Mario Kart 7Mario Kart 7
Year: 2011
Rating: E
Time Played: 2.35 hours

One of the challenges of long-running series like Mario Kart is how to maintain the core gameplay mechanic while also continuing to innovate. Previous iterations in the franchise played with having two characters in a Kart (Double Dash on the Gamecube) before reverting to the traditional formula (Mario Kart Wii). Furthermore, with the limitations present in portable and handheld consoles, there’s a point where the experience isn’t quite the same as it would be on a television screen. Fortunately, Mario Kart 7 seems to have struck a good balance between new ideas and embracing nostalgia.

Even if I didn’t use the online mode for racing against other individuals (one of the core attractions of the Mario Kart series), I did find that each race in Mario Kart 7 was just long enough for me to play through in a single sitting. If I had more time, the option to race through a series of tracks in one the various “cups” was also doable if I was waiting longer than usual (like at an airport). And while I did like the stereoscopic visuals on the 3DS, the handheld system still has some graphical limitations when compared with playing on a big screen.

As is the case in any new Mario Kart entry, I do appreciate the nostalgia induced by including tracks from previous iterations of the series. That being said, though, part of me would almost rather have an entire set of entirely new tracks to experience instead of racing around the same circuits I’ve played for years. At the very least, Mario Kart 7 introduced some new features that helped to elevate it beyond just being stuck to the road. The gliding and underwater mechanics seem so natural that I wonder why Nintendo didn’t include them in earlier iterations. Now, they almost seem ubiquitous with the franchise.

A good game for bite-size play and Mario Kart nostalgia, I give Mario Kart 7 3.5 stars out of 5.

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