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The 3DS’ capabilities make for some interesting multiplayer methods. There’s the standard wireless connection to play with other 3DS and Mario Kart owners nearby, but annoyingly, Nintendo expects each player to buy their own copy to play the multiplayer – Download Play removes the vehicle customization options for those leeching off their friends, and only gives them a Shy Guy to play as. There could be two reasons for this – one, that the game or systems can’t actually transfer all the data across, in which case, fair enough.
Or it might just be Nintendo being tight, and wanting more copies sold. Whatever happened to split-screen, same-room multiplayer? Could you imagine if the console counterparts of the series required each player to buy a copy? You couldn’t get away with that, so it should be the same here.
Regardless, Nintendo have certainly incentivised buying a copy of your own, incorporating Streetpass and Spotpass into their multiplayer. Not only can you race against people in the same wireless range, or over the Internet via Wi-Fi, Spotpass will download Ghost data and community stuff, and Streetpassing another Mario Kart player will swap “profiles”, which includes their Mii, Ghost data, a custom kart and a custom Grand Prix. Essentially, you can race across four tracks they’ve set previously, against a bot version of their Mii, which drives the kart they pieced together for themselves. Whether or not you beat them, your stats are saved and displayed on your profile.
Streetpassed Miis also seem to pop up in other ways too. One guy’s Mii I collected this way appeared in a single player Grand Prix. All up, it’s a great way to implement the fancy schmancy features of the 3DS into the software.
Visual & Audio:
It took a lot of willpower to not mention the 3D effects before this section, but let me tell you, it looks awesome. I mean, I’ve been playing for ages and I still sometimes stop, drive up onto a hill and just look at stuff. It creates a great sense of depth, and makes it easier to judge when to start drifting around a corner or dodge a banana. I hear that a lot of people turn the 3D effect down or off while playing, which I don’t understand. It looks amazing! Don’t miss out on that.
Apart from the 3Dness, the world and characters look more detailed than ever, possibly even more so than the Wii iteration. The tracks are mostly reminiscent of various Mushroom Kingdom locations, but it seems a couple are straight out of Wii Sports or its follow-ups. In particular, the likes of Bowser’s Castle and the ever-present, effervescent Rainbow Road look amazing, and Piranha Plant Pipeway follows Ninty’s recent trend of nostalgia, creating a 3D effect out of the style of the original Super Mario Bros.
But visuals are only half of the equation that equals Mario’s magic. Audio plays a massive part too, and in this case it excels. Mario games always recycle old tunes in great ways, and Mario Kart 7 is no different, while classic tracks are accompanied by their classic tracks – if you get what I mean.
The character voices are also emblematic of Mario games, and these are also used well, although with the majority of characters not speaking English, their various grunts and squeals can get repetitive. But by far the most annoying character, in terms of sound effects, is you. I
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