Review: Playing it Safe by Fastening Seat Belts

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3, 2, 1, Go!!! The Mario Kart for the new handheld is here. Supports no glasses 3D, 8-player online races, 16 new tracks, and 3 brand new items. Coin collecting from the SNES title is back and better than ever. The number of racers are back to eight, but customizable karts are in. Eight cups with three difficulties are still here. New features using the 3DS Street Pass and Spot Pass functions are here as well. Nice package for such a new system.

Like most Mario Karts, there are eight cups. Four support nothing but new tracks with air and water sections. Some of the new tracks aren’t your classic 3 lap races. Instead, they are marathon races. Check points in the track signify how close you are to the finish. The other four cups are nothing but old tracks from the rich history of Mario Kart games, with added elements. The old water hazards are gone because you can race underwater, offering new ways to race on classic maps.

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Coins play a big part in Mario Kart 7. Some veterans of the Mario Kart series might remember how, in the original, you could collect coins to go faster. It doesn’t work like that anymore. Now the coins you collect help unlock new parts for your customizable karts. You don’t get to buy them or even know how much you need to save up in order to unlock them, but it happens. On the easier difficulties, it was easy to finish every race with max coins. On 150cc, I’m having trouble holding onto even five coins.

The difficulty has really gone up. The AI is more aggressive and I don’t remember that many blue shells being in a single race before. The items are relentless, get hit by one and end up in the back of the pack. Lucky Number 7 is the biggest addition to the items. Basically, it gives you a mix of 7 different items to use. If racing AI isn’t what you are into, then try out the online side. In Mario Kart DS, you had to do four races with four people to raise your rank. In Mario Kart 7, your rank is affected after every race and races can be up to eight players. It helps for when you don’t have much time and just want a quick race.

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Mario Kart 7 is fun. Mixes the best of all past Mario Karts to make this the best experience so far. That being said, it doesn’t change the game. There are new and old tracks within eight different cups just like all other Mario Kart games. Still supports 50cc, 100cc, 150cc, and Mirror for difficulties. Only 3 new items add very little to the gameplay. The air and underwater elements are fun but aren’t enough to make it feel new. It is just a more perfected version of Mario Kart DS. With the slim picking of 3DS content, Mario Kart 7 will keep you busy until Kid Icarus or Luigi’s Mansion 2 comes out.