Bad points? What's supposed to go in this bit?
There doesn't seem to actually be an
options screen, which means (unless there's some weird button
combination in the manual that we didn't receive), you can't delete your
save game once you've started. Apart from that… it would have been nice
to have even more tracks, but if you don't enjoy the ones there are
enough to happily play them again, there's A) something wrong with you
and B) a good chance you just don't like Nintendo games.
Above: Luigi's Mansion returns from the DS game, only with ramps for hang-gliding
gamer who grew up hating Nintendo, it's quite a personal revelation to
love one of its games as much as this. But I'm on board with everything
the game is trying to do. Sure, all the tricks here have been done
before and the core of the game is the same as it's always been. But yet
again, it's been packaged and delivered in a way that makes it feel
It's a cast of likeable, cartoony characters getting
powered up by magic boxes and enchanted flowers, then doing things that
simply can't be done in real life, like drive under the feet of a
stamping dinosaur or race down the keys of a keyboard while a graphic
equaliser pumps out bright colours all over the walls. When other
companies try the kart racer formula, it often feels tired and cheap. This
feels fresh and deluxe.
Above: Know what I wish I was doing instead of captioning this picture? Playing Mario Kart 7
Better still, it doesn't resort to
ridiculous motion control steering or touch screen selection of weapons.
You play it with the buttons and analogue stick (though, surprisingly,
not the d-pad, which instead just switches between 3rd person and 1st-person camera modes), like you have done for forever. With go, stop, fire and
jump buttons, it's easy enough that anyone can play it. Instantly
enjoyable, infinitely accessible but as deep as you want to make it.
Above: Want to go ultra-hardcore? Strive for faster laps - you'll be amazed how much faster you can go
really should have been a launch game, no question. But it's here now,
and must surely mark a turning point for the system. Mario Kart 7 sets the
graphical bar so high, it doesn't even look like a 3DS game, which means
everyone else has a new standard to follow. Suddenly the platform
feels new again.
Is it better than…
Mario Kart Wii? Yes. There are no
balancing issues and somehow the team has managed to take 80% of the
frustration out of the game. Graphically, the two are pretty much
identical in terms of quality, but Wii can't do that incredible 3D
effect, making this the best-looking Mario Kart ever.
Ridge Racer 3D? Yes. No technical troubles, no dubious cornering mechanics, and
vastly superior presentation (and gameplay) makes Mario Kart 7 the clear
choice for your racing fix on 3DS. Oh, and even if you like sims,
you'll still enjoy this more than F1 2011 on 3DS. But that's another story…
Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing? Yes. I do maintain that
SASASR is a fine example of the genre, let down only by some frame rate
issues and unoriginal weapons and power-ups. But the cast is strong in
each, the levels are suitable larger-than-life, and the drift mechanic
is great in Sumo's effort. However, Mario Kart just exudes effortless
quality, AND it's handheld. Nuff said, really.
For those who skipped straight to the end
Mario Kart 7 is THE game the 3DS has been in dire need of. Sadly, it raises the bar so high for almost everything else, most 3DS games don't even look like they belong on the same system. Get it now.