They won't even tell you how many locked characters there are. Who could they be!?

Mushrooms, shells, boosts, and stars are abound in the seventh rendition of the Mario Kart series. With new tracks, carts and characters Nintendo hopes to put a new spin on an old series that will keep fans  coming back for more and new fans looks for a fun blow ’em up racer coming back for more.

The old Mario Kart cast is back with your favorites like Mario, Yoshi, Bowser and Donkey Kong, but a few extra characters in tow this time around. Metal Mario, Koopa, and even your own Mii are ready to join the race and show what they’re made of on the track. The addition of new characters in every version of the game that comes out is always fun, and allows you to experience the game with some of your favorite Nintendo characters, though there are a few that are missing. With a cast of 17 playable characters the roster is a little lackluster compared to the previous Mario Kart, but that was a little expected considering this one is a handheld edition. Like the previous Mario Kart, not all the characters are unlocked so you’ll have to race to make them playable, whether it be online or single player cups.

“Karts” have a few customizations you can fiddle with in this interation. With the inclusion of gliders you get to choose what design makes you glide, your wheel type, and your kart design. Each option changes how you Kart moves and drives, so finding your own, best combination can arduous at times. A key difference with the karts in this game, compared to its predecessors, is the ability to use any characters kart with any character you want; meaning you can still race in one of Mario’s karts, but still play as Luigi or Yoshi while doing it. Adding something like that is, albiet small, a great game option that is definitely worth including. While you start out with a few karts many of them are locked till you’ve secured enough coins through completing races to unlock everything.

Mario Kart 7 runs on a coin system. The more coins you earn through races, battles, and online play, the more you unlock. Unlocking characters and karts can take a while, but most of them can be unlocked simply by going through the different cups and getting top ranks in them. The game itself doesn’t do a great job of explaining what exactly is required of you to unlock certain items, or what the items are, so most of the time you end up finding yourself just trying to finish the races and see if the game is willing to surprise you with a gift in the for of more unlockables. The coin system works well in that it will reward players who play the game quite a bit, but seems to punish players who aren’t able to play often enough to receive those upgraded rides.

Join communities with like-minded people and race together for the number one spot.

Online play is where Mario Kart 7 really shines. Racing online here is probably not only the best value not only on the 3DS, but on any Nintendo system to date thus far. Mario Kart 7 bolsters a SpotPass ghost data system, StreetPass Mii racing system, and internet racing and battles. The SpotPass and StreetPass functions are very well integrated and are great for showing your stuff through the ghost trials against your friends. Online play over an internet connection is amazingly fluid and responsive. With little to no lag in game play and quick matchmaking you get to play with either your friends or other people from around the world. Online play is where the masters go to show off though, so make sure to bring your A-game and your best kart, because they’ll give you a run for your money.

Mario Kart is a series that has withstood the test of time and continues to thrive in today’s market due to it’s addictive game play, fluid, time tested racing system, and their ability to try new and innovative things with the racing genre. The seventh edition to the series exemplifies all these things in a great handheld package. With a beautiful scenery and tracks the game shows great detail and care was put into it. As with all games on the 3DS the 3D function is there, and it brings exactly what you expect to a racer: depth without convolution, keeping it rather simple instead of trying to over incorporate it to the point of displeasure. Overall the game, despite it’s few flaws, has shown to fill the large shoes of the Mario Kart series and is a great time for anyone that owns a 3DS.

Psst: And if you do end up getting Mario Kart 7, join the FTG Racers community through the online play. Just enter the community code: 53-1158-6243-3334 to start racing. See you on the track!

9.5 review score