Super Mario Kart

It looks a lot like the DS version, thanks to the mini-map on the bottom.

It looks a lot like the DS version (in 2D) thanks to the mini-map on the bottom.

Until the Wii version came out, this was my favorite console edition of Mario Kart. I loved Double Dash on the GameCube–it was everything I wished the Nintendo 64 one was. My issue with the 64 version of the game had a lot to do with how slow it felt like your kart was moving for most of it, and the serious delays for spinning out when you hit a banana or were struck by something–it could mess with your timing, and it frustrated me back when I was 10 and now when I’m older. Despite my love for the earlier 3D versions of the game, the SNES version, with its Mode 7 courses, was the one that got the most play time in my household. You had eight characters, with four distinct character types, four different cups, three difficulties, time trials, and balloon battles. It’s the only one of the Kart titles where I’ve enjoyed playing the Battle mode for more than just a diversion, and I don’t want to talk about how often I played in the Time Trial mode. Let’s just say I’ve put up some times that, looking back, I cannot believe I pulled off back in the day.

Courses were short, so you had to be on the ball the entire time. It was also mean, because you didn’t get any points if you didn’t finish in the 1-4 positions–you lost a life and could fail out of the Cup you were racing in if you failed to finish in the top four. This was also pre-blue shell, so if you’re very bothered by that spiked equalizer of doom, then maybe the SNES version is for you. It was impressive graphically and ran smooth as could be, even when there was a ton of motion and movement on screen all at once. It’s still fun to this day, which is why I wish it would come to Virtual Console already. Alas, I think this is in the same situation as Star Fox; the Nintendo 64 version that many feel is superior (it isn’t, outside of the four player capabilities) is already available.

Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island

The only platformer on the system that may be better than Super Mario World, it’s sequel is a classic that has seen it’s own sequel on the Nintendo DS. The original Super Nintendo version has not been released for the retro crowd using Virtual Console, which is bordering on criminal negligence. This game introduced us to Baby Mario and his whining–depending on how good you were, his whining may have been incessant or nonexistent. It’s very different than the original, which may be due to the fact that Shigeru Miyamoto, as great as Super Mario World was, was disappointed that it didn’t deviate more from the formula established by the series three NES titles. You control Yoshi, and you need to protect Baby Mario, who rides on your back. This is where Yoshi’s foot peddling floating move was created–many a Super Smash Bros. match has been extended due to this.

Just a beautifully presented game, late in the SNES lifespan

Just a beautifully presented game, late in the SNES lifespan

Graphically, the game stands out for its beautiful style–it utilized the Super FX 2 chip, which allowed for sprite scaling, polygon effects and pre-32-bit computer effects. The game also utilizes parallax scrolling, which gives off the illusion of depth in a 2D background. The graphical style came about thanks to Shigeru Miyamoto, much like most of the advancements in Mario titles. He and his team had been told to revamp the visuals for this sequel following the success of Donkey Kong Country, which had used pre-rendered graphics to wow audiences. Miyamoto instead went back to the drawing board and came up with the art style used in Yoshi’s Island, which looked like it had been drawn with colorful tools like crayons and felt pens. The game did use pre-rendered graphics, but for the cutscenes, and they appear in the same style as the rest of the game.

This is one of those games that you could play over and over and over again, just like any other 2D Mario platformer. Not having it on the Virtual Console yet is a real shame, especially when Nintendo has been pretty good about putting their classics on the service.

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About The Author

Marc Normandin was gaming editor of Blast from 2008 to mid-2010. You can reach him via e-mail at [email protected], or follow him on Twitter @Marc_Normandin

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