A community modder has refurbished and released an early prototype of the classic Super Mario Kart for the SNES from Nintendo.
The iconic racing game was released in Japan on August 27, 1992, but this prototype was built on November 7, 1991, more than nine months earlier.
The prototype was originally leaked last year as part of Nintendo’s so-called “Gigaleak”, but it was not playable at the time.
However, the Super Mario Kart hacker MrL314 Spent the last nine months repairing the prototype and has now released the prototype assembly in playable condition.
In a conversation with VGC MrL314 told us that the process was lengthy. They explained, “It was definitely a daunting task, starting with a black screen that just crashed.
“It took a ton of research and testing, and a lot of SNES knowledge to get everything working again. The biggest help was the SNES documentation, made over the years by many hardworking people.
“Completing the renovation was a great way to reflect on how far I have come from being a kid with a controller and dreaming of making games.”
As you can see from the video footage on this page, the rebuilt prototype even has an official, never-before-used track editor used by Nintendo to create the original Super Nintendo game, allowing users to place elements on the track such as accelerations and blocks.
Super Mario Kart editors allowed Nintendo to run directly on the SNES console and accurately place data, the modder explained. Once the data was in the editor, it could be tested in-game by storing it on the SRAM chip in the game cartridge.
While fan-made track editors have existed before, this is the first time players have been able to edit tracks like the creators of Mario Kart did when they created the game.
The prototype includes circuit layouts different from those included in the final version of the game, such as a version of Ghost Valley without any walls and a version of Mario Circuit 2 with multiple jumps.
In addition, the build contains a battle mode in which players shoot projectiles rather than collecting items. This early version of the regime was originally mentioned by developers in a 1992 interview…
There are even some features that will eventually appear in future Mario Kart games, such as a Mario Kart 64-style sidebar and various camera angles that are similar to the Mario Kart DS card style.
MrL314 provided us with a list of some of the more interesting prototype features:
- AI Zone Track Editor
- Track Overlay Editor (Element Field and Acceleration)
- Mario Kart 64 style racing sidebar (you can see the positions change in real time)
- Various camera modes (two of which are very similar to the style of the Mario Kart DS card)
- In-Game Observer / Memory Editor
- Some of the tracks were originally very different!
- There are no walls in the valley of ghosts
- Ghost Valley 2 has two sets of split paths
- There were 2 jumps in Mario Circuit 2 (!)
- Mario Circuit 4 made the jump
- The combat mode is incomplete, but there are 2 invisible versions
- There is a 3D coin that was later replaced with a regular one-time use.
- Instead of Thwomps, Bubbles (or Podoboos) were used for Bowser Castle.
More information on the November 1991 prototype can be found at Assembly floor, in the page and wrote MrL314.
Anyone wanting to try a prototype will have to restore their own version of the game ROM and will have to run it on the BSNES emulator (it doesn’t work on any other emulator or real hardware at this time).
Files and repair instructions can be found at MrL314’s GitHub page…
Ultimately, MrL314 said he plans to fix editor functionality in other leaked (and more complete) builds of Mario Kart as well, so fans can create like the original Nintendo developers did.
“Currently, this feature is not as important to the SMK hacking community as most of the functionality from the editor modes is implemented in software such as stifu’s Epic Edit,” he said.
“Still, it gives a good idea of how the original developers created the game! I also personally encouraged the SMK Workshop community to hack Super Mario Kart without using modern hacking tools and develop like Nintendo in the 90s. “