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Mario Kart 7 Review - 3DS

7.5
Gameplay: 8 stars 8
Graphics: 8 stars 8
Audio: 5 stars 5
Multiplayer: 7 stars 7
Innovation: 7 stars 7
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here is back to the levels we expect from Nintendo. Mario Kart Wii suffered immensely from the most unoriginal tracks in the franchise, with empty highways and uninspired gimmicks. The injection of a gliding and underwater mechanic, coupled with the trick system and the return of coins makes even a straight feel exciting. Plus, the new one-way tracks made of individual segments rather than laps allows for a feeling of grandiosity where normally Mario Kart feels a little like a toybox. The new Rainbow Road is the series’ best ever, and even incorporates a Mario Galaxy-esque planet segment I was clamouring for way back in 2008.

There’s a freshness to the game, like a distillation of the best elements of the series. While I still hold out hope for a return to the Double Dash!! dual kart concept some day in the future, it serves as a lean and precise expression of pure karting. The balance and interplay between items, characters, customisable karts, flying, scuba driving, tricks, coins, drifting, weather and the 3D really congeals into a wholly satisfying – if physically painful – package. As you skid round the wet highways of Koopa City, glide from the peak of Wuhu Mountain, or wend your way through the tight corners of Piranha Plant Pipeway, there’s something interesting and novel about every course. And Retro Studio’s work on the classic courses reinvigorates them with new twists while retaining everything you loved about them in the first place.

Multiplayer

Nintendo has taken another reassuring step towards modern online play, with fully-featured online play and communities. With battles, races and the ability to customise a community with specific rules, like only Bob-ombs – the closest we’ll get to the divine Bob-omb Blast from Double Dash!! – this is about as close as we can reasonably expect Nintendo to get without going whole hog with usernames and inter-game friend lists. I had no lag troubles at all, though the wait to join a game can be a bit tedious if you’re trying to fit in a quick battle. Plus, the game supports SpotPass and StreetPass, so you’ll have new ghosts to race against and new kart parts to collect every time you head out.

Graphics

There are times when you’re in the zone, 3D on, that you forget it’s 3D. It’s hard to ascribe a value to playing with or without it enabled, other than in minutes of gameplay due to the system’s short battery life, and yet I can’t deny that using it is more enjoyable that not. I don’t know exactly why that is – the catch-all phrase of “immersion” is largely meaningless these days – but while I could happily play in 2D if the need arose, my 3DS’ slider stays all the way up in most situations.

Of course, you do have to get used to instinctively keeping the handheld in that sweet spot so your vision doesn’t blur, but after a little while you won’t even notice yourself ...

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