Mario Kart: Super Circuit
System: Game Boy Advance
Publisher & Developer: Nintendo
Released: August 2001
Genre: Racing/Action
Capabilities: Game Link Compatible(2-4 Players, Single & Multi-Pak)

Review Written: September 7, 2001

The Game

For the few of you who don’t know what this game is about I’ll give you a brief rundown right now. Mario Kart is simply the Mario family racing against each other on go-karts. They also fire wacky weapons at each other like banana peels and turtle shells. This is the 3rd installment of the Mario Kart series. The first one was labeled “Super Mario Kart” for the Super Nintendo in 1992 which pioneered the Kart racing genre. This was followed by Mario Kart 64 for the Nintendo 64 in 1997. And we now have the 3rd installment right here on the Game Boy Advance in form of Mario Kart: Super Circuit. Will it deliver the same kind of action as its predecessors? Let’s get onto the review and find out.

The Cast

The cast for the whole Mario Kart series has always remained the same with the following people from the Mario family appearing in this rendition: Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, Wario, Toad, Donkey Kong, Bowser, and Yoshi. The only exception is that in the first Mario Kart instead of Wario we had a Koopa Troopa, and instead of Donkey Kong, we had Donkey Kong Jr.


Now the graphics is a nice combination of the old school type visuals from Super Mario Kart, and the crisp polished ones from Mario Kart 64. We have the tracks that are designed a lot like the ones from the original Super Mario Kart with the bright colors and cartoon type animation. Heck Bowser’s castle in this version looks nearly identical to the one from SNES version. Aside from the tracks we have the computer modeled characters from the N64 version in this game. Now putting these two together may sound a bit odd at first, but once you take a look at the game in action, you’ll definitely change your mind. Everything moves at a fluid, solid, pace without a trace of slowdown. Navigating through the game’s menus is a breeze and you’ll be hopping right into a game in no time. If you have to get really nit picky on the graphics, the only thing that I can find which are downers in the game is that the 3-D models and tracks appear a bit on the jagged side, but that really doesn’t matter to me all that much, and I got past that drawback right away. The other one is that it’s really hard to play in an area that’s not lit up to well because of all the action going on screen at once. But don’t worry. You’ll adapt.


Everybody knows how hard it is to do sound for the portable systems. But surprisingly Nintendo has surpassed that old cliche. The game has a different tune for each track. And each fantasy type of background music seems to match the theme of the track. I also like how the game borrows music samples from the previous Mario Kart games. All your regular sound effects are here from the previous Mario Kart games. So all the shell shots, banana peel slides, and everything else you heard from the previous Mario Kart games are here. What really surprised me about the sound was the use of actual dialogue in the game. All the voices used Mario Kart 64 from when the characters nailed each other with weapons and so on are in here, and it’s just amazing how they managed to cram all that speech in the game. But you just got to listen to this with headphones, because it’s really hard to make out all the stuff on the GBA’s tiny speaker, even with it set on max sound.

Game play

The game controls exactly the same as Mario Kart 64 with the obvious distinguishes between the two. You steer with the control pad (Now wouldn’t it of been nice if there was a control stick on the GBA?). Since the Game Boy Advance doesn’t have a Z trigger, you use the L button to fire your various weapons. You accelerate with A, and brake and go in reverse with B. And as before, you use the R button to help power slide tight turns. Some old elements from the original Mario Kart are back in the GBA version such as the coin system where you pick up coins throughout the race, and the more you pick up, the faster you go.

The game has lots of modes to choose. For single player games, our first option is Quick Run where you just do any old track for fun against computer controlled opponents. Then we got time trial where you race for the fastest times on a track, and then you can save a ghost form of that fastest time and race against it at a later time. And you can also exchange the ghost with another player via the GBA Game Link cable. Then you have the standard Mario Grand Prix where you race on the 50, 100, or 150 cc circuits. By winning these races you unlock more tracks to use. And last we have multi player. There is both Single and Multi Pack versions of multi player. In the single pack one, up to four players can go against each other where everyone is a different colored Yoshi, and you race on one of four tracks from the original Super Mario Kart. In Multi Pack mode up to four players can race against each other on any track available in the game. They can also do the battle mode where they can battle it out on one of four battle courses available in the game.

Replay Value

The game comes available with sixteen tracks from the start. There’s another four to unlock by getting gold trophies on all four cups in each difficulty which unlocks the special cup. That means beating the game 16 times to have the hidden Special Cup available in all difficulties. Also in Mario GP mode if you beat a circuit by placing first in it overall and having a total of 100 coins collected from the four tracks in that circuit (which alone is a very tough feat), you unlock tracks from the original Super Mario Kart. And eventually you can unlock all 20 tracks from the original Super Mario Kart. And including the battle courses, this game has a whopping 44 tracks in total at your hand. Oh, and don’t forget about playing the time trial to death to get killer times and exchanging ghosts with your buddies. And that’s just the replay value for the single player. For multi player you’ll be playing for hours against each other in the vs. and battle modes, and even if they don’t own a copy of the game, you still can be racing against him in single pack mode.

In Brief

+: Great graphics combination of the last two Mario Kart games, lots of replay value, 44 tracks!

-: Tracks are a bit jaggy, hard to make out all the action going on at once on screen

The Final Ratings Rundown

Graphics: 8.9
Sound: 9.6 (w/headphones)
Game play: 9.7
Replay Value: 10

Overall: 9.5

Rounded to fit GameFAQs Score: 10


Yes, I think I just found the best game ever on the Game Boy Advance. If you’re a big fan of the Mario Kart series, make sure to pick up this game. You’ll be playing it for hours on end. The amount of replay value alone will shock you, considering it’s a portable racing game. So what are you waiting for? Go buy this game now!

Back to Gruel's GameFAQs Review Page