3DS Review – Mario Kart 7

Once again, it’s time to get in the driver’s seat and get racing in the latest entry in the Mario Kart franchise, Mario Kart 7!

The Mario Kart series finally makes its way to the Nintendo 3DS, and just in time too – following after Super Mario 3D Land and a plethora of other 3DS titles. This edition features 32 tracks (16 new, 16 retro), a roster of 17 different characters from the Mario series (including your Mii avatar), the return of coins from Super Mario Kart (SNES) and Mario Kart: Super Circuit (GBA), a new system of kart customization (body, wheels and glider), new and returning items, a new Mario Kart Channel (for StreetPass and SpotPass), an enhanced focus on multiplayer as well as the ability to take the race to the skies with a glider or to the depths of the sea.

Gameplay & Control

The gameplay is what you would expect from a Nintendo game: extremely polished, very fun-filled and never feeling stale or boring. The difficulty classes are just like past Mario Kart games: 50cc (easy), 100cc (Medium), 150cc (Hard) and Mirror Mode for racers looking for a challenge. The AI has taken a considerable step up from previous entries as they tend to be much smarter with the handling of items now and take advantage of their kart’s pros and cons. The controls have also undergone slight changes to incorporate some returning features. The Circle Pad is very fluid and makes the driving fun and easy to handle by veterans and newcomers. The drifting in this game is very much akin to Mario Kart Wii‘s, implemented to nullify the snaking technique from Mario Kart DS. It has taken some time to get used to but after a few days, it was very natural. The same could also be said for the tricks system (another Mario Kart Wii feature) as you hop off ramps and other surfaces to pull off a trick and earn mini-boosts. A first-time feature is the ability to use the 3DS gyroscope to drive your kart, in a first-person perspective. The control scheme is fun and engaging, but I did find myself skipping over this feature a lot, as it is a nice novelty which most veterans will not really pay much attention to.


The tracks from Mario Kart 7 are very innovative and take advantage of the new features in many ways. Some new tracks, such as Rock Rock Mountain (Alpine Pass for you Europeans), are heavy on glider usage, others like Wario Shipyard (Wario Galleon in Europe) are mostly underwater-based and the rest seem to combine them. I absolutely love how these sections don’t take away much from the game as the new karting experience feels completely natural. The glider sections to me felt very short-lived at times and I wish that they were longer. What really surprised me was the classic tracks taking advantage of MK7’s new features, like N64’s Koopa Troopa Beach and Wii’s Maple Treeway. Fans of Mario Kart: Double Dash or Super Circuit will probably be dismayed at the amount of classic tracks from either as it is mostly Mario Kart DS and Wii tracks making a comeback. The music from these tracks are great tunes which will have you humming along in no time. An added bonus is the addition of a percussion track whenever you’re in first place. Perhaps an incentive to be ahead of the rest? In all, these tracks are very well done and serve for many memories to come in the next few years until the next installment.


Other modes are included in the single-player game: time trials, Balloon Battle and Coin Runners. With time trials, you race on any track to put up the fastest time for friends to beat. This time, it won’t just be your friends but the entire world. You are given the option to race against 7 different ghosts at a time and with SpotPass, ghost data is shared between all 3DS systems with a copy of Mario Kart 7 and times are put up for others to tackle. You can also share ghosts with other nearby 3DS owners with the StreetPass feature. Balloon Battle and Coin Runners make up the Battle Mode for MK7 as you square off to pop each other’s balloons or collect all the coins scattered along the battle courses. There are 6 new battle courses – 3 new ones, and 3 classic ones. You can also take part in battles online within communities and unlike Mario Kart Wii’s team-based approach, you can duke it out on your own.


A considerable change from the past editions (especially DS and Wii) is the expanded focus on multiplayer. Mario Kart 7 could be considered the flagship title for the 3DS system’s approach to online. Multiplayer is much more refined as players are able to race against their friends either locally or online. Locally, you can race with friends even if they don’t have the game. A nice change from Mario Kart DS is the availability of all features for download play user, except character choices as Shy Guy reprises his role as a stand-in driver – he’s also in the main MK7 roster, if that makes you happy. Nintendo delivers on its promise of 8 player online racing, running at a consistent 60 frames per second. With the past two titles, we’ve seen an extensive focus on online multiplayer but Mario Kart 7 takes the cake with the new communities feature. This allows players to group up for more streamlined play with others, and is shared via a special Community code (50-6849-0906-6142), if you wish to take us staff members on a wild ride). What’s also fun is the ability to join a friend online for races via the Friends List – all you have to do is select “Join Game” and in a minute or less, you’ll be whisked into their room. Online has been done absolutely right for Mario Kart.


In closing, Mario Kart 7 is the complete package. It sports fun tracks, creative gameplay, a wide array of new features, a renewed focus on multiplayer and takes advantage of almost all of the Nintendo 3DS system’s features. For non-3DS owners, this is the game that will get you into a store to buy the system. For 3DS owners that don’t have this yet, why haven’t you gotten this yet? Get yourself in a kart today!


One Response to “3DS Review – Mario Kart 7”
  1. This is definitely the game that gets me into a store to buy the 3DS. I’ve held off well until now; Mario Kart is just too tempting!


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