|Dev: Nintendo/Retro Studios|
|Pub: Nintendo Studios|
|Release: December 4, 2011|
|Screen Resolution: N/A|
by Angelo M. D’Argenio
Mario Kart 7 was playable at the New York Comic Con this year in all its high-octane, high-gliding, blue shell goodness, and we jumped at the opportunity to go hands-on with it again. Outside of getting the chance to try out some new tracks, the game handled the exact same way it did at E3. We still were able to customize different parts of our kart in addition to choosing the driver, we still were able to pick up coins to increase our max speed, and we still were able to take to the skies or dive under water to access certain routes. Frankly, I'm glad not much has changed. There is something to be said for the development team getting it right the first time around.
And while I'm certainly not scoffing at the opportunity to try out new tracks—after all, track selection can make or break a game like this—the real wealth of info came from the booth reps that were far more loose-lipped here than they were at E3.
So let's dive right into the juicy gossip. First of all, it's been confirmed once again that players will be able to use their Miis as drivers, in addition to a large cast of characters that have appeared in Mario Kart's past. Drivers do have individual stats and do affect the way your Kart handles. Much like Mario Kart Wii, this game will all be about choosing the right kart and driver combination (with an extra level of customizability considering you can choose your kart's wheels, body, and glider). The reps couldn't tell me exactly how each driver would effects a kart's abilities, but I was told it's safe to assume that drivers like Bowser will increase your kart's weight while drivers like Peach will make your kart faster and handle better.
Multiplayer is the name of the game in Mario Kart, and finding people to play with on a handheld system has been a bit of a problem in the past. For example, Mario Kart 5 (for the DS) was a greatly beloved game, but its multiplayer component was restricted to local Wi-Fi, which certainly hurt the replay value. Well, Mario Kart 7 will still have local Wi-Fi capability for races up to eight players, but it will have a full Internet suite as well. As of now, I couldn't be told how many players will be able to race at the same time online (my guess is eight, just like local games). If the internet suite in this game is anything like Mario Kart Wii's we can probably expect leaderboards, battle modes, challenge races, ghost races, and more.
Unfortunately, that's about the end of the new info I was able to squeeze out of the booth reps. I was told that kart parts would be upgradeable, but I'm not entirely convinced this means anything beyond the already announced ability to swap these parts before a race. I was also told that there would be several different speed divisions and cups, but this is pretty standard fare for any Mario Kart game at this point so I'm not surprised.
The only thing that I still need to mention is the game's feel. Maybe it's just me, but it seems like Nintendo has made the game harder. At E3, I pretty much lazily wound my way through the curves and easily came in the top three, and while I wasn't getting pelted with red and blue shells at every corner (as you normally do in Mario Kart games), I felt like the game had just enough challenge to keep me going. Now, maybe I was just having an off-day, but the NYCC demo was hard. I struggled to get in the top three in every race I was in. My opponents would slide and boost around corners with more accuracy than I could ever hope to attain. I still wasn't getting pelted with shells at every corner, but in terms of sheer racing ability, the A.I. was good. I didn't ask what difficulty it was on, but I sure hope it was normal or higher.
Mario Kart 7 hasn't changed much. It's still fun. It's still filled with wacky items. It still allows you to fly and dive underwater. It still allows you to choose from a wacky assortment of drivers and kart parts. It still hurts my eyes a bit when the 3D is turned on, but no game is perfect. If you are a Mario Kart fan, then there is no reason to not get this game. It's just going to be hard to wait for the December 4 release date.
Angelo M. D’Argenio
CCC Contributing Writer