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Video Game / Mario Kart: Super Circuit

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Your family road trip is advancing to a new level... and one red guy is leading the charge!
Mario Kart: Super Circuit is the third game in the Mario Kart series, released for the Game Boy Advance in 2001. In 2011, this game was given away as a part of the Nintendo 3DS Ambassador Program. It would later see a wider release in 2014 on the Wii U Virtual Console, and in 2023 as a part of Nintendo Switch Online.

It brought the Mario Kart series to handhelds for the first time, combining gameplay elements from Super Mario Kart and Mario Kart 64. It features 40 tracks in all, the most of any game in the series until Mario Kart 8 pushed past that with post-release additions. In addition to 20 all-new tracks, it also includes all twenty from Super Mario Kart. In addition to single-player and multiplayer racing and battling, it also allows players to download time trial ghosts through the Game Link cable.

This is the only Mario Kart game that was developed by Intelligent Systems, who also made the Fire Emblem and Paper Mario series.

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  • Bowser
  • Donkey Kong
  • Luigi
  • Mario
  • Peach
  • Toad
  • Wario
  • Yoshi


    Battle Tracks 

The game features examples of these tropes:

  • 100% Completion: While you get a new title screen by getting all the gold trophies, you get a second new one for achieving a three-star rank on each GP.
  • Always Night: Boo Lake, Broken Pier, and the SNES Ghost Valley tracks. Sunset Wilds takes place at sunset, with night falling on the third lap.
  • Amazing Technicolor Battlefield: As usual, Rainbow Road (both of them).
  • The Artifact:
    • Donut Plains and Choco Island reuse the backgrounds from Riverside / Lakeside Park and Sunset Wilds, which means they’re not actually set in their original locations anymore.
    • In Super Mario Kart, Bowser Castle 2 had a dead end intended to create shortcuts using the feather item. The feather is not present in Super Circuit, yet the dead end remains.
  • Athletic Arena Level: The game features circuit tracks hosted by Mario, Peach and Luigi respectively, with the latter one standing out for being raced on during rain (which affects the road's friction and leads to the presence of slippery moats). The game is also the first in the series to bring back old tracks, including the four Mario Circuits from Super Mario Kart.
  • Battle in the Rain: Luigi Circuit is the only track whose races take place during a rainy day. The road ends up being slippery as a result.
  • Big Boo's Haunt: Boo Lake and Broken Pier are located atop wooden boardwalks out in an empty lake on a dark night with ghostly Boos on the haunt. The Boos on Broken Pier will attack the players and attempt to steal coins.
  • Bowdlerise: The international versions of the game remove the feathered headdresses on the Shy Guys in Sunset Wilds in order to avoid any negative stereotypes of indigenous peoples.
  • Build Like an Egyptian: Yoshi Desert, which not only features pyramids in the background, but also a sphynx statue modeled after Yoshi (hence the course's name).
  • Cheesy Moon: The Cheese Land racetrack is set on the Moon, made of Cartoon Cheese and inhabited by Mousers. Gravity is the same as everywhere else though. Averted when Cheese Land was brought back for Mario Kart 8, as the setting had been Ret Conned to resemble a desert with a clear blue sky above.
  • Chekhov's Volcano: Lakeside Park, the first track of the Special Cup, features a volcano in the background that starts erupting in the second lap, dropping debris and flaming rocks on the track.
  • Continuity Nod: You can see Bowser's Castle from Paper Mario 64 on Rainbow Road.
  • Death Mountain: The mountain-themed Choco Island tracks from Super Mario Kart make a return in Super Circuit. However, them reusing the tileset of Sunset Wilds make them look more like desert-themed tracks.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: In PAL territories, this game was released before Paper Mario 64, so the aforementioned appearance of Bowser's Castle in the background of Rainbow Road counts as this.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness:
  • Like Super Mario Kart, this game gives you limited lives when attempting a GP - you lose one each time you finish below 4th place, or if you restart a track at any time. Also like SMK, the tracks are entirely flat.
  • This is the first game to introduce a personalized rank aside the trophies. Like later games, this is determined by your performance on the road and your ability to restrain yourself from using items, but unlike these, you gain more points if you use a heavy character.
  • The Lightning Cup, introduced in this game, started life as a Nitro Cup between the Flower and Star Cups. In all the other games it appears in, it's the Retro counterpart to Nitro's Special Cup.
  • The character attributes are a strange mix between Super Mario Kart and Mario Kart 64: every character can reach the maximum top speed, meaning once again, lightweights are actually faster because they are better at accelerating, but also turn more precisely and endure off-road less than others. While heavyweights are more stable on slippy tracks like Snow Land or Yoshi Desert and can use mini-turbos more easily to compensate their low handling, these are only situational powers. The developers seemed to be conscious of it, considering they give bigger bonuses for using heavy characters on Grand Prix.
  • To play Time Trials on the Special Cup tracks and the Extra tracks, you must unlock them on 150CC. In other games, unlocking a cup in Grand Prix unlocks it in all other modes.
  • Embedded Precursor: The "Extra Tracks" are the tracks from Super Mario Kart, though they are rearranged into five cups of four like the regular tracks, rather than four cups of five as they were in the original game. They still, however, last five laps instead of the three laps that the Super Circuit tracks last because the SNES tracks are much shorter than the GBA tracks.
  • Evolving Title Screen: Upon getting a gold trophy on all five main cups in all three engine classes, the title screen will be updated to replace the daytime sky with an orange sunset sky. Earning a three-star rank on all the same cups will unlock a third title screen that not only changes the sky to nighttime, but also features a new rendition of the title music.
  • Fragile Speedster: Every single character actually can reach the maximum top speed, but the lightweights can reach it faster thanks to their acceleration, which also makes them unstoppable on environments like Shy Guy Beach where you have to race on water. Unlike the previous installment, they also benefit a good traction, making them as good for starters and veterans because of the inward drift mechanic. The developers seemed to be conscious of it, considering it is harder to win the best rank on Grand Prix when controlling these characters.
  • Incredible Shrinking Man: This installment not only features the Lightning item, but also has Thunder Clouds on its Rainbow Road which shrinks down characters that drive underneath them.
  • Injun Country: Sunset Wilds is set on a Native American reservation, with totem poles and tipis found throughout the center of the track. When running into a tipi, a Shy Guy will latch onto a driver and rob them of their coins. In the Japanese version, the Shy Guys are also seen wearing headdresses.
  • Insurmountable Waist-Height Fence: Like Super Mario Kart on the SNES, Super Circuit had to display two-dimensional blocks to mark the impassible boundaries of the racetracks, even though seem perfectly capable of hopping over them. Starting with Mario Kart DS, whenever tracks from Super Circuit are brought back for Retro Cups, the barriers are made taller than the racers but are no longer impassible.
  • Jack of All Stats: The game allows every character to reach the maximum top speed, making the difference on other criteria. Mario and Luigi don't have exceptional acceleration, off-road and handling, but they are still good enough in these areas to compete. They also don't have exceptional grip, making harder for them to reach turbos on turns and stay stable on slippy tracks compared to heavyweights, but they are not as handicapped as lightweights in these areas.
  • Jungle Japes: Riverside Park on Mushroom Cup and Lakeside Park in Special Cup. Both tracks take place in primeval rainforests surrounded by large bodies of water, and the latter also has volcanoes in the background that erupt and send Lava Bubbles onto the road once the drivers begin the second lap. Riverside Park reappears in Mario Kart Tour and the DLC of 8 Deluxe as a Nostalgia Level.
  • Lethal Lava Land:
    • The Bowser's Castle tracks take place over massive pools of lava. Each one includes places where racers can fall off the track and into the lava, forcing Lakitu to come rescue them, and certain lava pits contain Lava Bubbles that jump out and try to hit racers jumping over them.
    • Lakeside Park includes volcanoes in the background that shoot rocks onto the track, but the course doesn't go near any lava.
  • Level Ate: Cheese Land resembles a typical sandy desert level, except the ground is made of cheese. The background features fortresses made of holey cheese, and Little Mousers can be found walking around and getting in the way of the racers.
  • Level in the Clouds: Sky Garden. It's part of the Lightning Cup, and is a racetrack made of a cobble road suspended in the sky, bridges made of vine wires, and clouds that outline it. Large beanstalks can be seen in the background. It returns later in Mario Kart DS, Mario Kart Tour and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe as a Nostalgia Level.
  • Market-Based Title: Notably, it's the only Mario Kart game to have different titles in different regions, being known as Mario Kart Advance in Japan and Super Circuit everywhere else.
  • Musical Nod: The intro to Rainbow Road is taken from a part of the one in the original.
  • Mythology Gag: On Rainbow Road, you can see Bowser's Castle from Paper Mario 64. It makes sense because Intelligent Systems developed both games.
  • Nintendo Hard: Getting a three-star ranking in Grand Prix. You must win first every race, collect many coins, win as fast as possible, and more. The wiki explains the criteria.
  • Non-Indicative Name: In spite of the name, Boo Lake has no water in it, instead being a dimly-lit boardwalk above a bottomless pit, much like the Ghost Valleys from Super Mario Kart. Mario Kart Tour and 8 Deluxe would later rectify this by placing the track in a giant pool of water, as well as including an underwater driving section.
  • Nostalgia Level: The entire library of Super Mario Kart is available as extra cups. This is the only Mario Kart to feature all of the tracks from a previous game.
  • Oddball in the Series: Doesn't carry on some series traditions, likely due to having been developed by Intelligent Systems:
    • It was the first game post-Mario Kart 64 to bring back some Super Mario Kart gameplay elements, such as flat, 2D environments and having (visible) lives in Grand Prix mode. For a long time, it was the only game other than Super Mario Kart to include coins, before Mario Kart 7 brought them back to the series for good.
    • It's the only game not to include a remix of the theme from Super Mario Kart in its title screen music, although the theme is indeed in the game as the music used for single-pak multiplayer. Though subjective, the music in Super Circuit as a whole has something of a different feeling than the rest of the series.note 
    • This game has five separate cups of new tracks unlike than the others, which only have fournote .
    • It's the only game to include every single track from a previous game. While retro courses would become a staple of the series starting in Mario Kart DS, only Super Circuit does them to this extent.
    • It was the last game to use the N64-era voicesnote  for Luigi, Wario, Peach, and Toad. For Americans, this game was the only time they got to hear Thomas Spindler's Wario or Julien Bardakoff's high-pitched Luigi in a Mario Kart game, because these voices were replaced with the more familiar Charles Martinet performances for their debut in Mario Kart 64. It was also the last Mario Kart game to use Stock Sound Effects for DK and Bowser.
    • Rather than having treacherous curves with no railings like most Rainbow Roads, the Rainbow Road in this game makes the unusual decision of lining its track with jump pads, which can used in conjunction with a boost for some rather creative and game breaking shortcuts.
    • It's one of the only non-RPG Mario games period to acknowledge the RPGs by having Bowser's Castle from Paper Mario 64 appear in the background of Rainbow Road. Super Circuit also includes Goonies (on Cheep Cheep Island) and Little Mousers (in Cheese Land) from Yoshi's Island.
  • Palmtree Panic: Shy Guy Beach, Cheep Cheep Island, and the SNES Koopa Beach tracks all take place across a series of tropical islands. The layout of Cheep Cheep Island stands out for being surprisingly disorienting, due to the flat surface making it harder to foresee the standard sand (the course's safe terrain), the grass (which slows down the drivers' speed), and the water (which has to be avoided altogether).
  • Prolonged Video Game Sequel: Super Circuit sports a much bigger amount of content than its two predecessors, featuring both 20 unique courses and the original 20 from Super Mario Kart, for a total of 40. It was also the longest Mario Kart game overall until Mario Kart DS and onward standardized the portrayal of new and retro courses (even then, Super Circuit still held the record of having the most tracks until 8 finally surpassed it thanks to its DLC).
  • Quicksand Sucks: Yoshi Desert contains pools of spiraling quicksand that should be avoided at all costs. Funnily enough, the unlucky drivers fall onto it don't end up completely sinking, as they're instead eaten by a large Piranha Plant lurking beneath.
  • Rank Inflation: The first game in the series to use this. Upon clearing a Grand Prix, players will receive a rank based on their overall performance across all four races. Ranks go from E through A, then up to three stars. Factors that contribute to the final rank include the number of Coins collected, the player's placement in each race, the time it takes to finish, and the character chosen, with heavier characters contributing more to a higher rank.
  • Shifting Sand Land: Yoshi Desert is a standard desert course with pyramids, quicksand, and a Yoshi sphinx. Sunset Wilds is a more unique approach, as it takes place in a Wild West-inspired desert where the time of day transitions from sunset to early nighttime.note 
  • Shout-Out: Lakeside Park gets its name from the song of the same name by Rush off of their 1975 album, Caress of Steel.
  • Slippy-Slidey Ice World: Snow Land and the SNES Vanilla Lakes in Extra Cups. There are moats of cold water in the new track, as well as snowmen in the ledges, but they're not too difficult to evade.
  • The Smurfette Principle: Yet again, Peach is the only female racer in this game. This would also be the last game in the series in which she is the only female playable character.
  • Super Title 64 Advance: In Japan, the game is called "Mario Kart Advance".
  • Unlockable Content: The Extra Cups, which require completing their standard Cup equivalents beforehand and getting at least 100 coins in the process for each case.
  • Wackyland: Ribbon Road, a long, winding road made of ribbon with wrapped-up presents and ribbons galore in the background!
  • The Wild West: Sunset Wilds, which features Shy Guys as Native Americans living in tipis.