Three weeks ago, Nintendo's plucky plumber leapt into the third dimension with Super Mario 3D Land. This time, he's driving there.
Mario Kart 7 (Nintendo)Releasing December 4th on the 3DS, Mario Kart 7 is the latest entry in a venerable series that dates back almost 20 years to the Super NES. As always, players will get the chance to place famous characters from the Mario franchise in the driver's seat of a frenzied, no-holds-barred go-kart race.
Nintendo's hoping Mario Kart 7's release will consolidate the holiday-season sales momentum generated by the twin launches of 3D Land and The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, thereby redeeming a generally disappointing year for the video game giant.
The reviews are already pouring in, and the consensus is positive, though not ecstatic: Mario Kart 7 is averaging a respectable 85 at Metacritic.
Joystiq's Griffin McElroy calls it "an exquisitely polished game with few flaws," scoring it 4.5 out of 5 stars. The flying comes in for particular praise.
"It's frantic and incredibly satisfying," he enthuses, "especially when you can quickly eyeball the trajectory required to drop a shell right on the head of an opponent." As for the multiplayer, Mario Kart 7 provides "the first cohesive online experience available on the [3DS]."
IGN is equally impressed, claiming in a 9/10 review that "with memorable new tracks, well implemented gyro controls, the triumphant return of coins and a handful of new modes, Mario Kart 7 is full of win."
1UP isn't so quick to jump on the go-kart, slapping the game with a mediocre B-. While conceding that Mario Kart 7 "is leagues better than its predecessor, the deeply disappointing Mario Kart Wii," writer Jeremy Parish deplores "how little MK7 brings to the table to call its own. … I look to Nintendo for 'great,' not merely 'not bad.'"
But the general consensus seems to be that, for devoted fans of the franchise, Mario Kart 7 is a definite buy. Still, if you don't fall into that lane, you might want to think carefully before you start your engines.