Thursday, May 30, 2024

Mario Kart 7 (Nintendo 3DS, 2011)


I mentioned playing this back to back with the DS one in 2015 or so. Well, let's see if I form any new opinions playing them back to back for a second time. Originally I liked this one a lot more, but ever since I've heard about how great the DS one is.

Fun Fact: This was the first 3DS game I ever bought/played/finished, which shows how much I like this series.

The character select is very limited compared to the Wii game, which was the last one to come out before this. There are a fraction of the characters here, but on the bright side, no baby characters. There are a few hidden racers you can unlock, but all of them require beating various cups on 150cc.

Toad Circuit - We open with a post-armageddon hell world; Toad may not have made it into my run of the previous game, but clearly he's taken over in the interim between the games.

God help us.

"This world is my dominion now!" screeches Toad as small bats fly out of his mouth.

In this hell dimension, Toad is always in 1st and everyone else is always in 8th, fleeing from a horde of plague rats.

"On the day of the eclipse, my unholy union with Princess Toadstool will produce the Dark Chylde."

Mario snaps awake in a cold sweat. It was all a terrible nightmare, like Mario Bros 2. I mean Mario Bros 2 was literally a dream he had, not that the game is bad.

Daisy Hills - Just a pretty level with snow-capped peaks and windmills. Basically it's Switzerland: Mario Kart Edition.

Cheep Cheep Cape - A fair amount of this level is underwater which is kind of interesting. It doesn't change the mechanics of the game much, besides making everything a little floatier.

Shy Guy Bazaar - Mushroom Cup caps off with this unique zone with a Middle-Eastern vibe.

It kinda feels like a night version of Delfino Plaza if The Caliphate won.



Luigi Raceway (N64) - Next up I decided to run the four retro cups before continuing the main game. Shell Cup is the easiest one as usual. This stage is just really gorgeous, and I gotta say 3DS graphics are underrated.

This very much feels like an N64 level, even if the visuals have been upscaled.

Spending most of my time in the lead on 50cc has some drawbacks. You get spanked with Blue Shells a lot, and your powerup selection is abysmal. Tons of Bananas (which are just as useless as the previous game), and the meh Green Shell if you're lucky.

Bowser Castle 1 (GBA) - The GBA levels especially benefit from visual up-scaling, because GBA graphics looked rough by this time.

Mushroom Gorge (Wii) - This was a particular level that really gained something from turning on the system's optional 3D effect. The colors and everything really popped. While 3D is usually a gimmick, it really worked in this game.

Luigi's Mansion (DS) - What I said in the DS version: Nice tie-in level with a game that was a big deal at the time, with lots of spooky stuff. It's very green.

Koopa Troopa Beach (N64) - The next retro cup starts with a beach level, which I'm always into. Took me a long time to play the N64 game, but if I played it back in the day, this would have been one of my most-liked stages.

Mario Circuit 2 (SNES) - Now here's a real classic that takes me back in time. It's a basic track with few obstacles, but damn if it isn't a ton of fun and a blast from the past. I still maintain that the SNES version is one of the best in the series, though it may be nostalgia doing a lot of that talking.

Coconut Mall (Wii) - This looks more like a Tony Hawk level than a Mario Kart level. Great idea here.

Feels like I should be doing ollies and grinding down the escalator.

Waluigi Pinball (DS) - So Waluigi was supposed to be in this game and got cut, along with a bunch of other characters. ...and in Waluigi's case, nothing of value was lost HEYOOO.

This is a terrific level where you have to dodge giant pinball balls while a symphony of light and sound unfolds around you. ...that might be overrating it a little IDK

Here's what I said about it in Mario Kart DSMuch as I dislike Waluigi, this is a cool idea for a level. It's a giant pinball board, with everything that goes along with that.

Kalimari Desert (N64) - Leaf Cup begins with the obligatory desert zone. The game does lens flares really well. Other than that this is kind of a bland, dusty track. It has music refrains from The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly which is a cool easter egg.

This level also gets creative with a train blocking the track at intervals. These retro cups are one of the best ideas Nintendo has ever had, and they successfully make you want to go back and revisit these other games. Legitimately want to go run the N64 version after some of these stages.

DK Pass (DS) - What I said about this in the previous post: This one's just a full-on careen down a snowy mountain, for snowboarding-thusiasts.

Daisy Cruiser (Gamecube) - One of my favorite tracks in the series, this one is a pretty basic track, but you can't beat having a race on a giant moving boat. Very inspired track from the era of Mario Sunshine and Wind Waker.

Maple Treeway (Wii) - Probably the most natural level in the game, this place is totally overgrown with nature to the point that you can hardly even see the track. It also has a SWEET Autumn look to it.

Also, giant Wigglers show up here. I've liked these guys since the first time I saw them in those Nintendo Power comics as a kid. For some reason they still have a positive effect on me every time I see one, maybe because it's such a rare thing.

Koopa Cape (Wii) - Lightning Cup, the final retro cup, is the most challenging of the bunch. Starts with Koopa Cape which is an awesome water-based level.

Underwater driving doesn't happen often enough in this series. I love the physics of it.

Dino Dino Jungle (Gamecube) - It's a jungle level, not much to this one. Sometimes giant dinosaur feet come down as track obstacles.

Airship Fortress (DS) - Another interesting idea, this is what it sounds like. A fortress with a bunch of airships. Would have been a good time to see some Koopalings, but not in this game.

Rainbow Road (SNES) - The last retro track in the game is the biggest blast from the past out of all of them.

This'll pretty much always be at the top of my list for Kart tracks. The music is great and every time I play it it brings me right back to 1996 and falling off the track constantly.

Wuhu Island Loop - Back to the actual Mario Kart 7 track lineup with the Flower Cup. This is a sprawling level on an island, with an oddly realistic sounding name.

It also has real-world stuff like cars, and they try to run you off the road just like real drivers!

Mario Circuit - There have been too damn many Mario Circuits at this point. Sweet lens flares here.

This track is mostly notable for having Castle Toadstool and letting you drive right through it.

Melody Motorway - I love the music-themed levels and there aren't many of them in the series. This one's as great as all the others, with giant instruments and musical cues mixed into the track.

My favorite part is this visualizer-tunnel that moves to the beat of the music. Everything about this stage is cool, and given how well-done the few music tracks have been in this series, I wouldn't mind seeing an entire Mario Kart game of just musical tracks.

Alpine Pass - SUPER pretty level that couldn't have existed on the DS.

The forest setting is great, and it's the only level in the game where you can fly over the Finish banner (that I know of).

Piranha Plant Pipeway - Star Cup begins with an interesting level. A lot of it has a "2D" retro feel to it, with blocks and foes that are low-polygon and look like they were yoinked right out of an NES game.

It's also the stage with the most underwater gameplay of any track in the game.

Wario's Galleon - Now this is a great level. It's like a stormy ghost ship, without the ghosts. Seriously not sure what this level has to do with Wario. The sky is tremendous here.

Koopa City - Oh man, this level is even better, they're on a roll. If I had to pick a favorite level in the game, this is the frontrunner. It's a huge futuristic city with Bowser on the Blade Runner esque building-sized screens.

The pouring rain adds a ton to this one too.

Wuhu Mountain Loop - Star Cup concludes with another gorgeous level. I feel like the Star Cup ends up being the best one in a bunch of Mario Kart games... it did in the original and it definitely does here.

For the Special Cup I whip out my favorite Character from the SNES version: Koopa-Troopa. He hasn't gotten much of a fair shake in the sequels.

DK Jungle - Donkey Kong themed level with various references to that series, mainly DK64. It's a little disappointing that you can't interact with any of it, like the DK barrels.

Rosalina's Ice World - A full-on ice world with caverns and icicles and everything. Much more interesting than the previous level and has the level of stage hazards you'd expect from a Special Cup track. It's really gorgeous to look at, as well.

Bowser's Castle - Speaking of, this level is WAY prettier than any Bowser Castle level should ever be. It's got an impressive super-jump at the end that makes use of the glide mechanic these later Kart games have.

Rainbow Road - Another good version of this timeless zone. They've all been good. This one has the Mario Kart 64 version's railings, but only for part of it. Also all 3 laps are completely different, which is a nice surprise. A couple of tracks do that, but none are this wildly different from lap to lap.

At one point the track drives right over the moon. My God!

And then it lands on the moon and lets you drive around on that too. With all the bumps and potholes on our streets, this moon-drive is the most realistic track in the game.

That's it for this game. What's that Mii doing in the middle? He did NOTHING! Also it's someone else's Mii, as I'm playing this on a purchased modded 3DS.

So now that I've played both of the DS 'Karts for a second time, do I still think Mario Kart 7 is the superior one, contrary to popular belief? ...yeah, actually. It looks better and the level sets are really good. Mario Kart DS also punches well above its weight though, and probably has better track designs than this one. However I can't get over how damn gorgeous this game looks in comparison. Both of these games are great.

Super Mario Kart

Super Mario Kart, Part Two

Mario Kart 64

Mario Kart: Super Circuit

Mario Kart: Double Dash

Mario Kart DS

Mario Kart Wii

Mario Kart 7

Mario Kart 8

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