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The SNES Tracks | Super Circuit Annex

HDN

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Last week I reviewed my newly-acquired copy of Mario Kart Super Circuit. I had mentioned in that review that I couldn't properly rank it in my Mario Kart series rankings as I had only been playing it a short while, though I thought it would rank high. I had also mentioned that until the DLC came out for Mario Kart 8 on Wii U, this game had the most tracks of any game in the series as it included all 20 of the tracks from the initial Mario Kart game on the Super NES. At the time I had written that I had not unlocked any of the Super Nintendo tracks, nor did I know how to unlock them. Since the posting of that blog, I have unlocked the SNES tracks and I will cover them in this annex.

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Finding out how to unlock these tracks by yourself can be confusing, so I'm going to explain how to do it. To my knowledge there is only one right way.

You need to unlock each cup of the SNES tracks individually in each class (50cc, 100cc, 150cc). What you need to do is first get the gold trophy on a cup of the new tracks in the class you chose. Then, replay that cup again and make sure to collect 100 coins or more total across the four races. If you do that correctly, you will get a cup of four tracks of SNES tracks that corresponds to the cup you completed of the GBA tracks (like if you got 100 coins on 50cc Flower Cup, you would unlock the SNES 50cc Flower Cup). Since there are five cups of GBA cups with four races each, the SNES tracks have been broken off from four cups of five races to five cups of four races each. So  they're a little out of order, but no big deal. If you press the shoulder buttons on the cup selection screen, you will access a menu filled with your unlocked Super Nintendo tracks.

Unlocking all of the SNES tracks for all of the classes can be tedious and is something that I haven't personally accomplished yet. However, I have unlocked them all in the 50cc class, so I have played all of them.

I expected a lot more from the SNES tracks. Did I expect they would reuse background elements? Yes. Did I expect they would be full-on remakes of their SNES counterparts? No. But I did expect a basic yet competent port of the tracks. Just a straight rip with some elements reused from the main game to save space. However, these tracks were a bit of a disappointment for me because they don't accurately port the originals.

I love Super Mario Kart on the SNES regardless of what people say about it. I think it is a great game that still holds up. Compared to the modern-day Mario Karts it's a completely different ride, but a fun game in its own right and it represents a completely different era of Mario Kart that doesn't exist in the modern games. The tracks in SMK are very different than those seen in all Mario Kart games afterwards. They are much shorter and all have a five-lap structure compared to the three-lap standard set in Mario Kart 64. The short and simple courses should be easily ported to the more powerful Game Boy Advance, right?

The Super Mario Kart tracks are here, yes, but they are hollow shells of their former selves. Many stage elements are missing from the courses. Some are understandably cut as there's no in-game counterpart to some of the hazards in the Super Circuit tracks, such as the Monty Moles in Donut Plains 2 or the pipes in the Mario Circuit tracks. Some, however, in my opinion are inexcusable. For instance, in Mario Circuit 3 there are supposed to be oil slicks on the road. Why not replace them with the puddles seen in Luigi Circuit? I'm not aware of the ins and outs of programming for Game Boy Advance and the limitations they faced, but would it really be impossible to add a few elements to some of the remade courses seen in the main courses? The next year in 2002 Super Monkey Ball Junior managed to fit in 70 polygonal 3D courses in the main game plus some more in the bonus minigames. Is it that much to ask for a puddle of water that is already in the game to be placed in another course?

A good example I found of this is in Bowser Castle 1. On the Super Nintendo, this course had Thwomps in your way and speed boosts as well. Here are two videos you can watch, one of the SNES version and one of the GBA version. Compare for yourself. Note: I do not own these videos.

 

And here's the GBA version. See what I mean?

It might sound that I'm hating on Super Circuit now, but that's not the case. I still like the game quite a bit. I'm just a little... disappointed.



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Consider it like the older era ports.  For example Asteroids on VCS vs the arcade.  The hardware is less powerful and they had to make compromises.  And sometimes, they go with making "improvements" instead of making it as close as possible.

With game design, time and budget play huge roles in what we get.  Often times, "good enough" is the result.

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