Retro Gaming Review: ‘Super Mario Kart’

By January 19, 2016

When I think of Retro Gaming, Nintendo always comes to mind. Let’s face it, the company has been in the gaming space for over 100 years. They are synonymous with excellent IP’s, from Metroid, Zelda, to Donkey Kong. Nintendo seems to have a title for every age group and genre. Just look at what they have done with their cash cow the Mario Brothers. Whether it is just plain Mario, to Super Mario, to Paper Mario; hell even Mario Tennis and Golf. The interesting ways Mario has been integrated into the gaming space is not just innovative it is pure, marketing brilliance – one just needs to look at the classic party game: Super Mario Kart.

Launched to the public on the SNES in 1992, this go-kart racer captured the minds of families, loners and college students. Super Mario Kart forced competitors to jump on the Kart concept i.e. Sonic, Crash Team Racing, and even the Final Fantasy inspired Chocobo Racing (MODOJO).

Mario kart graphicSuper Mario Kart offers the player a chance to play one of 8 playable characters: Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, Yoshi, Bowser, Donkey Kong Jr., Koopa Troopa and Toad. The single and multiplayer experiences are what makes this game such a classic. In a time where game makers sell you an imperfect product that requires 2 gigs of updates out of the box and 50 dollar DLC subscription fees. Not to mention unbalanced single/multiplayer experiences, that leave a gamer feeling cheated. Super Mario Kart provided the player a chance to unlock tracks and classes in single player mode that were useable in the multiplayer experience (Wiki). There was no added cost – what you bought from the store was what you got. Super Mario Kart, come to think of it, launched a sub-genre in kart gaming that is still here today; entertaining millions of gamers across the globe.

The fact that Super Mario Kart is so beloved makes reviewing it with an open mind difficult. How does one review a classic without undo sappy/nostalgic influence? With math and a very, very open mind. There are 3 metrics we are looking on a scale from 1-10 which are:

Replay Value: Does the game provide an experience that is not just worth playing through again and again, but offers a unique and rewarding experience each time?

Story: Does each player mode work towards a goal that makes sense for the gamer, and does the plot playout in a way that not only engrosses the gamer but further adds to the gameplay?

Look: Does the games total package: graphics and audio come together well?

Let’s see how Super Mario Kart measure up in each category:


Coming down to the facts, replay value is an obvious 10 as Super Mario Kart offers un-lockable content and a multiplayer experience that lends itself to countless hours of play. The Story which drops in at an 8, is wonderfully simple: beat a track and move on. Not only does it work brilliantly within its simple constraints, but as you move into multiplayer mode you end up having a unique experience with each race you play. The look which arrives at another 8, is classic Nintendo: cartoonish with a polished feel. The sound track works great and fits the gaming experience. Which lends to a very high Overall Score of an 8.7.

What can I say about Super Mario Kart that hasn’t been said? It is a very, very, very fun game. It inspires that completive spirit in all of us. It is a game that brings families and friends together in a way that hasn’t always been done well by game makers.

So I want to know from everyone out there in GeekNation; what do you think of Super Mario Kart? Do you go back and play games from a platform that doesn’t end in a Box or Station? Since this is a retro review – what other games should we consider to revisit? Fire off some of your thoughts and we can discuss them below!

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Mark Reilly
Born a geek a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away - Tustin, CA - Reilly is a seasoned writer and producer with over twenty years experience in the film industry. He is the co-host of 'Far, Far Away' here on GeekNation as well as 'Meet the Movie Press' on the Popcorn Talk Network; which airs live every Friday morning at 9am pst. Tweet him at @Reillyaround