Video Game: Super Mario Kart
It's always Luigi, dammit!
Super Mario Kart (1992) is a Driving Game
on the Super Nintendo
that inspired the Mario Kart
series and, with it, a whole slew of Wacky Racing
Due to technological limits, older driving games felt little like racing on a track and more like watching the track twist below you as other racers materialized or vanished at whim. In 1990, F-Zero
changed everything with the Super Nintendo's Mode 7 hardware, finally creating a realistic system with a (technically fakenote
) 3D track and real racers.
But Super Mario Kart
is the game that perfected Mode 7 into a fast, wacky, and thrilling challenge. Your racer must navigate the track—shown in the bottom split-screen—rife with obstacles such as grass, pipes, oil slicks, fish, and many an outright Bottomless Pit
. Not to mention the other racers—and their obstacles. Yes, both you and your opponents may pick up items to throw in each others' path; this is one of the many kart racing tropes Super Mario Kart
The game features examples of these tropes:
- Always Night: The Ghost Valley tracks
- Amazing Technicolor Battlefield: The psychedelic Rainbow Road, Super Mario Kart's final track.
- Banana Peel: This mainstay item of the Mario Kart series started here
- Big Boo's Haunt: The Ghost Valley tracks, though the Boos just float in the background and don't interact with the racers.
- Bottomless Pits: In the Ghost Valley tracks and Rainbow Road. Lakitu will fish racers who fall down for the price of two coins (or one, or zero, if you have less than two. He's a nice guy like that.)
- Bowdlerise: In the original Japanese version, Bowser and Peach would drink from the champagne bottle upon winning first place at the awards ceremony. It was changed in international versions to simply tossing the bottle around.
- The Bus Came Back: Toad returns after being left out of Super Mario World. This is also Donkey Kong Jr.'s first appearance, playable or otherwise, since 1983.
- Car Fu: Heavier karts can bully lighter ones, especially if one racer has been shrunk or is using a Star.
- The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: They don't follow the same rules as items go; each enemy racer can use only two items (a "signature" item such as Mario's star or Toad's poison mushroom, plus the Feather for avoiding obstacles), but they can be used at will. Its egregious use of multiple items without visiting an item box (as the player character has to) is perhaps best demonstrated when a stationary computer uses five or six feathers in a row to avoid an item just under its wheels.
- Early Installment Weirdness: Despite the claims of Strictly Formula regarding the rest of the series, Super is a somewhat different beast compared to the formula that 64 would create; AI karts have special powers discussed above under The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard, the deck is nowhere near as stacked against you if you're ahead, there's a coin-for-speed boost mechanic that wouldn't be touched upon again until Super Circuit and 7, and the Blue Shell didn't exist (Which the European VC release trailer mercilessly lampshades.) Also there are twenty tracks with five laps rather than sixteen tracks with three laps.
- The steering mechanics in this game are slippery and sensitivenote . Very delicate input is needed just to stay on the road and not end up hitting the walls or falling off. Mario Kart: Super Circuit carries on with similar mechanics. And instead of the traditional item boxes, there are item tiles, which each can be used up once per track.
- Each race has 5 laps, which hasn't been used in future games that opted for 3 laps due to the first game having simpler track designs and shorter length. The first game is also the only game in the whole franchise that uses lives and it's possible to not even finish a grand prix due to running out of lives for not placing in the top 4.
- Follow the Leader: This game is responsible for kicking off the Wacky Racing Mascot Racer genre.
- Go-Karting with Bowser: The Trope Namer
- Gravity Barrier: The Ghost Valley tracks and Rainbow Road.
- Green Hill Zone: Mario Circuit
- Idiosyncratic Difficulty Levels
- Jack of All Stats: Mario and Luigi
- Lethal Lava Land: The Bowser Castle tracks
- Mighty Glacier: Bowser and Donkey Kong Jr., though in a sense they subvert this trope. They actually have the highest top speed in the game despite their horrid initial acceleration. The inverse is true for lighter characters.
- Nintendo Hard: Especially the Special Cup on 150cc.
- The Rival: Depending on who the player drives as, there will be certain characters that perform better and try their best to annoy the player. The rival will always be the same for each character, and that rival will do their best to not let you win. As shown in the page picture above, pick Koopa Troopa and the CPU giving you the most trouble will be Luigi, but pick Luigi and Yoshi will suddenly give you the most grief, and so on.
- Rubber-Band A.I. : Pretty severe, and especially occurs if a computer that has earned many points in the GP falls behind
- Self-Imposed Challenge: By pressing Y+A on the character select, you can shrink your racer. This slows you down and makes you vulnerable to being crushed if a computer so much as touches you.
- Slippy-Slidey Ice World: the Vanilla Lake tracks
- Super Title 64 Advance: Even though there was no "non-Super" Mario Kart game on the NES before this one.
- Unwinnable by Mistake: While item panels on the Battle Mode courses will refresh after they've all been used, there's an oversight on Course 3, which has two such panels in areas you need a feather to get to. Use all the other panels and don't have feathers? You're stuck.
- Wacky Racing