Mario hits the track again in his seventh karting title.
The original Super Mario Kart first made it’s debut on Super NES back in 1992 and now we see Mario Kart 7 making a technological leap onto the Nintendo 3DS for the very first time. Nintendo have added a whole host of new features and have made improvements along the way to ease his transition to the modern 3D handheld. The greatest excitement about the much loved go-karting game is racing around both new tracks and those featured in previous titles. There are 16 brand new tracks in Mario Kart 7, and 16 tracks that gamers will remember from previous titles, giving a touch of nostalgia. The gameplay mechanics remain more or less the same as you battle it out to win first place, grabbing gold coins that have littered the track, and collecting power-ups to launch at your opponents and give you an edge.
The greatly improved Mario Kart 7 adds a more personal touch by allowing you to customize your kart. Once you’ve chosen your character, you can then go on to choose from a vast selection of different customizable items for your new appointed kart. The variety of different body styles, gliders and wheels enables you to piece together the ultimate kart for your desired track. Each race allows you to gather and collect gold coins from various track events, which enables you to go faster and unlock brand new karts to give you the ultimate go-karting experience.
The racing fun isn’t limited to the track though. In Mario Kart 7 you can take to the skies at times with a glider wing or even race underwater, steering your way around clams filled with item boxes and trying to avoid having a head to head collision with a passing Cheep Cheep. The game offers a nice selection of different modes to choose from, but the main bulk of the gameplay is spent working through the Grand Prix mode. This mode allows you to race against seven other nintendo characters for the chance to win the ultimate prize of a shiny new cup.
Players can take their kart online for some multiplayer action, whereby you can race against players from around the world or simply join up with your friends to battle it out on the track in a blaze of tyres and exhaust fumes. There are many communities around the world which you can connect with or play against.
Although racing around each track is exciting, taking in the amazing scenery as you drift around every corner, it’s sometimes nice to engage in the other modes the game has to offer. The Balloon Battle is a blast from the past for those of you who remember it from the earlier karting games. Three balloons are firmly strapped to the back of your kart and using your driving skills and accuracy you must race around the open track to pinch all the power-ups and then take revenge on your opponent by bursting their balloons. The remaining player with the most balloons still attached to their kart after the time runs out is announced the winner. Coin Battle involves a series of tracks, but a competitive battle to gather the most coins.
Steering of the kart is simply done by using the excellent circle pad and the A button is used to accelerate, B to brake. Collected items can be used by pressing the left shoulder button or X. One addition to this version of Mario Kart is the ability to experience the racing in first person camera mode. whilst in this mode you can steer by tilting the Nintendo 3DS system left and right. At the end of the day, it all adds to the whole go-karting experience using the gyroscopic controls to make you feel more in control of your kart.
Mario Kart 7 gives the player extra game modes to play with, a selection of hidden characters to uncover and additional kart parts to unlock. Whilst it’s been a while since I’ve played Super Mario Kart to any degree, the driving and handling of the kart is polished and responsive, giving you an incredible driving experience on Nintendo’s new handheld. The game transports you back to a time when you first played Super Mario Kart with the additional 3D experience, allowing you to feel immersed in its beautiful and crisp environments. You sit and find yourself playing the game with pure excitement, avoiding banana skins and red shells.
Mario Kart 7 remains a solid karting experience, successfully making the transition onto Nintendo’s 3DS with brand new tracks, customisation options and a few surprises along the way. Burning rubber has never felt so good.