Blue Shell launch imminent! The latest of the Mario Kart and 3DS bigshots is here, and bursting through our screen. Gear up as we take a look at the simply named Mario Kart 7 and see if it’s any good!
Skipping the story as…well, there is none. Sixteen brand new tracks with sixteen remakes from previous eras give us eight cups with three rankings of either easy, medium, and rage-quit – well, they call it challenging, but you’ll see why it’s called rage-quit soon. There are also sixteen racers from the Mario universe to choose from as well as your Mii, all with their own unique starting stats. There are the light, medium and heavy class as well that are either accelaration, balanced or speed focused. On top of these, you also have unlockable parts for your kart that adjust your stats further, giving you ultimate control over how you play.
Well, that’s the theory anyway – unfortunately, luck is much the staple of how the races work as well. The randomiser of the item boxes seems to be more programmed to screw with the player as much as inhumanely possible. Something I noticed as I was playing, and it was a gradual notice, that there appeared to be no problems – the usual fare of lightning and one red shell coming after you…but on the last lap, on the last few corners you will get juggled by blue and red shells, sometimes right off a cliff, into oblivion. And you can forget about amassing a lead, as if you hit one item, half the other competitors will zoom by, somewhat perfectly positioned – this occurs more often than naught on the “challenging mode” but can work in your favour too. The AI adjusts for how well you’re doing, which causes a good bout of rubber banding around the course. Not that they rubber band towards you when you do terrible – no, that would be fair.
Another feature is coin collecting – the method of unlocking kart pieces in your quest to build the best one possible. You can hold a maximum of ten at one point, and each one you hold increases your speed slightly – however, you lose three for when you get hit with an item or fall into the oblivion pit. If it wasn’t for the highly unpredictable random aspect of the item attacks, this would not be a bad way of unlocking, but it relies on grinding to get all of the items and causing each hit to be more infuriating due to being prevented from getting the unlocks and watching all the others drive past. There’s also gliding and underwater driving, but they aren’t that much of a game changer to warrant more than a passing mention.
As for the multiplayer, take out the aimbot mentality of the AI drivers, and Mario Kart 7 shines. Bad AI can ruin a good game, but thanks to the surprisingly fantastic online capabilities for a Nintendo title, you can create groups that ban items – yes, even the blue shell – that help make the race less about playing the AI game and more playing with friends and gaining bragging rights…or winding them up with the blue shell, whatever works for you.
With a streamlined roster – that features of all things, Wiggler – an incredibly smooth and beautiful gameplay, and one of the best online multiplayers this year that provides a very happy alternative to the AI, Mario Kart 7 can sit quite happily beside Ocarina of Time and Cave Story + as a reason to own a 3DS.
out of 10
- Vast multiplayer options
- Great customization
- Longevity available
- Strangely addictive
- Rubber band and unfair AI
- Races more luck based than skill