as soon as i got my last gold 150cc trophy on mario kart wii i sat down with mario kart 7 for 3ds, released almost a year ago. i had played the game very casually before then, but i finished playing through the new tracks … and was amazed at how bored i was. i got 3* rankings on the 50cc cups on my first try through them, and although i’m caught up on the series now and am a series vet, i’ve never had such a mindless experience with mario kart as this game. (again, i’m clearly not the only one who thinks so, as this forum thread indicates.) the new courses are extremely boring (the only major change being that some now are one long track broken up into three sections instead of having three laps), and even when i skipped the 100cc cups i still got stars in the 150cc cups easily.
even though the wii version was really frustrating due to the level of chaos, it had enough features to keep me engaged. in comparison, this version feels like it really doesn’t add anything essentially new. the new customization and ability to glide in the air or go underwater are completely superficial additions and don’t change the gameplay at all. miyamoto even admits as much in an interview with famitsu where he says: “the core of Mario Kart is pretty solid by this point and I think it’s safe to have it evolve in a pretty staid and traditional manner”. one of the most concrete admissions to phoning a game in that i’ve seen, and extremely disappointing coming from miyamoto who has shown his insistence on refinement and obsession with detail in many other areas before. the 1st-person view is gimmicky and i doubt anyone will spend much time with it, and the graphics feel bare and the colors lack the vibrancy of the rest of the series. the streetpass mode allows you to exchange ghosts with people you pass, but as with mario 3d land i really don’t really see the appeal in competing against people you don’t know and who won’t even see your result.
there are some cute new characters (e.g. lakitu and wiggler) and i’m glad they went back to 8 drivers instead of 12, and i’m also glad the AI doesn’t overwhelm you with items all the time like in the wii version. still, this is easily the least fun and interesting game among the mario kart series, and in fact is probably one of the most disappointing main-series nintendo games i’ve played in a while. i’m astounded that others have scored it so highly, since it seems obvious to me that the series, like many other nintendo series lately, really needs a shake up.
nintendo has really been testing my loyalty lately; i’m going to be waiting on getting a wii u until they release something more interesting than just another mario platformer. who’d have thought that i would ever have been bored by the number of mario games being released? but 3 that fail to push the envelope in little more than a year is just too much for me. there are certainly plenty of great games that i still need to catch up on so i’m not at a complete loss of excellent games to play while nintendo continues to falter, but many more disappointments like this will make me even more wary of investing my time in a company that seems to no longer be synonymous with huge innovations and seems to be content to make minor, inconsequential updates as with this game.
drift past these mario kart 7 links:
– the entry at mariowiki.com has everything you need to know inc. info about the courses, drivers, and unlockables
– official site at nintendo.com
– iwata asks feature
– japan got a better case than the US did
– europe’s club nintendo got cool mario kart trophy replicas