Mario hold­ing his fans with Kart7 es­capade

The Press - The Box - - FRONT PAGE - GER­ARD CAMP­BELL

Mario Kart 7 For: Nin­tendo 3DS From: Nin­tendo Clas­si­fi­ca­tion: G RRP: $ 100 Score:

Nin­tendo has sur­vived as long as it has off the back of a hand­ful of key char­ac­ters: Mario, the Ital­ian plum­ber, be­ing one of them. And now he’s back as strong as ever.

Mario Kart 7 is es­sen­tially the same game as found on Mario Kart DS for the Nin­tendo DS, where Mario and all the other recog­nis­able char­ac­ters from Mario games duke it out in gokarts around a va­ri­ety of race tracks. The rac­ing is spiced up with power-ups that of­fer dif­fer­ent means to slow down or at­tack other play­ers – banana skins, ghosts that squirt ink, speed boosts, das­tardly blue shells – and the power-ups are ran­domised so you’ll never know which one you have un­til you’ve driven over one of the spin­ning power-up cubes that ap­pear on the track dur­ing races.

Col­lect­ing gold coins dot­ted about race tracks – there are an as­tound­ing 32 tracks in all (16 new and 16 from pre­vi­ous games) – un­locks new ve­hi­cles and new op­tions to cus­tomise your kart (fat­ter tyres, wings).

The online play worked with­out a hitch: I was able to race against other play­ers around the world with­out a prob­lem. I lost most of the races I en­tered, but at least I was able to join games ef­fort­lessly. Un­for­tu­nately, pair­ing with friends to play Mario Kart 7 is more of a con­vo­luted process as it in­volves one per­son set­ting up a com­mu­nity, then hav­ing to mes­sage you with a code that you must en­ter to join that com­mu­nity. You can’t send in­vites to friends to play the game. Also there’s no voice chat ca­pa­bil­i­ties, like with full-sized home con­soles, so any com­mu­ni­ca­tion with other play­ers is re­stricted to prepre­pared state­ments like ‘‘I have to go now’’ or ‘‘Good game’’.

Mario Kart 7 proves that stick­ing to the tried-and-true for­mula pays div­i­dends, es­pe­cially when that for­mula in­volves Mario, a Nin­tendo sta­ple, and it – to­gether with Su­per Mario 3D Land – are re­viv­ing the for­tunes of Nin­tendo’s be­lea­guered 3DS hand­held.

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