An old interview with Shigeru Miyamoto and other Nintendo employees from 1992 has recently been translated into English, revealing new information on the thoughts and ideas that went into the creation of the first game in the
Mario Kart franchise, Super Mario Kart for the SNES. One of the many aspects of the game that they touched on was the Battle Mode, discussing where the idea for the mode came from, why they chose to include it, and how it evolved throughout the development process.
Miyamoto: “Mario Kart has four game modes: Grand Prix, Match Race, Time Trial, and Battle Mode. But Time Attack was really more of a bonus addition. I know that ultimately, a racing game must include a time trial mode, so it was something we had to add, but it was a part of the game we figured we could leave to the end. The thing we spent the most time thinking about was the Battle Mode.
“The very fact that Battle Mode has nothing to do with racing is what made us want to add it, and give it special attention. It helped strengthen the image of the game: it’s not, “you get to become a world class racer!”, but rather “you get to race around and play in this go-kart with your friends!” To tell you the truth, I think we could have made a couple more games around that basic concept. Maybe a game where you use poles and compete in slalom skiing, or something with a jump platform, and you see who can get the highest jumps.”
Konno: “The Battle Mode was completed at a very early stage in the development. Interestingly, though, it was completely different in the beginning. Originally, there were no obstacles in the battle field, and you could drive around freely trying to hit your opponents with a standard “machine gun”-like, rapid-fire ball attack. You’d get a point for every time you hit your opponent.
“However, spinning around and around in this open field with no obstacles or landmarks, after 5 minutes you’d get really dizzy. (laughs) We then decided to add walls and other features in the hopes that it would prevent that.”
Many gamers have adored the Battle Mode in various Mario Kart titles throughout the years, although a lot of people were left disappointed by the version in the most recent entry, Mario Kart 8. Battle Mode has made the series really stand out over the years, differentiating it from other racing series, and it’s really cool to see how it evolved from a simple open field to the version we all remember from the early games. Goodness knows I spent many hours of my childhood battling it out in Mario Kart 64‘s Battle Mode, and I sure hope Nintendo goes back to that kind of design philosophy for it whenever they bring us the next Mario Kart title.
What do you think about Mario Kart‘s Battle Modes? Is it an important part of the game for you, or is it something you rarely even bother with? Which game in the series has your favorite version of this mode? Let us know in the comments!