Mario Kart 7 Review
The best Mario Kart ever.
Mario Kart 7 is outstanding.
Per graphics, sound quality, and track layout standards, it's fairly in-line with the other games in the series. We love the new tracks and new characters, and think the items are well-balanced and useful without breaking the pure racing element of gameplay. Has the core Mario Kart element been improved upon? You bet it has. Drifting, drafting, item use, shortcuts--all of these aspects of the game have been tailored into a scenario that balances risk and reward on a razor-thin edge, adding a subtle layer of strategy and technique to the mayhem of scaled items and stunt-based track design. But that's not what makes it the best game in the series.
The addition of kart customization could have been disastrous. Retro Studios and Nintendo could have rendered the parts so that one style of kart was always the very best, and then you'd see clones stealing the set-up from forums and glitching their way through a mindless assembly line of "winning." But the fact is, kart customization heralds a level of individual approach that is very rarely allowed in any competitive game on any system. We're not just assuming this, we've seen it in action. Using just the standard kart, slim wheels (for boosted handling), and the standard glider, we were able to place 1st a number of times in the glitch-heavy Maka Wuhu course by sticking to our guns and racing as hard as we could for the finish; despite literally witnessing the exploit taking place, we pulled ahead and won one for the good guys.
The ability for balanced gameplay is what always makes or breaks any game that features online, competitive multiplayer, and we're quite convinced of Mario Kart 7's near-perfect balance. For once, players can pick up the game, take a few test drives, unlock some parts, and put their brains to use assembling a kart that caters to the way they like to race. Allowing for individual talents to manifest in-game is the only way to foster true competition, and Mario Kart 7 does that better than any other Mario Kart that came before it.
But all of these technical details aside, it's a lot of fun. The tracks are great, the music is crisp, and the gameplay is still the frantic, fun mayhem that made Super Mario Kart sell so well back in 1992. No matter your motivations or playstyle, if you want to get the most out of your 3DS, you owe it to yourself to pick up Mario Kart 7. You get out of it what you put into it, and at the end of the day, that's what makes any game truly great.
See you at the finish line.
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