” your hips at Claudia Shiffer and Super Mario Kart was released on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System – the SNES.

It was a simpler time – with no selfies and reality television didn’t dominate our screens; when children were still children and having fun was the only way to be cool. It was a time when the SNES reigned supreme and the highlight of your day was rushing home from school to switch on that beautiful grey console, put in that thick cartridge (not without giving the inside that magical, dust-clearing blow first) and then pressing down on that yellow ‘B’ button until your thumbs had indented. You would probably also get a severe case of hand cramp from gripping the controller so hard, but it was worth it.

cartridge

SNES addiction also made it impossible to do any form of homework for two reasons: one, completing a game could take all evening, and two, your hands were probably too cramped up to hold a pencil. On top of this there was no Google to tell you everything you needed to know about the Tudors or Periodic Table, so often making your way through that massive Encyclopaedia Britannica was your only option and it seemed like a painful waste of time.

1992 may be gone forever, but it left its mark on the world; and of course, one pretty big mark was the original Super Mario Kart. There is a reason why version after version of this game has been made and a reason why just thinking about it brings back a flood of the most nostalgic gaming memories.

So what was so great about it … Apart from everything?

It was produced by Shigeru Miyamoto, with the vision that two players could race each other on the screen simultaneously – a more sociable F-Zero. The two-player feature meant it became about more than just playing; it was about bonding. About talking about the ‘amazing graphics’ while arguing over the unfairness of winning with a ‘Super Star’ at the last minute. You could even get your mum involved – although when everyone else had crossed the finish line, she had probably just worked out how to fire the shell she’d been keeping in the top box for the entire game. It was a fun thing to do with friends and family because it wasn’t about locking yourself in your room to play alone (unless you needed to unlock the Special Cup ASAP).

smk 2 player

If you haven’t played in a while and don’t quite remember how the Special Cup was unlocked, you needed to win the Mushroom Cup, Flower Cup and Star Cup on 100cc and then the joy; the joy of brand new courses on the Special Cup. Yes, you would definitely fall off the track on the Rainbow Road and Ghost Valley a few times before you mastered it and yes it felt like forever for you to be picked up and lowered back down, but the courses just oozed the right aesthetic so well you didn’t care. You will also always be able to cherish that moment when you found the Ghost Valley shortcut. It required some skillful driving, but what kind of shortcut would it be if it was easy?

ghost valley

Choosing your favourite character was definitely part of the fun. Were you a girly Princess Peach? A cute little Toad? A brutish Bowser? Although Bowser’s main problem was, he was all brute strength and no speed. Donkey Kong had the same issue. You would have had to possess some serious tactics to master these two – when in doubt, use the weapon of size and barge the smaller characters right off the track; they too could learn the feeling of slowly being lowered back.

bowser

Of course, no race would be the same without the sound of the techno music, customised for each course; those classic ‘ding’ noises are enough to fill the brain of the ‘90s lover with so many memories. it was even better than being at a school disco when your favourite song came on. The best sound was driving over the question mark boxes on the track and really wanting to get the Super Star. The Star’s gift of invincibility, when used correctly, was enough to get from last place to first but then came the challenge of keeping it. Mastering the gifts meant that you could aim a green shell to hit your enemy; you could save the red shell for when you really needed it and place a banana skin strategically on the track – maybe just before the finish line.

You also needed to be on guard at all times because the question mark gifts could be used against you; no one wanted to get hit by a red shell when they were about to win or slip on their own banana skin. If you loved that feeling of suspense just before you got first place, there was always Battle Mode with the fear that someone was lurking around the corner to burst your balloon. So many options and so many wonderful memories.

So, Happy Birthday Super Mario Kart! Thank you for being a game that the world could love. And if you haven’t played this version before, get on Ebay and start bidding. You can thank me later.

cups

This game will forever get five out of five Super Stars.

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