The Mario Kart formula is tried and true. Unfortunately, in the case of Mario Kart 7, that means that it is also getting a bit stale. If you thought Eggplante was somehow biased towards Nintendo, this is the article that’ll throw you in the other direction.
Let’s start with what Nintendo gets right: this is Mario Kart. Now, while that is also my problem with the game, at its core, it is a good arcade driving game. The power ups are fun, although very repetitive, and the tracks are well designed. The 3D doesn’t do much here, but that is the case with most 3DS games sadly. It provides a bit of an experience upgrade, but not enough to warrant the purchase like Super Mario 3D Land does.
There is some new stuff in the game, like hang gliders for soaring through the clouds and propellers for those underwater moments, but they’re just not enough to really make the experience fresh. It might be that Nintendo just doesn’t want to upset its fans – after all, people weren’t huge fans of Double Dash, even though that was spades better than this Kart game – but they should be taking a few more risks, even with their key franchises.
There are a ton of tracks in the game, I can give it that, and even more characters and kart customization options. What I can’t wrap my head around though is how short the game actually feels. Sure, they extend the length of the game by giving you three difficulties and really feeling like you need to complete each one. But let’s be honest: the 100cc races barely give you a challenge, and the 50cc ones are a joke. 150cc races are adequately challenging, and really are the only reason to play the game, but even with eight sets of tracks, the game feels very thin. You can race through it (no pun intended) in about an two hours, give or take. Not an ideal way to spend $40 in my opinion.
There is some extension to the gameplay, and that is multiplayer. It’s a much welcomed addition to the gameplay, and Nintendo pulled it off rather smoothly, I must say. It’s probably the best implementation of multiplayer I’ve ever seen on a portable device, and coming from Nintendo, that’s saying quite a bit, considering how long Sony’s PSP has been in the online portable multiplayer game (not to mention the thousands of iOS and Android apps with online mobile multiplayer).
If you haven’t played Mario Kart since the Nintendo 64 days (or even earlier), you’re in for a real treat here. It’s got classic tracks redone with some subtle changes, but all the best stuff you remember is still there. However, if you’ve played a Mario Kart game on the DS or Wii, you’re not going to see a whole lot of new stuff here. For the Mario die-hard, it’s a must have, but in that case, this review won’t sway you either way. For younger children, it’s a great game, and for the older ones, it’s a great time-killer. With that said though, there are a few better ways to spend your time on the 3DS. Can I suggest the red plumber and his brother in another game of choice? Super Mario 3D Land, if you didn’t catch my drift there.