Typical, after waiting months for decent exclusive 3DS games, along come Mario 3D Land and now Mario Kart 7. The long running series is now 7 games old. This promises to be the best yet, offering 3D visuals and a proper online mode. Have Nintendo finally produced the ultimate Mario Kart title or will it be unlucky number 7?
I was lucky enough to play Mario Kart a long time ago when I worked at Nintendo of Europe. I did like the game although there was a load missing and the game was far too easy. Luckily now I have played the proper version, I can say that it is the best Mario Kart of the series. For those who don’t know the game, shame on you! Mario Kart is a fun racing game featuring Mario and chums, set on crazy tracks with even more absurd weapons. There are the standard Grand Prix modes, as well as battle mode and the online multiplayer. This time however, karts can now race underwater and glide through the sky.
Controlling Mario Kart depends on the player and the character/kart they choose. Lighter characters such as Yoshi are great for speed and handling, but they get knocked all over the shop by Bowser and Donkey Kong. The key to the game is learning how to control the karts as you corner, using the R button to power slide. If perfected, a speed boost is given, which means you can get passed your opposition. I found that after a long play session, my hands did start to ache slightly, which is the fault of the 3DS hardware, so maybe the game is best played in short bursts.
As always, Mario Kart has a wealth of new and old tracks. The new tracks are a decent blend, mixing underwater and flying sections, to show off the new game mechanics. Of course the tracks are littered with power ups and hazards to avoid. For example there is an awesome levels set on a load of instruments, which has you speeding over piano keys whilst avoiding crashing drum cymbals. A new feature is tracks which are much larger, which have 3 sections to them, rather than laps. The Wuhu Island track, from Wii Sports has 3 long sections, which make racing for the finish that bit more desperate. Also included are classic tracks from past games, which means those tracks you spent months memorising are here, with new underwater and flying sections. Though I was sad to see Baby Park was missing.
Graphically, the game is fantastic. The colours are big and bright, chunky levels and characters. In 3D mode, the game is smooth and crisp with no slowdown. In fact the 3D is some of the best on 3DS, which makes avoiding shells and bananas look cooler as they come out of the screen at you. Speaking of weapons, the usual offenders are here, green shells, red shells, bananas and thunderbolt. New additions to the arsenal are the Tanooki tail, which deflects some attacks and are pretty cool. The best weapon is the rare 7 weapon, which gives you, you guessed it, 7 weapons at once. As in all Mario Kart games, the use of weapons can totally destroy your chances of winning, which seems a little unfair, especially in 150cc mode. It seems that no matter how well you do, or how much you attack your rival, they will always catch up.
The online Multiplayer is the best thing about the game. Single player is good for a few hours, but once completed, offers little replay value other than ghost racing. The online mode is faster, easier and more polished than ever. I spent most of the time since buying the game online, as human players will test you much more than CPU. The speed is pretty much always high and without lag, which means for some amazing racing. You will be playing online for years to come, mark my words.
Mario Kart 7 is another must have 3DS title. Terrific gameplay, great visuals, great sounds, amazing multiplayer. Buy it now!
Fast, frantic racing, online is a dream for Nintendo fanboys.
Lovely chunky visuals, no slowdown
Very Nintendo-ey, plus retro music!