Slamming a green shell up someone's tailpipe a split-second before they speed over the finish line has to be one of the most satisfying experiences in gaming. Watching your racer disappear in a fireball blooming from a blue shell has to be one of the most devastating. Having all the above happen in 3D? Well, it doesn't make much of a difference. Which is not to say that Mario Kart 7 doesn't have a lot going for it.
The main recommendation for Mario Kart 7
on 3DS is, frankly, that it's a Mario Kart
game. Bombing around imaginatively-designed tracks whilst battling it out with other racers using power-ups ranging from bombs to banana skins is just fun
Fortunately, Nintendo hasn't dropped the ball. The levels – a mix of new tracks and classic courses, touched up for the 3DS – are as wild and fun as ever. The handling and the weapons are slick and the balance between air-punching gratification and wall-punching frustration is, for the most part, finely-tuned.
The use of 3D, for its part, can be a bit off-putting. As has been the case in other 3DS racers
, the sensitivity of the 3D in relation to your viewpoint means that a twitch in the wrong direction can throw out the image and, in turn, your race. I turned it off.
There are a couple of new features. The incorporation of gliders and parachutes into the karts is one. If you take off on a big enough jump, your glider pops up and you float across a drop. If you get it right
, you might be able to take a shortcut only open to you by air. It's a nice addition – one that in places lends a fresh view to new tracks - but it's a shame that the glider only comes out at certain scripted moments. More could have been made of it.
Also new is kart customisation. You now have control over which chassis, wheels and flight attachment you use, with more options being opened up as you collect gold coins. It's not a massively deep system, but it adds a layer of customisation that's welcome. The trade-off is that the character you choose no longer makes a difference. Where in Mario Kart Wii
different characters had different vehicles open to them, in MK7
they all have the same options available.
Furthermore, you can drive underwater for the first time. It's a lot like driving on land, but it looks a bit bluer.
There are new power-ups – Super Leaf, Fire Flower and Lucky 7 (a roulette). They're there. They're fun. They work.
Of course, one of the great strengths of Mario Kart
on a home console is split-screen multiplayer and, of course, you can't do that on a handheld. Nintendo has been fairly generous with its multiplayer offering in MK7
, though, with local download play for up to eight players enabling use of all 32 tracks – the only downside is that everyone without a copy of the cart has to play as Shy Guy and can't customise their go (go)kart. For the full shebang you can always go online.
There's no great leap forward here, but Mario Kart 7
does pretty much exactly what you want Mario Kart 7
+ Welcome addition of gliders
+ Good looks
+ New power-ups
+ IT'S MARIO KART
- 3D's a bit ropey
- For obvious reasons, doesn't have the console's advantage of split-screen play
- More could have been made of the gliders (yes, I know, I'm reaching)
SPOnG Score: 8/10