Mario Kart 7 Review
Nintendo’s 3DS gets a Mario game for 2012 and it’s called Mario Kart 7. It brings the Mario character that made waves back in 1992 and is all about kart races. But why 7? Does it follow from a 6 or 5 game version? I recall playing a Super Mario Kart, a Mario Kart 64, and another for the DS and Wii, but no numbering, just using the same lovable mechanic turned racer. Admittedly, “7” is a lucky number that Nintendo must be hoping to rub off on a two-decade old game genre that has seen little improvement in structural terms.
The Good News about Mario Kart 7
Mario Kart 7 has 32 racing tracks, 16 of which are entirely new while the rest are classic tracks from previous Mario Kart games just re-imagined or re-rendered for the more powerful 3DS gaming engine. It must be a case of familiarity but with a few exceptions like the Waluigi’s pinball course, I find the older 16 tracks more challenging.
One welcome addition to the game is the ability to customize your kart prior to each championship, allowing you to choose the kart body, wheels and set of ‘wings’ that help you glide to the ground after getting propelled from ramps on the track. Every option has its pros and cons like giving up acceleration for top speed, or road handling for power, for instance. This expanded functionality gives the race more meaningful realism on the side.
Each track has the usual time trials along with battle modes that take the form of the Coin Battle and Balloon Battle in this version. Here’s where the real fun starts. The coin battle gets you collecting all the coins you can get along the track while the balloon battle requires you to pop as many balloons as you can from your rivals on the track. A bit lifeless in solo player mode, Mario Kart is best enjoyed for its multiplayer fun and Mario Kart 7 doesn’t disappoint here. Apart from allowing you to compete with your friends in a network, it also gets you to race against denizens online.
The Not So Good News about Mario Kart 7
As is expected from Nintendo, online play has its limitation, but you can have gaming communities tailored to the game type you prefer playing with a code associated with it. Just share the code to your friends to have them join in your community. This is useful for online group racing matches. But the community is generally hampered by rigid options like rules that can’t be changed after creating them, disallowing you to shift down from 150cc to 100s karts unless you build a new community. But there’s also a limit to how many communities you can create online.
Despite these caveats, Mario Kart remains unrivalled in multiplayer kart racing. Mario Kart 7 may be a nostalgic trip back to the 90s for gamers old enough to have played the game series to death, but I consider the new generation of young gamers lucky to experience what made the Mario character click in the past. Should it change for change sake? I would think retaining the charms that endeared the character to millions of gamers is a better option. It’s not as if there are no added gameplay enhancements like smoother and richer visuals, gyro controls and a new street pass feature. Nevertheless, it’s really all about the Mario Kart concept of having fun. And for the new generation, you’re lucky to own a Nintendo 3DS to play the latest version on a more powerful gaming engine. Highly recommended for kids.