by Keaton Arksey
reviewed on 3DS
Mario Kart is back
The finish line is so close. Every turn, every boost, every shortcut executed flawlessly, leading to this moment, the thrill of victory. Just a few more seconds… Then a red shell comes out of nowhere. Defeat from the jaws of victory, and once again, I am forced to utter the words “go to hell Toad”.
Mario Kart 7 is here, and again Mario and company have decided to settle their differences on the racetrack. Unsurprisingly, Mario Kart makes its debut on Nintendo’s newest system, the 3DS. While it is not exactly groundbreaking, the latest instalment in the beloved (and at times hated) franchise is as solid as ever.
It takes the “do not fix what is not broken” approach to design. Those familiar with the series will feel right at home, while it remains accessible enough for newcomers to hop right in and enjoy the game. Drifting, shortcuts, and all the other basics of racing games are present and accounted for. Of course, it would not be a Mario Kart game without power-ups, causing mayhem and ruined dreams.
Most of the items are series classics, like the auto-targeting red shell, speed-boosting mushrooms, and the infamous blue shell, which automatically targets whoever is in first and takes them out. There are a few new additions, and they are actually quite enjoyable. The fire flower finally appears, allowing players to shoot fireballs from their karts, there is a ‘7’ power-up that spawns seven random power-ups that surround the kart, and a Tanooki tail that can be used to attack nearby racers and block incoming projectiles. If Super Mario 3D Land has any lesson to teach, it is that Tanooki tails make everything better.
As always, the better items come to those in the back of the pack, meaning those in front are always in danger. This leads to a lot of rubber banding, as players can go from first to last to first again in the span of a lap or two. Skill, while useful, means nothing if a blue shell comes at the wrong time. Grand Prix mode, the standard collection of ‘four races, most points win’ gametype is split into three levels; 50 cc, 100 cc, and 150 cc. These correspond to the level of difficulty. The 50 cc races are relatively easy, while the 150 cc ones can be incredibly frustrating. Still, Mario Kart 7 is enjoyable even in these ever-too-common instances. Yes, it is as cheap as ever, but the fact that fortunes can change in the blink of an eye and no one is ever safe has always been one of the appeals of Mario Kart.
Air and water
The newest additions are gliders and underwater sections. When a kart gets enough air, a glider pops up out of the back and flies the kart over the track. While in previous games entering water meant losing precious time, now karts can drive underwater, and in fact, the game expects them to. The physics while in the air and underwater are different, and drifting underwater especially feels loose, which one would imagine when moving through water. While this is not exactly a revolution in the series, these sections do provide a nice change of pace and a bit of variety.
Like previous games, Mario Kart 7 features a mix of classic tracks from previous games and a selection of new ones. Overall, there are 16 retro tracks spanning the SNES game to the latest Wii release, and 16 new ones.
Phenomenal multiplayer features, unlockable kart components, classic gameplay.
- Cheap rubber-banding, blue shells.