Review by pikachupwnage
(If you don't want to read lots of paragraphs scroll down to the round up section for a pros/cons list and a summary of each section)
Everyone loves Mario kart. The crazy fast paced item throwing madness is always a treat to play. Of course every Mario kart has its flaws and Mario kart Wii left many people unsatisfied with its atrociously unbalanced items and that annoying Pow block. Can this game fix the flaws of Mario kart Wii and bring enough to the table to be worth the cash?
First off are the graphics. This game is a good showcase of the 3DS's power as it has fantastic lighting with good textures and great smoothly animated character models. It looks better then Mario kart Wii. However what is even more impressive is that this game Runs at 60 FPS(frames per second) in 3D while playing online.
The 3D is great and causes no drops in framerate. There are many sections that seem made for the 3D for example In rainbow road there is a spinning tunnel full of speed boosts that is simply beautiful in 3D or in another course you are driving up a steep hill with boulders rolling out of screen at you. Another great example of the 3D is in the one race there trees and small leaves will be falling and with the 3D it is simply amazing. The 3D does not aid gameplay in any way unlike super Mario 3D land but it is well done and adds a sense of immersion. It also manages to be subtle enough as to not distract you from the race but yet still be noticeable and enjoyable
The Audio in this game is great though it falls short of amazing. The music for each course is perfect. Bowser's castle gets intimidating music, luigi's mansion gets creepy music, DK jungle gets a remix of the DK country music etc. Character voices are well done though there is s always that one racer that you to punch because of there annoying high-pitched voice (Daisy I am talking to you).
Mario kart 7 brings plenty of new ideas to the table. First and foremost is kart customization. You select a body, set of tires, and a glider. These affect your speed, acceleration, weight, off road performance and handling. You could stick with a well balanced kart or you could use a Massive hulking kart that could pass as a small monster truck with great speed and size that will let you plow through opponents but with poor handling and terrible off road speed. The possibilities well not quite endless are numerous and making a good kart is key to doing well in the online multiplayer. It does feel like they could've done more with it however.
Also new is an optional first person mode that works great with the 3D. This uses the gyroscope controls and may seem like a useless gimmick at first but it actually works very well.
Also new are the underwater and gliding sections. The gliding is short but sweet in most cases and it is thrilling to soar through the skies. If handled right you can soar past the competition. The underwater sections tend to be longer but also less common. Its exhilarating driving through a watery chasm as lava pours down in thick columns from above or driving through a clams mouth right before it shuts to nab an item. These are used in impressive and amazing ways in the new courses. For example you may glide over a chasm and be required to maneuver past waterfalls pouring down. Retro courses get in on the fun too. Most of the retro courses have hidden gliding and underwater sections added in that you can use to stock up on items and coins or get ahead of your opponents.
Another new (technically old) thing in this game are coins, which haven't been seen in Mario kart since the original. Each time you get a coin you get a very small speed boost and your top speed goes up ever so slightly. The boosts may seem insignificant but in the long run they are important. You can hold up to 10 coins at once and being hit by an items or falling of a cliff will lose you some coins. Also after you collect enough coins you will unlock new parts for your karts.
The items are highly varied and balanced much better then in Mario kart Wii though the infamous item spam will still rear its ugly head sometimes. The Pow blocks thankfully are gone. The blue shell Is both nerfed and buffed at the same time as it travels along the ground knocking over all who get in its way but it doesn't destroy first places item when it hits so they still can defend themselves after they are hit.
There are also 3 new items. First up is the fire flower, which lets you for a limited time, hurl fireballs. Also included is the super leaf. It gives your kart a tail for a limited that can spin 360 degrees and can be used to destroy obstacles and shells as well as take out other racers. The last new item is the lucky 7. This seemingly overpowered and very rare item gives you 7 items that spin around you. You can use them 1 by one to annihilate all in your path but be careful if you are hit you will lose your items.
There are many modes in this game. First up is the ever-present grand prix. If you get bored of grand prix there are always time trials, coin runners, or balloon battle. Sadly the Mission mode from Mario kart DS doesn't return but there is till plenty of single player content. If you feel like playing with others you can either use local multiplayer to play with a buddy (if they don't have the game you can use download play to play with them) or hop on the Internet and play online.
The online mode is extremely well done. You can either Match up with random opponents, search your friend list and list of recent opponents for a challenge or play in yet another one of this games new features the community. Communities allow you to set rules and play with your own rules with anyone who you gave the code to your community to. Of course you can also join other people communities and Nintendo has set up communities that anyone can join.
And of course we get to the courses. Most the he 16 new ones are extremely well done and creative. Some are also based on other Nintendo games. For example there is a course based on Wii music and you will zoom across keyboards bounce off of drums and dodge giant music notes. DK jungle is a clever and well-done course that harkens back to Donkey Kong country returns. There any many nods to the Mario series in the new courses as well such as seeing planets from Mario galaxy in the background of Rosalina's ice world or a track inspired by world 1-2. Most new courses also have thrilling underwater and gliding sections.
The 16 retro courses get a modern touch up and get (often hidden) gliding and underwater sections. Most the retro courses are a thrill to play and gives this game some nostalgia.
This game also supports streetpass further strengthening the connectivity between players that this game offers. Streepass allows you to see their profile as well as trade ghost data and try to beat there times. It's all the little things like that alongside the Mario kart formula that this game refines that makes this game so great. Its not quite perfect
The round up
Graphics 9.5/10 Great lighting, great character models and a constant 60 FPS even with 3D on
3D 9/10 Very Well done with sections that seem made for 3D. Is even more impressive in the first person mode
Audio 8/10 plenty of great tunes and character voices are well done. Miis voices can be annoying
Gameplay/controls 9/10 A very fun Mario kart with lots of great new ideas. The new courses are mostly fantastic, online multiplayer is done well. Item spam occasionally rears its ugly head and long periods of play may cause cramped hands.
Replay value 9.5/10 Time trials, online and local multiplayer give this game lots of replay value.
Value 8.5/10 Lots of modes and 3 different types of multiplayer (local download and online) Single player content is a bit lacking
Adds kart customization to Mario kart
Great online with communities and is a leap forward for Nintendo's approach to online
Runs in 60 FPS even while using 3D and playing online
Controls work extremely well.
Lots of replay value
16 new courses and 16 retro courses
New (optional) first person mode that works great with the 3D
Adds lots of new and fun ideas like gliding.
Fixes most of Mario kart Wii's flaws
Uses most of the 3DS's features
Though not as common as it used to be the infamous item spam will occasionally rear its ugly head
For some odd reason the mission mode does not return from Mario kart DS
Long periods of play may cause cramped hands
More could've been done with kart customization
Single player content is a bit lacking
Mario kart 7 is a great addition to the Mario kart series, which adds a lot New Ideas and showcases the 3DS's online capabilities and fixes most off the flaws of Mario kart Wii. There are many little things that alongside the new features, innovations, and the classic Mario kart formula that make this game so great. A must own for any 3DS owner.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 12/05/11, Updated 12/03/12
Game Release: Mario Kart 7 (US, 12/04/11)
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