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2/29/2012

REVIEW: Mario Kart 7 (3DS)



Mario Kart 7 is the latest entry to the famous racing franchise made by Nintendo, and the first to ever appear in the 3DS. It is a very charming and beautiful game that mixes many of the aspects that have made thousands, and even millions of people worldwide love the series.

As usual with racing games, MK7 is all about reaching the finish line before the competition, but unlike other “more serious” games in the genre, this one forces the players to use items to hinder their opponents, the red, green and blue shells are there, just like the bananas and power stars. Each of these items has a different effect in the race and using them correctly mixed with good driving skills is the key to win.

The game looks incredible, very beautiful to look at. It has awesome cartoony textures to make the most famous Mario characters come to life once again in an excellent way. All of them have great animations when they drive, cheer and even when they’re being hit by a dangerous item used by someone else.

It has excellent 3D effects where the karts, items and many other objects truly feel like they’re outside the screen and it all feels really smooth, even when playing with the 3D fully on, the frame rate never slows down which is a great proof that Nintendo really knows how to develop for their own consoles.

There are 30+ tracks to choose from, each one very different than the others and some of them even allow for the karts to glide or move underwater, depending on which route the player chooses. It is also possible to revisit old tracks from the previous games in the franchise, and they will be identified with the console they came from.

Sound-wise the game is very cool as well. It doesn’t have any voice acting except for the usual yelling of some characters when they say very short things but since this is a Mario game, the lack of voice acting doesn’t really feel bad. The other sound effects, while cartoony, are good and make the races come to life in a great way.

It has a great soundtrack to accompany the races, some of them are recognizable versions from previous titles and they accompany a good bunch of new songs for both the races and the menus.

Mario Kart 7 plays in a very good way, the controls are easy to grasp and very responsive. The players only need to steer, accelerate, break, jump, drift and use the items and they’re set. There’s no manual gameplay mode or vast kart customization like in other racing games. But, by playing and finishing the one-player-modes, several different parts for the karts can be unlocked and each have their own attributes, the players can change the form of the kart itself, the wheels and the wings they’ll use in the gliding sections of some of the tracks.

Besides the races themselves, the public can enjoy the Time Trial mode to try and beat a set target time in a track, Balloon Battle where the racers shoot items at each other until only one kart is standing with a balloon or Coin Runner where the characters drive around an arena trying their best to pick up as many coins as they can before the time runs out.

Each of those modes are very cool and add tons of variety to the game, they can be played in either local multiplayer, which runs excellently and online, which isn’t very good and crashes completely sometimes without any explanation.

But a negative thing in the gameplay has to be the item balance, which is truly bad in Mario Kart 7. In a normal race, the players who are losing will always, without mistake, get the best items which feel a little broken. The blue shell that hits the player in 1st place without missing, the power star that gives extra speed and the ability to run everyone over or the thunderbolt that turns every other player into a small version that can be splattered are only some of the items that unexplainably change the result of a race in seconds.

Even if someone has a great skill and drives perfectly, his victory will come only if the game randomly decided to give him good items or if the losing players don’t get many broken ones. All these make the game feel a little too casual and random at times. The players with the best skill don’t always win and that’s definitely a bad thing.

Overall, Mario Kart 7 is a great game. It looks excellent and plays and sounds very nice. The different modes and ways to enjoy them make it a really varied game that can be enjoyed for either a couple minutes or several hours; whether alone in online multiplayer or with some friends each with his/her own 3DS. But the gameplay has a lot of balancing issues that definitely hinder the enjoyment of what could have been the best Mario Kart game yet. That title still rests in Mario Kart DS.

Pros:

-          Great visuals and 3D effects
-          Tons of characters to choose from
-          Varied kart customization
-          Different modes and tracks to enjoy

Cons:

-          Terrible item balancing
-          Online performance is laggy and crashes a lot
-          Not enough to please hardcore racing game fans


-          Graphics and Visuals…….…..9
-          Music and Sound Effects….....7
-          Gameplay……………………6
-          Replay Value………………...8

-          Overall Score……………….. 7.5 / 10

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