Mario Kart 7 Review
Easy to learn, hard to master
While the 3DS has played home to some quality games since its March release, the launch of Super Mario 3D Land last month and now Mario Kart 7 mean Nintendo latest portable console has truly arrived. Like Mario Kart for DS, the newest edition in the fan favourite racing series is arguably its host platform best game, offering near endless hours of fun for casual players and more dedicated ones alike. With basic accelerate, brake, fire and jump buttons, it is easy enough that anyone can pick it up and play, but it will take plenty of practice to become a true kart master. Mario Kart 7 is therefore as deep an experience as you want to make it.
The game is split into eight cups, each featuring four circuits based on environments and characters from Nintendo Mushroom Kingdom. Half of the courses are brand new, while the others are remastered versions of ones from older Mario Kart games. Fantastic looking and expertly designed with multiple routes and shortcuts, itl take months to hone the perfect racing lines and discover all of the trackssecrets.
A few circuits dispense with the seriestraditional three lap structure, instead offering long A to B dashes without repetition, while almost all feature new underwater and hang-gliding sections, adding true verticality to the Mario Kart mix for the first time. Thankfully, rather than feeling gimmicky, these sections are perfectly implemented so as not to upset a tried-and-tested formula that rewards racing skill while simultaneously managing to produce a degree of unpredictability that gives every player a chance of earning a decent result.
Lucky Number Seven
While youl find a host of familiar weapons and items in Mario Kart 7, including shells to launch at your opponents, speed boosting mushrooms and slippery banana skins to lay on the track, there are a few noteworthy additions too. The rare Lucky 7 power-up gives you seven items to use whenever you wish, the Fire Flower allows you to shoot projectiles either in front or behind, while the Super Leaf gives your kart a bushy tail capable of knocking opponents and items out of the way. Races tend to be action-packed without feeling too chaotic largely thanks to excellent weapon balancing that gives players appropriate power-ups depending on their position in the field.
While single player Grand Prix events, Time Trials, and the balloon popping and coin collecting mini-games of Battle Mode are all a joy to play in their own right, most of Mario Kart 7 enduring fun is to be found in multiplayer. Available in local or wi-fi flavours, adding seven other humans to the mix makes things really come alive. There a basic ranking system which awards or detracts points based on your performances, and there simply nothing quite like beating your friends and holding the high score.
Boasting fantastic production values, near perfectly tuned gameplay and excellent track design, Mario Kart 7 has the lot, both online and offline. Easy to learn but difficult to master, and full of fan-service yet equally attractive to those with zero gaming experience, not only is it one of the best Nintendo games to enjoy this Christmas, but it likely to keep players busy for years to come.
+ Feels, looks and sounds great.
+ Excellent online racing.
+ One of the best 3DS games yet.
- We will always want more tracks.
- New weapons could be more inventive.
- We had to wait so long for it.
Review by: Tom hell ShooterIvan
Version Tested: 3DS
Review Published: 07.12.11