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Mario Kart 7 Review

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Developer: Nintendo Publisher: Nintendo
Release Date: December 4, 2011 Available On: 3DS

You speed down a rainbow raceway, turning a corner and boosting past the competition all while avoiding a red turtle shell. The only thing between you and first place is a dainty princess that is better known for being a hapless damsel in distress, but today she crushes your dreams of victory by dropping a banana peel in your path. While you might throw a controller at this point, you are actually playing on your brand new 3DS handheld and think twice about destroying $180 worth of hardware. Such is a day in the life of Mario Kart enthusiasts. The racing franchise is back in the form of Mario Kart 7 for 3DS!

If you have played a Mario Kart game before then you know what to expect. All of them are basically the same with some kind of different minor change. Mario Kart 7 introduces several firsts for the franchise. The game is obviously in 3D, but what you probably didn’t realize is that they still managed to keep it running at an impressive 60 frames per second. Also new are underwater areas of the tracks and gliders that you use when a track ends at a cliff. Some secret areas can only be accessed with gliders.

Most of your favorite characters make the cut, including Mario, Luigi, Peach, Bowser and Donkey Kong, along with new racers such as your Mii. The game offers a variety of options from muscle cars to models that you would only find in a game like this, such as Yoshi’s egg kart. They also allow you to mix and match different tires to maximize performance based on your play style. Usually you will either sacrifice top speed or acceleration, although there are also karts that balance the two.

The single-player experience is the typical arcade-style racing that you have found in every Mario Kart to date. Grand Prix is broken up into eight sets of four tracks. Sixteen of the tracks are new while the other sixteen are a collection of classics from each of the past games. It’s a nice tribute to the long-running Mario Kart series. Veterans will appreciate playing old treasures like Koopa Beach and Kalimari Desert from the N64, as well as more recent tracks like Luigi’s Mansion from the Nintendo DS.

The Grand Prix will take the typical person about two hours to beat on one difficulty setting. There are three different difficulties that you can take a stab at: 50cc, 100cc and 150cc. Other single-player offerings include a Time Trials where you can try to get a personal best time or race against another person’s ghost time. For those without an Internet connection – or for those that prefer to play alone – they also give you the option to play offline multi-player modes with computer opponents.

Most of your time will probably be spent on the multi-player. I’m pleased to say that Nintendo has improved their game in this respect with relatively fast match-making and a tolerable number of disconnects when compared to Mario Kart DS. The game modes include your standard race, balloon battle and coin runners.

You race with people from all over the world. It tells you which country they are from with a flag and the state if they are in the U.S. If you join a race in-progress they give you a live feed of the action. Before the game starts each player gets a chance to choose a course and the game goes down the list until it randomly stops on a selection. Just like in Mario Kart DS, you can draft off of other players and gain a boost from drifting around corners.

The balloon battle is similar to the old one where you get three balloons. However, the goal of this is not to survive, but rather to score the most points from taking out opponents. Once all of your balloons are out you get a point penalty and they allow you to continue playing with three new balloons. I found this mode to be somewhat pointless since losing all three balloons does not mean “game over” for any individual player. Coin runners takes the same concept of going into battle with other racers except the goal is to collect coins on the map. By taking out an opponent they release three coins that you can then steal from them.

The nearly six month dry spell for the Nintendo 3DS is over. After seeing the releases of Star Fox 64 3D, Super Mario 3D Land and now Mario Kart 7, the 3DS is a hot handheld to own right about now. While I would have liked to see more tracks and am a little baffled by the relatively small roster of playable characters, the overall experience is enjoyable. With an addictive Grand Prix mode and solid multi-player that will add hours of gameplay, Mario Kart 7 is the ultimate road trip game. A must-have for 3DS owners.

Graphics: 9
Sound: 9
Gameplay: 9
Creativity: 8
Replay Value/Game Length: 8.5
Final: 8.8 out of 10
Written by Kyle Bell Write a User Review