Super Mario kart for the SNES is the game that started the succesful Mario Kart series. The game was developed and released by Nintendo. It was published in 1992 for the SNES and in 2009 for the Virtual Console. It uses Mode 7 graphics to create the 3D feel of the game. Characters from the Mario Universe race in karts against each other, using items to get an advantage over the other racers.
The game features 4 game modes, 20 different race tracks and 8 different drivers with unique driving styles (including: Mario, Luigi, Bowser and Donkey Kong jr).
The following modes are present in the game: Grand Prix, Match Race, Time Trial and Battle Mode.
In Grand Prix, the main mode of the game, one or two players can compete in three different speed classes: 50cc, 100cc and an unlockable 150cc. Each class is more difficult as the speed goes up as well as the aggressiveness of the opponents. There are four different cups to choose from: Mushroom Cup, Flower Cup, Star Cup and an unlockable Special Cup. Each cup consists of five tracks. The first four placed drivers in each race receive points for the cup. After four races the gold, silver and bronze is awarded.
In Match Race, two players can race against each other, selecting single races.
In Time Trial, a player can try to beat the best lap and total times for every race track. The times are stored in the card's battery backed memory.
In Battle Mode, two players compete against each other trying to burst the opponents three balloons, using items like banana peels, koopa shells and super stars. The battles take place on four Battle Mode-only maze-like tracks.
Every driver can carry one item at a time. Items are obtained by driving over 'question-mark'-tiles on the circuit. There are a number of different items, including shells, banana peels, mushrooms and lightning strikes. These items can be used to attack opponents, defend against attacks or to get a temporary boost. Apart from the items a player can also collect coins. The more coins, the higher the maximum speed. Coins are lost when hit by opponents attacks, falling of the track and bumping into other karts.
For the 20 different race tracks there are 7 different styles: Mario Circuit, Donut plains, Ghost Valley, Bowser Castle, Choco Island, Koopa Beach, Vanilla Lake and Rainbow Road.
Super Mario Kart has more of a racing feel compared to most of its sequels. It has a far less 'bash the leader'-feel as the items received are not so much determined by position in the race. Especially in the higher 150cc class it is absolutely essential to drive tight and know your way around the tracks in order to win. The Time Trial mode adds to that feel as well, as beating record times comes down to hundredths of a second in the case of competitive racing.
The game was very well received and sold eight million copies, becoming the third best-selling SNES game, after Super Mario World and Donkey Kong Country. The game is still regarded as one of the greatest games by many reviewers and considered a defining game in a number of ways: non-platforming games featuring the Mario cast, kart-racing games and the SNES-era in general.