A Nintendo representative came by for a visit with us this morning, and he brought along a couple of upcoming GBA games. The next Mario Kart game--called Mario Kart Super Circuit--was among the lot, and we're happy to say it, if nothing else, is definitely true to its legacy.
The game has more in common with the original SNES version of Mario Kart than anything else. In fact, save for the 3D characters, every element of the game hearkens back to the series' 16-bit incarnation. Most notably, this means that coins again litter the tracks, and as you collect them, your top speed increases. This--rather than performing powerslide maneuvers, à la Mario Kart 64--is what defines this GBA version's experience.
The game is laid out into four circuits, initially, which include the mushroom, flower, lightning, and star cups. Once all these are blasted through, you'll gain access to the hidden special cup. Frankly, despite Nintendo's visit being generously long, we didn't have time to earn our way into the special cup.
The game's roster, however, is identical to Mario Kart 64's, so joining the plumbers, the princess, the retainer, and the dinosaur are a trio of villains: Wario, Bowser, and Donkey Kong. All of them have kept their relative statistics from the N64 version (and, by association, the SNES version)--Toad is light and fast, while Bowser is heavy and slow, for example.
In truth, there isn't a great deal that's different in the series' GBA incarnation. The stages are definitely pretty wild, and some of them feature a good deal of interactive elements. One called Cheese Land, for instance, took the form of a dairy-laden desert, and scattered throughout the track were mousers that would jump your kart and assault you for coins.
The game performed very well, considering both the sheer amount of onscreen action and the seeming complexity of the graphics. While the game was definitely a tad slower than what we're used to, even the most populated games still play remarkably well. We played with the four-player link mode quite a bit, and we don't have a single qualm with the way it performed. The game, as it happens, supports up to four players, but as few as two people can play--doing so with a single friend, as a matter of fact, allows you to play through the game's actual gran prix mode, rather than the de facto multiplayer versus mode (which features no AI opponents). Also included is a battle mode, complete with four maps.
Mario Kart Super Circuit is slated to ship on the August 27. Point your scanners over here then for a full review. Till then, enjoy the media barrage.