Top 100 SNES Review: #18 – Super Mario Kart (1992)

This Game Makes Me Dizzy.

And other musings from an out-dated racer.

Super Mario Kart SNES TItle ScreenSydlexia’s Ranking: #18/100
My Rating: Star.jpgStar.jpg

I’m exhausted.

Currently, I just finished off a 50 hour work week, but it doesn’t stop there: I have residency mid-terms in a couple of weeks; a paper that I’m trying to get published; research articles that needs to be read; and notes to be typed.

Needing to hit a restart, I decided to keep Friday night and all of Saturday completely to myself. I’m going to waste away laying around, playing video games, writing, guitaring, and whatever else fits my fancy.

I wanted something easy to kick it off. I preferred to avoid going through the hassle of learning something new, nor did I want to get pulled into a long adventure (here’s looking at you Final Fantasy). Mario Kart seemed to fit the bill. I could drink my Sam’s Club diet soda and do short three-minute races while taking breaks for instagram and self-reflection.

While having more content than F-Zero, Mario Kart SNES still seems pretty bare. The programming for certain situations also became very predictable (Need a star? Eighth place it is! About to pass Luigi? Guess who now has a star!). Not to mention the vertigo-inducing graphics where Donut Plains turns into a pixilated seizure of poop stains.

Super Mario Kart SNES Victorry
Toad’s still a cutie.


The proliferation of Mario began when Nintendo learned that they could shove their overalls-donning plumber into any scenario and get good results. While no details are given, Mushroom Kingdom came together and decided that conflict and arguments were better settled on the racetrack.


Super Mario Kart SNES Race
Let the races begin!


There are a total of four cups with five tracks each for a total of 20 unique race courses. The goal is to get gold in each cup by finishing faster than your competitors. There are three difficulties (represented by the cubic centimeters of the engines) where the AI is better, faster, and stronger. The implied motivational factor is wanting to get better at these courses until you get gold on all the cups on the highest difficulty level.

Meh 🤷‍♂️.

There are still cool moments that come with every racing game — who doesn’t like pulling off an unexpected upset? The game should also be lauded for some of its forward thinking like being able to select racers that have different “stats” of speed, acceleration, turning control, and etc.

Super Mario Kart SNES driver selection
Even with the selection, there are really only a couple good options.

Where things get sticky is when you hit your skill level ceiling. The Mushroom Cup on 50cc will be a breeze. Then along the way, you will hit a nice medium where things are exhilarating but still doable. After that, it all crumbles a part.

Just when you need to be motivated to keep playing to get better, you will have gone through all the courses. There will be nothing “new” left to see.

At these higher difficulties, the heavy-handiness of the programming will come out. A barrage of scattered ice blocks will only be a problem for one out of the eight participants (read: you) while everyone else avoids them with perfect aplomb. Luigi and Mario will gain the ability to call a star on demand. Any error results in failure.

With only bragging rights on the table there is no point to keep going.

Super Mario Kart SNES Defeat
Those who finish in the bottom half are punished by being killed in a puff of smoke. 

It doesn’t get too much better in second player. The two people need to be similar in skill level otherwise one player will triumph while the other squalors. I’ve played with two different people over the past year and in both scenarios I was the more skilled driver. They were good sports for a race or two, but then justifiably wanted to play something else.

Also: just look at this.

Super Mario Kart SNES UGLY
Warning: this is not a magic eye. 

Soak up that color palate. Hell, at least that’s a static picture. You should see what happens when you make turns and they have to swirl that environment around you.


Better in memory than today’s reality.

Other People’s Takes:

  • Nintendobound: “Surely, Super Mario Kart will not blow the minds of those who have gone through more recent entries of the series; yet, the game will likely be able to entertain and make one look rather fondly to the franchise’s very well-designed beginning.”
  • SNES A Day: “Super Mario Kart‘s AI is the real problem, though. The computer cheats. Blatantly.”
  • Games That I Play: “Super Mario Kart is still an amazing classic that is still fun to this day like most games from Nintendo of this era.”


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