Mario Kart 7 Review
The best Mario Kart ever.
It's hard to believe, but the Mario Kart series—as of this year--is 20 years old. Super Mario Kart, released for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System back in 1992, was a critical and commercial success, and paved the way for the many iterations to follow: Mario Kart 64 (1996), Mario Kart: Super Circuit (2001), Mario Kart: Double Dash!! (2003), Mario Kart DS (2005), Mario Kart Wii (2008), and finally, 2011's Mario Kart 7.
Clearly, Nintendo and their developers—Namco, and later, Retro Studios—tapped into something irrefutably fun and accessible with Super Mario Kart's initial formula. While fans and critics have routinely lambasted the series for its considerable use of content from previous games and its refusal to alter the "original formula," there appears to be good reason why Mario Kart has remained a flagship Nintendo series for 20 years now.
Mario Kart 7, like the previous games in the series, brings elements both old and new to the racing circuit. If you've simply grown tired of Mario's new-blue overalls and incessantly cheery cries of victory over the years, there's not much that can be done--nobody's going to take the "Mario" out of Mario Kart. But as both an addition to the series and as a standalone title, Mario Kart 7 succeeds in places where the previous games have faltered (yes, even the infallible Super Mario Kart). In our opinion, Nintendo and Retro Studios appear to have spent a good deal of time analyzing both what was right and what was wrong--in terms of gameplay and replayability--about the previous titles, and have made alterations accordingly.
It's natural to hope for a steady, zen-like perfection when dealing with repeated games in a series: continuously improving a formula, removing impurities, until the utmost efficiency is achieved. We're not saying the series has nowhere to go in terms of improvement, but Mario Kart 7 is so well crafted that we think it's a shame the game is only available on the Nintendo 3DS, and is like to be a staple of Nintendo's newest handheld for a number of years. But more importantly, it puts the series' best foot forward while stepping into the 20-year mark, making it perfectly clear that the Mario Kart series' gold-coin standard has not, yet, decreased in value, innovation, or fun.
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