Super Mario Kart is a landmark racing game, but a few flaws keep the game from feeling like a timeless masterpiece
While I would say that Super Mario Kart is inferior to the later Mario Kart titles, in a few ways it is actually superior. For one, I like the coin system a lot here, and I wish they hadn't gotten rid of it for future games. It's a fairly straightforward concept - the more coins you collect during the race, the faster you move. While it sounds simple, the aggressive AI will try and knock away your coins plenty of times, and the whole concept adds a sense of strategy that wasn't always there on the future Mario Kart titles.
Of course, this makes the game quite a bit more difficult, and I think this is probably Super Mario Kart's biggest issue. Whereas later titles in the series were a bit too easy, this one is a bit too tough on the 100cc or 150cc difficulty. The AI is almost unfairly aggressive at times, and the game occasionally feels like it's too much trouble than it's worth. The repetitive nature of the track design and rather uneventful trophy reward system makes the game still feel a bit shallow in spite of its added difficulty, and I can't imagine any gamer today dumping countless hours into a game as repetitive as this one. The slippery controls and aggressive AI really make you question whether or not it's worth beating all of the 150cc circuits with gold trophies.
Had the game presented slightly more balanced AI and tighter controls, the repetitive track design could've been easily forgiven, but these flaws together really do detract from my overall enjoyment of Super Mario Kart. The formula's definitely a whole lot of fun, and the historical significance of this game should not be underestimated, but I'd personally go for the N64 Mario Kart game if you're looking to get your retro kart racing fix.