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10 forgotten features of Super Mario Kart

Feature: Things that got lost along the way

Considering Super Mario Kart is the third biggest selling SNES game of all time, you'd think our memories of it wouldn't be hazy.

But, maybe due to its bizarre omission from the Virtual Console, in a recent revisit to the title we were shocked to discover how much we'd forgotten.

But we're sure it's just not us getting old, either. Without a re-release since its initial appearance over a decade ago, there can only be a handful who have played the game in the last five years.

So, in order to refresh your memory, here's a list of things that were lost in translation between Super Mario Kart and its successors.

1. No full screen mode for single-player
As Hideki Konno stated in a recent interview, the initial idea for the game came from wanting to take the single-player F-Zero experience and turning it into a two-player game.

Since the design goal was to make a game screen that would support two players racing simultaneously, it's not surprising that the game is hard coded to split the screen, even in single-player mode.

Instead of the lush full-screen racing seen in Mario Kart 64 and beyond, players have to put up with their field of vision halved, with the bottom screen segment displaying either an animated map or a rear-view mode.

Incidentally, rear-view makes a return in Mario Kart Wii, but has to be triggered by pressing the B-button, which is useful for keeping an eye out for shells and other nasties coming up from behind.

2. Coins
Whilst not as useful or prominent as rings in Sonic the Hedgehog, coins have always featured in Mario games. But, apart from Super Mario Kart and the GBA title Super Circuit, they have all but disappeared in the Mario Kart series.

In Super Mario Kart, up to ten coins can be collected to increase a racer's speed. Ramming will cause players to drop them and consequently slow them down, whilst Lakitu demands coin payment for putting you back on the track.

Not surprisingly then, coin collection is a vital strategy in Super Mario Kart. They act as a defence against ramming (you will only spin out if you have none) and add a way for equal-weighted drivers to get an edge over each other.

3. Accumulative speed
We've come to expect that speed limits and acceleration times are altered slightly with every successive edition of Mario Kart, but the difference between Super Mario Kart's mechanics and other entries into the franchise is simply staggering.

Even in Mario Kart 64, character's hit their top speed limits very quickly, with only Bowser, Donkey Kong and Wario really needing a few more seconds after a crash to get back up to maximum velocity.

Super Mario Kart, by comparison, almost consistently increases the speed of a player's kart. Speed is gained slowly and by staying on course, not riding over dirt and keeping away from walls.

The effect is to create a much harder game that privileges player ability over the randomness of power-ups.

In hindsight, the move away from giving perfect players a perfect speed was one of Nintendo's first steps in turning a hardcore game into a friendlier experience. In putting more emphasis on avoiding obstacles and walls though, Super Mario Kart really tests your racing skills.

4. The Feather
Or otherwise known as the power-up that simply disappeared. The feather is favoured power-up to the speed run crowd and for good reason. When activated, it propels the player kart high up into the air, making it capable of leaping over objects, barriers and - in some cases - the sides of the tracks.

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