Quantcast
Review: Mario Kart 7 - Destructoid

DestructoidJapanatorTomopopFlixist



Mario Kart 7  



Review: Mario Kart 7


2:01 AM on 11.29.2011
Review: Mario Kart 7  photo



The more a game has the word "new" printed on the back of its game case, the better the chances are that the game inside will feel older than time itself. Mario Kart 7 has the word "new" printed on the back of its game case no less than four times, and true to the theory, its contents are less fresh than the contents of Joan Crawford's underwear.

At this point, it's customary with a Nintendo game to mention how that's not a bad thing, to highlight how nothing was broken and didn't need fixing. In Mario Kart 7, however, I don't think that's appropriate. For once, sticking to tradition has not worked in Nintendo's favor.

Mario Kart 7 (3DS)
Developer: Nintendo EAD, Retro Studios
Publisher: Nintendo
Released: December 4, 2011
MSRP: $39.99

Describing Mario Kart 7 is going to be almost pointless for anybody who has played most of the series, especially since this one ignores the more gimmicky aspects of Double Dash!! and Mario Kart Wii. The seventh iteration of the venerable kart racing series truly returns to the series' roots, keeping things free of complications and delivering the kind of "pure" karting experience fans have played for years. Usually, such a simplistic return to form can be a good thing, but with Mario Kart 7, the roots have aged to the point where they may well have become rotten.

Indeed, Mario Kart 7 is the same Mario Kart you've fundamentally played six times before. There are 32 courses (16 new, 16 remixed versions of old courses) littered with obstacles and power-up boxes that boast familiar, luck-based items. Homing red shells, slippery banana skins, and vision-obscuring squids are all back, joined by three fresh items -- a Tanooki Tail that can swipe players and obstacles, a Fire Flower that rapidly tosses projectiles along a straight path, and a big red Seven that gives players seven previously established items to choose from. The fire power is great at annoying other players and the Seven is definitely cool, but I must say that the Tanooki Tail is fairly useless -- obstacles are easily avoided and the power-up rarely appears when you're close enough to other racers to strike them.

Other fresh additions include gliding equipment and underwater sections. Although these new elements provide something aesthetically different, they don't actually change the game. Underwater racing is a little slower and air gliding is a little floatier, but their impact on the gameplay is minimal at best, appearing merely as vapid contrivances that exist to provide the illusion of variety rather than actually altering the core experience.

It takes seconds for all the familiar problems with Mario Kart to surface. Rubber banding and fixed races are still an integral part of every course, and victory in a race yet again hinges hugely on the element of basic luck, with items such as the Blue Shell returning to punish players who commit the sin of maintaining success. These are long-standing issues with the series that many will likely have gotten used to but really ought to have been dealt with by the seventh installment. Simply put, these problems have grown incredibly tiring, and items like the Blue Shell stopped being funny several sequels ago.

Familiar problems would be bearable if not for the other big issue with Mario Kart 7 -- it's just too damn slow. Even budget kart racers like Jimmie Johnson's Anything With An Engine are faster and more exciting than this. The game's casual pace goes hand in hand with the fact that it hasn't changed one bit, and each separate issue enhances the other, exposing Mario Kart 7 for the weary and humdrum affair that it is. When even budget racers realize that the genre needs shaking up with fresh ideas and/or at least a measure of energy, it's almost depressing to see the world's leading kart racer trudge out of the starting gate with such a dismal, sluggish, outdated little offering.

Fact of the matter is that kart racers are old news, and this is one of the most routine kart racers on the market. Even series like Dynasty Warriors and Madden boast fresher features with each iteration than those found in Mario Kart 7, and as someone who usually has no problem with sticking to a winning formula, not even I can justify how formulaic Mario Kart has become. Nintendo has truly played it safe with Mario Kart 7, but it's done so to such a degree that the game could be accused of cowardice. Something bolder needed to arrive, something that shook up a very tired style of game. Nintendo shockingly chose not to take that brave step this time around.

Outside of races, the time trials have returned, as have coin dash and battle modes -- the former a series of arenas in which players must collect and keep the most coins and the latter a series of arenas in which players must use items to pop balloons on opposing karts. Unlike in Mario Kart DS, the rather neat ability to blow into the microphone to inflate balloons is no longer included. This is a straight old-school mode like everything else.

The only vaguely compelling element is the new kart customization feature, but it is about as streamlined and restricted as you could ever hope to get. You basically get to unlock and swap new kart bodies, wheels, and gliders by collecting coins in the various races. Each new add-on has its own set of statistics to help with speed, turning, and acceleration, but ultimately, you won't be spending much time on creating a personal vehicle since there's very little to play with. Same can be said for the new roster of racers, which doesn't really bump the character count up due to quite a few having been taken out. I'd rather have Dry Bones back than the uninteresting bee queen from Mario Galaxy.

Both online and local multiplayer are included, with players able to partake in both races and battles. Once again, there's nothing new here. If you aren't sick of Mario Kart then you'll probably find some longevity in the multiplayer, which is at least streamlined and allows for random play without the need for Friend Codes.

Nevertheless, multiplayer doesn't really make the game more exciting, especially online where you can't even have the fun of taunting each other and are instead stuck in a rather dry, joyless atmosphere. You also can't quit out of the game during a certain point in matchmaking, instead having to turn the entire 3DS off if you want to stop. Which is convenient.

To be as fair as possible, one can say that Mario Kart 7 looks quite good. Although the 3D doesn't really factor into the gameplay, it has the best 3D visuals on the system with very little sign of ghosting or eye-straining effects. In this regard, the simplicity has worked in the game's favor. The bright, colorful tracks and entertaining racer animations are fairly appealing as well, while the music and sound effects are all standard with nothing that truly stands out.

Mario Kart 7 is as derivative as a game can get, and while we pour scorn on so many other games for rehashing themselves, something tells me this will get a free pass from many critics and gamers. That strikes me as ironic since Mario Kart 7 is the one game I'd hold up as the least deserving of any kind of leniency. It being an unadventurous and predictable retread, however, is only half of Mario Kart 7's problem. The other half is the fact that it's a lethargic and mundane game, easily outpaced by games that could be considered knock-offs of the formula Nintendo itself perfected.

Mario Kart is in need of a severe shake up. This stagnant, crawling, and indolent effort is not it.



THE VERDICT - Mario Kart 7

Reviewed by Jim Sterling

5 /10
Mediocre: An exercise in apathy, neither Solid nor Liquid. Not exactly bad, but not very good either. Just a bit 'meh,' really. Check out more reviews or the Destructoid score guide.








Comments not appearing? Anti-virus apps like Avast or some browser extensions can cause this.
Easy fix: Add   [*].disqus.com   to your software's white list. Tada! Happy comments time again.

Did you know? You can now get daily or weekly email notifications when humans reply to your comments.





timeline following:
Mario Kart 7



1:30 PM on 05.15.2012
Mario Kart 7 patches up some glitches today

An update is now live for Mario Kart 7, and you can grab it through your eShop update menu, or by scanning this QR code that Nintendo Life has generously produced for the internet at large. All the update does is essentially ...more



8:00 PM on 04.22.2012
Mario Kart 7 patch due in May

In a Nintendo briefing this week, it was announced that Mario Kart 7 will soon be patched. Nintendo of Europe bossman Satoru Shibata stated the game will receive a few gameplay tweaks and fix an online exploit in the Wuh...more



10:00 PM on 12.10.2011
Miyamoto in a life-sized Mario Kart makes my day

Shigeru Miyamoto was already in California to attend tonight's Spike Video Game Awards, so he took some time out from his trip to...go to the mall? The legendary game maker is shown in the photo above behind the wheel of a IR...more



8:40 AM on 11.01.2011
Wiggler and Honey Queen playable in Mario Kart 7

Nintendo has revealed two new playable racers in Mario Kart 7 -- Wiggler and Honey Queen. If you were able to guess any of those ahead of time, you must be some sort of X-Man.  Wiggler is that really annoying caterp...more



12:00 PM on 10.27.2011
Mario Kart 7 trailer has Mario driving a kart in it

Here's a new trailer for Mario Kart 7, which is going to make love to your 3DS on December 4 (December 2 in Europe). Watch it to see Mario riding around in Kart and throwing turtles at people. Also, raccoon tails! We've got some good stuff coming for the 3DS, and not before time! It even has online, which I'm pretty glad about.  Yes, this is a 3DS post in which I have nothing to whine about.more



12:00 PM on 10.21.2011
An extensive hands-on look at Mario Kart 7

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 f...more



5:45 PM on 10.17.2011
EB Expo 2011: Mario Kart 7 hands-on

In the long history of the Mario Kart franchise, fans have been divided on which entry is the best. Many maintain that nothing will ever exceed the sheer fun of the original Super Mario Kart for the Super Nintendo, while othe...more



3:30 AM on 09.13.2011
3DS gyro sensor will control first person in Mario Kart 7

If you caught the live stream of the 3DS Press Conference and ignored the trailer for Mario Kart 7 because you thought it was the same old Mario Kart you've come to love, well, there's been a change. You will now be able to ...more



1:45 PM on 08.10.2011
Super Mario 3D Land, Mario Kart 7 get release dates

Nintendo of America has confirmed release dates for two of the year's most anticipated 3DS titles, Super Mario 3D Land and Mario Kart 7. The raccoon-flavored platformer will be out November 13, while the classic Kart racer is...more




Racing games

5:00 PM on 04.17.2014
Review: Trials Fusion

There's nothing quite like Trials and, after several games in the popular racing/platforming series, fans know what to expect from developer RedLynx: more of the same. Yes, there will be a stupid, amazing theme song you'll ha...more



12:30 PM on 04.16.2014
3D Outrun has a clear release date in Japan

Sega is doing what Ninten-dont with the 3D Classics line, giving old games new life on the 3DS. Not only did Nintendo basically stop making these a while ago, but Sega has topped their efforts with a number of options and ext...more



6:30 PM on 04.15.2014
Krautscape redefines tactical racing, jumps off cliff

Everyone's favorite cuddle bunny, Jonathan Holmes, got a chance to check out Krautscape at the Midnight City booth at PAX East this past weekend. King Friday gives the low-down as to how this game is "tactical racing re...more



View all Racing games






Back to Top




All content is yours to recycle through our Creative Commons License permitting non-commercial sharing requiring attribution. Our communities are obsessed with videoGames, movies, anime, and toys.

Living the dream since March 16, 2006

Advertising on destructoid is available: Please contact them to learn more