Mario Kart 7 is the latest installment of Nintendo’s insanely popular kart racing franchise. It was developed by Nintendo EAD and Retro Studios and published by Nintendo for its struggling handheld, the Nintendo 3DS. Mario Kart 7 couldn't have come at a better time, Nintendo’s dedicated handheld gaming system needs more first party titles to stay competitive in this new age of smart phones and tablets.
Over the years I have played many copycat kart racing games, but nothing has come close to Mario Kart. I tried free to play PC games, iOS clones, and my last hope, Mod Nation Racers. Once again, Mario Kart prevails. Nintendo seems to have the magic touch when it comes to kart racing.
Are there any new features?
New to the series is the ability to drive underwater and hang gliding attachments. As you would imagine, driving underwater slows down your kart. In some maps, driving underwater is part of the track, but in some cases, you can avoid it altogether. This is usually achieved by avoiding a fall on one of the cleverly designed tracks. I like this punishment a lot more than falling into an endless pit, which causes you to respawn on the track.
Hang gliding is a blast. Once you master it, you’ll gain precious seconds on the track. When you screw up, you’ll be cussing as you are overtaken. In most cases you want to glide as long as possible, and some tracks require you avoid obstructions.
How is the racing?
Like in past Mario Karts, classic racing is the still star of the show. Up to 8 other racers compete, both online or offline, to get to the number one spot. Like in previous Mario Karts you’ll be picking up different weapons and items to guide you to victory. There’s homing turtle shells, invincibility stars, fireballs, bananas, tanooki suits, and more. The chaos is part of the fun, and your position will never be static.
There are a plethora of classic levels, dating back to the SNES. The new track designs are awesome, and feature the all the things you've loved about Mario Kart. The shortcuts are easy to spot, but may not always be short.
You’ll be doing your usual foolishness, such as mushroom jumping, avoiding giant caterpillars, passing Koopas, and sliding on ice with random snowmen, to name a few.
When you don’t feel like racing, you can head over to the classic Battle Arena. Rather than racing, the goal of this mode is take out as many people as you can using your full compliment of weapons and items. The action is fast and there’s nothing more satisfying than taking down your opponents balloons.
How is the kart customization?
What’s neat about the kart customization is that you can tailor your kart for pure speed, quicker acceleration, off road handling, or better hang gliding. These stats can also change depending on the type of character you select.
As you play each of the modes, there are random coins that you can pick up. At first I had no idea what I was supposed to do with these, but quickly realized that I need to collect them in order to unlock customization's I also discovered that the more coins you possess, the faster your kart moves. You also need to be careful, getting hit by a projectile will cause you to drop some coins, and it won’t take long before you get looted by other players.
How is the online play?
Every mode can be played online and it’s easily the best way to play Mario Kart 7. No matter how great the AI is, nothing beats playing with real people. It’s also the most difficult way because I seem to end up near the bottom almost every time. Although I’m not that great, it never detracts from the fun.
Getting into an online game is quick and simple, thanks to it’s quick match system. It also features something called communities, which, in contrast, features a confusing interface. Communities provide a way to play with a specific group of people or specific type of races. If your not into that and want to play with your friends, you can. Let’s not forget about the ad hoc multiplayer, for playing with your friends in the same room.
So, what do think about this game?
Mario Kart 7 the perfect pick up and play handheld game. It doesn't matter if you have a few minutes, or a few hours, you will get a lot of enjoyment out of it. The graphics are improved over it’s DS counterpart, but severely lacking compared to today's standards, especially if you own a PS Vita. The game is everything I expected it to be, and it's loads of fun. If you have a 3DS, or are thinking about buying one, this is a must have game to own.
Review is a segment about my opinion on things. I like things, and you like things too. Before you run off and buy something, you should check out my review. Chances are if I like it, it’s probably awesome.