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Preview: Mario Kart 7

With exclusive gameplay video.

I’m counting. The SNES’ Super Mario Kart, the N64’s Mario Kart 64, Super Circuit on the GBA, the GameCube’s Double Dash!!, Mario Kart DS and Mario Kart Wii. Yep, that’s six, and that’s not including the coin-op versions. I had to check – when Nintendo changed the name of Mario Kart 3DS to Mario Kart 7 it just seemed there hadn’t been that many in the series already. Time flies, huh?

The E3 2011 reveal, which shows off plenty of gameplay, karts and tracks.
As, it transpires, does Mario. Perhaps ‘fly’ is a misnomer, the plump plumber and friends technically gliding rather than flying, but the airborne portions, along with the all new underwater sections, make up much of what’s new about this 3DS iteration of one of the publisher’s most enduring franchises.

Perhaps on the surface not the most interesting of new features, but a little time with them suggests there is more to them than just gimmicks for the sake of adding something new.

It’s really more about the Karts than anything else. Pre-race screens allowing you to tweak your ride a little by switching out your chassis and swapping over your wheels, both of which have an effect on your speed and control when you’re not on tarmac – the larger wheels, for example, help maintain a good chunk of your speed when offroad.

Gliding’s actually a really neat new feature. It’s nicely balanced in terms of risk and reward, there are items to collect whilst in the air and, if you’re good, you can skip out whole seconds of regular track below you but there’s always the chance that you’ll crash and fall into a chasm. The airborne sections control like the glider in Pilotwings, so there’s little confusion when you first take to the skies.

The underwater areas of the courses feel less fresh.  Sure, you’re submerged which means turning is more sluggish but you’re still fixed to the floor, just using your propellor rather than your engine to keep you moving. There are a few locked accessories on the kart configuration screen, though (only one set of wings was available, for example) so perhaps we’ll get a more interesting chassis that will open up these areas a little.

We’re happy about the return of coins, though. These have been missed out of recent Mario Karts, and it’s nice to see them back even if their purpose isn’t entirely clear yet. Regardless, they already promote a little offroad exploration and should make the single player campaign more replayable than the DS and Wii versions, even if its clear multiplayer is still the focus.

And speaking of that, online races are confirmed (as you’d expect) but Nintendo have also promised SpotPass and StreetPass functionality, which might hopefully include more regular staff ghosts in addition to the ability to upload and share your own time trial success stories. The DS Mario Kart was brilliant fun online (until it was spoiled a little by hackers) and hopefully Mario Kart 7 will be just as much fun.

The graphics are lovely, too – the 3D effect is nice (and some of the weapons really play on the added depth) and the courses look as rich as ever. Retro Studios have been involved with the Donkey Kong track and there’s the usual plethora of Retro levels too, including tracks from Mario Kart DS and Mario Kart Wii. The game runs at a rock solid 60 frames a second, too, even with the 3D mode activated.

It’s obvious that Mario Kart 7 will be a success – the previous titles still sell extremely well and they’re an evergreen range of games that fit the Nintendo brand perfectly. We can’t wait to get our hands on the finished game.

Thanks to Lee and Dan for their assistance with this article.

  1. Death_In_Flamez
    Since: Feb 2011

    I know for a fact if we pick up the 3DS this is the first game on our “to buy” list

    Comment posted on 03/08/2011 at 11:02.
    • monty2k
      Since: Forever

      Same here.

      Comment posted on 03/08/2011 at 12:20.
    • Pritchie101
      Since: Aug 2011

      Of Course!

      Comment posted on 05/08/2011 at 17:34.
  2. Crocadillian
    Since: Feb 2011


    Looks okay, but it feels like I’m staring back into 2002 with these images, and Mario Kart: Double Dash arguably looks better. If I bought it, it would be on the grounds that there is nothing else to buy for the 3DS.

    Comment posted on 03/08/2011 at 11:09.
  3. R4U Eldave0
    Since: Aug 2008

    Mario Kart in general is great but Double Dash will always be king until they bring back co-op racing!

    Comment posted on 03/08/2011 at 11:13.
    • KeRaSh
      Since: Nov 2009

      Never played Double Dash but I can still say for a fact that it will never come close to the fun I had in Battle mode in Mario Kart 64. :D

      Comment posted on 03/08/2011 at 12:28.
      • R4U Eldave0
        Since: Aug 2008

        :D Lost count how many hours my mates and I played that mode

        Comment posted on 03/08/2011 at 13:16.
    • Mike
      Since: Oct 2008

      Agree 100%, DD was fantastic. Although I can’t help but crave another playthrough of the original SNES Mario Kart. Might have to get the SNES out soon. Nearly 20 years old and still a great game!

      Comment posted on 03/08/2011 at 12:30.
    • aerobes
      Since: Aug 2009

      Yep, that was my favourite Mario Kart too though I’ve never played a kart racer anywhere near Diddy Kong on the N64.

      Comment posted on 03/08/2011 at 12:34.
    • MadJunkBoy
      Since: Aug 2010

      agree too! Double Dash was/is the best mario kart… had soo much fun when i was over at a friends house and played it and it was always a success=)

      Comment posted on 03/08/2011 at 13:45.
  4. Dan Lee
    Common like the rest of us.
    Since: Jun 2010

    Ok hands up who did the noob overheating at the start, I need to mock you :oD

    Comment posted on 03/08/2011 at 11:42.
    • shields_t
      Since: Oct 2008

      Probably the fault of that bottle of Birra Moretti in the background ;-)

      Comment posted on 03/08/2011 at 14:56.
  5. Kennykazey
    Since: Mar 2010

    Seems like a fun game, and the fact that there are a new features like customization is promising for the franchise. If I ever buy a 3DS, this will definately be on my list.

    Comment posted on 03/08/2011 at 11:46.
  6. david24
    Since: Feb 2011

    strange that they changed the name to Mario kart 7 as none of the games have ever really been sequels.

    Comment posted on 03/08/2011 at 12:16.
  7. Sad Panda
    Since: May 2010

    Mario Kart DS is imo the best of the bunch so lets hope the 3ds keeps upto the same standard, not those of the Wii, the worst one they’ve made.

    Comment posted on 03/08/2011 at 13:19.
  8. Mutt
    Since: Oct 2009

    Meh. Never understood why such a fuss is made over Nintendo. Maybe because I don’t share the nostalgia that some do? Played Mario Kart DS and I don’t get why people are so worked up over that series.


    Comment posted on 03/08/2011 at 18:16.
  9. mynameisblair
    Since: May 2009

    Looks great, I love Mario Kart.
    Seems a game of Beerio Kart was being played in that video :D
    Weird with the jump to numbers though, huh? Probably to show it’s a dedicated sequel as I’ve seen people getting confused.

    Comment posted on 03/08/2011 at 18:44.

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