Mario Kart Advance is easily one of the most anticipated GBA titles coming into the US release of the powerful handheld. Nintendo had several multiplayer modes available at E3, for both racing and battle modes.
The racing mode is nearly identical he SNES version of Mario Kart. Mario, Luigi, Peach, Toad and the rest are back in top form, and the competition is fierce. Those who have played the SNES version extensively will find that many brand new GBA exclusive courses have been added to the original tracks. The single player courses run very fast, and are a joy to cruise through.
The battle mode is back, with up to four characters duking it out with weapons and collisions. Each character races for power-ups, and tries to inflict damage on their opponents, whose life is measured in red balloons. Each hit removes a balloon, and when you're out, you've lost. In a way to make up for less experienced players, or those who get ganged up on, Mario Kart puts the first eliminated player in the role of a walking bomb on a mission to explode in vengeful impact with any foolish player careless enough to cross your path. The bomb player can even pick up item crates, which always give him a boost of speed. These battle matches were tons of fun, and seemed infinitely replayable.
We played a few single player races, and remarked at how much like the original SNES title the action has translated. The control is tight, hopping around corners and sliding into position coming naturally. When your racer is brought back into the action by a fishing Lakitu, you need to time your acceleration, lest your engine stall and you remain in place, requiring that players use more strategy than simply holding down the gas pedal.
The action was fluid, and a lot of fun, more than anything making Mario Kart Advance a faithful translation of the original, with bonuses galore. We'll be looking forward to bringing you more coverage as the GBA approaches its US launch.