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Super Mario Racing Special

// reviews by Jeff

Super Mario Racing

You can thank the fine folks at GameSumo.com for creating this. If the Mario Kart series is too expensive for you (and they can be — they never go down in price EVER), then feast your eyes on the next best thing: Super Mario Racing, the Flash game that puts you in the hot seat as your favourite Mario universe character!

You can tell it's unofficial by the title screen art alone, but as long as the game is fun, who's to complain? Well, I can now. For starters, you get the roster from Mario Kart 64, which isn't bad because there isn't a person alive who needs 50 different racers to choose from. Unfortunately, Luigi and Toad are locked until you finish the game. That's... not right. Also, Toad is known as "Toadie".

By the way, I clicked the "sound off" button so I didn't have to hear the menu music loop forever while I wrote this. It didn't turn off, even if the words "SOUND OFF" scrolled across the screen. Maybe that was just the programmer "sounding off" on this game and moving to a mansion with all his imaginary earnings from Super Mario Racing. The game only plays ONE song, too, and it's not even from the Mario Kart series. I don't need to hear the Super Mario World stage theme over and over and over.

No matter, I'll be Wario, everyone's favourite fortune hunter with a bulbous nose. But Lord help me, it's a side-scroller. Tell me honestly: how many racing games can you think of with a profile view? Just one: Super Mario Racing, and that's only because I just told you about it. So you have your controls listed outside the play box: X is for using a weapon if you happen to pick one up (by touching a Star), use the Spacebar to jump, and press R if you're doing really poorly and wish to retry. The Pirahna Plant item shoots a fireball (as in Super Mario Bros. 3), and the Feather... well, I haven't figured out how to use it, but I think Wario coughed out a furball when I pressed X. You can pretty much pick up a new item every 5 seconds, so don't be afraid to use yours.

Here's something a tad unusual: it's a side-scrolling game, so you would think that pressing the Right key would move you forward. You would be wrong, because you actually accelerate by pressing Up. GameSumo, what are you doing to me? So what are the Left and Right keys good for? Leveling yourself out so land flat on the ground and not lose momentum, unlike when I first played this and ended up driving on my head.

There are only six tracks in total, and they're all more or less the same except for the dips and valleys on the track. The only reason to play this a second time would be to play as the unlockables, Luigi and "Toadie". But for what it costs (nothing at all), it wasn't so horrible.

Should you play this?

You can play this game by clicking here.


Super Mario Racing 2 (Mario Racing Star)

If Super Mario Racing wasn't enough to whet your wacing whistle, then here's Super Mario Racing 2. Er, sorry, the website listed it as Super Mario Racing 2, but in game, it's called Mario Racing Star. It's also made by Cartoon Mini, so it might be even better... or possibly worse. Let's find out!

Again, someone has chosen to prepare their own title screen artwork with questionable results. The music is all-new, a bit more electronic, and slightly more annoying. You only get to choose from four racers this time: Mario, Yoshi, Wario, and Luigi. I was hoping to play as Toadie, but no such luck. Everyone gets a motorbike this time instead of a kart. AND there are ten "levels", not six! Super! Let's begin!

W-wow. I think I blinked and the race was over. Alright, I exaggerate a little bit. Each race has only one lap, and instead of letting you pick up weapons to use against your enemies, you just get to pick up coins with an "M" imprinted on them. I'm not sure how they help you, aside from giving you a level score at the end. The only major difference is that you can press N to get a nitro boost after your nitro meter refills itself. It's not that much of a blast, though, as the other three players were always on my tail.

The controls are the same, using Up to accelerate and Left/Right to balance your motorbike. This aspect plays a much greater role because the races are much faster-paced, and it's easier to tumble when you're going at Mach-9. You don't have a jump function anymore, though, so your prime focus is more or less just driving forward. In Super Mario Racing, you would pass if you at least achieved 3rd place, but here, you just fail if you're not in first place.

The tracks feel exactly the same, even though there are technically ten different designs. The backgrounds are the same, the music is the same, the racers are the same, and no one track is more difficult than another. I only finished the ten tracks to see what was at the end.

And there was nothing. No fanfare, no dancing Toads, nothing.

Should you play this?

You can play this game by clicking here.


Super Mario Racing 3

There's a third one. Now it's ToonGames.com that's responsible for this. Are these all just the same company with different names from day to day? Someone must be hiding from creditors.

So here we are in Super Mario Racing 3, which is actually called that and not something completely ridiculous like "Mario Rack & Pinion Steering Adventure". I'm not sure where they're pulling their graphics from. Some of it looks like Paper Mario, other assets come from the 3D series, and the title screen music comes from New Super Mario Bros. for the DS. Ehhh... hmmm. I'd better check this one out.

I get to choose from eight racers again, the roster from Mario Kart 64 to be exact, and...

WHAAAAAAAAAAA?!

WHAT IS GOING ON?! Who looked at this artwork and thought it was acceptable? Is Mario on drugs? Maybe he should cut back on the mushrooms.

Anyway, back to the game. Super Mario Racing 3 plays more or less like the first game, although just to confuse simpletons such as myself, they switched the keys for jumping and using an item. Half the time, the jump is completely ineffective anyhow. Of all the Mario Racing games, I would say this one is also the most challenging, as there are more racers on the track than ever before, and if you end up turned upside-down and can't get up, the race actually ends for you instead of the game letting you just drive along that way, albeit more slowly. Plus, these track layouts are just downright vicious. The computer-controlled players are getting stuck, and they KNOW what's coming up. But this one is the only racer of the three that delivers an adrenaline rush, and that's notable.

Should you play this?

You can play this game by clicking here.


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