Nintendo at the L.A. Auto Show!

This is the time of year where real MEN come out to enjoy the hard sounds of engines revving and tires screeching! The burning smell of exhaust and new-car fuels the muscles of a total road warrior! Oh yeah. It’s that time of year. Where people like us charge right into the L.A. Convention Center, walk past all those men, and drool at the Nintendo booth! Yaaaay (throws confetti)! Nintendo made a very unusual appearance at the Auto Show this year to unveil a project they’ve been working on with West Coast Customs. Not too many details were given, but we arrived at the show seeing two vehicles covered with a sheet. Oh yeah. Let’s see them.

Reggie Fils-Aime (President and COO of Nintendo of America) took the stage and started to talk briefly about the Mario Kart franchise. Mario Kart has sold over 80 million copies around the world and plans to launch its latest installment on December 4th with Mario Kart 7. To promote the new game, Reggie said Nintendo had an idea for a couple custom vehicles and approached West Coast Customs to see if they could help make their idea a reality. They took the sheets off the mystery vehicles and BAM! They exploded. Nah, wishful thinking. I enjoy epicness. Close though! The two cars were fully functional life sized versions of Mario’s Standard Kart and Luigi’s Bumble V Kart! Oh yeah. They looked mighty hot.

The CEO of West Coast Customs (Ryan Friedlinghaus) was then invited on stage to explain the cars and talk about how they’re totally race-able! He found out when one of his employees totally PWND him the night before the presentation. The presentation was short but we didn’t mind. It was time to get a closer look at the cars and get some sweet hands on time with Mario Kart 7!

Nintendo was doing the same thing they’ve done with the last few conventions where the 3DS was present. The consoles are chained to a crew of Nintendo gals whose job it is to let you play, tell you about the game, and distract you enough so you don’t steal it. My crew and I started a game with a few of the Nintendo girls and got in some 8 player action (the ‘giggity’ is way too obvious here and I’ll have no part of it)! Mario Kart 7 allows you to customize everything. You can choose what kind of glider you want, tires, kart, etc. Every choice obviously has a give and take as you watch the kart’s statistics fall in certain categories as you’re deciding what parts to use. This gives the series a bit more of a “hardcore” approach, but for many of us who love Mario Kart, this is a good thing.

The gameplay is just as solid as ever with a ton of new tracks and a few new power ups. The new powerups Nintendo was really boasting at the event were the Super Leaf, Fire Flower, and Lucky 7. The Super Leaf gives your cart a Tanooki Tail (possible cross advertising for Super Mario 3D land?). This allows you to swat away hazards on the road. The Fire Flower gives you the same power here as every other Mario game it’s featured in, but this time you can throw fire at other racers instead of Goomba AIs. The Lucky 7 is the most intense one. This will spawn 7 items around your kart just waiting to PWN someone on your command.

The game will also feature Nintendo Wi-Fi play and take advantage of the 3DS StreetPass functionality. If you walk past someone else who’s carrying a 3DS, the systems will automatically trade scores and win/loss records.

Overall, the show was short but plenty fun. We got to see the karts for real! After many years of racing these puppies digitally, we finally got to stand right next to one. The game itself is shaping up to be the best Mario Kart so far. Our very own Landon Dastrup commented, “It takes everything they did right with Mario Kart DS and improves it.” Make sure to check out all the pictures from the event by clicking on our new “Event Pics” section on the sidebar. Don’t forget to come back in a few weeks for our full review on Mario Kart 7.