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With every Nintendo platform, a new version of Mario Kart will always be present. In the latest addition to the franchise, Mario Kart returns to the 3DS triumphantly, adding some new tracks and a neat additions. Even though Mario Kart 7 still uses the same design as before, you can't help but fall in love with the game all over again the moment you fire it on.
The core mechanics of the game are still the same. You select a character from one of the many, iconic Mushroom Kingdom figures, and then it's off to the races across some of the most wittiest and eccentric tracks you'll ever see!
The list of characters to choose from this time around however is unfortunately smaller than in the last entry on the Wii, where you could choose from 25 playable characters. In Mario Kart 7, I had only 17 characters to work with. Those gone include Waluigi, my personal favorite Funky Kong, baby Mario & Luigi, and many others.
The many changes put into the game though seem to make up for the loss of characters. For instance, Powerslide-boosting is now dependent on the degree of your slide, which makes power-sliding down the straightaways a thing of the past!
If you're a fan of some of the bigger characters in the game, such as DK or Bowser, you no longer steer like a snail. This makes playing these characters much more enjoyable without the tacked on challenge.
Underwater segments and the notorious glider were both neat additions to the game and blast to undergo. What didn't make sense though was how minimalistic their presence was in the game. It didn't add up after how much the two new mechanics were so heavily talked about in past conventions.
All of the new tracks in the game were either great or excellent. Even the tracks I wasn't very excited about still provided a sheer amount of fun to race through. Some of the tracks were even split up into three sections, avoiding the traditional three laps around the course style. All in all, there are 16 new and 16 old tracks in the game and with the incorporation of all of the new features into the old courses, racing back through them was definitely worth it.
Perhaps one of the biggest surprises to me in the game was how well the First-person mode performed. Personally, I hated Mario Kart on the Wii because of the Wii's motion controls. I just wasn't a fan. But the 3DS proved that gyroscope controls can work and are fun, especially in Mario Kart. For the most part I stuck to the traditional controls and viewing perspective, but First-person was still fun to jump in and use everyone now and then.
A few other neat perks that were thrown into the game was an assortment of new items and the return of coins. You can grab up to 10 coins in a race that can be collected to unlock new kart parts. When you drive over a coin you receive a slight speed boost, but only for a brief moment. So unless you want to unlock all of the Kart parts, coins are essentially useless in a race.
Among the many new items thrown into the game is the Fire Flower, which allows you to throw fireballs at your opponents, which will cause them to briefly spin out of control. The Tanooki Tail, which allows you to whack nearby racers out the way. And the Lucky 7, which gives you a set of seven items to use!
As usual, racing isn't the only thing you can do in Mario Kart 7, as Balloon Battle and Coin Runners both make a return. Balloon battles still plays out the same where you try to take three of your opponent's balloons as quickly as possible before the time either runs out or you run out of balloons.
Coin Runners, first introduced in Mario Kart Wii, is back and nothing has really changed. You're put into a timed rice to try and pick up as many coins as possible. Mission mode is still absent from the game again, giving me the feeling that we may not see it return for a while, if ever again. Which is disappointing because I was a big fan of the mode.
A huge push in Mario Kart 7 this time around was it's online multiplayer. While it plays out almost the same as it has before, the ability to create communities and track stats through StreetPass is very cool. Creating communities really helps narrow down what you like and don't like about the game. For instance, for those of you who are highly against Blue Shells, you can join a community where no Blue Shells are allowed in the races.
Mario Kart 7 isn't the best entry in the franchise, but nor is it bad. The game was a huge blast to play through and the added 3D effect was done flawlessly well. For those of you burnt out on the series however, there isn't much here that is really going to draw you back in. Enough innovation is here though to keep the both the game and the series remain “fresh” and a fun to play. If your looking for a fun game to play on your 3DS, this is a must buy.