by Keaton Arksey
reviewed on 3DS
The new tracks feature some neat obstacles and environments, and even the old tracks have been modified to take advantage of the glider and underwater sections, breathing some new air into them. Retro Studios, perhaps best known for the Metroid Prime series and Donkey Kong Country Returns, helped recreate the retro tracks and even created a new track based on Donkey Kong Country Returns.
A feature missing since the Game Boy Advance version was coins, which return in Mario Kart 7. Appearing on the tracks during races, collecting coins unlocks new kart parts, such as wheels, kart bodies, and gliders. One can change these parts to make new variations on karts, each with different stats in areas like weight, speed, and handling depending on the components used to make them. As someone who already collects all of the shiny things on the track, unlocking new goodies provides a good reason to go back to Grand Prix once all the races are conquered.
Along with the standard race modes there are also time trials and the ever-popular battle mode. Battle mode games do not take place on a racetrack, but in an arena. There are various gametypes, including the popular balloon battle, where racers use the items to pop the balloons of their opponents in a deathmatch type game. One of the greatest appeals in Mario Kart to me has been the various battle modes, and its return is certainly welcome.
Graphically, Mario Kart 7 is pleasant. While it may not be the best-looking game on the 3DS, it is certainly not the worst. The environments are bright and colourful, and do a good job plumbing the deep Mario universe for a diverse set of locales (no pun intended). The 3D effect does not make or break the game, but does provide a nice sense of depth and gauging distances. The music and sound effects are as happy as ever, so if those who enjoy the music of Mario games (which should be most people) will find something to like.
What Mario Kart 7 excels at is multiplayer. While it does feature local multiplayer, the suite of online features is undoubtedly the strongest in the series, and maybe even of any Nintendo game yet. Matchmaking is quick and lag-free, so no time is lost in finding a game. Better yet, there are a ton of other online features outside of matchmaking. Had a good time with a recent opponent? If they are online, you can hop directly into a game with them from the Friends/Opponents screen, which also gives win/loss records. Players can even create communities and invite friends to join, creating mini-leagues to compete with-in. While you cannot search a community database (joining a community requires entering a twelve-digit code), the game will auto-match you up with any online members of the community should you wish to do so. Communities are also specialized, with different difficulty levels, game modes, and item use up to whoever created the community. Say your friends only like playing 100 cc Grand Prix with no items. Create a community for it, have everyone join, and that is all you will have to play.
Mario Kart 7 may not be a revolution for the series, but it is another solid entry. With new features like underwater sections and gliders, customizable karts, and the strongest online in the series, Mario Kart 7 is yet another good reason to try to wipe that smile off Toad’s face.
Phenomenal multiplayer features, unlockable kart components, classic gameplay.
- Cheap rubber-banding, blue shells.