Despite being the seventh entry in the series, this is perhaps the finest yet…
Strictly speaking, this is actually the ninth Mario Kart title. During the GameCube era, Namco-Bandai released two Mario Kart arcade titles featuring some of their own characters such as Pacman. This is simply the seventh Mario Kart for a Nintendo system.
Mario Kart 7 is the first in the series to let you customise your kart. You do this by choosing your body, your wheels, and finally your glider. Each have their own attributes such as speed, weight, etc. Throughout each race you collect coins, the more you collect, the more parts you unlock; giving you advantage over the other players.
The game as usual is split into Grand Prix, Time Trials & Battle. The Grand Prix features 50cc, 100cc,150cc and eight different cups; four new and four retro. The four retro cups feature slightly-updated versions of courses from the previous entries. The four new cups feature the most varied and most exciting courses to ever feature in a Mario Kart game.
Karts now have the ability to fly through the air, and speed through the water, I was first under the impression that this would simply be a gimmick applied to one or two courses. But nearly every course features one of these new enhancements. It’s a well known fact that Nintendo enlisted Retro Studios to assist with level design, and it’s clear that these new pairs of eyes have brought a fresh approach to track design. The new Rainbow Road is my all-time favourite level. I was smiling like an idiot, laughing out loud and ducking my head to try and avoid flying into asteroids.
The game as ever feels slightly unbalanced with regards to item distribution. If you’re in the lead, you’ll receive bananas, and if you’re at the back, you’ll receive a series of blue shells and lightening bolts. This is a concious decision on Nintendo’s behalf to try and make the race even for all players, however for experienced karters like myself, being constantly bombarded, and usually in groups of three at any one time can feel frustrating; especially now each attack results in you loosing three coins. In one Grand Prix alone I lost all of my coins nearly once a lap!
There are several new characters, but none of which are that interesting. There is Honey Queen from Super Mario Galaxy, Wiggler, Metal Mario and Lakitu, now he’s free from rescuing people from the water. The new items included are also a bit uninspiring. There’s a fire flower which shoots projectile fire balls, a “7” which has one of each of the items, and also a leaf which gives players a Tanooki tail to hit opponents or objects out of the way.
Battle mode also makes a welcome return after the Wii’s shockingly dull excuse. This time there’s the traditional balloon battle or coin battle. This is the first time since Mario Kart 64 that this mode has felt fun, there are several levels to choose from; some new and some old.
Graphically this game is a revelation. For the first time in a Mario Kart game, it speeds by at a constant 60FPS. Even with the 3D turned on! The 3D effect really makes a difference in this game, especially with the flying as it helps you judge distance, avoid objects and land your kart to achieve an extra speed boost. Also with the systems enhanced lighting makes this game feel like a true next generation Mario Kart experience.
This is further backed-up by the games robust online experience. First of all, Friend Codes are gone! Players can now race or battle others across the world without needing to know them before hand. After playing several races, Nintendo have made me extremely confident in the 3DS and possibly even the Wii U’s online future as the experience was extremely quick, easy and lag-free. For the first time ever in a first-party Nintendo game there are also communities! You can create your own, with set rules or join others.
For years I’ve dreamed of a time, playing a Nintendo game which has everything. Nintendo has taken their time building a fantastic online experience, and with the last generation of consoles didn’t even deliver cutting-edge visuals. With Mario Kart 7, Nintendo delivers. Stunning visuals, check, Outstanding gameplay, check, Fantastic online, check! Nintendo are really starting to listen to their fans. Mario Kart 7 is not only the best racing game on the 3DS, but it is also my favourite Mario Kart to date. If you own a 3DS, you must buy Mario Kart 7!
I’ll see you on Rainbow Road…
- Series high-point
- Great Track Design
- Underwater Driving
- New Characters
- Old tracks can be too wide
- Unbalanced item distribution