Mario Kart 7
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Mario Kart 7 is a racing game for the Nintendo 3DS. It is the ninth installment of the Mario Kart series overall, the seventh in the main series (hence the game's title), and the third on a handheld console. This is the second (the first was Super Mario 3D Land) installment in the Mario series overall (excluding crossover installments) to be localized to Dutch, Portuguese, and Russian. Additionally, it is also the first Mario Kart game to be developed by more than one video game developer, Nintendo EAD and Retro Studios, and the second Mario Kart to have a different video game developer (not including the Mario Kart Arcade GP series), the first being Mario Kart: Super Circuit.
The main new feature of this installment is the hang gliding and underwater driving which allows racers to glide through the air and race in underwater sections of the new and old tracks. Kart customization is also introduced instead of racing in pre-made karts like previous titles. In the game, players are able to exchange Ghost data and play online in multiplayer mode. Players can also receive Ghost data via SpotPass and race against other player's Ghosts from around the world. Nintendo stated that the game brings "a bunch of new elements" to the Mario Kart series.
In this new installment of the Mario Kart series, coins make a prominent return. Coins have not been featured in this way in the recent Mario Kart games since Mario Kart: Super Circuit. Coins are to be found along a race track, and can be underwater, on the road, or in the air. Collecting coins on different tracks will allow the player to unlock vehicle parts used for customization. The option to select classic Mario Kart tracks is also available again in this game.
Mario Kart 7 also has some new features. Players can now use hang-gliders which can be useful for navigating through the air, and propellers to drive underwater. In addition, players may now assemble their own karts, rather than select preset karts as in previous games. It is possible to select the kart's body, wheels, and gliders, although some parts need to be unlocked before they can be used, mainly through collecting coins during races. Mario Kart 7 returns to the traditional eight-driver race like in previous installments, instead of the total of twelve as seen in Mario Kart Wii. It is also compatible with both SpotPass and StreetPass.
Similar to preceding games, an overall "game ranking" of ★, ★★, or ★★★ is shown next to the player's nationality flag if the player has earned the designated ratings in all cups and in all classes. The overall ranking can also be seen while participating at a Grand Prix. The game shows the overall ranking at the results of the last course before the overall results of the last cup being shown.
Among other gameplay mechanics is the vehicle's behavior in the courses. Each element to assemble the vehicle has a function that grants an advantage on certain courses. In other words, speed and handling alter if the player is driving through land, underwater, or in the air. Gliders also provide speed and duration for the vehicle when airborne and can be controlled using the . Players can tilt the either up or down to fall quickly or gently, respectively. Additionally, when driving underwater, the kart's handling, speed, and drifting can considerably change compared to when driving on land.
This Mario Kart installment also introduces the option to race and battle in a first-person view. This function allows the player to watch the race and battle from the character's perspective and can race by the system. In first-person view, the player can also see the vehicle's steering wheel in front of the character with an emblem on it. The gyroscope, which gives the player the ability to steer the kart in first-person mode by tilting the , can be enabled or disabled by going to the Mario Kart Channel, going to the player's Mii icon on the bottom right, going to "Settings", and lastly selecting "Use" or "Don't Use" when going to "Gyro Sensor".
In a minor note, an extra track with beats is added to the course's music if the player gets ahead in first place at top speed (frontrunning). This track fades when the player slows down via braking, going off-road, or getting hit by an item. This happens only in 100cc, 150cc and Mirror class.
Motorbikes, which made their first appearance in Mario Kart Wii, do not return in the game. Tricks, which were also introduced in Mario Kart Wii, still return and can be used with Gliders for more speed. The manual for the game refers to tricks as Jump Boosts. The Single Player version of VS mode from the other Mario Kart games and the mission mode from Mario Kart DS are also removed.
As usual in the Mario Kart series, Mario Kart 7 has the Grand Prix, where a single player has to compete against computer-controlled opponents in order to obtain the trophies of the eight cups in the game. The Grand Prix has three engine classes: 50cc, 100cc, and 150cc. The higher the engine class, the harder the races will be against the opponents. In this mode, by beating the first cups available, the user unlocks the other cups as well as new elements such as the kart's parts (by collecting coins in each race) or a new playable character. By completing all the engine classes available at the start, the player unlocks the Mirror class.
A notable change featured in the game is the point system given to the racers after a race in Grand Prix mode. It is similar to Mario Kart: Double Dash!! and Mario Kart DS, but racers who place below third get an extra point. Below is a chart of the point spread comparison between these seven games:
Time Trials allows the player to complete all the laps of a race course in the fastest time possible. Mario Kart 7 saves the player's records, and a Ghost for the combo that he or she used. Through Nintendo Network connection, the player can exchange his or her Ghosts to other players, compare their records, and even compete with their Ghosts. Up to seven Ghosts can be raced against at the same time, making it an 8-player race.
In Versus Mode, players can customize the races selecting personally the order of the racecourses and change other settings, such as setting the computer difficulty, the requirements to win the races, and the engine class of the player's and computer players' karts. Unlike in Mario Kart DS and Mario Kart Wii, this mode is no longer available in Single Player mode. In Download Play, the players that do not have the Mario Kart 7 game card in their handhelds play as Shy Guy, like in Mario Kart DS, and are unable to customize their kart.
In Battle Mode, the player can select one of the two types of battles available in Mario Kart 7 and one of the six battle courses that appear in this mode. There are three new courses, and the remaining three are from previous installments in the series.
Racers compete by popping their opponents' balloons to gain points in a time limit of two minutes. All racers start with three balloons and must use the items from the Item Boxes to take away a balloon from their opponents. Hitting a rival is worth a point. Players who lose all of their balloons will have half of their points deducted. Up to three points can be taken away, and the player re-spawns with three balloons.
In Coin Runners (Coin Battle in the PAL region), racers collect the Coins scattered in the battle course within the time limit of two minutes. The racer that has the most Coins at the end wins. Racers can use the items to hit their opponents and make them drop a maximum of three coins that they have collected. Unlike in Mario Kart Wii, only up to ten coins can be held at once. Coins collected in this mode do not count toward the coin total to unlock kart parts.
With the Nintendo 3DS's online capabilities, players can look for other users for online play, local or global range. Players can choose a worldwide competition to race against other users that are connected, race with friends that were met via StreetPass, or play in communities formed by users with customized rules for the races. Just like in Mario Kart Wii, Mario Kart 7 has the Mario Kart Channel that shows updates of online activity automatically through the SpotPass and StreetPass modes. With StreetPass, the users can exchange their Miis, Ghost Data from Time Trials, players' names, and information of communities, while the user will only receive Ghost Data from other users and community recommendations via SpotPass.
When players take part in online races or battles, points are added to or removed from their VR (short for VS Rating) based on their finishing position. The main purpose of VR is determining the skill of players, to match them with players of a similar skill level. Players start with 1000 VR (rather than 5000 VR, as in Mario Kart Wii). Online play in Communities does not use the VR system. Also, a player's VR counts for both races and battles, as opposed to Mario Kart Wii with races affecting VR, and battles affecting BR (Battle Rating).
Names in other languages
Mario Kart 7 includes 17 total drivers (eight starting drivers and nine unlockable drivers). Each driver is categorized into any of five weight classes: Feather being the lightest, followed by Light, Medium, Cruiser, and finally Heavy. This is the only game in the main Mario Kart series to have Wario as an unlockable character (Wario is also unlockable in Mario Kart Arcade GP DX). The player's Mii never appears as a CPU driver, but Miis the player has obtained via StreetPass for this game's Mario Kart Channel can rarely appear as a CPU driver during the standard Grand Prix mode.
*While this is Shy Guy's first appearance as a selectable playable character, players without a card using Download Play are restricted to an alternate colored Shy Guy.
Contrarily to what happens in Mario Kart Wii, where characters have their own statistics bonuses that don't always coincide with the statitics of the vehicles, in Mario Kart 7, beside determining the size of the body frame, characters have the same statistics as kart parts, and all characters are grouped into weight class that share the values of said statistics. The in-game units used for the statistics of both the selected driver and kart parts, called points, are summed for each statistics, giving a number out of 20 called Level, presented by the game's vehicle customization menu in bars whose values range from 0.75 to 5.5 out of 6, with increments of 0.25. In general, lighter characters have high values of Acceleration, Handling, and Off-Road, while heavier characters have high values of Speed and Weight. In this table the Level shown is the one obtained when using standard parts (Standard Kart, standard Tires, Super Gldier) with each driver.
Much like in Super Mario Kart, all playable characters have a rival order, the order CPU drivers finish at the end of the race. However, unlike in Super Mario Kart, it is more simplified, as two characters are set instead of single characters followed by another single character, etc..
Each character's rivals will never change; for example, Bowser will always appear in a Grand Prix if the player is playing as Mario. However, if a set character is supposed to be unlockable, the set character is replaced by a default character until the unlockable character can be used. That will make the default character a third rival that occasionally appears in the race. The only exception to this is Wario, who does not have a third rival due to both of his main rivals being starting characters.
Depending on the character, the kart body that's chosen may appear bigger or smaller. This affects how big of a target that character's kart will be; for example, smaller body frames are harder to hit. The character's weight determines the body Frame size, Metal Mario being the only exception, as he's medium size despite being a heavy character.
Many classic items make a return in Mario Kart 7. The game introduces three new items – the Fire Flower, the Super Leaf, and the Lucky Seven. The Thunder Cloud, POW Block, and Mega Mushroom from Mario Kart Wii are absent from the game. The Fake Item Box from previous installments is also absent, along with Boo. Similar to its predecessors, players receive items by driving through an Item Box found on courses. When players drive through an Item Box, the Item Roulette will select an item. In addition to Item Boxes, Coins can be found on the track. Players can collect the coins by driving through them. Picking up a coin increases a player's top speed. If players collect ten coins, their kart is at maximum speed and cannot gain additional coins. Players lose coins if they get hit by an item or fall in a pit. Collecting a certain amount of coins unlocks vehicle parts to select them in the vehicle's customization menu. Also, unlike in its predecessor, the item warning sound will only play if a Spiny Shell or a Bullet Bill is approaching.
One prominent change to the classic items is that the Spiny Shell now has been redesigned into a wingless form, similar to the one found in Mario Kart 64 and having a new sound effect. Its overall behavior is also changed as well; the shell now flies lower to the ground and is able to hit other racers on its path. In addition, the explosion is noticeably less powerful compared to previous installments.
Items found on tracks
Items received from Item Boxes
Mario Kart 7 introduces 32 courses that include 16 new courses and 16 retro courses, which include two courses from Super Mario Kart, three from Mario Kart 64, one from Mario Kart: Super Circuit, two from the Mario Kart: Double Dash!!, four from Mario Kart DS, and four from Mario Kart Wii. It also features three new battle stages, and three Retro ones. Only the Mushroom Cup and Shell Cup, as well as the battle courses, are available from the start, but upon unlocking them they are available for all game modes, and not just for that specific Engine Class, unlike past installments. Mario Kart 7 has three courses – Wuhu Loop, Maka Wuhu, and Rainbow Road – that have three sections each, with each section counting as one lap. The following charts show the North American English names of the tracks, with their European and Australian variants in italics. Like in Mario Kart DS, the retro tracks' width have been shortened, except the DS retro courses, which have been widened.
Mario Kart 7 introduces the option to personalize the player's vehicle before getting to the race. The player can select the body, the tires, and the glider to build the desired kart. By collecting many coins from the races in Grand Prix mode, the player can unlock a new body, a new set of tires, or a new glider to use. It is possible to acquire a maximum of ten coins in a race. As the user chooses the parts, the stats may vary according to the parts' combination, and the vehicle will work better in particular situations.
Vehicle parts and stats
Each part affects each kart's stats differently. There are 17 kart bodies, 10 tires, and 7 gliders for a grand total of 1,190 kart combinations. The stats are in units, called points, that are out of 20, in each stat the points of the parts and of the driver are summed to give a number, called Level, that will determine the actual values of the corresponding in-game stats. The Level is presented by the game's customization menu as ranging from 0.75 to 5.5 with increments of 0.25. However, only the Speed, Acceleration, Weight, Handling, and Off-Road stats are shown in said menu. The following is a list of the stats presented as difference with respect to the stats of standard parts (Standard Kart, Standard Tires, Super Glider), it shows the North American kart names. If the kart has a different name in Europe, the European name will be put in parentheses under the North American name. All kart parts are sorted based on how they're ordered in-game, starting with the standard parts.
The only parts that are already unlocked are the Standard kart, the Standard tires, the Super Glider, and four random parts. Unlocking a different kart part requires a certain total of coins collected from every race in Grand Prix. Once the player has reached that amount, a random kart part is unlocked. The only exceptions to this rule are the gold parts and the Beast Glider.
Players can unlock random parts by collecting the following coin values:
Just like in Mario Kart Wii, Mario Kart 7 has Normal Staff Ghosts and Expert Staff Ghosts, which appear in the Time Trials game mode. The Normal Staff Ghosts are available at the start, but when the player gets a time higher than the Normal Staff Ghost of a track, the Expert Staff Ghost of the same track will be unlocked.
Normal Staff Ghosts
Expert Staff Ghosts
Mario Kart 7 is the first Nintendo 3DS game to use the 3DS's ability to patch games, spurred by significant shortcut exploits found on certain courses. Updating is free, with the data being categorized as 3DS Add-On Content; the patches can be deleted at any time and have no effect in Single Player and Local Multiplayer, but are mandatory to play online. An SD Card is required to download the patches, however.
Nintendo eShop description
The game has received generally positive reviews. As of December 12, 2013, Metacritic has an average score of 85, including 64 positive reviews, and 9 mixed. GameRankings has an average score of 85.17% based on 50 reviews. Critics generally praise the new glider and underwater mechanic that the game adds, but often cite how similarly it feels to past entries of the Mario Kart series.
GameXplain has given the game's Multiplayer 4.5 stars out of 5, and Single-Player a 3.5 out of 5. Audrey Drake of IGN gave the game a 9.0/10. She criticized the character roster for being small and the potential of the Spiny Shell "screwing up" the race, but she praised the innovation and the polish the game provides. Griffin McElroy of Joystiq gave it 4.5 stars out of 5. He praised the game for being well-polished with only a few flaws, noting the Spiny Shell as "unavoidable" and "race-ruining" (even though the former statement is technically incorrect, as a Spiny Shell can be avoided with precise timing). Adam Biessener of Gameinformer gave it an 8.5/10. He praised the first person view, the new tracks, and the new glider and underwater features while criticizing the Battle Mode, and online modes "being a distraction rather than a destination". 1up gave it a B- grade. Tom McShea of Gamespot gave it a 8/10. He remarked that the game has "been the same as previous entries of the series, but the innovations have kept it fresh", while criticizing the online structure and lack of mission mode. Justin Towell on Gamesradar gave it a perfect 10/10. He praised the fanservice and how "anyone can pick up and enjoy" the game. However, Jim Sterling of Destructoid rated the game a 5.0/10, criticizing how this game is "practically the same as any other game in the Mario Kart series". He ended it with, "Mario Kart is in need of a severe shake up. This stagnant, crawling, and indolent effort is not it".
The game sold over 420,000 units in its first 4 days in Japan. As of March 31, 2014, Mario Kart 7 is the 2nd best selling game for the Nintendo 3DS, having sold about 9.62 million copies worldwide, and also the best selling Mario game on the 3DS.
Pre-release and unused content
Some of the most well known glitches are found in Wuhu Loop, Maka Wuhu and GBA Bowser Castle 1, if executed correctly they allow the driver to skip sections of the track. On May 15, 2012 an update was released that made these glitches unusable in multiplayer, but they are still available while playing offline.
References to other games
References in later games
Names in other languages