Console: Nintendo 3DS
Release Date: 12/01/11 (JP); 12/02/11 (EU); 12/03/11 (AUS); 12/04/11 (NA)
Developer: Nintendo EAD, Retro Studios
ESRB Rating: E
In Mario Kart 7, you play as one of many classic Mario characters as you race towards the finish line. Players can initially choose from Mario, Luigi, Yoshi, Princess Peach, Donkey Kong, Bowser, Toad, and Koopa Troopa but can unlock more characters including a multitude of newcomers like Wiggler, Queen Bee, Lakitu, and Metal Mario. In addition, you also have the option of playing as your Mii character just like in Mario Kart Wii.
One of the new feature of Mario Kart 7 is kart customization. You can choose the type of kart frame, tires, and gliders. Each one kart piece offers its own minor statistics and combined with the character statistics, people will have a lot of time experimenting of what character and kart suits their racing style.
The controls for this game are pretty much the same as Mario Kart DS. To accelerate, hold the Y/A button. To brake and go in reverse, hold the B button. To hop, press the R button, and to use items, press either the L or X button. The circle pad this time is used to steer the kart.
Mario Kart 7 does offer a new way for people to play the game. By pressing up on the directional button, first person-view will be activated. This mode makes use of the 3DS's gyroscope controls. To drive the kart, players will have to tilt the 3DS handheld itself similar to using the Wii Wheel in Mario Kart Wii. To return back, players can press any other direction of the d-pad.
The main goal of Mario Kart 7 is pretty much the same as the rest of the past games in the series: race to become first place in the Grand Prix. This is the staple in every game. There are 8 cups (Mushroom, Flower, Star, Special, Shell, Banana, Leaf, and Lightning) with 16 new tracks and 16 old tracks from past games in the Mario Kart franchise. As always, there is a new incarnation of a Rainbow Road as the fourth track in the Special Cup. Fans of the original SNES Rainbow Road will be pleased to see that track in this game. It's a double Rainbow Road.
Aside from the Grand Prix, the other game modes are Time Trial, Balloon Battle, and Coin Runner. People can practice in Time Trial to see if they can beat their racing time in any of the 32 race tracks. In Balloon Battle, players will have to pop their opponent's balloons within a certain time limit. Coin Runner forces people to collect as much coin as possible with the obvious winner being the person who collected the most coins.
The above modes can be played singly, but the true fun is playing with other people. Through local wireless play, players can race each other in Versus Mode in various race tracks, pop each others balloons in Balloon Battle, or collect coins in Coin Runner. Just like in Mario Kart DS, if someone does not a copy of the game, download play is available. However, these people will not be able to customize any karts and are limited to playing just as Shy Guy.
Of course, people can choose to play the game online via the Nintendo WiFi Connection. Again, people can choose to play in Versus Mode or play in randomly selected Balloon Battle and Coin Runner games. Play with people around the world, with friends, or with new online communities. These communities allow you to play against players who have similar match preferences to yourself such as 50cc Cups or no items set or battle modes only. You can choose to create a community with strangers and friends.
The game does feature StreetPass functionality. With StreetPass, you can see the profile, VR rating, and stats of other players as well as their ghost data. Overall, StreetPass has interestingly connected players throughout the world andMario Kart 7ís usage of StreetPass executes its purpose well.
Speaking of the special items, there is a new line-up. Returning are the staples: Mushrooms, Green Shells, Red Shells, Banana Peels, Lightning Bolt, Bob-Omb, and the dreaded blue Spiny Shell. Blooper and Bullet Bill return while Boo and fake item boxes are gone. The new items are the Fire Flower, Tanooki Tail, and the Lucky 7. With the Fire Flower, you can throw fireballs at nearby players. The Tanooki Tail allows you to whack nearby players as well as repel incoming non-blue shell attacks. The new Lucky 7 will have seven other items revolve around the player that he or she can use during the match, but if hit in anyway, all of the items of the Lucky 7 will be lost.
Coins return back in this game. Coins serve two purposes. By collecting them, you can a increase your speed up to a maximum of ten. Of course, being hit by anything will cause you to lose coins so it is difficult to maintain ten coins. Collecting coins also unlock new kart parts and accessories after completing a cup. Even if you are losing in a cup, you should still finish the race to see if you collected enough coins to unlock new kart pieces.
The graphics and sounds within this game correspond to the purpose of this game: to have some competitive fun. TheMario-esque graphics are clearly fitting to the Mario Kart franchise. Youíll adore the nostalgic feel of the 3D karts, characters, and tracks. The karts are improved and with the addition of the parachutes, hanggliders, and propellers, their graphics are better than ever. The tracks are new, retro, and even flipped. The mirror mode, when unlocked, allows you to play through each map in reverse, from finish to start. The sounds accompany the graphics perfectly. The music is fast-paced and gets your heart racing while youíre trying your hardest to defeat your competitors. The 3D graphics bring a new twist to a beloved classic game and shine especially when you play in the first person mode.
Mario Kart 7 is amazing. Throughout the game I found it hard to identify any flaws. The first part of a game that a gamer ever sees is the title screen, and when I saw the title screen for Mario Kart 7, I knew that I, a longtime Mario Kart fan, would not be disappointed. It felt great to ride the karts as my favorite characters again. The gameplay is better than ever.
Mario Kart 7 receives a 9.5 out of 10.