Developer: Nintendo EAD
We've all been there - safely out at the front of the pack, pootling away in first place. You can see the finish line, it's so very close; so close that the exultation begins to boil up unconsciously. You've executed every corner perfectly, sweeping round bends in glorious arcs, the sparks licking at your tyres heralding helpful boosts. The sweet scent of victory fills your nostrils, you allow yourself a swift gasp of anticipa...
...and then everything is ruined in the space of two seconds. A blue shell arrives out of nowhere and, as you roll uncontrollably off course, your pace halted by its arrival, three karts accompanied by the mocking noises of a plumber and his pet dinosaur scream past you. Cushions are thrown, windows smashed, vile epithets are hurled at little old ladies out in the street who've done nothing wrong.
Mario Kart - Nintendo's flagship casual racing series - has always been a game of frenzied fun and fantastic frustration. The AI has forever trodden a fine line between challenging and flagrant cheating, and that's absolutely no different here. 50cc and 100cc have been made somewhat easier, the computer controlled characters are far less likely to usurp your position of power with cheap shots. To be honest it's a little easy, but will provide a great entry point for younger players.Click here to read more...
There's a brilliance in the simplicity of Mario Kart that has stood the series in good stead all these years. Not for the fat, red plumber and his karting cohorts the blistering pace of other arcade racers. No, Nintendo, as ever, had a plan, they perfected that plan, and then they stuck with it. Since it appeared on the SNES, Mario Kart has been a multiplayer mainstay, a game suitable for all ages, as fun for five years as it is for five minutes.
Nintendo's approach has more often than not been rather conservative, although the Gamecube's Double Dash! introduced a significant number of alterations to the formula, with mixed reception. The reason is simple: money. Mario's racing adventures have been popular and lucrative, and you don't fix what ain't broke.
The 3DS, however, at a crucial stage in its fledgling life, could use some fixing. I was at a StreetPass meet a few weeks back and the consensus was that although the console had an enormous amount of potential, that its social functions were exciting in a Western environment that has not embraced physical social gaming as Japan has, there just weren't enough games to take advantage of that. Ocarina of Time 3D is a fine game, but asking a game that was a killer app fourteen years ago to do the same job for a new console now is pushing it.
The two names that stood out in our discussion were obvious, in retrospect. Two Nintendo titles built close to their hearts, popular on a range of consoles. One was Smash Bros., the other, of course, was Mario Kart. For the latter, at least, it would seem that we are getting our wish.Click here to read more...