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Mario Kart 7

Mario Kart 7
4
Game Name: Mario Kart 7
Platforms: Nintendo 3DS
Publisher(s): Nintendo
Developer(s): Nintendo EAD & Retro Studios
Genre(s): Racing
Release Date: December 4, 2011
ESRB Rating: E
Big Ups: Diverse racetracks and great online play
Big Downs: Obnoxious sound effects

Mario Kart 7 is a game you wave to as you pass each other in the street in acknowledgement of a fond but distant past. You walk on with a content smile only looking back once in some sort of longing for past pleasantries but proceed to remember how those times have past. You pray that whoever decides to commit to it only receives its best and overlooks its worst.

Obviously, as Mario Kart 7′s numeral implies, the series has seen many different iterations. Being on nearly every Nintendo console, it has been almost impossible for all but the youngest generation to have not played a Mario Kart game. That being said, it will come to no surprise that Mario Kart 7 offers very little to the series and to some level offers less. After seeing tons of different characters come and go from the series’ roster, reverting back to the original eight characters feels severely limited. However, as the player manages to complete offline circuit races, they will open up a new set of characters to play as. This does add to the replay value but feels a little short handed when compared to the diverse 24 character roster of Mario Kart Wii. Yes, yes it is a 3DS game but I must demand the highest content and quality from my games. Luckily, the game manages to offer up another sixteen new tracks to the series.  I sadly no longer feel the game possesses the same oomph that its predecessors possessed.

The gameplay is a solid arcade racer that possesses a lot of the same staple weapons from previous series while adding three new ones: the Super Leaf, the Fire Flower, and Lucky 7. The Fire Flower is an awesome addition to the game, allowing the player to fire fireballs repeatedly until its timer runs out while the Lucky 7 offers seven random items to circle the racer to be used during the race. Both are very interesting but the third item, the Super Leaf, is unnecessary. All it really acts as is a shield against the more simpler projectiles but offers to protection against the more deadly Bob-Ombs, Blue Shells, and the invincible Super Star or rocketing Bullet Bill racers. It has a better function in battle mode, but overall, it takes up an item slot that could easily be filled with a more useful item.  Outside of that, you will receive the same classic Mario Kart gameplay that you are expecting or, for people new to the series, be in for a greatly refreshing and fine-tuned experience.

As players complete the various cups, they will receive different chassis, wheels, and gliders  to customize their machines. These parts change various stats on each kart allowing players to alter how each character handles. You can make Toad a heavier racer or make Bowser an agile speed demon. Plus with several other unlockable characters, the amount of rewards encourages tons of replay value. For those who get tired of the rubberbanding AI and want a real challenge, players can take Mario Kart 7 online to experience racing and battle modes with other opponents around the globe. And as what Nintendo always strives for, the connection quality of the online modes is fantastic.

Sadly, I must admit Nintendo has started to hit a creative wall. The level design seems to no longer embody the Nintendo spirit. Instead, most of the levels feel gimmicky and generic. Maybe it is me despising the direction Nintendo has gone since the DS/Wii era, but I can personally say their soul has been thrown out for commercial gain, and it breaks my heart as a born-and-raised fan to witness the deterioration of a company that defined my childhood. No longer do a majority of the levels possess themes from other intriguing Nintendo  games, but instead their simple design contains very elementary concepts that entertain the most casual of followers of the DS/Wii consoles.  Despite their weakly drawn influences, the levels are perfectly fit for challenging new racers.

As for the sound design, I stand ultimately conflicted. Although the voice actors are higher-than-standard quality, they quickly get old in their almost wordless dialogue. Not only that, the excessive vocalizations from characters boosting and successfully damaging opponents can begin to wear on one’s nerves. Each character has a couple sound bites for every action that repeats regularly. So what becomes a mildly diverse set of tracks quickly becomes an obnoxious set of noises. I played as Princess Peach and immediately regretted hearing her scream, “AH YAY,” every two seconds.

Luckily, the colorful and smooth visuals make up for all this. Though nothing seems too stand out in this series, the game is still generically gorgeous and the 3D is very easy on the eyes. Even without the 3D, this game manages to hold out on its own. I do have to applaud the variety in locales as well. Though most of the levels are not too memorable, they aren’t excessively bland either.

Though Mario Kart 7 does not introduce anything significantly new to the series, the game still stands strong. I went into writing this review thinking I might just trash it to hell out of some bitter resentment for the new Nintendo, but in all honesty, it’s a pretty damn good game. I probably will never play another Mario Kart again until I have children and want to introduce them to this wonderful franchise, but I will always look back when the title passes me by on the street and remember what great times we shared. Mario Kart 7 is definitely a Major Distraction.

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