Oct 22 '09
by Snag

Different Objectives

One problem I have continually had through out many Mario Kart games is the different objectives for the human player and the AI players. For example, in Super Circuit, you are attempting to collect coins as you go through the tracks. But the AI does not have this… hindrance, if you will. The AI is only trying to take first place in each race. Not only that, in MKSC, MKDS, and MKWii, the human players are attempting to get star ratings which pretty much require 4 first place finishes, as a prerequisite. So, not only are we trying to take first place, but were trying to do something above and beyond that. The AI doesn’t care about rating because there is no rating. They can play as “dirty” and as imperfect as they want; all that matters is #1.

Consider, for example, you are trying to achieve a double star rating. You need to take first place in all 4 races and be in 1st for most of the time and not fall off, etc. You may run a really good race but only get one star. And you next closest opponent’s rating? By the standard you are set to, they would get a silver trophy and probably get a rating of D or E.

This might be a criticism of the rating system, which we have discussed before. This may just be me whining. As human players, are we held to a higher standard? Should the ultimate objective be the same for all, human or AI? I can’t account for Super Mario Kart, but MK64 and MK Double Dash don’t have the star ratings and the only thing for the player is to finish in first place in the cup. In Double Dash, your point total is recorded, but does not determine if you unlock anything. I feel that this is ideal. Those games were still considered to be good games and were challenging, but maintained the same standards for all racers.

What do you think?

Oct 21 '09
by Snag

Mario Kart Game Ratings

I was recently introduced to the website, metacritic, and page that compiles all reviews of a game, movie, cd, etc. and gives it one aggregate score.

I was curious to see how the Mario Kart games stack up. Unsurprisingly, all of the games (excluding the original) scored 80 or greater (out of 100). But I was surprised to see how they were ranked among each other. The list is as follows:

1. Mario Kart Super Circuit (93)
2. Mario Kart DS (91)
3. Mario Kart Double Dash (87)
4. Mario Kart 64 (83)
5. Mario Kart Wii (82)

Remember, these scores come from multiple sources, and as anyone who is familiar with statistics knows, it only takes one score to screw up the whole average, but from my experience, I don’t see how these ranking can be right. Here are my thoughts:

Mario Kart DS blew compared to the others. It’s a good game and I am glad I played it, but the tracks weren’t particularly difficult, Rainbow Road specifically. I literally blew through this game in two weeks. Not challenging in the least. I would call it the worst of the series.

MK64 and MK Super Circuit has the same major flaw when racing in grand prix mode: they claimed you were racing 7 other players, but only 3 of them would score in the top 4 of each race. Both are good games, but have a limited scope of game play. As far as difficulty, each of these have one or two tracks that are particularly hard at 150cc or Mirror modes. According to metacritic, I agree with the Mario Kart 64 score, but could place Super Circuit lower, around an 85.

Now, my favorite games, Double Dash and Wii. Double Dash has an interesting gameplay element and strategy for selecting characters. Not only that, one of the best features of all of the games: All tracks mode. I wish there was an all games mode where you could race all tracks from all games. Over all, a smooth game that is challenging and fun.

And then Wii. Almost perfect. A new element with bikes, dozens of unlockable aspects, and some really fun new tracks. Literally, months of gameplay is provided by this game. I would rank this slightly below Double Dash because of overall enjoyment.

So, I must ask, how are my judgements so off here? Am I the only one with this opinion? Is it possible these scores are related to release date (newer games lose flavor after several sequals), game availability (handhelds cost less and games cost less, thus more are available to the public) or are these games REALLY that good?

Anyway, here is a link to the review that gave Mario Kart Wii the lowest score of 42 out of 100. Read it and tell me if it isn’t entirely convoluted.


Oct 19 '09
by Snag

Super Mario Kart on Wii Virtual Console

As many of you know, I am a huge fan of the Mario Kart series (duh).  As such, in one was or another, I own most of the games, but there is one that I do not own, and that is the original, Super Mario Kart.

Since I live in America, at this moment, the only way I would be able to own this game is to purchase a Super Nintendo (which would obviously be used) and a copy of Super Mario Kart for the system (also used).  If I were to purchase these via ebay, they would cost a minimum of $50.  $50 that Nintendo won’t see a dime for since they have gotten all they can out of that system.

Now, when I heard about the Virtual Console idea, I thought, “GENIUS!  I could own EVERY game Nintendo ever made (except Gameboy games, but I think they should do that anyway) and play them all on this ONE console.  But Nintendo is lacking several staples from their library from this list, namely Super Mario Kart.

I see no GOOD reason for Nintendo not to release this on Virtual Console.  Super Mario Kart was the #3 top selling SNES game.  It would seem to me that it would be quite successful in the new format.  Also, it has already been made for the Virtual Console in Japan.  The transfer to US consoles shouldn’t be extremely hard.

Bottom line is that somewhere down the line, I will own this game, and chances are, I will wait until it is EVENTUALLY put on Vitural Console.  But there is a chance I will spend $50+ to get the SNES and the old cartridge of Super Mario Kart.  $50, as mentioned before, that Nintendo won’t get, but could see at least $10 of it if this were released on VC.

Oct 16 '09
by Snag

A new copy of Super Circuit

I recently received a new copy of MKSC (for Mario Kart Day). I played through the 50cc and 100cc regular cups once and here are the results (just for fun):

40 races
39 1st place finishes (1 second)
10 gold cups
12 stars (some doubles), 1 A rating

Also, fun note, I had a blue shell chasing me in a 50cc cup, and I actually out ran it. I went for about 10 seconds without slowing down at all, so it gave up!

Nothing really important, but I felt I would share my achievement.

Sep 6 '09
by Blueshell Magnet

Bad Interface Choices 101

I don’t know who designed the menu system for Mario Kart Wii, but whoever it is should either be fired or required to talk to me for three hours on the concept of user interfaces.

On the main screen of Mario Kart Wii, you can see the cups you’ve won as they are displayed on your license. This was a very good idea, it makes it very easy to see which race you’ll want to play next before you even start the game. The problem with this system is that it only shows you the medal you got (that is, gold, silver or bronze.) Unfortunately, there is no way for you to see your rankings.

I am in the process of trying to get a star rating on every cup. I know I have some star ratings for each class, but I can never remember which class I need to be working on. Class, however, is the FIRST thing I have to decide after I click on Single Player Race. Choosing Class first is not *bad* per-se, but I then have to choose a character, vehicle and drift type before I can even see the rankings that I have in each cup. At which point, if I have picked the wrong class I have to back all the way out and start over again.

Now, this could be easily solved by having a “View Records” tab, which actually showed you your racing records for each track and not a bunch of mildly interesting but mostly unimportant statistics. (Some of the statistics are neat to see and I do wish they had more of them, but that is not the point I am trying to drive at right now.)

But a second solution and potentially more beneficial one would be to simply choose the Cup right after the Class. First off you would choose a Class, then choose a cup. This way, if you chose the wrong Class you would only jump back one page to make your change. After choosing the Cup you could then choose your Character, Vehicle and Drift and you would be set to go. You could even throw in a “Here are your settings, all set?” page at the end.

Is this important? Overall, this really isn’t going to bother most gamers who play Mario Kart Wii. It’s a little thing. That said, little stuff matters. It’s the small fine tuned perfections that make a good game into a great game.