Mario Kart 7
|Mario Kart 7|
Packaging artwork released for all territories.
|Developer(s)||Nintendo EAD Group No. 1
Mario Kart 7 (マリオカート7 Mario Kāto Sebun?) is a 2011 racing video game. It is the seventh major installment in the Mario Kart series and the third to be released for handheld consoles. It was developed by Nintendo EAD and Retro Studios and published by Nintendo for the Nintendo 3DS. As in previous games in the series, players participate in go-kart racing on various Mario-themed tracks, playing as one of seventeen different Mario characters. While racing, the players make use of power-up items that either assist their character or hinder opposing characters. New additions to the game include hang-gliding attachments for karts, the ability to drive underwater, the ability to drive in first-person, and the ability to fully customize the vehicles' builds. Mario Kart 7 supports both local and online multiplayer for up to eight players. The game was released worldwide in early December 2011.
It is the second 3DS game to sell over 5 million units after Super Mario 3D Land. Nintendo announced that they would re-release the game, along with some of their earlier published games for the Nintendo 3DS, as a downloadable title via Nintendo eShop. The downloadable version was released in the PAL region on October 4, 2012, October 18, 2012 in North America, and November 1, 2012 in Japan. As of December 31, 2016, it has sold 14.82 million copies worldwide, making it the second best-selling 3DS game of all-time, behind Pokémon X and Y. Mario Kart 7 received positive reception, gaining aggregate critical scores of 85% and 84.96% on Metacritic and GameRankings respectively.
Mario Kart 7 carries on traditional Mario Kart gameplay in which players race against each other in go-karts across a variety of themed tracks. Most tracks are based off various locations in the Mario series, but two tracks are set on Wuhu Island, which was featured in non-Mario video games Wii Fit, Wii Fit Plus and Wii Sports Resort. While driving, the players use power-up items, obtained from running into item boxes located at specific points on the track, that are used to hinder the progression of opponents or to help the player in the race. Some of these power-ups include the series staple items Koopa Shells, Banana Peels, and Super Mushrooms. Mario Kart 7 also features three items new to the Mario Kart series: the Fire Flower, the Super Leaf, and the Lucky Seven, which bestows seven items at once. Coins, originally introduced in Super Mario Kart, are scattered about the tracks; collecting them increases the kart's top speed. Up to ten coins can be collected in each race, but some will be lost if the player comes into contact with hazards or goes out of bounds. Jump actions, which were introduced in Mario Kart Wii as tricks, lets players obtain a brief burst of speed when driving off ramps. In addition to traditional controls, Mario Kart 7 can be played using the Nintendo 3DS gyroscope, in which the action is viewed in first person and the player steers the kart simply by turning the entire game system.
Mario Kart 7 is particularly notable for sporting features unseen in previous installments. Players are able to customize their vehicles, choosing from various vehicle bodies which range in weight and engine power, a selection of wheels which affect a kart's handling on certain surfaces, and a choice of retractable hang-gliders, which allow players to glide through the air. Hang gliding may allow players to skip over parts of the track or locate new routes and shortcuts that are otherwise inaccessible. There are 17 kart frames, 10 wheels, and 7 gliders, which makes a grand total of 1,190 possible kart combinations for the players to use during the game. In previous installments, driving the kart into a body of water has been considered going out of bounds and would penalize the player by delaying them for several seconds. In Mario Kart 7 however, the karts are fully submersible and the tracks feature segments that are completely underwater.
The game features sixteen playable Mario characters, including Wiggler, Honey Queen, Lakitu, and Metal Mario, who are new to the series, as well as Mii characters saved in the Nintendo 3DS Mii Maker for a grand total of seventeen. Like in previous installments, characters are divided into three different weight classes, which impact their driving styles. Mario Kart 7 offers 32 different tracks, which consist of 16 tracks unique to the game and 16 "classic" tracks, remakes of tracks featured in the previous six installments. Each race consists of three laps around each track, with the exception of three tracks (Wuhu Loop, Maka Wuhu, and Rainbow Road) which consist of only a single lap divided into three sections.
Mario Kart 7 features four single-player game modes: Grand Prix, Time Trial, Balloon Battle, and Coin Runners. Some modes feature multiplayer options. In Grand Prix, the player races against seven computer-controlled opponents in one of eight different cups, each featuring four tracks. The player receives points based on his or her finishing position in each race. After all four races, there will be a trophy presentation and the player receives a trophy depending on the final standings; bronze for third place, silver for second place and gold for the winner. Along with the trophy, players will also receive a star rank for their performance. In Time Trial, the player races alone to finish the course in the fastest time possible using three mushrooms that can be used at any time during the run. The best time for each track is saved as a ghost, which the player can compete against in later trials. If the player has SpotPass enabled on his or her Nintendo 3DS, he or she will be able to download ghosts from other players and can race against up to seven other ghosts simultaneously. In the Balloon Battle and Coin Runners battle games, the players drive around one of six closed arenas (three for this game and three from previous installments) to collect items and attack their opponents to score points within the time limit of two minutes. The player can play online via Nintendo Network, participating in races or battles with up to seven other players. Game data can also be exchanged with other Nintendo 3DS consoles via StreetPass. While playing through wireless communication and/or online communication, certain courses (i.e. 3DS Toad Circuit, DS Airship Fortress, etc.) are different from the single-player versions.
Mario Kart 7 contains 32 race tracks, featuring 16 from old Mario Kart titles and 16 new unique tracks to the game. The tracks are split into 8 cups, with 4 tracks in each cup. The cups are the Mushroom, Flower, Star, Special, Shell, Banana, Leaf, and Lightning Cups. The Shell, Banana, Leaf, and Lightning Cups form the "Retro Grand Prix" and contain classic tracks, while the Mushroom, Flower, Star and Special Cups comprise the "Nitro Grand Prix", which have contain the completely new courses. As usual in the Mario Kart series, tracks are based thematically on locations in the Mario universe, with the notable exception of the new courses Wuhu Island and Maka Wuhu, both based on Wii Sports titles. In addition there are 6 arena courses available for Battle mode, which includes three original courses and three retro courses.
Nintendo EAD began development on Mario Kart 7 in early 2010. The idea to have hang gliding and submersible karts came during the development of the previous Mario Kart game, Mario Kart Wii, and was one of the first gameplay mechanics implemented. The ability to customize the player's kart was added in order to make gameplay more strategic and to boost the multiplayer experience. The game was first publicly announced at E3 2010 under the tentative title Mario Kart 3DS and then shown again at E3 2011, where it was announced for a late 2011 release.
Because Nintendogs + Cats was scheduled to be released first, Mario Kart 7 was given lower priority and only eight staff members were assigned to begin work on it. When it was time to focus on the game, producer Hideki Konno realized that there was not enough staff available due to many other titles being developed at the same time, including The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword which had its production extended into 2011. In order to finish the game in time for the 2011 Christmas season, Nintendo consulted with Retro Studios, which had just finished making Donkey Kong Country Returns, to co-develop the game. Retro started work on Mario Kart 7 in December 2010. The team focused on producing the classic racing courses, remakes of courses from earlier Mario Kart titles, in order to learn both "lessons about the development process [for Mario Kart games]" and "about what makes a good course from a design perspective."
Shortly after the release of Mario Kart 7, it was discovered that three of its available race tracks (Wuhu Loop/Wuhu Island Loop, Maka Wuhu/Wuhu Mountain Loop, and GBA Bowser Castle 1) had each contained (a) glitch(es) that allowed players to skip over a significant portion of the track, often exploited as a cheat during online play. Although Nintendo initially reported in January 2012 that there were no plans to release a fix, a downloadable patch that removes the glitches during online play was released in the Nintendo eShop on May 15. Players who do not download and install the patch will be unable to connect and play Mario Kart 7 online. However, the patch does not affect single-player (Grand Prix, Time Trials, and StreetPass) and local wireless-multiplayer.
Mario Kart 7 has received mostly positive reviews. It holds an 85/100 rating on Metacritic based on 60 critic reviews and an 85.17% rating on GameRankings based on 45 reviews. IGN scored it a 9/10, praising "a handful of incredible innovations" and the game's multiplayer, particularly community features and customizable racing rules, but criticizing the small roster of only 17 characters, compared to that of Mario Kart Wii's 25 characters. Computer and Video Games gave the game a 9.4/10 and Eurogamer gave it an 8/10. Nintendo World Report gave the game an 8.5, stating that it is more of the same and the gliding mechanics feel underutilized.
On the more negative side, Jim Sterling of Destructoid gave the game a 5/10, stating that "sticking to tradition has not worked in Nintendo's favor" and saying the new glider and underwater sections "exist to provide the illusion of variety rather than actually altering the core experience". Giant Bomb scored the game a 3/5, noting "your enjoyment of Mario Kart 7 will likely hinge on your continued appreciation of [the series'] formula".
IGN awarded Mario Kart 7 the IGN's Editors' Choice. Mario Kart 7 was nominated for "Best 3DS Game" and "Best Driving Game" at GameTrailers' 2011 Game of the Year Awards, but lost both respectively to Super Mario 3D Land and Forza Motorsport 4. Digital Spy awarded Mario Kart 7 the "Best Game of 2011" for the Digital Spy readers' awards of 2011. Edge awarded Mario Kart 7 as the best portable game of 2011.
Guinness World Records awarded Mario Kart 7 as the best selling racing game on a portable console in its Gamer's Edition in 2013.
Mario Kart 7 sold 3.48 million units in the U.S. as of August 2014. In Japan, the game has sold over 1.5 million units as of January 25, 2012. As of December 31, 2016, the game has sold 14.82 million units globally. The game has been nominated for "Favorite Video Game" twice in the Kids Choice Awards, but lost to Just Dance 3 in the 2012 edition and Just Dance 4 in the 2013 edition.
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