3DS

North America

Mario Kart 7

by Neal Ronaghan - November 29, 2011, 12:00 am PST
Total comments: 44

8.5

This 3DS Mario Kart title doesn't reinvent the wheel, but does it have to?

Mario Kart 7’s name tells you way more about the game than you might think. While previous iterations in the series had subtitles that told you more about what was special about the game (even if it was just on a new system), the racing series’ 3DS debut has a generic-sounding name that accurately fits a by-the-book sequel. Mario Kart 7 is still great, especially with the stellar use of online and StreetPass and tiny gameplay refinements, but it ultimately just feels like its hitting bullet points.

16 new courses? Check. The new races are, as usual, cleverly designed with neat shortcuts and lots of nostalgia-inducing visuals. The big change-up in this game’s tracks is that three of them (the two Wuhu Island tracks and the new Rainbow Road) don’t feature laps; instead, each race is broken up into three unique sections. It’s a nice change of pace from the usual mayhem, and those tracks are some of my favorites in the game.

16 retro courses? Check. The tracks, ironically developed by Retro Studios, pull from each game in the series, though the Wii and DS games are the only ones that are represented in each cup. If you’ve had experience with these courses before, it’s novel to see how the game’s latest gimmick (using a glider to fly and a propeller to drive underwater) is used in each level. It’s a weird feeling knowing it is now okay to dive underwater in Koopa Troopa Beach.

Speaking of the new gimmick, that’s really all it is. Gliding is occasionally used to open up the courses, but it’s only implemented interestingly in a limited set of tracks. When you’re given the chance to float around for a while, it is awesome, but when you just leap off a ramp to glide for three seconds, it adds very little to the experience. Driving underwater is similarly underutilized, though it just feels like Mario Kart with lower gravity. There is actually a section in the new Rainbow Road where you drive on a moon that realizes the low gravity feeling perfectly.

The Battle Mode features six courses, three of which are pulled from past games. With the exception of a dud (Honeybee Hive), the courses are all excellent when eight players are involved. In a change from the normal Mario Kart tropes, the main Balloon Battle is timed, as players try to rack up the most captured balloons. Coin Runners, a version where you try to collect the most coins, is also present. The customization options are limited, allowing you to limit to groups of items, and not specific items. My hopes of a Blue Shells-only match are dashed.

Where Mario Kart 7 is bolstered above its predecessors is with its online and connectivity options. While I wasn’t able to test the full force of online, the matches I played were flawless and lag-free, and it was easy to hop in and start searching for games. The community option looks like it’ll be a fantastic way to find like-minded players. StreetPass and SpotPass give you the ability to build-up a roster of time-trial ghosts and future online opponents that is all easily managed in a menu off of the main menu. In addition to the online options, you can also play locally using download or multi-card play.

Mario Kart 7 also features a more focused array of items, removing a lot of the farcical ones introduced in past games. The three new items, Fire Flower, Super Leaf, and Lucky 7, all fit in nicely, with the Lucky 7 being the most ridiculous item ever, as it gives you a roulette of seven items ranging from stars to green shells. The same narrow focus extends to the characters, but that’s more of a regression. With items, it affects gameplay, but with characters, it doesn’t make sense to me to remove Dry Bones, the babies, and Waluigi when they’ve already appeared in several iterations. It’s not like this is Super Smash Bros. and Roy is being replaced by Ike; these characters are just straight-up gone and are replaced by the likes of Honey Queen and Wiggler. You also unlock kart parts along the way, but they don't add too much. It's just a new hat on what they had in Mario Kart Wii, except you have a little bit of granular control with the stats.

The 3D effect is snazzy, but it adds nothing more than shine to the game. Graphically, this might be the prettiest Mario Kart game ever. To Kart veterans, the controls should be instantly familiar, especially if you played a lot of Mario Kart Wii, as the boosting mechanic is lifted almost directly from that game. The optional first-person mode, which uses the gyroscope and Circle Pad in conjunction, is surprisingly good, almost like how the motion controls worked in Mario Kart Wii. Basically, you lose precision, but if you can beat people using it, you deserve a gold star (or wheel).

Mario Kart 7 isn’t a huge leap forward for the series. Instead, it’s another damn fine iteration in a proven series. You’ll still be upset when you’re “Mario Karted” by a blue shell followed up by a red shell and a bomb, but the winning online play and gameplay polish make Mario Kart 7 a must-have for all 3DS owners.

Summary

Pros
  • Best online on the 3DS to date
  • Item selection is better
  • Retro tracks make good use of new mechanics
  • Well-designed new tracks
Cons
  • Gliding feels underutilized
  • More of the same
  • Questionable character absences

Talkback

EnnerNovember 29, 2011

Really hope someday they get Hal, GameArts, Sakurai, or whoever lines up the features for Super Smash Bros. and have them help on the next Mario Kart. The absence of advanced mode customization is becoming more and more intolerable.


I'm sad to read that the kart customization isn't as fleshed out as I hoped it would be. I know it would've been a long stretch, but I hoped for some mech-lab-lite with karts.

They must have been listening when I asked for less of the crappy baby characters etc and no more flying blue shells, so glad they fixed that!
I'll never forgive Double Dash for introducing both those horrible elements...


Can't wait to play this, communities sounds awesome, can't wait to see how easy to setup/flexible it is.
I just hope you can drag items behind you in online multiplayer!

KITT 10KNovember 29, 2011

It doesn't sound like they got rid of the blue shell, (they better not have, despite getting annoyed with getting hit by I love when I get it, which is rare for me, and nailing someone with it). But as long as Donkey Kong is in it to play as I don't really mind who is added and/or taken out of the game. But anyway, I just can't wait to get this game!

Blue shell is in. Continue your rantings and ravings about how it breaks the game. I'll just focus on making sure I have a big enough lead to give myself room for a blue shell or two. :D

It's (mostly) back on the ground at least, so it doesn't screw over the first player person as much.

HypotheliciouslyNovember 29, 2011

How is the sense of speed? I would have figured the 3D effect would have greatly impacted that.

RasNovember 29, 2011

This can't be called a negative review, but it's the most negative of the ones I've read.  IGN and Nintendo Life were much more positive.  From everything I've read and seen, I think I'm going to be closer to their opinions.  It looks like the cutting edge of MK games.  Of course, you've played it and I haven't, but the bottom line is that we're all going to enjoy it to one degree or another.

Ras - No offense taken at all. I did come away a tiny bit disappointed in some respects, but the online play is going to be awesome. I might not think it's the best game in the series, but I will play the crap out of this game.

Ian SaneNovember 29, 2011

Over the years I have become just outright fed up with Mario Kart's design of punishing those that do well.  I might as well be playing snakes and ladders.  If it was truly random, I could live with it as I don't mind the randomness of SSB.  But Mario Kart seems to regard "balance" as rigging the game in favour of those that suck at it.  Any win or loss seems meaningless.  There is no honor in winning a rigged game and no embarassment in losing one. 

I'm not going to bother with any further Mario Karts until the handicapping is gone.  I love the gameplay of racing around in go-karts and firing shells at each other.  It is frustrating that the specific execution is what turns me off as the broad design is very enjoyable.  But with the series selling so well, what incentive does Nintendo have to change things?

RasNovember 29, 2011

That's what I thought, Neal.  You're nowhere near a negative opinion of it, just felt let down by parts here and there.  That's, obviously, totally fair.

Ian, one feature you might like is that parameters can be set for multiplayer games, such as all banana peels, all red shells, etc.  I would assume you could say, "Everything but blue shells, bullet bills, etc."  Maybe that will allow you to enjoy it to some degree.

purevalNovember 29, 2011

I am with you Ian, I stopped playing Mario Kart Wii because of that issue and Mario Party as well. I wish Nintendo would stop using a cheating computer as the only method of increasing the difficulty as well. MK Wii is the only game in the series I never finished all of the cups because I got sick and tired of having the lead on the last lap and getting hit with red and blue shells constantly.

Ian SaneNovember 29, 2011

Quote from: Ras

Ian, one feature you might like is that parameters can be set for multiplayer games, such as all banana peels, all red shells, etc.  I would assume you could say, "Everything but blue shells, bullet bills, etc."  Maybe that will allow you to enjoy it to some degree.

It goes beyond blue shells.  It's stuff like how when you're ahead you get nothing but banana peels while the guy in last gets tons of great items.  I don't even have a problem with blue shells in theory.  If they were incredibly rare items and anyone in any position could get them, I wouldn't care.

It's really just a design approach that Nintendo goes with.  Nintendo wants Mario Kart to be incredibly accessible to the point that each race is artificially balanced.  They want a party game where beginners can play with experts and not feel like they have no chance.  I get the idea, but it isn't the type of game I want to play.  I have no problem with that type of handicapping being an option, but it never is.  At least there are parameters for a change which is an incredibly progressive idea for Nintendo.

HypotheliciouslyNovember 30, 2011

Then all they'd really need to do is simply put a "Random" or "Balanced" option in the menu to get you on board. Random being what you'd prefer and Balanced being what MarioKart has in place.

I like the idea.

ShayminNovember 30, 2011

Didn't they put the Item Switch into the online MP mode? Or am I misremembering?

Either way, Mario Kart (63 / 9) looks like a definite pickup, maybe after a price drHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

NinSageNovember 30, 2011

Can't wait for this one.  From what I've seen, and my long history with Kart, I will probably derive more joy from this title than any other this Holiday season.

My heart goes out to Neal who looked at this awesomeness and saw nothing new, only "gimmicks."  But, it's cool - his review, his call, his perspective.

CaterkillerMatthew Osborne, Contributing WriterNovember 30, 2011

I barely got to play the Wii version so this past generation I have been Mario Kartless, so I don't think I will get burned out too soon.

oohhboyHong Hang Ho, Staff AlumnusNovember 30, 2011

I feel for Neal. Part of the issue is that after playing generations of what is effectively the same game, despite how awesome it maybe, it is still the same game. So when something comes along with the promise to  freshen up the game, when it doesn't or didn't go far enough, you're going to come off a little disappointed. Neal's review perfectly reflected that. It is an awesome game and would no doubt continue to the leader of Kart Racers this generation. Someone new(er) to Mario Kart would more than likely give it a higher score since they won't be fatigued by the underlying gameplay.

The blue shell issue could be fixed by making it so only one ever gets spawned in a given race or X laps. It's still there and it gives a chance for the beginner to influence the race. It still doesn't completely resolve the issue where it tends to only punish the person in first place. A better modification might be that is hits the top 4, since it would more likely allow the pack as a whole run a closer race than just punishing the hell out of the leader. It's still stupid in MK:DS when you get blue shelled once a fucking lap.

TotodileeNovember 30, 2011

Uhh, does Mario Kart 7 have driver licenses or save files like Mario Kart Wii? If so, how many are there? :)

Quote from: Totodilee

Uhh, does Mario Kart 7 have driver licenses or save files like Mario Kart Wii? If so, how many are there? :)

Only one save file as far as I can tell.


I feel like this is Uncharted 3 getting an 8/10 from Eurogamer. I really enjoy(ed) this game. I just wasn't bowled over by it. Like, it's Mario Kart. It's still very good, but, to me, it doesn't ascend past the high points of the series.

But then again, I loved Mario Kart Wii, and apparently most other people had issues with it. Everybody's favorite Mario Kart is different.

KnowsNothingNovember 30, 2011

Quote from: NWR_Neal

But then again, I loved Mario Kart Wii, and apparently most other people had issues with it. Everybody's favorite Mario Kart is different.

For a series that, according to most, hasn't progressed much in the past few iterations it's funny how differently people feel about the games (and how vehemently they defend their personal favorites).  These small changes create vast rifts in the gaming community.

Personally? Super Circuit is my favorite, followed by Double Dash (I loved the cooperative game play and clunkier vehicles).  Mario Kart DS was fun but snaking ruined the online play, and the best part of Mario Kart Wii was the motion control.  Mario Kart 64 has aged very well and is still more fun than the DS or Wii versions.  The original is the worst.

TJ SpykeNovember 30, 2011

Quote from: KnowsNothing

Mario Kart 64 has aged very well and is still more fun than the DS or Wii versions.

I have to disagree on this. I like MK64, but I love MKDS more (and I am not the only one, it appears many people think this one is the best, despite the snaking problem that caused me to stop with online).

NWR_pap64Pedro Hernandez, Contributing WriterNovember 30, 2011

Quote from: KnowsNothing

Quote from: NWR_Neal

But then again, I loved Mario Kart Wii, and apparently most other people had issues with it. Everybody's favorite Mario Kart is different.

For a series that, according to most, hasn't progressed much in the past few iterations it's funny how differently people feel about the games (and how vehemently they defend their personal favorites).  These small changes create vast rifts in the gaming community.

Personally? Super Circuit is my favorite, followed by Double Dash (I loved the cooperative game play and clunkier vehicles).  Mario Kart DS was fun but snaking ruined the online play, and the best part of Mario Kart Wii was the motion control.  Mario Kart 64 has aged very well and is still more fun than the DS or Wii versions.  The original is the worst.

Agreed on all accounts. It's true that people accuse the series for not evolving throughout the years, but if you look at the preferences people have there is always one change or addition that either impresses or annoy gamers.

Killer_Man_JaroTom Malina, Associate Editor (Europe)November 30, 2011

The Gametrailers review claimed that there was a lot of strategy in how you used the glider, and appeared to suggest that the shortcut potential was enhanced by them. Did you not find this to be the case? In past Mario Kart games, I have found that I can go through a track a dozen times before I start to notice some of the nuances for getting around the track quicker. It really opens up the Time Trial mode for me.

Watching that video review, it also looked like there was a lot more happening in the new tracks, and split paths were abundant. Ultimately, the macro structure of Mario 3D Kart is almost identical to its predecessors, and I get why that's an issue for some. That said, three years on from the last Mario Kart, I'm in the mood for it again, and this seems to do the right things to get me back on board.

PlugabugzNovember 30, 2011

Blue Shells should be totally randomised, so you should still be able to get them even if you are in first place (which would be hilarious and also totally useless!)

oohhboyHong Hang Ho, Staff AlumnusNovember 30, 2011

Have you tried firing the blue shell while in first place? It's the comedy option. I would rather remove the blue shell over complete randomization. An even better option would be to have it only appear in last place and have it so it will sequentially hit everybody but the launcher in the reverse order from first to second to last. It would compress the race while not radically changing the placings while given the rear a chance to catch up.

PlugabugzNovember 30, 2011

Quote from: oohhboy

Have you tried firing the blue shell while in first place? It's the comedy option. I would rather remove the blue shell over complete randomization. An even better option would be to have it only appear in last place and have it so it will sequentially hit everybody but the launcher in the reverse order from first to second to last. It would compress the race while not radically changing the placings while given the rear a chance to catch up.

I have fired the blue shell in first deliberately to stop second from coming first. Realistically your idea is the most sensible though..

In some courses, the glider is awesome, but for most, it's nothing special. The races where it opens up the map make me sad that not as many courses used it as effectively.

Mop it upNovember 30, 2011

I don't think that an item switch menu would work for Mario Kart. Unlike Smash Brothers, the items are balanced against each other. If you take some out or use only a certain one, then things just won't work. Maybe there are more item options they could add along the lines of the "balanced, strategic, powerful" choice available in Mario Kart Wii.

As for myself, I agree that despite how similar they may seem, every Mario Kart game is different. I'm no fan of the series, and the only one of them I like is Mario Kart Wii. So for me to get a new game in the series, it'd take a lot to entice me. When I saw the transforming karts in the E3 trailer, I thought it was really cool. However, everything I've seen since then, from going back to only 8 racers to the lack of characters, vehicles, and modes, makes me feel more and more disappointed. And now, hearing that the transformations don't add as much as they should solidifies my decision that the game isn't worth full price. I'll be picking it up once I find it on sale for half that.

5kytarDecember 01, 2011

Waluigi... why you no show up?

I got the game yesterday and have played through all of 50cc and just over half of 100cc. The blue shell and lighting made at least one or two appearances every track! I hate to think how much more it will be ramped up for 150, so much for toning it down to mk64 or SC levels or there abouts ..

GrabMyBoomstickDecember 07, 2011

Sure it's more of the same in many ways but I can never get enough Mario Kart.  :D Plus it's nice to see that the online portion is actually more robust this time around.

Lucariofan99July 31, 2013

good mario kart but a couple of things:
- NO WALUIGI
- HONEY QUEEN?!
- and why put time limit in battle mode!
- plus lots of cheats like wuhu mountain!
Other than that (namely Waluigi! :@ ) good MK! ;D

Lucariofan99July 31, 2013

Quote from: 5kytar

Waluigi... why you no show up?

I think i have fallen in love with a blue blob...

TJ SpykeJuly 31, 2013

The glitches in Wuhu Island were fixed in a patch.

Lucariofan99July 31, 2013

Only for online, u can still do it in local!

TJ SpykeJuly 31, 2013

Only if you don't download the patch (which fixes the glitches in local play too). And if you don't download the patch, you can't play online.

Lucariofan99July 31, 2013

try it, it does still work and the daisy cruiser one as well, want one is that u ask? not telling...

TJ SpykeJuly 31, 2013

But what is the point? You are cheating yourself.

pokepal148July 31, 2013

have you seen the AI in that game..? you need all the help you can get with them.

Quote from: TJ

Only if you don't download the patch (which fixes the glitches in local play too).

They specifically did not fix it in offline mode so that pre-fix time trial times would still be obtainable.

Lucariofan99July 31, 2013

Quote from: TJ

But what is the point? You are cheating yourself.

u USE IT IN LOCAL BECAUSE EVERYONE USES IT AND U WOULD LOSE OTHERWISE!!!

TJ SpykeAugust 01, 2013

Quote from: Lucariofan99

Quote from: TJ

But what is the point? You are cheating yourself.

u USE IT IN LOCAL BECAUSE EVERYONE USES IT AND U WOULD LOSE OTHERWISE!!!

Still cheating. It's why people also stopped playing Mario Kart DS online because snakers ruined the game.

pokepal148August 01, 2013

but in the grand prix the cpu is already cheating(seriously using maka wuhu barely gives you a 5 second lead because of how blatant rubber banding is,) they also pretty much start the race at max speed(which the player themselves can only obtain by getting 10 coins) and seem quite willing to gang up on you

PhilPhillip Stortzum, August 01, 2013

I hope Nintendo can make the rubber-banding less of an issue. It has not quite ruined but soiled the fun of the grand prix modes. Or at least return to allowing us a friend or family member to race with us (or four) in the grand prix.

Share + Bookmark





3DS

Game Profile

Mario Kart 7 Box Art

Genre Racing
Developer Nintendo,
Retro Studios
Players1 - 8

Worldwide Releases

na: Mario Kart 7
Release Dec 04, 2011
PublisherNintendo
RatingEveryone
jpn: Mario Kart 7
Release Dec 01, 2011
PublisherNintendo
RatingAll Ages
eu: Mario Kart 7
Release Dec 02, 2011
PublisherNintendo
aus: Mario Kart 7
Release Dec 03, 2011
PublisherNintendo
RatingGeneral

Related Content

Got a news tip? Send it in!
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement