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Mode 7 Racing Game Face-off: Super Mario Kart vs F-Zero

Which SNES Mode 7 racing game reigns supreme?

  • F-Zero

    Votes: 105 55.9%
  • Super Mario Kart

    Votes: 82 43.6%

  • Total voters
    188

ScOULaris

Member
Oct 25, 2017
2,372
I've always been one to revisit classic games via emulation across various devices, but I found myself particularly drawn to playing Super Mario Kart and F-Zero on my Switch after the SNES app launched. Both games famously used the SNES' Mode 7 graphics mode to simulate the feeling of racing in a 3D space, which was some real next-level stuff for a 16-bit console at the time. I love both series (bring back F-Zero, Nintendo!), but I haven't played the originals in quite a while before returning to them in this form.

And I have to say, for me F-Zero does Mode 7 racing way better than SMK.


You're going to fast. You're going to fast; you're gonna crash.

It's crazy how well F-Zero holds up with regard to this unique, faux-3D style of 16-bit racing. The sense of speed is still outstanding, and considering that this was a launch game for the SNES it's even more impressive that they were able to achieve these results right out of the gate with new tech. You have to understand, seeing this in 1991 blew minds.

Now, of course, Super Mario Kart is no slouch. It birthed a genre that it continues to dominate to this day, and in a skilled player's hands the actual racing can look very fast, fluid, and impressive for its age. It's just that, upon revisiting both games, I find F-Zero's controls and general feel to be far more intuitive and satisfying at their core. Maybe it's my modern Mario Kart muscle memory getting in the way of things, but I just can't get the hang of powersliding in the original SMK anymore. The Mode 7 presentation in SMK never quite looks right as I'm coming up on a turn, and I have the hardest time judging distances whereas I have no problem with this in F-Zero.


SMK pushed the envelope technically and creatively in 1992.

I'm also giving F-Zero the nod since SMK is pulling the same Mode 7 tricks but while only rendering the action to half of the screen, even in singleplayer. When playing by yourself, the bottom half of the screen is taken up by the map. I understand why this was done, but it just doesn't measure up to the fullscreen majesty that is F-Zero for me.
 

mazi

Member
Oct 27, 2017
24,179
i have to go with F-Zero. it just feels better to play, and i like the aesthetics more.

edit: and of course, f-zero had better music.
 
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Hieroph

Member
Oct 28, 2017
6,213
I've always felt that Wipeout was the true realization of that F-Zero idea, it just needed another gen to really hit home.

But for Super Mario Kart Nintendo struck gold on the first try.
 

Jaded Alyx

Member
Oct 25, 2017
10,239
It took me forever for my eyes to accept that the weird circuit-board looking mess of pixels in F-Zero is supposed to be a city below the track.
 

muteKi

Member
Oct 22, 2018
8,554
a sunken pirate ship
I wouldn't consider them directly comparable because while I would rather play F-Zero given the choice (it's faster, more responsive, and the AI is less prone to being shitty), SMK is the only one of the two to support a second player.

I've always felt that Wipeout was the true realization of that F-Zero idea, it just needed another gen to really hit home.
Yeah, similarly while I think Mario Kart 64 is hardly the best mascot racer of its era (how you doin, Walt Disney World Quest: Magical Racing Tour), it was a huge leap in quality over SMK.
 

CloseTalker

Member
Oct 25, 2017
9,128
SMK for sure. F-Zero didn't feel as good, and the franchise wasn't perfected until GX.

F-Zero's OST though, might be my single favorite soundtrack of all time.
 

Luke88

Member
Dec 29, 2018
263
F-Zero feels good to play in 2019. SMK feels kinda dated despite still being enjoyable
 

King_Moc

Member
Oct 25, 2017
2,716
I just about go MK here. The multiplayer tips it over, but I do prefer F Zero's single player. F Zero has a much better soundtrack too.
 

Swift_Gamer

Member
Dec 14, 2018
1,002
Rio de Janeiro
I honestly think fzero is just not good as a franchise as a whole. While the game does look good and smooth, it is simply "too fast" to be enjoyable whereas Mario kart is simply Mario kart, so it wins by default to me.
 

mael

Avenger
Nov 3, 2017
7,363
Technically SMK is the more impressive game of the 2.
SMK is always displaying 2 mode 7 display at the same time.
Fzero is of course faster but it's more a design decision than a limitation on the part of the games.
There's also much more going on in SMK than in Fzero.
Other racers in Fzero are basically more obstacles than racers.
Then there's multiplayer that elevate SMK to crazy level.
 

mute

Member
Oct 25, 2017
6,249
Full Screen > Half Screen.

I do love SMK though. It is probably my favorite MK game still, from a single player perspective.
 

emag

Banned
Oct 26, 2017
5,117
Both were pretty bad on SNES. Top Gear was the racer to beat, regardless of Mode-7 usage.

I've always felt that Wipeout was the true realization of that F-Zero idea, it just needed another gen to really hit home.
F-Zero AX/GX was the final form, regardless of Wipeout elbowing its way in momentarily.
 

LuigiMario

Member
Oct 28, 2017
593
F-Zero by a country mile. The first Mario Kart kind of sucks. Sorry everyone that grew up with it.
 

DJ_Lae

Member
Oct 27, 2017
2,996
Edmonton
Mario Kart has two player and was the game I spent significantly more time with when it originally released.

F-Zero is fine, I guess. I dunno. I never really cared for it - especially the look - and can't quite describe why. As a result I lack any nostalgia for it and trying to go back to it now just results in my eyes hurting.
 

Jobbs

Member
Oct 25, 2017
3,544
I liked F-Zero as a kid, but ended up playing Mario Kart for years because of the multiplayer. Single player only racing is a bit weird and limited

Not mode 7, but honorable mention for SNES multiplayer party racer: Rock and Roll Racing. As a kid we played this as much as Mario Kart, or close to it
 

Denman

Member
Apr 21, 2018
2,861
The track is supposed to be high above the city. What you're seeing are roads and lights and stuff far, far, below.

GX shows this off much better


The way some people played F-Zero GX still blows my mind to this day.

The day that game is remastered or a new F-Zero equivalent is announced, I'll probably fall to my knees and accept god.
 

Dylan

Member
Oct 28, 2017
1,245
F-Zero makes a better first impression but Mario Kart has deeper complexity, better design, and more overall fun.
 

P.Scoop

Member
Apr 10, 2019
123
I'm not gonna vote on this one simply because I really can't come into conclusion which is better lol.
 

platypotamus

Member
Oct 25, 2017
689
I know it's only tangentially related, but this thread reminded me that I could go home tonight and play Pilotwings on the SNES whatever in Switch Online, so thank you
 

Chiramii

Member
Oct 25, 2017
784
Norway
F-Zero. More responsive controls and the soundtrack is superior. I find it hard to go back to older Mario Kart games, probably because the newer ones are so fucking good.
 

bionic77

Member
Oct 25, 2017
10,762
Always Mario Kart for me.

SMK is one of my most played games of all time. Me and my cousin played the shit out of that game for an entire summer.

I liked F zero but never came back to it after beating it.
 

Krejlooc

Indie Game Dev
Verified
Oct 27, 2017
18,186
Mario Kart was one of the most mindblowing things I'd ever played when it was released. It felt like Super Mario Bros in 3D. It nailed the look, even more so than later things like Mario 64. I also think the SMK mode 7 games are still so much fun to play, so they get the nod.

I like F-Zero as a franchise much better, though.
 
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ScOULaris

ScOULaris

Member
Oct 25, 2017
2,372
Man, I just don't understand SMK's handling AT ALL. Like what the fuck is this shit? It's so far removed from every other Mario Kart game, and I can't decipher any internal logic to it. I'm sliding all over the place, drifting feels terrible, depth perception is fucked. Seriously, this game is actually straight GARBAGE compared to how well F-Zero plays.
 

Zolbrod

Member
Oct 27, 2017
820
Man, I just don't understand SMK's handling AT ALL. Like what the fuck is this shit? It's so far removed from every other Mario Kart game
This is exactly why it's my favorite Mario Kart, lol.
Fuck all that blue spark bullshit.

Never got into F-Zero much either, so SMK is definitely my pick.
 
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ScOULaris

ScOULaris

Member
Oct 25, 2017
2,372
This is exactly why it's my favorite Mario Kart, lol.
Fuck all that blue spark bullshit.

Never got into F-Zero much either, so SMK is definitely my pick.
Try playing both now. F-Zero makes Mario Kart feel like nailing your dick to a wall by comparison. It just feels SO much better to play.
 

the androgyne

Member
Oct 30, 2017
94
Man, I just don't understand SMK's handling AT ALL. Like what the fuck is this shit? It's so far removed from every other Mario Kart game, and I can't decipher any internal logic to it. I'm sliding all over the place, drifting feels terrible, depth perception is fucked. Seriously, this game is actually straight GARBAGE compared to how well F-Zero plays.
The first time i played SMK, it was on some kind of snes/arcade frankenstein that restricted your play to 10 minutes. I'd read all the reviews and it sounded so great and then i played it, and boy was it not designed for an arcade stick, I hated it, swore i'd never play it again.

So I was once like you... then my friend got it at home and finally convinced me to play it again..first a bit .. then some more ... then some more some more some more. I don't remember when exactly it clicked but it did and it will for you too. May as well have glued the damn thing in the machine by that point. Stick with it, cause when it clicks you'll come back and read your post again and realise it's the post that's straight GARBAGE, not the game. If you're lucky you might even realise that digital control gives this game a far more immediate and intense racing feeling than any of the modern MKs do.

On the exit of a corner, press the hop again and the opposite direction to straighten up. For Bowser and DK, you can hop multiple times through a turn, to turn sharper. Hop Hop Hop. Get good in Time Trial before you try the higher CC's, because the AI is a relentless cheating SOB. Still nowhere near as annoying as explosive back markers in F-Zero IMO!

This is exactly why it's my favorite Mario Kart, lol.
Fuck all that blue spark bullshit.

Never got into F-Zero much either, so SMK is definitely my pick.
SMK actually has mini turbos, just no sparks!
 

c0Zm1c

Member
Oct 25, 2017
1,247
Man, I just don't understand SMK's handling AT ALL. Like what the fuck is this shit? It's so far removed from every other Mario Kart game, and I can't decipher any internal logic to it. I'm sliding all over the place, drifting feels terrible, depth perception is fucked. Seriously, this game is actually straight GARBAGE compared to how well F-Zero plays.
I remember it feeling weird at first back in the early 1990s but I got used to it and grew to love the game. Trying to score as fast a time I could on the Ghost Valley tracks was great fun back in the day. It's why I really like Mario Kart: Super Circuit on the GBA too where as most people seem to hate it. :\
 

bionic77

Member
Oct 25, 2017
10,762
The first time i played SMK, it was on some kind of snes/arcade frankenstein that restricted your play to 10 minutes. I'd read all the reviews and it sounded so great and then i played it, and boy was it not designed for an arcade stick, I hated it, swore i'd never play it again.

So I was once like you... then my friend got it at home and finally convinced me to play it again..first a bit .. then some more ... then some more some more some more. I don't remember when exactly it clicked but it did and it will for you too. May as well have glued the damn thing in the machine by that point. Stick with it, cause when it clicks you'll come back and read your post again and realise it's the post that's straight GARBAGE, not the game. If you're lucky you might even realise that digital control gives this game a far more immediate and intense racing feeling than any of the modern MKs do.

On the exit of a corner, press the hop again and the opposite direction to straighten up. For Bowser and DK, you can hop multiple times through a turn, to turn sharper. Hop Hop Hop. Get good in Time Trial before you try the higher CC's, because the AI is a relentless cheating SOB. Still nowhere near as annoying as explosive back markers in F-Zero IMO!



SMK actually has mini turbos, just no sparks!
Great post.

SMK races were fucking exhilarating because it was so damn precise that the smallest fuck up could flip shit.
 

Vivian-Pogo

Member
Jan 9, 2018
1,117
Super Mario Kart because I played that one as a kid and didn't play SNES F-Zero til the Wii U.

And it has 2 player.
 

thepenguin55

Member
Oct 28, 2017
2,342
The current state of this poll is shocking. I love F-Zero X and F-Zero GX/AX as they’re genuinely some of my favorite racing games ever. Having said that the 2D F-Zero games do absolutely nothing for me. I didn’t like the SNES original at launch or the launch GBA game. I just don’t find the 2D F-Zero games fun to play.

Super Mario Kart is still fun to play. I hate that it does the F-Zero thing where lives and continues are a thing and I hate that there were CPU exclusive items but great game overall with some solid course design.