The Average Gamer

Mario Kart 7 – Single-Player Preview (3DS)

MarioKart7_logoOver the years I”ve had a love/hate relationship with Nintendo”s seminal racer. I loved the SNES and N64 games and hated every version since, especially Mario Kart Wii. Thanks Ninty, but you can take your airy-fairy steering wheel and shove it right up your arse!

Without a rubbish steering wheel in sight and sporting some natty 3D visuals, Mario Kart 7 really looks the part. The 3D adds a lot of depth to the tracks which I felt pretty comfortable staring at for the whole time I was playing. The demo build consisted of 3 tracks along with a nice selection of karts and different tyres. However, I was restricted to only one attachment, the hand glider. Not bad. I”ll take that, thanks very much.

Mario Kart 7 Hand gliding

Now that's a mighty strong hand glider!


Nintendo has made good use of the dual screens on the 3DS. The top screen shows all the action with the touch screen positivity brimming with all sorts of useful race information. The Y button switches between an overview map of the entire track showing the relative positions of all the competitors and a zoomed in, more detailed section of my current location. I found myself flicking between the top and bottom screens to avoid those pesky green and red online casino nbso shells. The close-in map was absolutely brilliant in showing me when another competitor had fired a shell my direction.

The karts have new updates available in order to handle the new tracks, most notably the hand glider and underwater attachments. The hand glider attachment only worked after I”d jumped off a ramp.

In fact whilst gliding around a bit of jungle track I felt like I was playing Rare”s brilliant Diddy Kong racing game. Not that this is a bad thing, just unexpected. I also developed a habit of crashing into the start/finish banner. Note to self – must glide better. The brief underwater sections found on the second track were quite fun. After jumping into the water and diving down to the sea bed my kart produced a little propeller to power it. Very effective it was too. The only real difference to driving on land was that my kart felt a bit less responsive and “floaty” light.

This was clearly a development build of the game as many of the usual Mario Kart power-ups like the dreaded lightning bolt and the blue shell (first-place seeker) were notably absent. Collecting coins in return for a temporary speed increase was back, although I was restricted to a maximum of 10 per lap and the coins regenerated on the track. I did like the tracks on offer. There was a nice variety of driving challengesavailable. You just can”t beat karting around on a beach firing shells through the waves as they gently meander onto the shore.

Mario Kart 7 - Hot Air Balloons

This is all rather picturesque


This being Mario Kart, the other competitors were as nasty as ever. I spied them trying to gang up on me, peppering my kart with lots of shells rather than each other. This type of behaviour, along with the rubber banding effect, means that irrespective of how fast you drive you”ve always got some annoying opponent right up your chuff. At least with the map screen I could keep an eye on their blatant cheating and try to take evasive action.

Unusually, I was able to access the full range of pickups available whilst in first place. Previous games would penalise you by restricting pick-ups to the useless ones like banana skins. This is a welcome change as I never really understood why you should be penalised for doing well.

Summary

I was hugely encouraged by this version of Mario Kart. It felt like a return to form for the franchise. I only hope that the some of the gameplay tweaks, like having access to all the weapons when you”re in first place and the coin collecting stay intact when the game is finally released. Welcome back Mario Kart, it has been far too long.

4 Comments

  1. CheekyLee

    14th Aug, 2011 at 12:15 pm

    The reason for item restriction while in first place is to keep races tight. Giving a Lightning Bolt to the leader is basically removing any chance for anyone to catch up. Similarly with Red Shells; who would you fire them at?

    I find it surprising that someone who lacks an understanding of such fundamental aspects of the series was given the job of previewing the latest iteration. If the game played out as you seem to desire, we would only need 1 lap races, with a coin-toss determining starting grid positions.

    • Debbie Timmins (Weefz)

      15th Aug, 2011 at 10:07 am

      Aye, we should have made it clearer that this preview was the single-player only. Nick is talking about playing against the AI’s habit of ganging up on the leader and rubber banding strategy.

  2. adam

    14th Aug, 2011 at 11:52 pm

    Anything with Mario’s name in it has got my attention!