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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.

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.


The game features examples of these tropes:

  • 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 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.
  • 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.
  • Lethal Lava Land: The Bowser's Castle tracks. 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 is made of... cheese.
  • 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 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 Mario, Luigi, Wario, Peach, DK, Toad and Yoshi. 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.
    • 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.
    • Super Circuit is something of The Un-Favourite when it comes to getting representation in future games' Retro Cups, as only 12 of its 20 tracks have reappeared (as opposed to, say, 15 of 64's 16 tracks or 12 of Double Dash!!'s 16).
  • 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.
  • Palmtree Panic: Shy Guy Beach, Cheep Cheep Island, and the SNES Koopa Beach tracks all take place across a series of tropical islands.
  • Rank Inflation: The first game in the series to use this. Ranks go from E through A, then up to three stars.
  • Shifting Sand Land: Yoshi Desert with pyramids, quicksand, and a Yoshi sphinx.
  • Slippy-Slidey Ice World: Snow Land and the SNES Vanilla Lake tracks.
  • 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".
  • 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.