As the name suggests, this is the seventh game in the Mario Kart series and it’s showing no signs of slowing down,and it manages to keep gameplay fresh and exciting by slowly evolving and trying new things. Perhaps that’s the key to the series’ success - you’re not getting a carbon copy of its predecessors slapped together with some new tracks; you’re getting a whole new experience.
Visually, MK7 is superb and works perfectly with the 3DS, showing just what the handheld is capable of. The 3D effect looks beautiful and while it isn’t paramount that it’s used when you’re playing, the visual splendour you’ll get from the experience is worth having it enabled. Characters are colourful and detailed, but what really stands out is the attention to detail that’s been put into the tracks. No, this game won’t receive any high-def awards any time soon, but it’s a stand out on the 3DS.
MK7 comes with 16 new tracks, and 16 remakes from its prequels; the latter have been slightly modified to bring them more in line with this latest iteration. The new tracks are quite easily the best the series has delivered so far. Each track has its own personality and delivers its own unique experience. It’s clear a lot of time and effort has gone into designing these tracks, because no tracks feel like filler, a negative aspect that we’ve seen in previous titles. I’m looking at you Double Dash!
As well as picking a character to use, you can also pick what car, wheels and glider to customise your ride with. Each one gives you different stats for things like handling, speed, acceleration and so on. The differences between stats are noticeable in things like acceleration and handling, but in most other aspects I couldn’t really tell the difference.
Single player is fun, fast and furious in typical Mario Kart style, but with an added difference. Now your kart can convert to either to a glider or submarine depending on specific areas on the track. Initially this felt like a gimmick, but it actually surprised me with how well this fits into the game. Completing the game in a 50cc kart is relatively simple but once you start moving into the 100cc and 150cc modes things get much harder, and exceedingly frustrating. Opponents are more aggressive and keep their speed high, although this is probably more to do with the AI speed assistance found in every single Mario Kart to date. On top of this all your opponents magically become very adept at using their items.
Speaking of items, the God awful exploding blue shells make their evil return; what this means is that you could be trashing every opponent during a race only to take one of these infernal things right in the face. things get even worse when straight after your opponents race by and fire red shells in your direction; suddenly your 1st place has turned into 6th.
This, in my opinion, is completely unneeded and does nothing but cheapen the experience. I can understand the lightning bolt, because that affects everyone on the course, except the person using it, giving them time to catch up but equally punishing everyone else. Needless to say the drop in position because of forces you’re unable to stop will cause many a rage-quit in gamers who attempt to fully complete this game.
Multiplayer is again strong with internet play making its return.. There’s also word that Nintendo is now utilising online patching to fix exploits in track design for all those who wish to compete online. It’s nice to see Nintendo joining the rest of the gaming world in this regard.
MK7 is quite possibly one of the best versions in the series to date. This isn’t a racing Sim, but the series has never tried to be anything but a fun arcade-like experience. The series keeps going from strength to strength and I can’t see it being canned any day soon. For all those 3DS owners, this is a definite must have title; if you’ve been holding off from getting the handheld, this could possibly be the game to warrant that purchase.