Not Every Reviewer Appreciates A Good Plumber-Based Kart Racer

Not Every Reviewer Appreciates A Good Plumber-Based Kart Racer

Racing into stores to end a gaming season filled with shining gems is Mario Kart 7, Nintendo’s final shot in the war to make the 3DS relevant in 2011. Does it hit the mark? *eyes chart* Mostly?

What can I say about Mario Kart, the series that captured the hearts of millions of gamers around the world and gave birth to an endless stream of sub-par mascot character Kart games that still has not abated to this very day. Right now there is someone trying to work a popular retail mascot into a kart racer in order to feed his family for Christmas, and Mario Kart is to blame. When you see M&Ms Kart Racing languishing in the bargain bin, you know who to blame.

Wow, now I’m pissed at Mario Kart. Somebody get me a pen and some paper, I feel a review coming on. In the meantime, check out the Frankenreview.



The more a game has the word “new” printed on the back of its game case, the better the chances are that the game inside will feel older than time itself. Mario Kart 7 has the word “new” printed on the back of its game case no less than four times, and true to the theory, its contents are less fresh than the contents of Joan Crawford’s underwear.

At this point, it’s customary with a Nintendo game to mention how that’s not a bad thing, to highlight how nothing was broken and didn’t need fixing. In Mario Kart 7, however, I don’t think that’s appropriate. For once, sticking to tradition has not worked in Nintendo’s favour.



There are, however, a number of tweaks and additions to the core, some welcome, others contentious. Now you are able to custom-build your kart before each championship, choosing the body, the wheels and, finally, a set of ‘wings’ used to glide back to the ground from special propulsion ramps. Each option offers different benefits and drawbacks, asking you to sacrifice top speed for acceleration, for example, or trade handling for heft. The flexibility is an improvement over previous games’ rather straight options, allowing for a far greater number of permutations of vehicle, and it’s one area where Nintendo has expanded scope in a meaningful way.

The coin-collecting concern of the original game also makes an unusual return. Mario’s loose change litters the tracks and can be collected in order to unlock new kart bodies and add-ons. Simplicity is the watchword for Nintendo EAD, however, and there’s no shop to speak of. Rather, you unlock a new, pre-set item every time you collect 50 coins.

It’s a suitable if basic system that adds a secondary objective to each race beyond simply winning – although the decision to cap the number of coins that can be collected to just 10 per stage in order to artificially control the rate at which you unlock new items is an uncharacteristically weak one.


Game Informer

Mario Kart is almost exactly how you remember it, but what tweaks have been made are generally positive. Powerslide-boosting (blue sparking, in the vernacular) is now dependent on the degree of the slide instead of d-pad gymnastics, meaning that boosting down straightaways is a thing of the past. Heavy characters no longer steer like drunken camels, so you can play as DK or Bowser without unintentionally activating hard mode. The much-hyped glider and underwater segments are minimal and kind of neat, and it’s cool that they adapted the retro stages to fit MK 7‘s gameplay systems. I’m less convinced that the return of coins has much effect on gameplay; I think they make you go faster? If nothing else, I dig having something else to aim for during the race.



The tracks are something of a mixed bag: 16 new races and 16 from Mario Karts past make an appearance, all of which have had the new flying and submersion sections shoehorned into them. Almost all are gripping. Wuhu Island, for example, is a super-sized raceway where players race through sections of the island rather than making laps in a repeated loop. Not all are winners, though: A few have tracks so wide that even in a traffic jam, they feel cavernous and empty. Also, the levels which make heavy use of the underwater segments are a little too slow to be much fun.

Of course, all the tracks look great. Everything looks great. It’s a first-party Nintendo game on the 3DS. It looks as great as you’d expect it to look, which, at this point, I assume is “great.”


Official Nintendo Magazine UK

Single players can take part in typical Grand Prix, Battle Modes and Time Trials but there’s nothing to compare to competing for glory online. Much of the basic ranking system is lifted straight from Mario Kart Wii, with a few subtle differences – races are up to eight players, rather than twelve. Lopping off four karts not only keeps online races rock solid and completely lag-free (if you’re on a decent connection, of course), but it also reflects Mario Kart 7’s renewed focus on racing rather than total on-track chaos.

Your 1000 VR points will be boosted if you come in the top three or knocked down if you’re consistently awful and also dictate who you get matched against online. Worldwide Vs Races are much the same as in the Wii game, and ideal for dipping your toe in for a quick race when you have a spare moment.


Games Radar

As a gamer who grew up hating Nintendo, it’s quite a personal revelation to love one of its games as much as this. But I’m on board with everything the game is trying to do. Sure, all the tricks here have been done before and the core of the game is the same as it’s always been. But yet again, it’s been packaged and delivered in a way that makes it feel fresh.

It’s a cast of likeable, cartoony characters getting powered up by magic boxes and enchanted flowers, then doing things that simply can’t be done in real life, like drive under the feet of a stamping dinosaur or race down the keys of a keyboard while a graphic equaliser pumps out bright colours all over the walls. When other companies try the kart racer formula, it often feels tired and cheap. This feels fresh and deluxe.

Better still, it doesn’t resort to ridiculous motion control steering or touch screen selection of weapons. You play it with the buttons and analogue stick (though, surprisingly, not the d-pad, which instead just switches between 3rd person and 1st-person camera modes), like you have done for forever. With go, stop, fire and jump buttons, it’s easy enough that anyone can play it. Instantly enjoyable, infinitely accessible but as deep as you want to make it.

This really should have been a launch game, no question. But it’s here now, and must surely mark a turning point for the system. Mario Kart 7 sets the graphical bar so high, it doesn’t even look like a 3DS game, which means everyone else has a new standard to follow. Suddenly the platform feels new again.

One of these numbers is not like the other…


    • This.
      Assassin’s Creed and Mario Kart both cop some flak for being too similar to their predecessors but CoD gets glowing reviews for “perfecting the formula”. Please. Talk about fanboyism and/or money changing hands.

          • Differing opinions is one thing, being outright dickheads is another. I don’t care what score they gave Mario Kart. I haven’t played it, so I can’t form an opinion. I might consider it a 5/10 game if I played it, I don’t know. That’s not what I was referring to.

            I was making a general comment about Destructoid’s staff. I haven’t been to the site in years, for good reason. I think they are a bunch of dicks who have heads so big they can’t fit through doorways. They have this “we are so awesome” attitude that makes me want to punch their faces into give them a reality check.

          • It’s not about them having different opinions, it’s about them levelling the same criticism at multiple games, yet those games get wildly different scores.

          • I find destructoid incredibly whiney and I really only read them as a last resort, I mean 80% of games are just iteration – and yet they just single out certain games without really giving concrete reasons – especially in the context of other reviews on their site.

            It may have started as an amatuer blog – and that exactly what it still is today.

      • God damn it.

        I really don’t want to see any more unsubstantiated claims of bribery! It’s really not necessary.

  • I just got done saying this on Twitter but this is one game you just need to fast forward to the score of whoever you trust on reviews (site/reviewer/etc).

    It’s effing Mario Kart. Score it.

  • Games Radar game it a 10/10? Seems as silly as Destructoid giving it a 5/10. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle.

    • I’m a huge fan of Nintendo games and graphics aren’t everything, blah blah blah, but YES these graphics suck. Come on Nintendo! Seriously?

      • The resolution of the 3DS is only 400×240 (320×240 on the bottom screen). There’s only so much that can be done in that space and it will most definitely look pretty bad when you try and use screenshots that are blown up like these ones are.

        • You know, I am *that* out of the loop that I had no idea whether this was a 3DS or a Wii game. Then again, I blame my ignorance on Nintendo. Also, kind of a poor effort to release a machine with such poor resolution.

          • I know I’m being harsh, and I’m not usually this cranky, but I used to be a massive Nintendo fan through the NES, the SNES and N64 and even some of the Gamecube era but, this current generation, they’re just a lot less impressive and my disapointment is kind of building up.

            Much as I think this game is going to be great, I just don’t feel like I have to have it. 10 years ago, I couldn’t have imagined me not having to have a Nintendo game.

            Skyward Sword though… Looks like a return to form. Fingers crossed.

          • You have to keep in mind that for 3D you have to effectively double the processing power to get the same resolution because you are producing two images (the top screen resolution is effectively 800×240).

            It’s still low, but I imagine that anything better that still have 3D would be too expensive as Nintendo isn’t the sort of company to sell hardware at a loss.

  • I don’t care who the reviewer is, but there’s no way any Mario Kart ever deserves a 5. Mario Kart 64 could re-release on the Wii-U with no changes what-so-ever, and it would still deserve more than 5/10 based purely on its gameplay. By Destructoid’s own admission the latest Mario Kart hasn’t changed much; therefore the gameplay is still going to be incredibly solid. A degree of objectivity in reviews is necessary.

      • You can have an objective review by reviewing the content there, not the content you want to be there. Judge the actual experience, not the expectation.

        • Games are media, not a produvt with features. Destructoid reviews are not directly comparable becsuse they admit they are scoring their overall feeling about the game. It why they can criticise a game for being a rehash, but still liking MW3.

      • Agreed – all reviews by their very nature are subjective, as they were written by a human (unless Destructoid staff are all robots, which I guess would explain some things…)

        That being said, I can’t say I ever liked Mario Kart, except for the SNES version back in the day ^_~

    • I don’t agree that the game play is solid in any iteration. I’ll keep giving it a five myself until they allow me to control item drops, drop rubber banding etc. Obviously this reviewer feels the same way. You not agreeing doesn’t make their SUBJECTIVE review invalid.

    • Imagine you go into a restaurant and ask the waiter to serve you their best dish. Ninty subtly introduces a meal that tastes familiar but is different. You want to order it again but Ninty says you’ll have to wait at least 3 years. While waiting for the next meal you begin to forget the taste and when the meal is finally ready again it tastes utterly blissful. Time wanted can make polished glass seem like diamonds.

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