Although the ten GBA 3DS Ambassador games are all titles I already owned I’m not one to pass up an opportunity to try out an old game in a new format, especially if I can do it for free. They also provide rather excellent entertainment for long tube rides, not least Mario Kart Super Circuit, which happens to be my first experience of one of gaming’s most successful spin-offs. Oh and guess what? It was made by my favourite dev Intelligent Systems.
If you’ve played Mario Kart before you know what to expect from Super Circuit. Playing as any of eight Mushroom Kingdom favourites you zip round colourful themed race tracks in one of three engine classes in a dash for the chequered flag. The game features five cups of four tracks each, with a further twenty courses unlocked in the form of every single circuit from the original Super Mario Kart updated to fit the handheld’s graphical style.
Fans of more recent entries in the series will notice the very loose and somewhat imprecise handling which takes some getting used to. The speed of 150cc is exhilarating and zooming round the tracks with this quite erratic gameplay is actually a lot of fun and heightens the sense of satisfaction associated with success. The return of coins from the SNES title adds a layer of strategy that was missing from other games in the series and makes unlocking the SNES tracks quite stimulating.
The game is appropriately pretty with bold colours used to describe deserts, snowy landscapes, jungles and haunted piers and the backgrounds of the original courses at least look detailed and vibrant as they scroll past. The solid but ultimately forgettable tunes do the job and the engine revs and voice calls all deliver the right ambiance.
The only real problem with the game is that there’s not a whole lot to it. Mario Kart games are always best played in multiplayer which is not tremendously accessible for handheld games due to the requirement of multiple console ownership and the free download version simply doesn’t support multiplayer at all. The number of tracks on offer, more than any other in the series go some way to combat this, as does the usual time trials but after a few hours and unlocking everything there’s very little incentive to carry on. Still the gameplay is fun enough to make it well worth playing and a lot of fun and the package features all the polish you’d expect from a Mario game.
Design – 7
Gameplay – 7
Graphics – 8
Sound – 6
Longevity – 5
Intelligent Systems deliver a fun and fast kart racer that stands as a quality GBA title that is still enjoyable enough to make it worth playing in the wake of Mario Kart 7.