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Mario Kart 7 – Nintendo 3DS

Mario Kart 7 – Nintendo 3DS

 

mk 7 boxartPlatform: Nintendo 3DS

Developer: Nintendo EAD Group No. 1, Retro Studios

Publisher: Nintendo

Release Date (NA): December 4, 2011

Genre: Racing

Nerd Rating: 8 out of 10

Reviewed by: Flagostomos

Mario Kart will go down for me as the one video game series that drew my family together. There weren’t a lot of four-player games in our household, so having something as amazing as Mario Kart to play as we sat around the fire on a cold winter night was a godsend. Through all of the iterations, each and every Mario Kart has brought something new and unique to the series. Mario Kart 7 is no letdown.

If you’re not aware of what a Kart racer is, you might want to crawl out from the rock you have been living under. I think that most everyone’s first adventures into the gaming world have something to do with a group of their gamer friends invited them over to play a round of Kart. Heck, Mario Kart parties were big in my middle school. But, I digress.

1970865-5mgczOn paper, the concept of Mario Kart is so simple, yet so difficult to explain what it is you do. Mario Kart 7 does what Mario Kart has always done. You take charge of one of a slew of racers and are pitted against another 8 in competition for first place. The game puts you in a center/behind point of view. The A button accelerates, the B button brakes. It feels natural to even the most beginner players because it’s exactly what go-kart racing is, just in a video game. Sure, there’s not the rush and excitement you get from sitting in an actual go-kart, but the rush comes from other sources.

Mario Kart 7 has the same standard features. GP mode, where you race against 7 computer players in a “Cup” or circuit of courses. The courses start easy, with few obstacles and twists and turns, but gradually get harder as you progress. Mario Kart 7 is a classic example of teaching the player how to play without actually showing them. The very beginners to Mario Kart will find the first few courses on 50CC challenging, but any seasoned Mario Kart player will be able to win even the most advanced courses on Mirror Mode.

Each set of circuits can be played in different “CC” classes (50, 100, 150) and Mirror which is just 150CC with the courses reversed. This adds more depth to the game, as you can pretty much breeze through 50 and even 100CC, but 150 and Mirror will test even the most veteran players. The karts move faster, which means not only do your competitors go faster, so do you and you have to be a lot more accurate with your movements.

There is also a versus mode, where you can race individual tracks, which is mostly used in multiplayer games. The game keeps track of how well you do through a “points” system, letting you show off to your friends, or even compete against similarly skilled players from across the globe. And trust me, there are some really good MK7 players in this world.

There is also a time trial, which is just you versus the course. This is one of the most overlooked features in any Kart racer in my opinion. Why? Because setting everything else aside (items, player interaction), the best kart racers are the ones who can navigate the course most easily. I guarantee you that the most talented players in the world spend a lot of time with trials, and it shows in their racing.

670px-Play-Balloon-Battle-in-Mario-Kart-7-Step-10There are also balloon battle and coin runners mode, which to me always felt like filler. Some people play purely battle mode though, so I guess I’m on my own on this. The point of balloon battle is that you are put in a course and are given free reign to try and pop the other player’s three balloons by hitting them with items. In Coin Runners, you do the same except trying to pick up as many coins as you can. What was with Nintendo and coins with the first few Mario games on the 3DS?

The racing feels the best it has been since Mario Kart: Double Dash on GameCube. The ever present “rubber banding” isn’t quite as bad here as it was in Mario Kart Wii. Rubber banding is when the players behind you get speed boosts to try and add complexity to the game, but usually just makes it annoying. The items feel balanced, and the courses are beautiful.

As far as the controls go: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Super Mario Kart perfected the controls all the way back in the days of the SNES. Nintendo knows what it’s like to make a player feel like they’re actually driving a fast-paced Kart race. As I mentioned before, the rush you get sitting in a real go-kart, unfortunately, isn’t present, but the rush you get when you’re 5 seconds away from victory and you see a blue shell on radar is equally tantalizing.

The cast of characters is pretty solid. The main cast of Mario, Luigi, Peach, Daisy, Yoshi, Toad, Bowser, Donkey Kong, Wario, Koopa Troopa and Shy Guy are here. Rosalina even makes a return. But three of the new racers make no sense to me. Metal Mario is cool, but why Wiggler, Lakitu, and Queen Bee? Especially since Waluigi got the axe in favor of those three. Makes no sense.

mariokart7kartsEach kart is customizable, first based on weight class (determined by character), then you have the option of picking the kart, wheels, and glider. Altering these changes the 8 different categories of how well your kart drives. It’s pretty in-depth and is often the determining factor of who wins.

The courses are what really stand out to me. There are 16 new courses, with 16 classic courses returning. I love it! It feels like revisiting my childhood, drifting by my opponents as I slam their faces with a red shell.

There are two new mechanics to the game, but let’s just call them out for what they are: Gimmicks. You can fly off a ramp which activates your glider, giving you an added level of depth when you must decide if the air or ground is quicker in some instances. I must admit the air part is done well. However, what I don’t like is the underwater gimmick. In every previous Mario game, going in the water almost always meant falling off the course. They completely took that away, and that’s one hazard that, in my opinion, needs to exist in Mario Kart.

The music is beautifully done. Gun to my head, the various renditions of the Rainbow Road theme has always been my favorite music track in any video game ever, and they did a great job with the orchestral sound while leaving the basic melody intact. The graphics aren’t anything amazing, but there are a few instances where you will say, “Wow”.

I have to admit, that looks pretty epic.

I have to admit, that looks pretty epic.

Gameplay: 8
Characters/Courses: 9
Music: 9
Graphics: 8
Overall: 8

Mario Kart games are really hard to rate for me because let’s face it, you know it’s going to be good. It’s Mario Kart. Mario Kart is a flagship title for ANY Nintendo console, spanning the entire life of the generation. Mario Kart is often the Gold Standard anything else even remotely similar is held up to, and for good reason. Nintendo got the formula right all the way back in 92. In my opinion, a Mario Kart review would have to be more of a “Which is the best?” kind of a review, rather than a standalone review as a game. Hmm… gives me an idea 🙂

Written by Nerd Bacon

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  1. Pingback: Mario Kart 8 - Wii U - Nerd Bacon Reviews

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