|Dev: Nintendo/Retro Studios|
|Pub: Nintendo Studios|
|Release: December 4, 2011|
|Screen Resolution: N/A|
Another aspect that is much like Mario Kart Wii is the online mode. You can play through any of the game's tracks with online opponents both near and far, and for the first time in the series' history, you can play with friends registered to your console. If you don't have any Mario-Karting friends, you can also play in specially made communities, which is a cool way to make multiplayer more personal without making it too much like another console experience. Within these communities, you can see player rankings and stats, which is a nifty feature for competitive players.
If you want to keep the experience more local, the game also has a decent local multiplayer option You can play either multi-cart or via download play, but the problem with the latter is that anyone playing without their own cart is stuck playing as Shy Guy on a standard kart. The game also takes advantage of StreetPass/SpotPass, allowing you to view player stats and karts as you encounter them in real life. Even if you never touch the online mode, there is a real wealth of multiplayer content here, and it's unlikely you will ever be bored with this game.
Visually speaking, Mario Kart 3DS is a gem. Though the 3D effects are understated, the visual detail, animation, and environments are top-notch. If Ocarina of Time 3D was Nintendo's showpiece for what the 3DS could do with 3D technology, Mario Kart 7 could be the showpiece for games that look great without it. Mario Kart 7 also includes a first-person camera mode that allows you to see the action from a whole new perspective. Though I didn't find much use for this viewpoint, I'm sure there are players out there who will rejoice at its inclusion in Mario Kart 7.
Mario Kart 7 isn't a drastic departure from the series. However, it improves upon many of the facets we first saw in Mario Kart Wii, and includes enough new content and features to make it worth your while. It might be tempting to skip this one and wait for the inevitable Wii U Mario Kart, but any true Nintendo fan would be remiss to miss this one. Mario Kart 7 is a great game and one that should definitely be on the Christmas lists of 3DS owners this year.
Amanda L. Kondolojy
CCC Senior Contributing Writer