Best Mario Kart Yet - Mario Kart 7
Mario Kart was one of those rare racing games that added spice and quirkiness to racing games. Where racing games primarily had just normal cards on normal stretches of road on normal every day scenery (granted, some looked nice), Mario Kart of one of the few that said "Yeah, let's do something original", and threw in sections of the Mario world we both new and didn't knew existed (which was still based on the fundamental Mario world), some crazy weapons and loveable characters, and you have a racing that that wasn't challenged until Naughty Dog's Crash Team Racing and (although really made for Nintendo consoles) Rareware's Diddy Kong Racing. Unfortunately, since Microsoft brought Rareware they have created games that were nothing to their past achievements, and Naughty Dog has moved onto bigger and (debate-ably) better things, like Uncharted and very recently "Last of Us", yet Nintendo are doing the best they can to keep this series as fresh as ever, in the hopes it can continue onwards and survive.
Being part of the Mario franchise, it isn't very hard for it to achieve this, however Nintendo being Nintendo, they seem to be releasing the same gold even after all these years (yeah, let's not include the CDi stuff : P). Mario Kart 7 is just that, the 7th installment of the Mario Kart series, although two Mario Kart games have been released onto arcades before then, and it didn't count towards this particular number count. A third arcade Mario Kart has been released only in japan as well on the date of July 2013, following traits of this particular game, but I digress. This Mario Kart game has to be, in my eyes, the best, more well crafted game, in the series. Mario Kart DS was pretty good, and Mario Kart Wii was pretty good in my eyes, but this one blows everything away from every other Mario Kart game combined. Until a better one arrives, I dare say this is the best Mario Kart game we're going to get. But why would I say that?
Okay so since there isn't really a story (unless you want to use your imagination and make a bunch of stuff up, write some fanfiction, then make some fancy art that will shed tears into the hearts of many) I can dive straight in. First off the character s
election is compact, and limited. One of the things that overwhelmed me in the Wii version was I found there were too many characters, and then I had to pick a character and there were several that I felt were unnecessary (like the baby characters and Toads girlfriend and bluh, why?), but here it's really nice. The s
election is wide spread evenly over known characters and new ones, and even the new guys are unique instead of altered versions of each other.
You also get to customize your kart. Don't get too excited, it's not all that it's cracked up to be. You get to choose your kart, your wheels and your parachute thing (which 99% of the time are all the same stats, which is disappointing, but they are all nicely designed to counteract this). These allow you to control roughly if you want more acceleration, weight, ect, for what you want, and generally experiment until you get the right mix. At first you don't get many parts to play with and use, but the more coins you collect, the more parts you unlock and can use, instead of actually having to beat circuits like you used to, which means even if you fail, you can get a new item which might turn the tables in your favour. Oh yeah, coins...
In Super Mario Kart and Mario Kart: Super Circuit, coins were spewed all over the course. Collecting these coins would make your kart run faster, and also affect your finishing grade (I think). Here, the coins have the same effect, although I can hardly see an increase in overall speed when holding the maximum number of coins. You can hold 10 coins tops, and getting hit by an enemy item or falling off will cause you to loose coins. You keep these coins after every race, but you only get a new notification on a new item after every circuit, which seems a bit dumb, but also makes sense considering that you don't get to change kart until after the said circuit.
As with the previous two installments to the series, there are sets of circuits, one that is based off courses of the past, and one that has entirely new and unique tracks for the generation. However, the old retro tracks are not just copies and pasted onto the new game, they are redesigned to suit the quirks of this game. The said being basically flying or going under water (how they breathe is anyone's guess), which adds a nice touch to the vigor to racing and to the scenery. One thing I am very impressed with this is that going underwater causes no lag what so ever. Normally in a game you go underwater and it's frames drops all round, but here, it's a very smooth transaction, and it is surprisingly powerful. An interesting thing is that the fake question mark box is removed in this game, and I'm quite glad, because it was the one item I felt was completely useless to trained players, and even new players at that. Please, however, give a minute of silence to the deceases (Means no reading for a minute)
Ah, you will be missed. Carrying on, all the tracks are refreshing, with a great scenery and setting. There are some effects like when petals flow past the screen around you go past cheery trees, and the 3D effect makes it so much better. A lot of attention to detail went into this, which is always a pleasure to say. I was very pleased to see Waluigi's Pinball Machine making a comeback. The music was also pretty good, matching pretty much all the previous games. The retro tracks got a remastered mix, which didn't fall too far off today's standards. The music itself does a good job of matching the environment and settings to create a more cultured feel to the race. The difficulty also isn't too hard, it's much easier getting triple stars and winning cups here than it was before, but still bites back.
Finally, there's online game play, where you can list your time trail ghosts and face people online. The more points you get from winning races, the more opponents you face with that said level, upping the challenge for constant competition. A nice feature is that they set you up in a time trail chart, showing how you fair against most people around the world, and choice to face up to 7 other people just slightly better than you, in an attempt to win and improve your time. That's a really nice feature and adds either a goal or satisfaction to your agenda. Finally, what I find very impressive, on bar with Kid Icarus: Uprising, is that you can also do online battle mode. No streetpass, (which is also a feature when you can bump into someone with this game, and you exchange AI racers of you, which don't match the skill of the actual player, on well, you tried) just pure players battling out against each other in unique arenas. There are some arenas from the past also revamped, but there are some great new ones, which is nice. The best thing about this is that balloon battle keeps you in the game even after you lost them all. Litterally, all balloons are back. It was cool in the N64 version when you became a bob-omb when you lost all your balloons and had the chance to cause chaos to players still in the game, and it was a nice gesture when you turned into a ghost in the DS version and could help anyone with spontaneously appearing boxes, but here, it's now a point system, not a battle to survive. This keeps the competition constantly hot and fierce with 8 players on the field at once, all the time.
Overall, I give this game a 9.5/10?????? This all adds together to be a really interesting and fun game. With the DS and Wii version, I can see the flaws and how it overall clocks up. It's good, but there's something missing. Mario Kart 7 not only shows the past of the series how to do it, but also does a little hand stand juggling balls. It does have the odd flaw, like how Koopa City is exceptionally boring and uneventful and easy, and it's like one or the worst tracks in the Mario Kart series, yes, but compared to everything else, it is very well balanced, refined and compact, yet still has a lot of variety and fun to be playing (Plus Toad for once ISN'T that player that obnoxiously goof player that messes up you game! ....it's Metal Mario here :c (but only in online play)), even after a couple of years since its release. It's a racing game worth playing if you're into weird and wonderful set ups such as these.