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Mario Kart 7 (Nintendo 3DS) Review
Review by 
8.96/10 from 39 user ratings
Slip your racing gloves on and strap yourself in! Nintendo has returned with yet another addition to their genre defining karting game. The "7" within the title refers to the number of console and handheld installments of the series (excluding the two GP arcade racers co-developed by Namco). As always, Nintendo tries to bring something new to the table to help keep this franchise feeling new and exciting. We're given a few new features, some polished features, and some features that just won't go away. Fans of Retro Studios will like to hear that they created the DKC track and assisted on the retro tracks. Instead of a diary I'd like to go through some of the key features that stood out in this game.

3D - I wasn't a believer until I started racing. The 3D in this game is subtle enough to enjoy. I do find myself out of the sweet spot from time to time which is frustrating. Given time you should be able to adjust your old habits to keep that sweet spot.

New/Retro Courses - I've been pleased in the past with some of the retro courses but this time I'm actually thrilled. Most, if not all, the retro courses are my favorites and they've been enhanced to accommodate some of the newer features. The newer tracks provide some great additions to the series. Multiple short cuts, numerous hazards, and just overall good design bring lots of fun. Some good examples are Wario's Shipyard and Shy Guy Bazaar.

Rubber band AI - It's actually bearable! There seems to be a lot more balance this time around, probably due to only having 8 racers max and blue shells can take others out on the way to first place. I haven't cursed once! Okay, may once...

Coins - They're back! By collecting coins on the track you obtain mini boosts and increase your overall top speed. A fantastic way to keep races up in the air when players stick to a good racing line. The game keeps track of your overall total and you'll begin to unlock different karting parts as you go along.

Kart Parts - Now you can create your own kart to a certain degree. Body, wheels, and gliders can be chosen and this will adjust your overall Weight, Speed, Acceleration, Handling, and Off Road.

Gliding/Swimming - Not only can we take the apex on land but now we can do the same by flying through the air or being propelled through the sea.

FPR (first person racer) - You have the option of actually popping Mario's eyeballs out and viewing the race from the seat of the kart. This feature actually works pretty well without 3D!

Gyro Steering - I don't advise you to use this feature with 3D turned on. I encountered a few mishaps and now my vision is permanently damaged. Seriously, I wear glasses, true story.

SpotPass/StreetPass - MK ghost data, Miis, and Communities are exchanged when connected to a local or online connection. The in game Mario Kart Channel will show suggested communities and ghost data retrieved. A neat addition to this is that you can now race up to 7 ghosts at a time!

Online - The setup is similar to MKWii but this time a handheld (not game) driven friend list shows who's online as well as recent opponents you've encountered. You have the choice of joining a random race/battle, join a friend, or join a community. Communities are recommended to you but you can also search for specific ones. Be sure to add our NW communities and utilize our Chat and Official Discussion/Matchup Thread.

Controls - Take MKWii and change the Trick button/motion to the R shoulder button. The controls are tight and the variation with karts makes finding an acceptable setup possible. Some kart parts work better on specific tracks!

Presentation - Bright, beautiful colors, great textures, and smooth frame rate. Simple menus but added depth in game and online. Sound track and effects are good quality especially when wearing headphones in bed.

Replayability - the online functionality makes this a no brainer. Even the main 3DS friend list shows if a friend is racing online or in a community and you can join right in. A good amount to unlock and variable karts keep the races exciting and dynamic. The new items (Lucky 7, Fire Flower, and Tanooki Tail) are welcomed additions to the already ridiculous selection.

If you enjoy a fun racer that has unpredictable results in every race, you owe it to yourself to get this game. See you online!

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Posted: 01/07/12, 01:21:17  - Edited by 
 on: 01/07/12, 01:25:39    
Why not sign up for a (free) account and create your own content?
Thanks for tackling this review! I would have scored it quite similarly.

Posted by 
 on: 01/07/12, 01:27:52

No prob!

I hope the lack of response means people are busy racing.

Posted by 
 on: 01/07/12, 18:16:12
Yeah, this is a great game and this review just further proves it. I would have scored it about the same, too.

Alright, now back to the races...!

Posted by 
 on: 01/07/12, 18:22:21
Nice review, you highlight the key features of the game that stand out. I truly am satisfied with everything this game has to offer! The new items add some new strategies, as does the coin collecting and the cart customization.

Posted by 
 on: 01/07/12, 20:41:51
Good stuff. I have been in a bit of a gaming lull as of late, but I still go back to this nearly every night. It's so dang fun.

One thing Nintendo needs to fix in the next game is how online works though. The community feature is sort of broken the way it works right now, what with the inability to join friends after their four-course fun, and instead creating your own room in the community. Blech.

Posted by 
 on: 01/07/12, 22:43:08
Solid review of a solid game. Great work, Abbers!

Posted by 
 on: 01/07/12, 22:45:29
I think I would've rated it a bit lower. The game is really fun but there are still a lot of WTF decisions in the game in my opinion, especially regarding its online implementation.

The core gameplay is great but i still think the online implementation feels a bit too archaic.

Posted by 
 on: 01/08/12, 02:34:59
This game has no doubt the most refined gameplay in the series. Everything just feels right, and it's so, so much fun.

But, the game has several shortcomings, notably features that were left behind after Mario Kart DS and Wii, and I presume it was because the game was a bit rushed to make the holiday release.

It's quite the conundrum. I've never really had this feeling about a game before. I think 9.0/10 is just about right.

Posted by 
 on: 01/08/12, 20:43:01

Pretty much agreed on all counts here.

Posted by 
 on: 01/08/12, 21:32:37

Are you talking about the mission mode? What else? I do miss the mission mode. I believe they asked for Retro's assistance to get this game ready for the holiday season.

Posted by 
 on: 01/09/12, 16:41:32

Mission mode being left out was a huge bummer, and nudging out several of the characters from Mario Kart Wii (Waluigi most notably) were downers for me as well, but it doesn't keep the game from being any less fun for me, especially online.

Nice review, Abdooooo!

Posted by 
 on: 01/09/12, 16:55:44
It's a very fun game for sure, but I can't help but think some of the changes with the physics are for the worse (slipping into the void after being immobilized for what seems like ages after getting hit by something still doesn't feel right at all to me), plus we constantly bitch on the chat when trying to play online. Even ignoring the fact that we have to use a chat client in the first place, getting constantly disconnected with no idea why it happened gets pretty old.

I don't think it's just me either, as I didn't get disconnected like this playing MKWii, and others get disconnected in MK7 as well.

Posted by 
 on: 01/09/12, 17:02:51

Two features that I miss that were in the Wii version are Time Trial leaderboards and the ability to send your Time Trial ghosts to friends over the Internet.


I was getting connection errors for the first few days. I made a change in my router's settings and put my 3DS in the DMZ (so it's not behind the router's firewall), and I haven't had any problems since.

Posted by 
 on: 01/09/12, 17:25:12  - Edited by 
 on: 01/09/12, 17:26:58
I went on a rant on this topic in anpother thread, so I'll quote that post for starters. Actually, that thread was locked so I can't quote, but here it is

Yep, mission mode obviously (which was also in MK Wii in the form of weekly challenges). But also:

- no friend's ghosts exchange unless you streetpass
- no multiple times recorded in time trials, only your best
- no single race versus mode (you have to race a GP)
- no decals with stylus
- less statistics (i.e. most used cart and character, favorite track)
- no team versus (online and offline) and team battle (online) options
- track exploits already discovered and abused online, with questionable possibility of a patch
- no separate rating for versus and battle mode online
- less communication options in community lobby than MK Wii
- few or no unlockables for 50cc, 100cc and time trials
- less characters than MK Wii

I'm sure there are more, too.

Since then, I would add:

- Don't like the new way the VR is handled, it's basically showing off whoever plays the most. It's so hard to lose points.
- The community feature is nice, but it comes with too many annoyances to make it more than just a glorified leaderboard for Negative World. It was actually easier to organize races in Mario Kart Wii, and you could add players from the lobby to your friends list in that game too.

Posted by 
 on: 01/09/12, 17:26:04

You bring up some good points that I forgot about. I miss the team races that were in the Wii version, and you're right about the VR in MK7. You could easily lose a couple hundred points in one race in MKWii, but the most you'll lose in MK7 is a couple points.

Posted by 
 on: 01/09/12, 17:31:18

Wow, you bring up a lot of points I honestly forgot about! I do find it annoying that in order to loose VR points you have to finish dead last. Also, the friend ghost exchange makes me really confused. They obviously have the logic to exchange ghost data...how hard would have been to add a button to send your data to specific friends? Hmmm....

Posted by 
 on: 01/09/12, 18:36:02
I love most of the gameplay in MK7, minus the traditional complaints. I love the hang gliding sections.

But I'm starting to feel that MK really needs to add more meat to its single player mode. Capcom fighting games all have "training" missions, which can be fun to try and complete and I think the MK equivalent could be fun. Or maybe some kind of "story" or campaign mode, SOMETHING to shake up the single player experience. If it wasn't for unlockables I wouldn't touch the single player mode at all, it's incredibly bland.

Posted by 
 on: 01/09/12, 19:06:26

Not only that, but it's incredibly frustrating to try to get 3 stars for a Cup, only to miss it through simple bad luck. It's not fun. Especially at the lower speeds.

I think I agree with the RFN guys: the single player in Mario Kart is broken, quite simply.

Posted by 
 on: 01/09/12, 19:08:34

That's a great point too.

I don't think that the single player is BROKEN; that word gets tossed around much too often for me though that's admittedly just a personal pet peeve.

Broken? No. Flawed and disposable? Absolutely.

Posted by 
 on: 01/09/12, 19:15:56
I would love to see a "customize your own kart" section to MK. I'm talking mainly about body shape and tires. Kind of like a pinewood derby aspect to creating the quickest/sturdiest kart.

The single player campaign is one of the "features that just won't go away" part of my review. By now I've accepted that its really only there to unlock items and hone your racing skills. Should be called training instead.

Posted by 
 on: 01/09/12, 20:24:31
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