Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Mario Kart Retrospective: Mario Kart 7

And now we've reached the end of our little retrospective. 7 games over the course of a little over a month, all leading up to Mario Kart 8's release in two days. And now, we close out this little retrospective with Mario Kart 7, a game that tries to mix the best elements of the series together to mixed results. I think. It's complicated.
So I know I said that Mario Kart Wii was the most recent entry of the franchise for me to dive in to, but that isn't 100% true. It's the last one for me to buy and own, but not play. I've played it every now and then from its release when I was with friends, but I have played the game before I bought it. Mario Kart 7 I bought in April of this year without ever having played it before. So basically, this was a blind buy for me and I had no clue whether or not I would like this game.

Truth be told, this game didn't really expand upon the series that much, but instead it did a lot of refining. Coins make their triumphant reappearance here, but they work a bit differently now. You can collect 10 coins throughout the race, and each coin will give you a minor speed boost and increase your max speed just a little bit. So you want to grab coins to increase your maximum speed. It's fun and adds a bit more strategy to racing, but I never felt that the coins made that much of a difference for my kart's speed. I felt the speed boosts, but I never felt the overall increase.

The other two "major" additions are the inclusion of kart customization and gliders/diving. Kart customization is self explanatory and has you customize your kart before each race. You can choose the body, the wheels, and the glider that you car will use, each giving a major change in stats. I really enjoyed this feature, if only for the fact that I can now use characters I want to use, and not really worry about their stats being set in stone. A heavy characters can have more speed now and a lighter character has more grip with heavier cars. Though this begs the question why they removed bikes in this game? I get the fact that Nintendo wanted customization to be a big focus of the game, but why ditch the bikes?

Then there are the gliders and the little diving sections thrown in too. Both features aren't that important and merely serve as a why to change up gameplay. Diving sections have you underwater where you car bounces a lot more and glider sections have you fly through the air for brief periods. The glider sections are much more well done than the diving sections, mostly because the diving sections don't change the game mechanics at all. You're just driving underwater. Gliding at least gives the player some freedom of movement and usually there are coins to grab while in the air.

And... that's really it. Mario Kart 7 doesn't do much else to the series besides being the series' entry on the 3DS. It's simple, fine, and doesn't do anything too preposterous. There aren't any significant changes to the formula and really it just feels like it's the obligatory game, made because the system needed a Mario Kart game. The game looks great, plays fine, and really just serves to be a decent edition to the 3DS's library. To me this game is like the Pokemon Black 2 and White 2 of the series. While technically it is good and is a solid entry in the series, it doesn't have that same spark that other entries had. It just feels like it was made to hold the public off while the next game was in development. It's fun, but it isn't memorable.

And there you have it folks! The entire Mario Kart series in 7 short posts. And now, from worst to best, here my personal ranking of the whole series! Why? Cause everyone loves a quick little list.

7) Mario Kart: Double Dash!! - Tried to change too much and failed at that. The only game I can say is legitimately bad.

6) Super Mario Kart - Solid, but it lacked a lot of polish later entries had. Still good for a quick thrill.

5) Mario Kart: Super Circuit - It's alright, but it's a very nice looking GBA game. It just doesn't have that huge Mario Kart charm.

4) Mario Kart 7 - Middle road for the series. Doesn't do anything too crazy, but still fun for a nice play through. Probably the best entry point for new fans.

3) Mario Kart Wii - A great racing game that is accessible to everyone and is the best selling racing game of all time.

2) Mario Kart 64 - The best courses and best controls without a doubt. It's also got some fun multiplayer and battle maps as well.

1) Mario Kart DS - The end all be all best game in the series. Great portability, great single player mode, and it introduced new karts and retro courses. Play this game now.

And now, onward to Mario Kart 8...

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