Platform: Gameboy Advance
Release Date: August 27, 2001
Region: NA, JP AU, EU
Developer: Intelegent Systems
Players: 1-2 (simultaneous)
Special Features: None
Mario and seven of his best pals and acquaintances power-slide into action in this arcade-style kart racer on the Game Boy Advance. Players are able to select from three main game modes; Mario GP, Time Trial and Quick Run. Mario GP allows the player select from one of five “Cups” and compete in a points championship that is composed of four tracks. The game also features “Extra” cups that are all of the tracks from the original Mario Kart game on Super Nintendo. In total, the game has 40 tracks and if using a link cable, players can play battle mode.
The gameplay is challenging and feels like a remastered version of the SNES Mario Kart. The 50, 100, and 150cc difficulty settings allow for players of all ability to enjoy the game. I personally found myself challenged on 100cc and I consider myself somewhat of a Mario Kart expert. Each racer has skill attributes for speed and weight based on a 1-5 star rating system. For example, Mario is well balanced at 3 stars for both speed and weight, Toad is 5 stars of speed and 1 star in weight. All of the expected items and power-ups are present as well. These items are: banana peel, green shell/triple green shell, red Shell/triple red shell, mushroom/triple mushroom, blue shell, thunderbolt, star and Boo. These items all behave as any Mario Kart aficionado would expect.
Super Circuit perfectly blends the classic feel of the SNES Mario Kart and the more “modern” take of Mario Kart 64. It is important to note that Super Circuit was released five years after Mario Kart 64. The return to the classic style was a bold choice for Nintendo and was for the better. This game is still very playable in 2020, which is amazing given the fact that this was the first mobile version of Mario Kart. In my honest opinion, I would rank this above both it’s predecessors Mario Kart 64 and the original SNES Mario Kart. If you have not yet played this standout, I highly recommend you give it a try!
It is interesting to consider how much bigger Mario Kart: Super Circuit would have been if it had been released in a different era. In 2001, the market was demanding 3D polygons and more realism. Sprite based games simply were overlooked on the whole. The GBA was a bit of an oddity in this era. Sure, the GBA touted a 32-bit processor, but did not have the horsepower needed to deliver 3D polygons. The GBA did have some attempts at 3D gameplay, but they were more of a novelty than truly impressive (looking at you Tony Hawk Downhill Jam).
The fact that Super Circuit was released 9 years after the original Mario Kart speaks volumes as to how much of a smash hit it truly was selling 8.76 million copies. If you wondering, Super Circuit sold 5.91 million copies, solidifying the franchise as one of the greatest franchises in gaming history.
Like what you read? Want more? Check out our review of Lego Racers on Nintendo 64.