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March 6, 2014 / Jett

Mario Kart 7 Impressions

There once was a time when I thought that the Mario Kart franchise would always be the king of kart racing video games. Some of its entries are all-time classics, while the rest were still better than any of its contemporaries. But then Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing Transformed happened. Featuring crazy tracks, a deep single player campaign and transforming vehicles that fundamentally changed this kart racer into a jet and hover boat racer too, that game took the genre to new heights.

Mario Kart 7‘s big new feature is also air and water racing…sort of. You can glide off of specific jumps and drive under water, though the implementation of it here pales in comparison to Sonic’s latest outing. Unfortunately, besides that, there isn’t much here that you haven’t experienced upwards of six times before.

As with virtually every Mario Kart release, you’ll get 32 tracks. Half of them are all-new, while the rest are modernized versions of past tracks from previous games. You can play them by yourself in Grand Prix mode, do time trials, or race online against others. There are also a handful of battle mode maps to compete in. Of course, you’ll get to partake in these antics with the classic Mario Kart cast, though there are a few additional characters that can be unlocked.

I could not shake the sense of deja vu I felt as I raced through all of the new tracks. While it’s as mechanically sound as ever, the new elements of gliding and driving underwater add no real value to the action. It also hurts that almost all of the new tracks are dull. Despite the fact that I was playing a fast-paced racing game, I felt like I was playing the video game equivalent of watching paint dry.

If there wasn’t any competition in the karting space, this would probably have held its own as a competent Mario Kart that’s at least good enough to hold players over for the next little while. However, in the face of Sonic and Sega All-Stars Racing Transformed, Mario Kart 7 never gets out of first gear while Sonic and friends leave it in the dust. I’m really hoping that Nintendo steps it up on the next iteration of the franchise, cause this one is a stinker.

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