First-party Nintendo games have a certain reputation. Not only are they known for their quality, but they are a symbol of reassurance. Obviously, Nintendo hasn’t had a good history with third-party developers, and most Nintendo fans have come to rely on Nintendo’s biggest outings. In recent memory, Nintendo hasn’t disappointed. Super Mario 3D Land was a runaway success and The Legend Of Zelda: Skyward Sword is arguably the greatest Zelda title. The third Nintendo game of the holidays was Mario Kart 7, and was meant to help the 3DS through the year’s craziest shopping season.
Most gamers know the financial success of the Nintendo 3DS, but one must not assume that popularity and sales equate to the quality of a product. Nintendo’s previous efforts with the franchise were somewhat disappointing. While the original DS’ Mario Kart was among the best in the series, the Wii’s instalment was far too childish and casual for most returning fans. Mario Kart is known as a casual and accessible racing title, but has developed a core following due to its tight mechanics and impressive amount of content. Nintendo has once again been given the impossible task of balancing both the casual and hardcore market. Does Mario Kart 7 fly among the series’ best, or does it sink with its most recent predecessor?
Mario Kart 7 is easily the series’ best example of online play. While joining a race is incredibly simplistic, most gamers will spend their time in Communities. Communities are groups of gamers that represent something. Whether it’s a website or a playstyle, Communities bring forth a friendly yet competitive environment to race in. In addition, Mario Kart 7 takes advantage of StreetPass by sending ghosts and lap times to other players. Fans will easily get the most out of their $40 purchase.
Of course, there are still eight cups to race across in the single player component. Four of these tournaments feature new maps, while the other four contain the franchise’s classics. Mario Kart 7 is especially notable for boasting the most interesting and varied tracks the series has ever seen. This is partially because of the game’s two new mechanics; underwater racing and above-ground racing.
Every map features an opportunity to fly or swim. While the underwater segments are slower and can be frustrating, flying is truly a game-changer. In the air, it is easiest to gain speed or altitude, which can essentially play as an advantage. Adding to the excitement is one’s vulnerability. Several items can easily cause players to fall to their certain doom. A large gap in the road can easily turn the game upside-down.
While the game’s music isn’t particularly noteworthy, Mario Kart 7 may still be the best in the series. Mario Kart, as a franchise, has never seen such innovation. While the single-player experience is similar to its predecessors, Mario Kart 7 is completely capable of redesigning the franchise. The inevitable Wii U instalment will undoubtedly carry over Mario Kart 7’s finest features, truly changing the franchise forever.