Super Mario Kart is a milestone when it comes to racing games.
What can be said about Super Mario Kart that most of us don't know already? I'd think very little; everybody knows this is a quality title. From small to big and young to old, the whole world knows Mario Kart and the quality it stands for. And that quality stands for dozens of hours in gameplay fun. That's why this review will mostly concentrate on the minor points that are lesser known from this crown jewel.
First of all, let's hastily revise the strong points: Super Mario Kart offers decent racing, with a lot of recognizable characters and lots of action. With danger around every corner, the use of power-ups and weapons leaves you breathless in constant excitement. Different environments with individual ground grip requires various racing tactics and approaches. Multiplayer racing and a Battle Mode can endlessly prolong any fun you'd be having solo. In fact, that is one of the strongest points from this game and a driving power behind its success. All in all, there's more than enough to make Super Mario Kart the powerhouse it has become. But there's always a flipside, however inconspicuous it may seem.
The main gripe everything revolves from is the ridiculous AI setting. Even from the very first cup race, you'll be sweating blood trying to get around your enemy. This crushing difficulty is usually not mentioned in praising reviews and comes from an unfair and unbalanced AI. No matter how good your racing skills, your direct opponent will always be right behind your racing line. Not only that, but he will also sprint forward after any mishap. And since you're the only one affected by terrain, that will happen faster than you think. This automatic handicap will make it harder for you to keep the pole position.
Worsening this is the fact you can't derail your direct opponent. You can destroy the poor schmucks downward from the fifth spot, but the point players are rock steady drivers. Even with a perfectly aimed shot, they'll magically stay on track, never falling down a hole.
And with that aim comes the next problem. At all times, your enemy can bank a flawless shot in your line. And if that's not enough, he also seems to have unlimited ammo. Those things will make passing an enemy hard, as they'll always have something to throw at you, slowing you down. You however, have only limited resources and some of those items are useless. For instance, the whole coin system is only there to not make you skid out and is pointless at best. And feathers for jumping will rarely apply to anything, as it won't make you impervious to attacks like the other characters.
Which leads us to the last point of business: jumping. Whenever you launch or leave an item, your opponents will easily skip over them. Since you have a jump action with your shoulder buttons yourself, you could think of doing the same thing. But oh no, this does not apply to you! Your jump is barely an inch high and even with perfect timing, you won't ever escape an offensive power-up. It's a slap in your face every time a foe leaps above adversity in front of your eyes, again thwarting your plans. In all, you'll only use the jump function to adjust your drifting or hop over a small bump.
These are just minor flaws that have been spread out to be more severe than they appear. In reality, Super Mario Kart is a milestone when it comes to racing games; defining kart racing as a whole. This first instalment, while rough around the edges, has later been tweaked and updated, not to mention copied. From Sonic to Crash Bandicoot to Mickey Mouse and a lot of others; every market saw the potential of this juggernaut and tried to jump on the success train. It was also one of the first attempts to break Mario away from his regular platform games. And for a first effort, this is more than just a good performance, as we all know where this has lead us today.
If you're not convinced about the tremendous qualities of this game, a mere glance at any video is bound to get you pumped. Super Mario Kart offers not only some of the best old-school action; it's still literally breathtaking to this day.
So get your hands ready for some sweaty palm action and let's-a race!