Mario Kart 7

Mario Kart 7 Hits a Few Bumps in the Road on the 3DS

And they’re off… whether you like it or not in 3D. Like 3D, your opinion for Mario Kart 7 will most likely be that you love it for staying true to the formula of Mario Kart racers or you’ll hate it for not changing a thing since Mario Kart 64. I’m more on the latter track in this case.

To be fair, there is some, and I do mean some, innovation for Mario Kart 7. As far as game play goes, you’ll find that there is the new hang glider on all of the karts. Fortunately it isn’t an item you pick up but something that will always be implemented on the course and you’ll have to get acquainted with it.

One of the better things about the Mario Kart games is their easiness to pick up and play. You drive forward, you use an item, that’s all you need to know to pick the game up and play it. There are a few levels of depth, mostly in mastering drift boosting, and now in making the use out of gliding in the air. Mario Kart 7 is no exception, which isn’t a bad thing.

As far as graphics go, the game looks pretty. It’s vibrant and colorful, each track has a unique look to it and the colors match the theme the track represents. Since it’s on the 3DS I’m obligated to bring up that elephant in the room and answer the question: Is the 3D any good?

I won’t lie, the 3D actually looks decent. The racers actually appear like they’re jumping out as they turn the track. However, the rest of the track is blurred and it’s difficult to tell where the items and obstacles are. It really messed with my hand eye coordination, so I just turned the 3D off and never turned it back on.

Like most Mario Kart games, the music is somewhat lacking in my opinion. After listening to the music itself without the noise of red shells hitting me and my own shouting, I noticed the music does improve. However, I could have just as easily turned the volume off and it wouldn’t have made too much of a difference.

Now, it’s time to move on to the main course, the tracks themselves. Following the tradition set since Mario Kart DS, there are eight cups instead of four. Four of the cups are a series of four races on new tracks for Mario Kart 7. The other four are retro cups which are a series of four races on tracks from the previous Mario Kart games.

Nintendo picked a few fan favorites from Mario Kart DS, such as Luigi’s Mansion and Waluigi Pinball. But the blue shell that hit me from nowhere was the inclusion of a previous Rainbow Road. Since I had never done this before, I gave a soft clap to Nintendo for having two Rainbow Roads in one Mario Kart game.

As far as the new tracks go, they’re also pretty good. As mentioned before, a lot of them incorporate aerial parts so that gliding is required to pass. These parts are the riskiest but also allow for you to fly over the competition and into first place.

Another new feature is the coin system. If I remember correctly coins were in Super Mario Kart but never made an appearance since then. Now they’re back and serve as a way to unlock kart parts by basically collecting coins in the races. When the cup is over the coins are added to your total. When your total hits a certain number you get a new kart part.

It’s a neat system that encourages replay. However, my complaint is that not all of the unlockable features are obtainable by collecting coins. You still have to play the dreaded 150 CC mode to unlock the other eight characters. It would have been better if you could unlock everything by either winning all cups on all modes or by just collecting the coins, that way everyone can play the game however they want.

This brings me to my first major complaint- the unlockable characters. You don’t need them unless you just want to see Metal Mario in a race. Each character has the same kart parts and you make a custom kart. The only difference is each kart has a different color based on who is driving.

It eliminates the uniqueness each character had in earlier games like Mario Kart DS. At the end of that game you unlocked the feature to drive any kart with any character, but you had to earn that. Otherwise you had to stick to a certain character and began to enjoy that character. That’s how I became such a big fan of Dry Bones.

But without a doubt my biggest gripe with Mario Kart 7 is the CC modes. You have the standard races, balloon battles and coin collecting battles. The balloon battles and coin battles are the same as they were in previous Mario Karts and are admittedly just as fun. The standard races however contain what will forever make Mario Kart 7 just another frustrating racer to me: The CC modes.

You’ve got 50 CC, 100 CC and 150 CC. For those of you who have never played Mario Kart before allow me to translate those difficulties. They are, respectively, super easy, hard, and pull-out-your-hair insane. This is how Mario Kart 7 is, and it’s just like every other Mario Kart before this.

There is no distribution of difficulty at all. Maybe if 150 CC’s difficulty was pushed up to a 200 CC and a normal mode was introduced I wouldn’t have so much of a problem.

However, 150 CC is quite literally just unfair. Everyone else is faster than you no matter what and they always get three mushroom boosters or three red shells while you get banana peels.

If you’ve played any other Mario Kart before, then you’ve already played Mario Kart 7. True to its name, Mario Kart 7 gets 7 out of 10 for me.

Only buy it if you’re a hardcore Mario Kart fan. Otherwise you can rent it, play the tracks once or twice and you’ll get a weekend’s worth of enjoyment out of it. As for me, I’m waiting for Nintendo to wake up and make a new installment of my all time favorite racer, F-Zero.