A revamped powersliding system does away with the exploitable snaking element from some of the previous entries. You earn a speed burst by drifting around turns. This is based on timing rather than moving the circle pad quickly back and forth, so you don't have to sprain your thumb to stay competitive. This style of drifting was introduced in Mario Kart Wii, and it eliminates the huge disparity that was present in Mario Kart DS between snakers and non-snakers. Now you can focus on getting the right line, which is a more fair solution. Unfortunately, there isn't an option to use the D-pad. Although the circle pad works well, steering isn't quite as responsive without a digital alternative. If you fancy yourself a real kart driver, a cockpit view puts you right in the action. In this perspective, you can move your kart by tilting the system, and this is a fun addition to the formula. Because you can't see your surroundings, it isn't as useful as the normal third-person view, but it's neat to experiment with.
6346805In real life, a gorilla wouldn't be able to drive because they can't comprehend traffic signals.None
Driving is key in Mario Kart 7, but that doesn't mean the battle elements have fallen by the wayside. Items have been rebalanced this time around to ensure the best driver can stay in first place once he or she reaches that position. A tanooki tail is the most important of the new items. This lets you bat away shells and other objects if they come too close to you, and you can even send other drivers into the pit if they're getting too feisty. The fireflower also works more as a deterrent than a formidable attack. This lets you quickly launch fireballs that don't do much damage but allow you to gain a bit of breathing room when someone comes too close. These are great additions to the franchise because they help shift the balance away from items and back to racing. However, the blue shell is still overpowered. There's almost no way to avoid this first-place-seeking missile, so it can feel cheap when you're blasted off the road with no chance to escape from it. Still, these moments are rare enough that things don't feel unfair.
Mario Kart 7 contains a cast of 17 characters, eight of which are available at the start. They each have their own attributes, so you have to carefully decide if you want the quickness of Shy Guy or the heft of Rosalina. Having a wide assortment of characters to select from is certainly welcome, though the unlockable cast is fairly weak. Longtime fishing fan Lakitu makes his first appearance as a driver, and getting him off his cloud and into a kart is certainly novel, but most of the other characters you earn don't have the same appeal. Wiggler and Honey Queen look downright strange trying to fit into a kart (like Petey Piranha before them), and Metal Mario isn't even a real character. At least there aren't any baby variants this time around, nor do you have to put up with creepy female versions of male staples (Toadette, anyone?), but it's still a lackluster assortment of individuals.
Also disappointing is the brevity of the single-player activities. In Mario Kart DS, there was a mission mode that gave you more to do outside of the standard Grand Prix. These mini challenges had you driving through gates, collecting coins, defeating bosses, and engaging in other kart-based shenanigans and gave legs to the games when you couldn't round up friends to play. That feature has been unceremoniously axed in Mario Kart 7, which makes for a weaker overall package. Thankfully, there are so many unlockables to earn that you can play by your lonesome for hours before you see everything, but that doesn't make up for the removal of an entire mode. Battle mode is available in single and multiplayer, but it feels too similar to the battle mode in previous games to make it an exciting alternative to the Grand Prix. The racing is still extraordinarily fun in Mario Kart 7, but a little extra content would have gone a long way toward making this feel special.
The 3D effects are usually subtle, but this bullet bill looks like it's going to hit you right in the mouth.
As in previous games in the series, Mario Kart 7 is at its best when you play against human opponents rather than the inhuman AI. Up to eight players can take part, either locally or online, and you can share your game with others if they don't have a copy of their own. Going head-to-head with a group of hard-driving competitors is loads of fun, and things are so volatile that you can play for hours and still see new permutations. Competition is at its best in local play, when people can yell at each other or high-five after a great run, but online serves admirably if you don't have friends handy, though it's not without faults. Against random individuals, you're limited to one-off races. Because you stay in the same room, you can choose to play again, but being kicked out of a race has a disjointed feeling because there's no cumulative record of results. This feeling can be alleviated in the communities feature. Here, you create your own group, determine the speed, and decide which items you want to use. It's a neat addition, but if you want others to join you, they have to enter a code. It's a shame you can't just search for like-minded individuals and join their community. Once you start racing, things are great, but the infrastructure could use some work.
Mario Kart 7 contains the same framework that has existed in the franchise for years but has enough tweaks to the formula to stave off that stale feeling. The new additions, such as hang gliding and kart customization, should become permanent staples, and rebalanced items remove the feeling that you were unfairly robbed of victory. From a racing perspective, this is the best entry yet in the long-running series, and excellent track design pushes you to be inventive and smart in how you drive. However, the online structure has a few notable issues, and the removal of the mission mode is a big disappointment. Despite some problems, Mario Kart 7 is another explosive entry in the franchise.