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Mario Kart Advance
Game Boy Advance
The directional pad is too sensitive.
Overall Rating:

Animefringe Reviews:
Mario Kart Advance
By Adam "OMEGA" Arnold

Do you remember how much fun it was to drive go-karts with your favorite Mario characters in them? The successful kart racer spawned a Nintendo 64 version that was equally challenging, but the game has gone back to it's graphical roots with a long awaited sequel for the Game Boy Advance that just might be the best portable racing game ever.

Sure it's the third game in a series that spawned so many copy-cat kart games, but what is remarkable is how much this game matches the Super Nintendo version step for step. Heck, you can even unlock all the courses from the original. Add in the fact that the game keeps track of your race results and you're left with one solid racing game.

Like in the past Mario Kart games, the character you choose to play with has their own unique set of acceleration and cornering capabilities. There are eight characters available: Mario and Luigi are the most balanced to play while Peach and Toad are skewed heavily towards speed capabilities; Wario and Donkey Kong have less speed and more stability in terms of cornering due to their size; Yoshi has a mix of speed that is off-balanced by a bit of cornering capabilities while Bowser is has no speed but is the easiest to maneuver. Exploiting each of the characters weaknesses and strengths is but one of the keys to success later on as the stages get progressively more twisted.

The game controls are pretty much your standard accelerate and stop combo with a few Mario tweaks added in which, naturally, are the two things that made the Mario Kart series a classic... jump and throw. You see, as you drive you can pick up coins and other objects which you can either drop on the course to take out rival drivers or use to jump or increase your speed. Believe me, you'll have to use these objects in some sort of strategy if you want to make gold in each course. Yet, judging from how hard it is to steer properly with the tiny directional pad, buying one of the clip on Game Boy Advance covers that has a analogue stick and bigger buttons is almost necessary to fully master this game.

The game is divided into three sections, Single Play, Multi Play, and Mobile GB Play. The Mobile GB capabilities will naturally be taken out of this title when it's imported to the US and Europe, but seeing as how you can't even use them outside of Japan, that isn't a big loss.

Regardless of that loss, two players can still go head-to-head with a either single cartridge or multiple cartridges and a link cable in much the same fashion as F-Zero Advance. You can race in a few courses and generally screw each other over by throwing a lot of banana peels on the course. It's a nice diversion, but not where the true heart of the game is.

Single Play is by far where the brunt of the game is focused. You can choose Mario Play, which is where you actually race in the set courses in three distinct speed settings. The game is backed up and remembers exactly how far you've progressed and the times you've gotten which makes starting at the last course you got to a breeze. There are five distinct cups to compete in with four unique courses to race through in each. If you need some extra practice, there are Free Run and Time Trial options as well.

Where F-Zero Advance crashed and burned early on, Mario Kart Advance easily takes the gold in every possible way. If you want a true portable racing game and one of the best sequels out there, you can't possibly go wrong with this title.

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