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Super Mario Kart

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Title Screen

Super Mario Kart

Developer: Nintendo EAD
Publishers: Nintendo (JP/US/EU/AU), Hyundai (KR)
Platforms: SNES, Super Famicom Box
Released in JP: August 27, 1992
Released in US: September 1, 1992
Released in EU: January 21, 1993
Released in AU: 1993
Released in KR: 1995

CodeIcon.png This game has unused code.
DevTextIcon.png This game has hidden development-related text.
ObjectIcon.png This game has unused objects.
GraphicsIcon.png This game has unused graphics.
DebugIcon.png This game has debugging material.
RegionIcon.png This game has regional differences.
Carts.png This game has revisional differences.

DevelopmentIcon.png This game has a development article
ProtoIcon.png This game has a prototype article
PrereleaseIcon.png This game has a prerelease article
NotesIcon.png This game has a notes page
BugsIcon.png This game has a bugs page
DCIcon.png This game has a Data Crystal page

To do:
  • There is code leftover for diagonal zone types which was possibly used in early prototypes of the game.
  • Finish translations

Super Mario Kart is a wacky SNES racing game featuring Mario, Luigi, Yoshi, and many other characters from the Mario universe. Also, Donkey Kong Jr.

This classic, on top of beginning the ever-popular Mario Kart series, more or less kickstarted the trend of "Mascot Racers" as a whole.


Read about development information and materials for this game.
Development Info
Read about prototype versions of this game that have been released or dumped.
Prototype Info
Read about prerelease information and/or media for this game.
Prerelease Info
Miscellaneous tidbits that are interesting enough to point out here.
Read about notable bugs and errors in this game.

Debug Mode

CPU usage meter

A number of debug commands can be accessed with Pro Action Replay code 7E1F06??, where "??" is one of the following:

  • 04 — Pushing L puts you on the last lap.
  • 08 — The game crashes at races starting because it tries to load a RAM viewer, that was accessible in prototypes but removed in the final version.
  • 10 — Item Debugger. Pushing certain buttons lets you use an item instantly:
    • L — Green Shell.
    • R — Red Shell.
    • A — Mushroom.
    • X — Star.
    • Y — Feather.
    • Select — Banana.
    • Y + Up — Lightning.
    • Y + Down — Boo.
  • 40 — The race starts instantly.
  • 80 — Adds a CPU usage meter.

More than one debug command can be used at a time by adding the bytes above together (e.g., entering 14 in place of "??" will enable both pressing L to skip to the last lap and the item debugger).

These debug controls are all enabled in the prototypes when you start a race from the debug menu.

Unused Tiles

Mario Circuit Unused Block

SuperMarioKart unused Block.PNG

This colorful block can be found in the tileset for the Mario Circuit courses. If placed on the course with an editor, it acts like road as opposed to other blocks.

Rainbow Road Unused Coin

SMK RainbowRoad UnusedCoin.png

An alternate version of the coin in Rainbow Road, which acts like road and not like normal coins.

It can also be found in the source files, where it is in place of the standard coin graphic in early tilesets.

Interestingly, this is found at the beginning of the tileset among the main track's graphics, while the objects such as item fields, jump bars and the normal coin itself are always at the end of the tileset, so it may be something different and part of the main track (maybe a star decoration?). It could've also been left there as a mistake.

It also has some shine detailing on it, unlike the used coin.

Choco Island Unused Tiles

SMK UnusedChocoTile.png

A different-looking dirt tile. Unlike the other used dirt tiles, this acts like the snow from Vanilla Lake; it has a different sound and doesn't makes you too slow when driving over it.

SMK CIunusedBumpTile.png

All diagonal bumpers. The second one uses the unused tile.

An unused piece of a bumper. This tile was meant to extend the diagonal bumper that runs from top right to bottom left, but only a short version of it was used.

It was used in the April prototype for both Choco Island 2 and the scrapped Choco Island 3 track.

Donut Plains Unused Corner Tiles

SMK DPunusedCornerTiles.png

Unused corner tiles meant for the edge of the grass. Only the tile with the corner being on the lower right was used.

Ghost Valley Unused Plank Pieces

SMK GVunusedTiles.png

Unused edge pieces meant for the diagonal planks.

These were used in the April prototype in Ghost Valley 1.

Vanilla Lake Unused Tiles

SMK VLunusedTiles.png

A road tile with a single pixel, a narrow piece of the lake and a duplicate of the water tile that doesn't animate when placed on the track.

Unused Tile Features

Loaded within every track theme are the graphics for Item Fields, Coins, Zippers, but also the Oil Slick can be found there. They use their own unique palette, which is different for each track theme, to fit the tracks.

Oil Slick

SMK UnusedOilSlickTiles.png

The oil slick is loaded within every track theme, however it is only used in the later 3 Mario Circuit tracks. Its palette is altered appropriately for each track theme to match the tracks' other graphics (except for Rainbow Road, which appears corrupted).

Above tilesets are in this order: Donut Plains, Ghost Valley, Bowser's Castle, Choco Island, Koopa Beach, Vanilla Lake and Rainbow Road.

The Donut Plains and Choco Island graphics appear to have the added detail of textured dirt to further match the tracks, which isn't visible in the other themes (including Mario Circuit) due to the palettes used.

The Choco Island oil slick can be seen in the April prototype, where it's been placed in Choco Islands 2 and 3.


SMK UnusedZipperTiles.png

Many track themes don't have the Zipper, but just like the Oil Slick, it has unique palettes to fit every track theme (though the Rainbow Road graphic once again appears to be the outlier).

Tilesets are in this order: Donut Plains, Choco Island, Koopa Beach, Vanilla Lake and Rainbow Road.

Koopa Beach's Zipper can be seen in the April prototype where one is placed in both Koopa Beach tracks.

Unused Object

SMK UnusedBlockObject.png

Objects consist of a set of tiles, which are placed on the track and are not visible in Time Trials. Item Fields, Oil Slicks, and Coins are an example.

However, there is an unused object consisting of the 4 colored blocks. This was used in the May and June prototypes, to block the middle lane path in Bowser Castle 3.

According to the debug menus used in various protoypes, this object is called "KABE", which means "WALL" in Japanese.

More Unused Graphics

Unused Treetop

SMK UnusedTreetop.png

A smaller treetop, meant for Mario Circuit's background.

Unused Stars

SMK UnusedStars.png

A few pixels to serve as stars for Rainbow Road's background.
Larger, more detailed stars came into place.

Exclamation Mark

Unused Used
SMK ExclamationMark Unused.png SMK ExclamationMark Used.png

An alternate version of the big Exclamation Mark, which has actually more detail than the used one. This was used in the Japanese version in the Match Race and Battle Mode results screen, but goes unused in the international versions.

Unused Font

SMK UnusedFont.png

Found among the graphics for the Item Storage and the Race Time numbers.

This was used for many debugging purposes and such while the game was still in development.

Unused Track Colors

Koopa Beach

SMK UnusedBeachPalette.png

The first palette of Koopa Beach features 12 unused colors. Only 4 colors are used by one sand tile and the deep water tile. It seems to be an early copy of the mainly used second palette and overrides the animated waterwave colors with these ones when used. This was possibly used by the track designers to place the animated tiles correctly.

Used Unused
SMK UsedBeachPalette Bush.png
SMK UnusedBeachPalette Bush.png

It also contains early colors for the bushes.

Ghost Valley

Used Unused
SMK UsedGhostValleyPalette.png
SMK UnusedGhostValleyPalette.png

The second palette features many unused colors including duplicates and brighter colors for the wood planks and the frail blocks. Only the starting line uses two colors of this palette.

Rainbow Road

Used Mockups with unused colors added.
SMK UsedRainbowPalette.png
SMK UnusedRainbowPalette.png

Rainbow Road has a bunch of unused colors for the colorful tiles. Each tile only uses 2 colors but there are 3 for each.

Unused Background Palettes

The backgrounds have 2 reserved palette rows, one for the foreground and one for the back layer. Each row has four palette sets consisting of four colors (with one being the transparent color) for the background graphics. However, there are some backgrounds, that don't use all palette sets, making them unused.

Mario Circuit

Used Unused
SMK prerelease FinalTrees.png
SMK UnusedTreePalette.png

Ghost Valley

Used Unused
SMK UsedBooPalette.png
SMK UnusedBooPalette.png

There exist blue and orange palettes alongside the used bright and dark purple colors for the Boos, possibly once used as extra colors for the scrapped Hitodama background.

Bowser's Castle

Used Unused
SMK UsedCastleBGPalette.png
SMK UnusedCastleBGPalette.png

Only one palette was used. Note that the fourth palette uses red colors, maybe for a scrapped lava animation?

Choco Island

Used Unused
SMK UsedChocoBGPalette.png
SMK UnusedChocoBGPalette.png

Only one palette was used for the tasty chocolate mountains of Choco Island, leaving these "caramel", "dark chocolate" and "white chocolate" mountains unseen.

Vanilla Lake

Used Unused
SMK UsedVanillaBGPalette.png
SMK UnusedVanillaBGPalette.png

A slightly darker palette, which could have given some of the mountains more contrast. The third and fourth palette are the same as the unused Mario Circuit palette (most likely leftovers).

Koopa Beach

Used Unused
SMK UsedBeachBGPalette.png
SMK UnusedBeachBGPalette.png

Same as above, it could have given some clouds a more greyish color.

Hidden Background Parts

To do:
There are more.

The background layers are made of tilemaps with a height of 32 pixels, but ingame they are only visible at 21 pixels of height, so the highest piece of the backgrounds are never seen. Some backgrounds just have empty space there, while others have unseen details like extra clouds.

Here are some background layers with their full size.

Mario Circuit

SMK MCunseenBGpart.png

Donut Plains

SMK prerelease FinalDonutPlainsBG.png

Ghost Valley

SMK GVunseenBGpart.png

Bowser's Castle

SMK prerelease FinalBowsersCastleBG.png

Choco Island

SMK CIunseenBGpart.png

Unused Track Tile Types

To do:
There are more.

Each track tile has an ID that determines how the tile will act (Road, Block, Lava, etc.). Besides some unused duplicates, some new and some unused variants can be found as well:

ID Description
04 Road, but you sink one pixel when driving on it.
2E Same as 04, but it stops your drift and items "die" when it comes in contact with it.
32 A strange deep water tile. Once you sink in it, you will jump out immediately, which leads to a permanent in and out jumping.
2A, 3A Jumpbar variant, items "die" when it comes in contact with it.
2C, 3C Choco Island bumper variant, items "die" when it comes in contact with it.
88 Variant of the destroyable ice and falling frail blocks, but this makes the normal wall crash sound when touched.


Bowser Castle 2 Checkpoint Zone Oddity

SMK BC AIzoneOddity.png

In Bowser Castle 2, the Checkpoint/AI data shows a zone at the middle-right side of the track that extrudes into the lava that is all that remains of a horizontal STOP seen in earlier iterations of the track.

Object Zone Oddity

The track's hazards like pipes, Monty Moles and more, are divided into groups, each with a zone. When entering a zone, its object group becomes visible. However, Mario Circuit 1 and Choco Island 1 have 3 zones, even though they only use 2 object groups. The game is programmed that when being in a zone with no objects, it will automatically display the objects from the next zone.

Object Zones as shown in track editor Epic Edit:

Mario Circuit 1 Choco Island 1
SMK MC ViewAreaOddity.png SMK CI ViewAreaOddity.png

Choco Island Finish Line

SMK ChocoFinishLineOddity.png

The finish lines seen in the Choco Island tracks are made of 2 tiles, despite both tiles having the same graphics (the second tile was given a blue color here to show the layout). This might suggests that the finish line was supposed to be more detailed like the starting brackets.

Bowser Castle Finish Line

SMK CastleFinishLineOddity.png

Although it is barely noticeable, the finish line seen in the Bowser Castle tracks has some gray pixels on it. These pixels are in fact the first bits of the Titlescreen music which was housed in Bowser Castle's track graphics.

These pixels can even still be seen in Mario Kart: Super Circuit's remake.

Choco Island Tile Animation Routine

Choco Island has its own tile animation routine although there's no data for animated tiles. This is a leftover when the choco mud was planned to move. To reenable the animation, change the byte at 3F006 in the ROM from 10 to 16 using a hex editor.

Battle Course Theme Oddity

The battle course music has a few notes that sound on the seventh sound channel. However, since the seventh channel is constantly drowned out by player 2's engine noise, these notes are only heard when the game is paused.

Possibly a leftover from when the theme was normal track music and not a 2-player only theme.

Regional Differences

Quite a bit was changed between the Japanese and international version, mostly related to censorship and minor touch-ups.

Title Screen

Japan International
Smk title screen jp.png Smk title screen us.png

In the Japanese version, the title screen graphics have a smaller "O" and "E", and the letters overlap each other substantially more than in the international version. The Japanese title screen lettering is very similar to that of Super Mario Bros. 3, while the international version aimed for a slightly more refined look. Also, the "TM" is in a different position, and the box the title is in was made bigger as a result of these changes.

(Source: The Mushroom Kingdom)
Smk title bg jp.png
Smk title bg us.png

The background used on the title screen in the Japanese version has a very small depiction of what appears to be an Ai-Ai Gasa (相合傘; translated as under one umbrella) saying "Mario" and "Peach", as well as Japanese text saying "Mario Kart". These were later removed internationally, presumably for their small size and language, and the mushroom was moved to fill some of the resulting dead space.

(Source: The Mushroom Kingdom)
(Translation: Kobosuke)

Censored Victory Animations

In the Japanese version, Bowser's and Princess Peach's victory animations depict them drinking champagne. Nintendo of America's policies at the time did not allow depictions of drinking in games, so the animations had to be changed accordingly. These changes were kept for the European release.


Japan International
Chug! Chug! Chug! Chug! Look at my bottle! Look at it!

Bowser's victory pose originally showed him chugging the champagne. He just poses happily with it in the international versions.


Japan International
Mmm, that's good wine... Wee!

In the Japanese version, Princess Peach daintily sips her champagne, although the shading on her face says she might already be drunk. In the international versions, she tosses it in the air.

(Source: The Mushroom Kingdom)

Donkey Kong Jr.

International Europe
Take a look at my juggling skills! Take a look at my lifting bottles up and down skills!

While Donkey Kong Jr. juggles his champagne beads wildly in the international versions, he only swings them up and down in the European version. Perhaps to prevent them from shattering on the floor?

Some of the prototypes also feature the European animation.


Japan & Europe
Smk-Yoshi jpn.png
Smk-Yoshi int.png

Several of Yoshi's sprites were touched up for the US version, gaining a thicker head. They were reverted back to the Japanese sprites in the European version.

Interestingly, the Yoshi graphics used in the US version more closely resemble those in the undumped prototype than in the European and Japanese versions, though the latter was released first.

2 Player Results Font

The Japanese version uses its own, more "round" font for the Match Race and Battle Mode results screen, while the international version uses the same font as all the other text in that size. There was also a kanji next to the win/loss totals, that was removed in favor of "W" and "L" column headings.

Japan International
Smk 2p battle results jp.png Smk 2p battle results us.png

Some pieces of the round font (like the exclamation mark) can still be found in the international versions, unused.

(Source: The Mushroom Kingdom)

Hidden "Unlock Special Cup" Function

The Japanese version plays a Boo sound when you unlock the Special Cup using the L, R, L, R, L, L, R, R, A cheat on the Time Trial menu, while the international version doesn't.

Turbo Start

Probably due to the conversion from 60 to 50 FPS, the turbo start is slightly different between the European and the international version.

In the international version, you have to hold down the accelerator shortly after the first light sounds, while in the European version you have to hold it down shortly before the second light sounds.

Engine Burn

Your kart burns shorter in the American version than in the other versions, when failing the turbo start at the beginning of the race. However in these versions, the burn can be shortened by letting go of B.

Replay Text

The Japanese version shows a flashing text while the replay is playing while in the international versions not, which can be seen here. The text, "リプレイ", translates to "Replay".

Ghost Saving

In the Japanese version the ghost saving button combo is different. After a Time Trial race at the options menu hold L, R, Y and press X to save a ghost in the International versions. In the Japanese version it is required to press A instead of X. It also displays the text "バックアップラムにゴーストをセーブしました" (which translates to "Saved ghost (data) to the backup RAM") in the bottom map while saving; the international versions displays nothing.

The game also ask you if you want to play with the recorded ghost before playing: the text displayed is "バックアップラムから ゴーストをロードしますか?", which translates to: "Do you want to load the ghost (data) from the backup RAM?". In the international versions, you don't get asked; instead, you need to hold either L or R button when starting a race.

Course Names

Some tracks from the Japanese version have slightly different names.

Japanese International
Donut Plains Course Donut Plains
Ghost Swamp Course Ghost Valley
Koopa Castle Course Bowser Castle
Chocolate Island Course Choco Island
Nokonoko Beach Course Koopa Beach
Vanilla Lake Course Vanilla Lake
(Source: The Mushroom Kingdom)

Driver Names

Back then, Princess Peach was still known as Princess Toadstool or just as the Princess outside of Japan.

Japanese International
Peach Princess
Koopa Bowser
Nokonoko Koopa Troopa
Kinopio Toad
(Source: The Mushroom Kingdom)

European Version Changes

The European version fixes a glitch in Match Race and Battle Mode, where the loser could still drive when the race is over.

Virtual Console Changes

The flash from using the star and the lightning was toned down to avoid risk of seizures.