|Nintendo Reviews Rating:
|Posted: February 21st, 2005
|Even before Mario Kart: Double Dash, the GBA got its treatment of racing with the Mario Kart series. It's been over
three years since its release; how does it hold up as a racing game for a portable console?
The music is always very Marioesque, and this time around, we hear the same old type of music. It's not that it's bad, I
just felt that the tunes weren't very hummable. A couple like Cheese Land's tune are exclusive to that level, and that's
cool. That particular song is actually pretty good. They all still seem to fit the fast-paced mood of the levels. The music
from the older levels seem maybe slightly updated, but that's because it seems like the Stereo headphones mix it up.
Sound effects are pretty basic, although some are new. They can also get a little annoying. The characters repeat their
phrases several times, and though it is nice to hear voices in a GBA game, there was room for improvement. There are
also some different engine sounds, which gives characters' vehicles a more personal touch. The Stereo mix is rather good,
and since this is one of the first GBA games, it's actually a good effort. Overall, it's decent, and you'll want headphones to
enjoy it all. It's not GBA's best, but it's satisfactory.
The highlight of any racing game can be drowned by a bad control scheme. Luckily, this game does not. A is accelerate, B
is brake. R is jump and holding it allows you to drift. Drifting along a U-turn without going offroad or hitting anything will
allow you to get a speed boost. It can be difficult to do with some characters, and it's a good thing that there are 8 because
that leaves a lot of opportunity to find a character you like. Pressing L uses items. There are times where you will need to
hold L, and holding L and using the R button can start to become hard. Select is for honking, which is my only real
complaint. Who's really going to reach down to press that?
The levels are all pretty much flat, but to take care of jumps, speed boosts and bumps are made. Most of the levels have
some type of jump part. There are no hidden shortcuts, because all of them are plainly visible. There are however some
creative ones. If you fall off a course, which you can in some levels, you will be brought up, but you will lose four coins and
time. Players need to understand that coins have a significance. The more coins you have, the faster you will go. The good
thing is that CPU opponents cannot get any. There's usually about 40 per level, and you'll start with only a couple. You'll
need to avoid items, players and hazards to keep your coins. Coins are also spread out well. Using items is also effective.
Red Shells have a new effect. Shooting it backward will stick it to the road and get the next opponent, so even if you are in
first place, it can still be useful. Overall, the control is excellent and one that will be modeled after for future GBA racing
The graphics are more of a 3D feel that the old Mario Kart needed. It's great
to see all the new character models and level designs implemented into the
engine. It's not the best looking, but very good for the GBA. There's no
framerate problems, and every icon is correctly sized. The screen is just big
enough to see everything. The animations are smooth and crisp. The levels are
detailed, and the backgrounds are great. There's not much lighting effects, but
that is understandable. There's just not much wrong here, and it is a treasure
to look at.
Never before have I seen a racing game with so much to do. Each cup takes about 15 minutes to do, and there are 5 cups.
There's 75 minutes. Add in 4 difficulty levels to get about 300 minutes, so we're up to 5 hours now. Then add in the hours
of fun with Time Trials and multiplayer and you have about an 8 hour game. That's not very much, but what they added
makes up for it: ranks. You are ranked based on performance and based on number of coins. Trying to get the highest
rank is difficult, and will add so much more play time.
You can also save 10 ghosts to your game, and you can even trade and save two ghosts from friends. Ghosts is just a term
for a replay of a time trial race. You can Ghost Exchange with anyone else who owns a game pak. Time Trials can be fun,
and if you like racing games, you'll find a lot there. The other major attribute is the additional 20 levels that can be
unlocked from the original Super Mario Kart. That adds another 8 hours.
Rounding up the replay is the multiplayer mode. With just one game, you can only race 4 levels, but with multiple games,
you can race on any unlocked level from any game pak and you can even battle. There are four battle levels to choose
from. All of this is available for up to four players. Just one game pak is like a preview, but you have infinite options with
multiple game paks. Overall, you'll be playing this for a long time.
Mario Kart has always been fun, and this game retains that fun with a mix of old and new. The items system is based off
of Mario Kart 64, but the levels are based off of Super Mario Kart. All items are available except a triple mushroom. In
this game, mushrooms are unnecessary and actually get in the way, so that's acceptable. Some flaws in the design are the
CPU characters. When they use a star, for instance, they don't seem to gain any speed. They also never use a Boo on you.
And when you pass opponents, it takes one second for the game to figure out that you've passed them. That never seems
to affect the end of the race, but it is suspicious.
Flaws aside, there's also many ups. There are many options for time trials, quick races and multiplayer modes. The sheer
variety of levels is great to see. The game also loads very fast, and the interface is very good. The only complaint is that
the results screen moves a little too fast. You only have a second to look at the times that everyone finished with. This is
overlookable, considering everything they have perfected in this game. What's also great is the amount that the game
saves. It is very good for a GBA game, and it feels like an update of Super Mario Kart, with enough here for anyone to
pick up an play.
This is a reccomendable GBA game that sports minor flaws, with enough new to outwiegh the old. If you want the entire
Super Mario Kart on your GBA, then you can. The Mario Kart series has never before felt so perfect, and there's only
minor stuff that brings this game down. Overall, it's a solid game that is worth the price, even three years later.