I can't just play it for an hour and move on this time though, as this request came with a challenge attached: to do better at the game than (world famous) Japanese comedian Shinya Arino managed on GameCenter CX a while back. I don't want to spoil what he achieved in the episode though, so I'll hide the details under the next screenshot.
Beware of UPCOMING SPOILER.
Anyway my challenge is simply to beat the first tournament (Mushroom Cup), on medium difficulty (100cc)... IN UNDER 9 HOURS.
ROUND 1: MARIO CIRCUIT 1.
Everyone else in the race kindly moved away to give me some space as I work out the controls, but I think I've got the basics now. There's an accelerator button, for enhancing my velocity, a brake button to pull awesome drifts on turns, and a jump button, because why not? I suppose if you're gonna make a Mario racing game, you might as well put a jump button.
I couldn't resist running over these shiny golden landmines, but fortunately it all worked out as instead of tearing me apart with searing hot shrapnel, they rewarded me with cash prizes. If this was any other racing game I'd expect to be spending these on engine upgrades later, but somehow I get the feeling they have another, darker purpose.
For some reason driving on mud is much slower than racing on tarmac, so after that I'm trailing in last place. But I'll get that Koopa, somehow.
Super Mario Kart was the first of the 'kart racing' sub-genre and set up a lot of the conventions for the games that followed, like item boxes on the track that drop various one-shot toys for me to play with for instance. Though in this case the boxes are as flat as the road, as it's all being rendered with the Super Nintendo's Mode 7 image rotating magic.
The laps on this track are tiny, so I've already had time to drive around once, collect a banana peel item and then put it somewhere I thought they wouldn't appreciate it: I booby trapped the item boxes. The little bastards were all too good to fall for my trap though. In fact, I'm not sure they can even pick up items themselves.
LATER, AT THE END OF THE RACE.
Apparently the penalty for failure in this tournament is immediate disintegration.
Oh crap, do I really have limited lives here? What kind of racing game has lives! Well, there's no point using one of them up on the first race, as I'd still have to win it to continue, so I guess I'm quitting back to the menu screen then.
Man, that hit would have been more satisfying if it was a green shell I'd got him with, as these red shells are homing shots and don't require any kind of skill or luck. It was basically just a free takedown. There's no irritating blue shells in this by the way to my knowledge, so there's no risk of being knocked out of a hard earned victory at the last second by a blind-fired 1st place seeking missile from halfway down the track. Which is obviously a GOOD THING.
37 SECONDS LATER.
Oh by the way, I may have edited this image very slightly, but it's Nintendo's own fault for using a font that looks a great deal like it's from a certain other game with the initials 'MK'... that actually came out just after this now that I think about it.
Okay I'm starting to think that I might need to get some some advice here, as I'm obviously failing to grasp all the necessary intricacies of kart racing and the clock's still ticking.
A MINUTE OR TWO LATER.
On my first few attempts I was trying to drift around the corners a little using the brake, but the advice I've been getting from people is that I should be releasing the accelerator instead. I can't argue with the results.
ROUND 2: DONUT PLAINS 1.
I mean I'm all for them giving me a rear view mirror, but it would've been awesome if they could have put it above my view, where'd you'd expect to find it.
Actually I think I can manage not to skid off the track here if I can just avoid turning. Or hitting anyone. In fact hitting anyone at all is a BAD THING and should be avoided at all costs, the game's really harsh about that.
Speaking of hitting things, I just noticed that Toad over there deliberately dodged that mushroom. Is it a bad mushroom I wonder? I thought that collecting these things gave me a speed boost power-up, but it appears that some of them must in fact be working to undermine me.
ROUND 3: GHOST VALLEY 1.
Well, now I know what the mysterious mushroom does at least, and it is devastating. No wonder Toad was so keen to avoid the thing.
I was in second place until this happened, but now I'm dropping fast and I'm running low on race here, so I'm going to have to try something desperate. If you look at the bottom right of the map, there's a thin pier sticking out across the void, with a sizeable gap before it. Well I'm gonna try to jump the gap and use it as a shortcut.
LATER, ON ROUND 4: BOWSER'S CASTLE 1.
At least I get the satisfaction of seeing one of the computer characters finally make a mistake themselves.
When I see these guys perfectly adjust their trajectory to miss a mushroom or a banana peel by mere pixels it makes me feel like I'm racing against Terminator cyborgs wearing the faces of iconic Mario characters, and that's kind of disturbing.
Princess Peach finally ran out of lives here and fell like the others had, kicking me back to the start of the tournament once again. I was all ready to get the first three rounds out of the way again quickly and give this lava track another go, but I ran into a slight problem along the way:
I'm honestly not this bad at racing games usually, I promise you! Though an hour or so of sustained failure is starting to make me doubt myself. Well I suppose there's one obvious test I can take to discover if I really am entirely inept.
A FEW LAPS IN AN ENTIRELY DIFFERENT GAME LATER.
|Mario Kart 64 (N64)|
Also it was nice to play on tracks with a bit of depth and substance to them for a change, surrounded by walls that aren't just painted onto the floor. Getting hit by a rival character in this isn't a big deal anymore, there's no limited lives, and it's more of a scrappy struggle to stay ahead rather than a test of technical driving skill.
Well all this result really proves is that Super Mario Kart's sequel is a far easier game, at least at first. I think I need a bigger sample size...
A FEW MORE RACES LATER.
|Mario Kart: Super Circuit (GBA)|
Okay let's try this again then. Attempt 17. From the start.
ROUND 2. AGAIN.
Oh well, I'll still have two lives left after this.
EVENTUALLY, ON THE LONG AWAITED ROUND 5: MARIO CIRCUIT 2.
Look at Princess Peach slip between those pipes up there to take the corner with absolute precision. Every racer I've watched has gone for that gap, and they always make it. One time I was perfectly lined up to make it through myself, and one of the other racers shoved me out of the way so that he could get through first (probably that bastard Mario)! It's doubly annoying because I can't do to them, as it'd cost me coins and probably send me skidding off instead..
Speaking of coins, I have found out their sinister purpose at last. Not only do they act as a kind of health bar to stop you from spinning out to a standstill when you're knocked by a rival kart, but they also increase your maximum speed. So just touching one of the other racers on the track (of which there are seven and it's not a huge track), costs me health, maximum speed, and pushes me out of the way. Punishing me three times for one mistake seems a bit disproportionately harsh really.
SOME NON-TRIVIAL AMOUNT OF TIME LATER.
You might be thinking 'hang on mate, didn't you say the challenge was to get a gold trophy?' and that would be a fair and reasonable thing to bring up. But on the other hand... LOOK A GIANT GORMLESS AIRBORNE FISH!
If you have any comments you'd like to make about any of the issues raised by this post, then you are of course welcome to do so. Encouraged, even.
Well, go on then.