Nintendo released a couple of classic racers early in the Super Nintendo’s life span to much fan fare and awe. Using the SNES’s famed Mode 7 graphics, both F-Zero and Super Mario Kart were light years ahead of 8-bit generation racers in terms of parallax scrolling and offering somewhat realistic control mechanics.
F-Zero was an SNES launch title and probably the second most popular launch title after Super Mario World. Set in the future, you control a hovercar in Formula-1 style race against computer opponents. These races take place on different planets each with their own unique environments and hazards. You select your hovercar and racer as well as selecting which level of difficulty and which league you want to race in. Unfortunately, this is a one player only game so you’ll only be able to race against computer opponents. The fact that it isn’t a multi-player game is probably the biggest gripe I would have with F-Zero although that complaint is somewhat lessened now since I mostly play video games solo anyway. This would have been a bigger deal for me back in the 90s though.
F-Zero still looks good in my opinion considering it was a launch title, and the game moves quickly and smoothly. I don’t care as much for the pinball-like mechanics whenever you hit the sides of the courses. The added risk of your hovercar exploding when it runs out of power if you take too much damage and the strategy and skill required to successfully pull off pit runs are neat attributes to the game. In all, I still find F-Zero as enjoyable today as I did in the 90s.
As for Super Mario Kart, I knew in my heart this is a classic and I have plenty of experience playing Mario Kart 8 on the Wii U. When the original came out on the SNES back in 1992, I was in my late teens and this game seemed like kiddie fare to me so I ignored it. My first impression of Super Mario Kart was fairly negative, however. I thought it had aged poorly in terms of graphics, playability and depth. The good news is for all the fans of this game, all it took was a little extended playtime to realize it’s not as shallow as I originally thought and once I started playing the 100cc races, I realized it’s damn hard as well! At least Bowser’s Castle 2 in the Flower Cup Race circuit certainly caused some unnecessary cursing on my part as I would consistently go from 1st or 2nd place to 5th or 6th in a heartbeat.
My copy of Super Mark Kart is the Player’s Choice Million Seller version, indicating how extremely popular this game was for the SNES. It may not hold up to the more recent installments of the franchise but it certainly holds up as one of the most fun games on the system, even if I do get frustrated playing it sometimes.
Currently in my collection:
F-Zero – game, manual B+
Super Mario Kart – game, manual A-