Note: iOS 9 + Facebook users w/ trouble scrolling: #super sorry# we hope to fix it asap. In the meantime Chrome Mobile is a reach around
hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

Mario Kart 7

An extensive hands-on look at Mario Kart 7

12:00 PM on 10.21.2011 // Steven Hansen

I’m of the mind that Mario Kart DS is the best in the series, one of the best games on the DS and a shining example of well executed gameplay. Accordingly, Mario Kart 7 seems like it could be a game ready to stand out from the pack and help justify the purchase of a 3DS for the good amount of people still wanting for things to play on the system.

I was excited to play Mario Kart 7, which I’m still tempted to call Mario Kart 3DS, but won’t, because of weird naming conventions that have branded it otherwise. What I found is that Mario Kart 7 is Mario Kart, plus a bit more, which is a good thing.

Mario Kart 7
Developer: Nintendo/Retro Studios, Inc.
Publisher: Nintendo
Release: December 1, 2011 (JP) / December 2, 2011 (EU) / December 4, 2011 (NA)

If you’ve played a Mario Kart game in the past, particularly Mario Kart DS, you’ll be right at home with Mario Kart 7. At the onset, I instinctively darted over to Yoshi, Dry Bones being absent, and proceeded to the kart select screen. The kart select screen prompts you to mix and match a kart body, wheels, and a gliding apparatus, the latter of which automatically deploys during certain segments of the games (more on that later), and all of which have their own statistics, tailored to your personal driving style. As usual, there were a variety of options, plenty of which were hidden and locked away, waiting to be unlocked. The two new characters I can clue you in on are Metal Mario and Lakitu, though neither was playable during my time.

I was able to race through four cups, one at 50cc and 100cc, two at 150cc, over local play (four people, four computer controlled) and everything I remember from years of playing Mario Kart rushed back to me. I was a bit hesitant, at first, about having to use the 3DS’s circle pad, but it proved a commendable steering wheel proxy, though building up boosts with it while drifting felt a bit unfamiliar. Also, I’m still pretty good at Mario Kart.

There are eight Grand Prix cups, two of which were locked during my hands-on time, boasting a wide variety of Mario Kart levels past and present. Unfortunately, I have yet to see Moo Moo Farm, so I’ve got my fingers crossed that it makes it in there. Those cows are just too cute.

One new, big feature in Mario Kart 7 is the first-person camera mode, akin to the “cockpit modes” of conventional racing games, though the wheel moves as if possessed, as there are no hands on it in this view. You can shift into and out of first-person mode on the fly with a push up or down on the directional pad, respectively. I only played in first-person a bit, but it was an interesting perspective. You can elect to steer with either the 3DS gyroscope or continue using the circle pad, though there is no way to disable gyroscope controls should you end up fancying this mode and want to use it with the circle pad without the fear of mistakenly drifting off the road (unless you’re super good at holding still). The gyroscope controls seemed to handle better than I vaguely remember the Wii version of the game handling before I switched immediately to the GameCube controller, but it was hard enough for me to get my head around this new perspective, so I tended to default back to the circle pad when I played in first-person.

While the cockpit mode in Mario Kart 7 is an entirely optional affair, there have been a few subtle, but noticeable changes to the core gameplay as well. Jumping (right shoulder button) when going off ramps causes your racer to do a boastful little trick, which gives you a slight boost when you touchdown again. A few tracks also submerge you in water, which now leads to a propeller appearing at the back of your kart, so you maintain normal speed. The Tanooki tail also makes its way into the Mario Kart arsenal and it’s as adorable as I mentioned it was in my Super Mario 3D Land preview. It even spins as your propeller when you’re underwater!

As mentioned prior, karts also deploy gliding mechanisms when sent airborne for a prolonged period of time, which I found fun. A few levels even seemed to have shortcuts only reachable by careful gliding. Blue shells also come careening after the first place racer on the ground now, making them liable to wreck the day of more than just their ultimate target. Coins are also back, instantly reminding me of the hours I sunk in Mario Kart Super Circuit collecting every coin in each level, though Mario Kart 7 limits you to a maximum of ten coins, which again serve the gameplay purpose of increasing your top speed. I’m sure the novelty will wear off on some of these changes quickly, but they’re welcomed additions to the core gameplay that worked well with the experience.

Though I was playing Mario Kart in what is arguably the best way to play, locally, I also have the details on some of the online multiplayer components. Sticking to the local front for a moment, single-card play is once again supported, meaning only one person among friends has to own the game for everyone to be able to race against each other, though leeches are restricted to racing with Shy Guy in a default kart. Both modes support two to eight players.

One of the coolest online features is the ability to make and join custom communities, which, as I understand it, act analogous to PC gamers playing on specific servers. Communities, once created, are assigned a numerical code, which others can use to find and join them and, when searching for an online game, you can filter by communities you’re a part of, as well as similarly ranked opponents or friends. As far as I know, there isn’t a limit to the number of communities you can be a part of, though your “racer card” only keeps track of a finite amount. The racer card keeps track of your record and similar, interesting statistical minutiae and can be distributed through the 3DS’s street pass feature. Ghost racing data can be distributed and collected in a similar way.

I played with the 3D cranked all the way up for the majority of the time and, while I suppose it looks nice, I was much more impressed by just seeing the game’s deliciously vibrant color palette on the 3DS’s higher resolution screen. Perhaps I’m still not accustom to playing the 3DS, but I found myself frequently having to readjust my eyes or the screen position when I drifted, unconsciously, out of position and had to deal with briefly distorted screen ghosting -- and this was with my arms stabilized on a table. Still, visually, the game is a treat to look at.

Mario Kart 7 is Mario Kart, which is fantastic. There is still little more infuriating than getting rocked by a blue shell on the final lap, and little more rewarding than coming back and finishing that lap in first. Time will tell if it can equal the pure elegance of Mario Kart DS, but it’s looking like it can reignite Mario Kart fever and prove to be a well-crafted, addicting experience worthy of the Mario Kart name.

Photo Gallery: (25 images)
Click to zoom - browse by swipe, or use arrow keys

Steven Hansen, Features Editor
 Follow Blog + disclosure dtoidsteven Tips
Steven watches anime & sports, buys meat out of trucks, dates a Muppet, and is only good at cooking. He stands before you bereft of solace and well on the road to perdition. ('^ω^) more   |   staff directory

 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our community fisters, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding * to your whitelists.

destructoid's previous coverage:
Mario Kart 7

View all:powered by:  MM.Elephant

Ads on destructoid may be purchased from:

Please contact Crave Online, thanks!

Cblogs of 11/27/15 - Life is Strange, and Sad

Top 5 Reasons Star Wars Battlefront KICKS ASS!

Attack of the Friday Monsters: A Little Slice of Childhood

Top 5 Reasons Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 IS AWESOME!

Cblogs of 11/26/15 + Combat Heropon-isms

Video games go mainstream

I’m Not a SJW, I’m an Anthropologist: Making the Case for Diversity in Games

Insidia REVIEW - A whole dark, gloomy, and kinda creepy world to explore

DS REVIEWS: Trace Memory

 Add your impressions

Status updates from C-bloggers

Archelon avatarArchelon
Community Question: With all the controversy surrounding review scores, what do you personally consider a "bad" score versus a "good" score? Is there a game in particular that was panned by critics that you nevertheless enjoyed? Or vice versa?
TheVeganGamer avatarTheVeganGamer
Finally got around to playing Diablo 3 with some friends, holy smokes! That game is rad!
SpielerDad avatarSpielerDad
Public service announcement: Marry an orphan. It makes the holidays so much easier when you don't have to deal with pain in the ass in-laws.
Nekrosys avatarNekrosys
So... how long is it until we get the inevitable Colonial Marines or Ride to Hell: Retribution PS4/Xbox One re-releases?
SeymourDuncan17 avatarSeymourDuncan17
Screw Bloodborne. I finally managed to overcome not tearing up while listening to the entirety of Never More. Git gud! [youtube][/youtube]
NYCpunk avatarNYCpunk
you know what's not okay? scalpers with 10 copies of fire emblem fates SE on ebay for $200+. and no one is saying anything.
ChrisHannard avatarChrisHannard
Fallout 4 wouldn't be Fallout with ridiculous glitches and shenanigans. Here are a few I've run into - [youtube][/youtube]
StriderHoang avatarStriderHoang
I've never earnestly went drinking before so it's cool to know I'm the slow, sleepy, impaired type.
The Dyslexic Laywer avatarThe Dyslexic Laywer
Got to admit I didn't expect to find a mewtwo amiibo at my bookstore of all places...
Mike Martin avatarMike Martin
My cousin found out I slept with his girlfriend and is pissed. Understandable. I am totally sick of the angry phone calls though. It reminds me so much of playing Call of Duty online. The screaming 11 year olds suck on there too.
OverlordZetta avatarOverlordZetta
Huh. Apparently even Japan has a Black Friday sale going on on PSN right now.
Lawman avatarLawman
Yes, Resident Evil: Revelations 2, I know that somebody has 2,625 more medallions than me. No, Resident Evil: Revelations 2, I don't really care.
Dr Mel avatarDr Mel
This fucking Bloodborne DLC, jesus. I'm on new game+, about level 90, and shit just tears my dick off. I don't know if I want to start another guy just to avoid NG+ and level him up, etc. sigh....
Shinta avatarShinta
Wii U, top selling black friday item on Take that you anti-Wii U people.
CoilWhine avatarCoilWhine
I am pretty hyped for when I get a laptop because I'll be able to have a good enough connection to stream XbOne/soon PS4 games to it along with natively rendered Steam games. Hype!
Avoclefo avatarAvoclefo
Got a PS4 that came with SW Battlefront this week, and planning on picking up the FFX/X-2 remake. Hype is through the roof, especially for FFX. If I were to get one other game, what should it be?
Niero Desu avatarNiero Desu
Did a google maps search around my parents house for bars and there isn't one in like 25 miles, so I picked up an Intel compute stick and South Park: Stick of Truth on Steam. That's more or less the drunken screaming I'm in the mood for at about the cost.
OrochiLeona avatarOrochiLeona
Do you ever have that moment of clarity when talking to someone and suddenly realising: You're just a skull, and they're just a skull, with fucking eyeballs and a sac of skin being the only comparative difference between you visually? ..just me then?
Nathan D avatarNathan D
After quitting for two days out of frustration, I beat Ludwig on my first try of the night. I'm on cloud fucking nine right now.
Pixie The Fairy avatarPixie The Fairy
When I did my retail shift today, we were moving more Smash/Splat Wii U bundles and the Gears/Rare Replay/Ori XB1 bundles than Uncharted and Battlefront PS4s. I think Nintendo and MS have better value on their side this holiday. Sony got lazy.
more quickposts



Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme

Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo

Back to Top

We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -