Bolton News web editor to compete in Super Mario Kart world championships
IT sounds glamorous . . . The Bolton News’ web editor is travelling to Bolton’s French twin city of Le Mans to race against some of the best from all over the world.
But he’s not taking part in the famous 24-hour endurance rally — he will be sitting in a darkened room competing in the Super Mario Kart world championships.
Julian Thorpe, aged 33, is one of up to 50 competitors who will battle it out in a four-day competition on the classic 20-year-old SNES (Super Nintendo Entertainment System) game.
He decided to enter the competition after being encouraged by British world champion Sami Cetin, whom he met at the Play Expo event in Manchester last year. Since then Mr Thorpe has put in hours of practice at home — much to his wife’s exasperation — and now ranks at about 250 in the world.
He is heading to the competition in La Suze-sur-Sarthe, a village near Le Mans, on Tuesday, along with eight other Team UK players, hoping to beat people from as far away as Japan and the USA.
Mr Thorpe said: “I know there will be some beginners entering, but I’m expecting the standard to be pretty high.
“Some of these people will be practising for eight hours a day, whereas I’ve been doing a few hours a week around work.
“But I’m just going to go in there and go for it. As long as I don’t come last, I’ll be happy.”
Mr Thorpe’s love of Super Mario Kart began at the age of 13.
He said: “I remember saving up my £1-a-week pocket money to buy it off a friend for £24.
“I continued to play it all the way through school and at uni — and somehow still managed to get a degree.”
Mr Thorpe usually races using Donkey Kong Jr, but can also use Bowser — the two fastest but hardest-to-control characters.
He said: “When I tell people about it, they either say it’s ridiculous or they are really impressed.
“My wife thinks it’s an absolute waste of time and has threatened me with divorce — but at least she’ll have a few days of peace when I’m in France.”
- Super Mario Kart was released for the Super Nintendo (SNES) console in the UK in January 1993.
- The game is a spin-off of the popular Super Mario Bros platform game.
- It features eight playable characters from the Mario series: Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, Yoshi, Bowser, Donkey Kong Jr, Koopa Troopa and Toad.
- The game has four modes: grand prix, battle mode, time trial and match race. World championship competitors must compete in all modes to have a hope of winning.
- Drivers race around the tracks but also use items such as banana skins and throwable shells to take out their opponents.
- The reigning world champion is Sami Cetin, from Croydon, but the number one rated player based on time trial times is Guillaume Leviach, from France.
- Sami Cetin, Guillaume Leviach and Karel van Duijvenboden, from Holland, share most of the time trial world records.
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