Review by Shiek120
Mario Kart 7 may be lucky number seven; the best yet!
Mario Kart is a classic Nintendo franchise which hasn't changed too much. That's not a bad thing. Whether you're a seasoned veteran or a young upstart, Mario Kart is a series where you can dive right in and feel satisfaction. Mario Kart 7 is no different. Mario Kart 7 has 32 tracks, superb multiplayer, and countless unlockables which will keep you coming back for more. Released just in time for the holiday season, Mario Kart 7 delivers on all fronts, and may be the best Mario Kart of all time.
This game surprised me graphically. When you enter a race for the first time you're greeted by fantastic graphics. Each track in this game contains a variety of environments, from jungle and tundra tracks to cities in night rain. Each type of environment is presented surprisingly well. Rainbow Road, a Mario Kart staple, feels amazing in this game. Perhaps it is the best version of the track ever. The rain effects in the game are brilliant as well. Water looks fantastic, rather than being merely blue it reflects the environments! This is something that always bothers me in any game, and was a pleasant yet minor surprise.
The Nintendo 3DS' 3D capabilities are fantastic as usual, but it's difficult to always see them perfectly as it's a racing game. Generally, you'll end up slightly tilting your 3DS when drifting or otherwise and this affects the 3D display. You can't consistently stay in the "sweet spot" to see the 3D. After five or ten minutes, it'll give you a headache. I turned off the 3D effects when playing. Being on a portable system, you don't expect a whole lot in terms of graphics but this game pushes the 3DS' capabilities. Mario Kart 7 may be on par with the graphics of Mario Kart Wii!
Mario Kart is a series where the music always enhances the quality of the track. I was more pleased with the audio in this game than any other Mario Kart title. While racing in the DK Jungle, the familiar tones of Donkey Kong Country brought me back in a nostalgic sense while still retaining the feel of being brand new. Few games can grab you with music, and this title does it especially well.
However, the audio in this game isn't without it's flaws (no matter how slight they are). When racing, you should expect to hear countless "Yahoos!" and cheers from your racer and the racers around you. It's not enough to hinder the game, but if you're easily bothered it may make you squirm.
Without a doubt, gameplay is the 'make or break' element to any game. As said above, Mario Kart hasn't changed much since it's early days, and this game feels as though it keeps with the legacy of Mario Kart. You'll feel right at home if you've played multiple Mario Kart titles. Even if you're a new player, you'll catch on within your first race. Mario Kart is meant to be a game where you can pick it up and jump right in at any time. The items in-game are fantastic. Mario Kart 7 retains all of the classic items, and adds three new items as well. The Fire Flower will allow you to shoot off fireballs. The Tanooki Tail allows you to use a melee-type attack with, you guessed it, a Tanooki Tail. Finally, there's Lucky 7, a play on it being the seventh title, which gives you seven items at once. While the items in this game are awesome, that's not to say that you won't get frustrated by the multiple blue shells that will blast you away while driving in first place. The game is balanced enough to the point where you won't throw it at the wall in rage. The karts themselves handle wonderfully. I found myself drifting with ease in most tracks. Each character handles differently but they all handle well.
Mario Kart 7 is the first game to introduce underwater and gliding racing. These are introduced so seamlessly that it feels as though it's been in the game forever. The transition into gliding is easy enough where you can understand how to control it easily. Underwater also feels natural, but it seems to slow down the pacing and speed of the race far too much. However, that is how being underwater feels, so it's quite realistic. I'm pleased that Nintendo added to the basic racing elements of Mario Kart, as they've pulled it off with success.
There are various modes throughout the game, including your typical Grand Prix and time trials. However, there are also Mario Kart Balloon Battles and Coin Runs with their own unique tracks. While waiting in a friend's car, playing a quick Balloon Battle or Coin Ruin was incredibly fun. I've never been much for battle games in Mario Kart, but these are well done. The Grand Prix mode is merely classic racing, but after you've completed the brand new tracks the game gives you a whole lot of retro tracks. The retro tracks are brilliant in this title, and feel almost identical to the original renditions. Every mode in Mario Kart 7 provides hours of fun, and I haven't been bored with the game yet!
Surprisingly lag free, for the most part, the online multiplayer is amazing. The game puts you into a race with seven other competitors where you all vote for a track and a track is chosen at random. If you have friends with a 3DS, you can also race against them! You generally will be placed in races with other racers who have a similar level to yours. The multiplayer is almost completely lag-free. I have only experienced lag once, but it wasn't enough to bother my gameplay. The game will Spot Pass/Street Pass racers that you race against (this can be turned off though) and it will download their Ghost Data and other data for you to race against in the Mario Kart Channel. This feature will have you coming back all the time to compete against people all over the world and staying on top of your game.
As with any game, you probably have concerns about how often you'll come back to replay it. Mario Kart 7 will have you playing for a long time. As I've said above, there are multiple unlockables besides characters and courses. There are a bunch of karts, wheels, and gliders. Even if the unlockables don't keep you coming back, the multiplayer will. I've found myself turning on the game to play against Ghost Data and trying to improve my time on different tracks. Mario Kart 7 has the best replay value of any Mario Kart title.
Mario Kart 7 is a must-have title for the Nintendo 3DS. If you've enjoyed any Mario Kart game you'll love this title. I would even go as far to say that Mario Kart 7 is the best racing game to come out in 2011. No matter how many times you spin out on a banana peel or fall into a pit of lava, you'll enjoy every second of this game. Mario Kart 7 delivers in every aspect possible, and proves that Nintendo "still has it."
Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
Product Release: Mario Kart 7 (US, 12/04/11)
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