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‘Mario Kart 7′ is Just Like the Mario Kart Games — But That’s Fine With Us

Mario Kart 7
Nintendo Entertainment
You’ve got to hand it to Nintendo– they are king at making the same game over and over again while adoring fans — us included — squeal with delight. You sell yourself again and again to us, claiming you’re different but you’re always the same. You make us feel like Rihanna, ‘Mario Kart 7.’

We just love the way you lie.

Adjustments in technology and minutiae aside, ‘Mario Kart 7′ is exactly the same game we spent all night playing in 1992. The latest version is the seventh game on the seventh Nintendo system, and all of them have been addictive. ‘Mario Kart,’ we love your highs and lows; the way you use us and abuse us with your cheap blue shell attacks that send us into last place and those insidious lightning blasts that shrink us just as we were starting to catch up.

The game seems like a natural on every Nintendo console, but seems particularly geared to turn the 3DS into a device you physically cannot live without. Using the system’s 3D capabilities to add depth and immediacy to its ‘Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs’ coarse design, as well as a thorough online system that takes advantage of the 3DS’s WiFi capabilities, ‘Mario Kart 7′ also carries the distinct advantage that it can be played on the toilet. And let us testify: If you’ve never dropped a turtle shell on an opponent while dropping a deuce, the you haven’t lived.

As much as ‘Mario Kart 7′ nails the feel of previous games in the series, what it adds makes the game so great that it’s impossible to return to the others. Launch ramps now allow users to temporarily glide through the air, adding another dimension of strategy to the racing. Do we play it safe and coast back to the track, or pull back on the throttle and gun it for the shortcut high above? The answer, of course, is to spazz out, do a nose dive in the lava and then swear loudly at the game until it resets and allows you to keep finding new ways to screw up until you finally nail the coveted three-star gold medal rating and unlock a new part for your kart.

Oh, you heard us right, son. For the first time, ‘Mario Kart 7′ lets you select your karts piece by piece, racing to earn upgrades in order to customize your ride to your style. Sure, seemingly every other racing game has allowed you to do this for the past 15 years, but because ‘Mario Kart’ games treat us so badly, we lap up the new feature like it’s a phone call from that girl in the mailroom who never responds to our texts.

‘Mario Kart 7′ may be repeating itself, but hell, that’s what racing is all about. It’s not about seeing the same stuff as you repeat lap after lap, it’s about staying out in front and making others eat your turtle shells.

RATING: 9.5/10

Mario Kart 7 ($40), was developed by Nintendo EAD and Retro Studios, published by Nintendo and available on the 3DS. Rated E. The publisher provided a copy of the game for review.

Read Phil Villarreal’s blog at becauseitoldyouso.com and follow him on Twitter: @philvillarreal

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