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Retro Gamer Annual

Volume 4

In the Retro Gamer Annual, we’ve gone through the last 12 issues of your favourite magazine and picked the best of the year's content. So enjoy this selection of awesome features and fantastic interviews covering some of the industry’s defining games.

United Kingdom
Future Publishing Ltd

in this issue

17 min
mario kart the untold story

videogame spinoffs are a tricky thing to get right. Often, it seems like someone in marketing has asked the question, “Why don’t we take [Property X] and make a [Genre Y] game out of it?” and then left the developers to solve the problem. Sometimes, the idea is sound but hampered by trying to adhere too closely to the original game’s mechanics. On other occasions, the spirit of the original property is lost in the transition to a new genre, or the developer has wandered too far from what it does best and delivered a sub-par product. But the world’s most beloved spinoff series didn’t have any of these problems, because Nintendo EAD never started off with the goal of making Super Mario Kart. “Our original plan didn’t include Mario or…

1 min
team picks

DARRAN RAINBOW ROAD This track felt like a loving homage to the racers I used to play in my local arcade. It’s certainly not the easiest of tracks and I was never amazing at it, but the feeling you get when you complete the course without falling off is mighty sweet. NICK DONUT PLAINS 3 With a little bit of practice, this course will let you unleash your inner scumbag – which is exactly why I love it. Mastery of mushrooms will allow you to hop over the walls, making for huge sneaky shortcuts that will keep you ahead of the pack. DREW BOWSER’S CASTLE 2 I always felt a degree of trepidation when navigating Bowser’s Castle. Maybe it was the Thwomps, and the fact that this was the course that me and my brother would always use…

1 min
hit stop

Mario Kart, and kart racers in general, just wouldn’t be the same without the ability to attack your fellow racers or close the gap with a boost. We take a look at the items that were on offer in 1992… MUSHROOM This item gives you a brief burst of speed, and is commonly handed out to racers that are falling behind the pack. Use it to cover rough terrain for a handy shortcut! STAR If you’re struggling to keep up, you may receive this rare item. It both temporarily boosts your speed and enables you to attack other racers by ramming them. FEATHER Using the feather will allow for a super high jump that creates major shortcut opportunities. These are most commonly found in the Ghost Valley circuits. BANANA PEEL This defensive item is commonly dished out to…

2 min
timeline attack

MARIO KART 64 N64, 1996 The first sequel to Super Mario Kart used the N64’s power to move the series into full 3D, allowing for more dynamic course designs. It also bumped the player count from two to four and introduced the dreaded Blue Shell. MARIO KART SUPER CIRCUIT GAME BOY ADVA NCE, 2001 Like the SNE S original, the first handheld Mario Kart used Mode-7-style flat, rotating tracks. It also included the SNE S courses as unlockable extras, combining with the game’s 20 brand-new tracks for a mammoth roster of 40. MARIO KART: DOUBLE DASH!! GAMECUBE, 2003 This experimental title required players to pick two racers which could be freely swapped during the race, and karts were also chosen separately. Special weapons for each racer were also included, for regular players as well as the CPU. MARIO KART…

1 min
battling back

Sometimes, you don’t know what you have until it’s gone – and that’s certainly true for many elements of the original Super Mario Kart, which have come and gone over the years. Character-specific items and collectable coins were both omitted from Mario Kart 64 but later returned to the series, and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is bringing back more SNES-era features that have been missing as of late. With the original Wii U version of Mario Kart 8, the biggest complaint that many had was the omission of the classic Battle Mode, a feature which originated on the SNES. Instead of being able to roam around specially-designed arenas that encouraged carnage and interaction, the game featured battles on regular racing tracks, a compromise which satisfied few. The good news is that…

6 min
gauntlet ii

Precisely zero people were surprised when Atari Games released Gauntlet II in August 1986, less than a year after the first game debuted. The original Gauntlet was, after all, a smash-hit success that outearned every other coin-op in the arcade. This was not mere happenstance – Gauntlet was specifically engineered to make as much money as possible. The game’s project leader, Ed Logg, was trying to work out a way of increasing earnings at a time when players in the US were not prepared to spend more than a quarter on a single credit. And when they deposited that quarter, the game was engaged for two minutes or however long, during which time a crowd might gather but they would have to wait to play. Ed’s eureka moment was creating a…