Time for one of the best games of all time and one that I took waaaay too long to play. The Super NES Super Mario Kart was the last game in this series that I really spent any time with (aside from some unimpressive runs at Double Dash and this game for a few minutes at a time over the years), so this one is pretty new to me. And it's such a cool game that I'll be posting screenshots in Bigscreen-O-Vision. The wave of tomorrow!
Up to four players?! That's right, the Nintendo 64 had no less than FOUR controller ports, and this game put them to good use.
The character select is almost the same as the previous game, except they removed the semi-unnecessary (Due to Bowser's presence) Koopa Troopa and replaced him with Wario. I'm guessing they re-did the stats of the characters as a result; Wario looks like a heavy character alongside DK and Bowser, while the others likely got evened out a bit.
EDIT: I've been told that Peach/Toad/Yoshi are the lightest/best characters, with the best acceleration and so forth. DK/Wario/Bowser are indeed the heavy characters with the highest top speed, while Mario/Luigi are the averaged-out characters. Interesting.
Four cups, just like the previous game. The stages are different, though, and Luigi gets his own stage right off the bat.
Luigi may be the namesake of the track, but I'm playing as Mario for this one. So far this game has the same pseudo-3D as Super Mario 64 when it comes to stationary objects and so forth. Some things look 3D, yet are actually 2D images that always face you. Can see it with the trees here. That's the same thing a lot of three-dimensional games from that era had to do, due to their hardware limitations.
The ? blocks return, but this time they're (truly) three-dimensional and they respawn. There are several new items for this game, the coolest of which is the spiked blue shell that homes in on whoever is in first place. It seems to be very rare, though.
First one down. I like that the game shows you which laps you were quickest on.
Moo Moo Farm is the next level... wait, Moo Moo Farm? The hell does that have to do with Mario? Sounds more like something you'd find in a Zelda game. I wonder if I'll get a bottle of milk here that restores my health and can be used twice.
Next up, the beach. This looks cool, but it doesn't really have the same open feeling that the SNES beach stage does. Not sure why. Maybe it's the overbearing rock wall on the left.
Next up! The Desert Bus stage! In this one Mario drives for eight hours in a straight line.
At least until a TRAIN ROARS BY. Moments after this picture was taken, the train was suplexed by Sabin.
Whoa! It's the castle from Mario 64. And the exploding fish has returned! This time he doesn't explode, though. He just sorta... spits the trophy out.
Flower Cup time! I think these are supposed to be a step up in difficulty, but it's usually a very minor step. Historically I only really have trouble with Special Cup levels, though sometimes Star Cup levels can be tricky.
Toad's Turnpike looks like something out of Final Fantasy VII. It's a dystopian horror of pollution and asphalt, where nothing can ever grow. Before playing this level, it's advisable to line the walls of your home with crucifixes.
Frappe Snowland is next. Nice, a snow level. Is this the one that everyone hates? I know this game has one, maybe two levels that aren't popular. If so, then I hope people call this... Crappe Snowland. ::laugh track is heard::
I'm doing some 100cc at this point with the Princess. It's a lot more fun than 50cc because it poses a more significant challenge, though nothing insurmountable.
This level caused me a lot of trouble. The walls aren't really walls; they're unclimbable-past-a-point ramps that you can go onto and fall off. This wastes a lot of time, and for the most part you need to avoid bumping into them.
Final level in Flower Cup is the return of Mario Raceway (Mario Circuit in the previous game). It's a new stage, but the same theme.
I JUST miss getting first place in 100cc's Flower Cup. In the future I'm going to spend some more time with 100cc and see if I can tackle 150cc.
"I'm so happy!" says Peach. "...Peach."
...because she says her own name at the end of the narration in Mario 64. Yeah. In any case, Star Cup is next, and this is the one I was most excited about when I read about this game in Nintendo Power back in the day. Wario gets his own stage, there's another ice level, and Bowser's Castle is in 3D glory.
How have I never spent any real time on this game? Aside from playing it for a few minutes at a time at people's houses, which doesn't count. I basically missed out on the whole N64.
For this one I go with Wario, the new character for this game. About time. What an appealing character this guy is.
Wario Stadium must be what he built with all that money he made in the Wario Land games, and the sides of it are lined with giant Wario-faces.
The next ice level has the penguins from Mario 64. I like all of these little nods to the N64's premiere game.
Outside of the caves, it's all icy and hazardous. In real life if you drove 60 MPH on sheer ice like this, you'd probably fly off of the Earth.
One thing this game does wrong... perhaps the only thing... is the lack of a Retry option on the pause screen. If you end up in 4th place or worse during the end of a race (or 3rd if you consider that unacceptable) you have to just stop and let yourself lose rather than restarting it at will.
Then again, this game also gives you infinite lives, which is an improvement over the three or four that Super Mario Kart gives you. Maybe a Retry on top of that was deemed too powerful. Doesn't make much sense if so.
The Royal Raceway is somewhat nondescript. I was expecting it to be all pink and princessy and feminine, but no such luck. Here we see Wario lugging around the fabled Blue Spiky Shell, one of the awesome new items in this game.
One thing the Royal Raceway DOES have is the longest jump in the game, as you fly through the air and land between two voluptuous hills.
...nevermind what I said about this track not being feminine enough.
Finally, Bowser's Castle. I was probably looking forward to seeing this one the most, but it isn't as three-dimensional as I was hoping for. I do like the flame-throwing statues.
NO! GET OUT OF THE LAVA, WARIO!
Time for the last level set, meaning my time with this post (and the game, for now) is winding down.
Bowser gets my pick for this set. I later found out that he's the most difficult character in the game to play as. That said, this is only 50cc... I'll probably be okay.
As for who the best characters are... legend says that it comes down to Toad and Yoshi. Which means Yoshi, really, because few people will make the effort required to play as Toad. Selecting him is not advised unless you have first constructed a pentagram of candles.
Behold: The Steamship Mario. Somewhere aboard it is Mark Twain.
Yoshi Valley is the stage I had the most trouble with out of any in the game. I didn't realize it until I had lost a couple times, but this stage is a maze. The game doesn't specify a path to follow, and the path that I kept following (which I thought was THE path) kept causing me to fall behind by several rankings. I soon realized that there were multiple paths to take, and took the shortest one.
From there, winning was academic. You can see how my time got better once I figured out what I was doing. Weird stage, this one.
Ghost House! Hell yeah! Oddly enough, there are guardrails on the sides of the track. In Super Mario Kart, these levels were very difficult because you could fall off in so many areas. Seems like they lowered the difficulty quite a bit for this version.
Finally, Rainbow Road. This was my favorite level in the SNES game, though it was extremely difficult since you could constantly fall off the tra.... wait, what? Guardrails again? Yep, Rainbow Road is guardrailed up in this game. No real danger of falling off. Not sure how I feel about this. Maybe at higher difficulty levels the guardrails aren't there.
Oh... My... God. A Toad hologram draws near.
TURN AROUND, BOWSER! GET OUT OF THERE!
GET OUT OF THERE!!!!