Review – Mario Kart 7
Eeeeets a me… Marrrghhhh my eyes!
As with all Nintendo products, there’s always the game line-up you expect to see. It’s like Nintendo have a checklist where they check off each iteration of every franchise they have before moving onto the next console. It’s a tried and tested method and it works for them. This time it is Mario Kart’s turn to be wedged into the 3DS’s framework for us all to buy again.
So, what should you expect from this iteration, the seventh in the Mario Kart line up? Well, to be frank, it doesn’t really do all that much different from its predecessors. You’d be an idiot to think that they’d mess with this formula too much, because when they did we had the horrendous Double Dash, a game that I’d trade in for a dose of the shits it was so bad. Of course, they have tinkered with it ever so slightly, we now have to cope with air and underwater sections. The former are more present than the latter, and are the more enjoyable of the two new ways of driving. The underwater sections feel slower than they should really, but they are not really that badly done as you’d want to fucking bend the top screen off its hinges in frustration. Although there are tracks based around underwater racing, you do spend the majority of the race above ground. Careful path choice can see you avoiding long section of the underwater stuff, although you’re never going to be able to avoid it altogether.
The track design is generally well done. The graphics are super pretty and there’s some nice effects going on. It all runs really smoothly too, there are no hints of slow down no matter what is happening on screen. I will say this, some of the music is fucking atrocious. In general it’s either the well known Mario associated theme or variations of other Nintendo tunes, but some of these arrangements are so bad.
The other new part comes in the form of kart modification. Previous Mario Kart games worked on the simple mechanic that the lighter the character you picked, the quicker they accelerated and handled, but they were hampered by having a low top speed as well as crawling to a halt if they went off track. The heavier characters however had no acceleration, controlled like caravans full of pig shit, but had high tops speeds and can off road without too much slowing down. In Mario Kart 7 you are capable of building your own kart, with the 3 variants (body, wheels and wings) altering the stats of your chosen ride. The driver you pick still has an influence on the stats, but you can now offset them so if you want to drive as Bowser in the same style you would Toad. All these parts to modify your kart are opened up by collecting coins on track.
The single player part of the game is the usual fare for Mario Kart games, you have 8 main cups each with 4 races inside. Of course the whole bloody thing can turn on a dime and a race you’ve led all the way through can be fucked in the arse because of blue shells, red shells, green shells, bombs, lightning or any other kind of shit the game can throw at you. Winning games can be quite the lottery at times, it wouldn’t be the fiorst time I’ve trounced the opposition only to get robbed because of the power ups, but then again I’ve used the power ups to pull a victory where certain defeat was looming. It’s fucking frustrating when it goes against you, but satisfying when it goes for you. Of course the rubber banding is back, but even on 150cc there doesn’t seem to be one dominant player that will win everything, they can easily fuck up a race as you would.
The real meat of the game is online. Again, it recycles the ideas from past games, in this case Mario Kart Wii with the 1000 point mechanic. Play well and you gain points and are matched against people with similar tallies. Go on a losing streak and you lose points. Of course, with all online game you’re going to come across gaming savants, most of them will have the Japanese flag flying next to their illegible name, and they will fuck you up. There’s no denying that. However, chances are you’ll be doing the same to some other players. It might not be Xbox LIVE, but for what it is it does the job. Joining friends (as well as random people you’ve met) is easy. There doesn’t appear to be much lag if any at all. Either that or the game is really good at hiding it.
The new part of the online shebang is the whole communities, which is sort of like a car club you can only join if you have the code. Just think of these section like private lobbies where groups of players can play together without been shit on by some guy in the far east who lives in a house the same size as the cupboard under the stairs. There’s also a balloon game and a coin collecting game, just like the other Mario Karts. Who said originality was dead? Of course, if you’re like me you’ll play them once and then never again.
Mario Kart 7 is a good game, although it is not with its flaws. Some of the old tracks aren’t very good at holding the new game mechanics right. Getting hit with a blue shell is always a strict punishment at the best of times, but there’s some areas of the track that make it hard not to throw the 3DS at the nearest wall in frustration. It’s easy to become caught on some parts of the track and end up trailing the pack if you are unfortunate, and the gliding sections can often lead to you flying out of bounds which can lead to more teeth grinding. It’s a harsh mistress, but an enjoyable one when you’re donkey punching it in the back of the head.
Oh yeah, the 3D. It’s good. You’ll turn the fucker off after about 20 minutes though. I know I did.