News Article

First Impressions: Mario Kart (3DS)

Posted by Corbie Dillard

Mario Kart goes 3D!

The Mario Kart titles have become a staple of Nintendo's consoles and handheld systems over the past 19 years, so the fact that a new game is being released for Nintendo's new 3DS system comes as no real surprise. What does come as a surprise is how many new ideas the developers have injected into this newest rendition and the sheer impact they have on the actual gameplay experience.

For the preview build at E3, Nintendo had 5 tracks playable, but you were limited to two laps per track. Most of the gameplay elements remained very reminiscent of past Mario Kart releases, but there were a few new twists tossed in that greatly increased the playability of the game.

For starters, you will now sprout wings whenever your kart goes airborne. You can then control the glider, which will allow you to maneuver your way around obstacles and to specific landing spots. This is a good time to not only get yourself lined up for your landing, but also a good way to push other racers of-course. Going underwater also shows off a new accessory to your kart, as a propellor will pop up on the back of your vehicle whenever you submerge it. And while the game still controls and feels the same underwater, it does provide some really cool visual touches that show off the system's 3D capabilities rather well.

In Mario Kart 3DS you still have the same basic power-ups that you can pick up throughout each race, some more useful than others. The ink blots seem to be a bit less distracting this time around, although when they first pop onto your screen they can throw you off your game a bit, especially if you're viewing the game at higher levels of 3D. If you find yourself getting overly competitive, you can even bump a fellow rider using one of the action buttons. There's also the ability to customize your kart with different body styles and tires, the latter of which can determine how your vehicle will handle on varying surfaces.

When it comes to tracks, the Mario Kart series has always been hit or miss, but the five playable tracks in this preview build were all top notch. Not only were there new tracks like Wuhu Island and the jungle from Donkey Kong Country Returns, but the returning tracks were equally well-designed and offered a nice challenge in the way they were laid out. You can tell that the developers put a lot of time and thought into the game's raceways and responsive controls and it really pays off in the overall experience.

Visually, Mario Kart 3D is leaps ahead of anything we've seen on any of Nintendo's portable systems before and when coupled with the 3D effect, really spring to life onscreen. The 3D effect also makes judging distances much easier, something that can help make the many winding twists and turns of the tracks more intuitive than ever before. It will be interesting to see how all of the tracks look once we get a chance to tackle the finished product later this year.

The musical presentation is equally up to the task and does a fantastic job of carrying the light-hearted mood of the game's racing action. There are some familiar tracks as well as some brand new material for players to enjoy and the voices of the various cast of Mario-themed racers is as solid as ever. Much like the visuals, it's quite an exciting prospect to think about finally being able to hear all of the musical pieces once the game is finally released.

We've seen some great Mario Kart releases over the years, but Mario Kart 3D might very well be the best one yet. The new gameplay ideas really bring a layer of freshness to the experience and the new tracks are easily the best we've seen to date. Toss in good controls and some unbelievable 3D visuals and you've got a game that absolutely no Mario Kart fan should miss.

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User Comments (62)

Mikau94

#1

Mikau94 said:

This a day 1 buy for me. I love exploring the mushroom kingdom by go-kart.
Also, air-ship fortress and possibly Tick Tock clock!

Aviator

#2

Aviator said:

I love the Diddy Kong Racing vibe this is giving me. Look forward to wasting hours into this title.

Knux

#3

Knux said:

Awesome impressions, Corbs! It looks like this will also be on my first day purchase list. :D

bboy2970

#5

bboy2970 said:

Yet another 3DS game on my list. I hope I can get a job soon or else I'll be in trouble!

CorbsAdmin

#7

Corbs said:

Notice how "city" isn't capitalized. That's because it's not the official name of the track. Just a silly caption. :D

Ickaser

#9

Ickaser said:

Dang Nintendo and their money-sucking skills. (I was so tempted to use a Luigi's Mansion Reference there. But I spared you.) Yet another thing to save up for. I wish lawn mowing wasn't my only income, being under 16 and all.

robbob88

#11

robbob88 said:

Fantastic impressions. I cannot wait to get this game in my hands. Day one buy for me without question.

AlbertoC

#12

AlbertoC said:

@7: Yeah, you're right

Also, they're confirming that they will be bringing back more "retro courses". I wonder if we can get something neat this time, like GCN Mushroom City or N64 Yoshi Valley

skywake

#16

skywake said:

I hope it has a ridiculously large number of tracks and that all of them work online. It's already looking like one of the best Mario Kart's yet, maybe the best Mario Kart. It sounds like theyre going to make a portable and better looking version of Mario Kart Wii, with improved online but with the "feel" of Mario Kart DS.

Serious win here.

Dorkvader

#17

Dorkvader said:

This game is probably going to be the best Mario Kart since Mario Kart Double Dash. But i would like to see a Nintendo kart that has all the Nintendo characters like Link, Zelda, Pikacu, Samus, Fox and more with out the game play or the weapons being cheesy

zeeroid

#19

zeeroid said:

Kiiiinda getting bored of Mario Kart to be honest. But, we'll see. If the new tracks are cool and it incorporates some good new retro tracks, I could be into it.

SpicyDuck

#20

SpicyDuck said:

Impressions seem pretty good, but once everyone buys it they are going to complaining about the blue shell again...sigh...

nmozdzier

#21

nmozdzier said:

What happened with the caption for the bottom picture? That's Maple Treeway, not Dry Dry Desert.

Aviator

#22

Aviator said:

Corbie wrote:

Notice how "city" isn't capitalized. That's because it's not the official name of the track. Just a silly caption.

daznsaz

#23

daznsaz said:

gonna be a right joyride on 3ds look forward to new tracks and hopefully some from double dash

jaffa

#24

jaffa said:

xD I like how you guys changed the caption :D
and customizing your car sounds awesome :O

Bacon_Gal_Blaze

#27

Bacon_Gal_Blaze said:

Yep, day 1 buy for me, that's as long as i can get the money. Seems Nintendo are releasing most of their good games over 4-5 months, i wish they could have spread them a bit more evenly so i could get some money...

Kirk

#28

Kirk said:

It does looks really nice.

I'm not sure the silly glider and propeller are really necessary, because certainly the glider mechanic takes away from it being a cart racer and is edging towards gimmick territory, but they don't look to ruin the game so it's bearable.

DestinyMan

#31

DestinyMan said:

No more bikes and tricks already makes this my favorite Mario Kart to me, and so now I hope that they include a bunch of awesome new and retro tracks. The 3D trailer looked stunning. Yet another game to get for the 3DS!

ToastyYogurt

#33

ToastyYogurt said:

No bikes or tricks? Aw, I took great advantage of the speed wheelies and shaking the controller on ramps gave me. Still sounds promising, so I'm looking forward to it.

FonistofCruxis

#36

FonistofCruxis said:

I liked the bikes and tricks in MKW. I wish they were still in this, I even preferred bikes to karts and the tricks could be done by shaking the 3DS. This still sounds like a brilliant game though.

DestinyMan

#37

DestinyMan said:

No way, bikes and tricks made it unfair in Mario Kart Wii. They looked cool, but they were like tools for hackers and mean drivers to make normal kart-loving drivers like me miserable online. I don't think hang-gliders would be as biased as bikes. Tricks weren't as bad, but sometimes that little boost would help your opponent more than you because your opponent would get just that little bit of an edge to beat you. Take into account that different karts and bikes had different stats for boosting and you got some wild differences going on. The customization in Mario Kart 3DS wouldn't make it more predictable, but at least I can have the power to assemble a good kart that can handle any type of situation so I can take on the advanced karts. This game will be wonderful!

Robo-goose

#39

Robo-goose said:

That's very reassuring. I was expecting it to just be a basic Mario Kart game with a few things tacked on, but from what you've said, it's a whole new game.
I'm very glad.

Punny

#40

Punny said:

Once again, another stellar race in the Mushroom Kingdom! I hope to see Waluigi Pinball as a Retro Course! :)

komicturtle

#41

komicturtle said:

Cannot wait for this. Hopefully, there will be some extra downloadable courses. I also wonder if Kamek will finally make his Mario Kart appearance since his debut in the BETA version of Mario Kart 64.

King K. Rool should make it in, as well :)

Great impressions Corbie. IGN kept saying "same game with little improvements". And they're the ones that praise CoD every year.

Oh the irony.

Late

#42

Late said:

I didn't get Mario Kart DS as I already had had Mario Kart Wii for over two years before I bought my DS (I have still played DS version and unlocked every character) and now I'm going to get a handheld Mario Kart for myself as this game looks so awesome! I was so impressed by the video they showed at E3 (and when they showed Star Fox, Super Mario and Luigi's Mansion, gotta get money before they come), this game has some nice additions, racing in the air and under the sea, I think I'm going to pre-order this game! I haven't pre-ordered any other game than Pokémon White before as I usually wait until they are a little cheaper but this is a game I want to play as soon as I can!

TeeJay

#44

TeeJay said:

I like the picture in the article. It's fitting that Bowser would have the large wheels and Luigi would be the one gliding, while Mario is the normal one. Mario was always the one with average stats in Mario Kart. Luigi has average stats too but in other games he was always lighter than Mario.

Milkman-123

#45

Milkman-123 said:

looking at this, the game looks like it has a bigger character selection than the ds version

TKOWL

#46

TKOWL said:

Ah, this looks like another winner. I really enjoyed MKWii and I can't wait to purchase this one! :D

tweet75

#47

tweet75 said:

i hope for download courses but not only posted for a week. I hope they are archived and you can download any and all of them at anytime.

TalesOfFan

#48

TalesOfFan said:

They should make Link playable in his Wind Waker form and give us a Zelda themed track for the 25th Anniversary, though I guess that is just wishful thinking.

shinesprite

#49

shinesprite said:

I'm really excited for this! Customizable karts and more accessories = Awesome. Add in a track editor and it'll clearly be the GOTY. However, I can't help but feel sorry for the absence of tricks and bikes. (Wheelies > double drift boosts any day)

Chrono_Cross

#51

Chrono_Cross said:

We need additional tracks via DLC, and more reasons to continuously play this game online. i.e. Monster Hunter 3 (Even though it didn't have DLC, lol.)

BulbasaurusRex

#52

BulbasaurusRex said:

I found MK Wii to be a disappointment after the awesomeness of Double Dash, especially concerning Battle Mode and local multiplayer in general. Hopefully, this new version will make up for it.

*Hopes for Baby Park to be one of the retro courses...

motang

#53

motang said:

Looking forward to getting this game, I was even more happy to find out that Retro is behind it!

Linkuini

#54

Linkuini said:

Every time they make a new Mario Kart I wonder how it could ever outdo the one before it... and then it does. If I could just get one with a track editor I'd have nothing else to wish for.

SUPERTRUECHRIS

#55

SUPERTRUECHRIS said:

Mario kart gona be da best game out thereim going 2 get a 3ds soon i hope and my bro gona buy me da game after christmas so its gona be good dis christmas

Nintendude92

#56

Nintendude92 said:

Action buttons? First I've heard of those..

Do you feel this Mario kart will be watered down in terms of competitive play? I've maxed my VR several times on Mario Kart Wii thanks to bikes-- and this looks like we're only getting kart drifting. It's kind of worrying.

Henmii

#59

Henmii said:

"If you find yourself getting overly competitive, you can even bump a fellow rider using one of the action buttons"

Is this a bit like FZero GX (but less brutal of course)?

Bigrat

#60

Bigrat said:

MUST HAVE! This is awesome. Gyroscope plz? I'm sad we have have to wait for the holidays =(.

Jono97

#62

Jono97 said:

@ Destroyer360 but in the E3 trailers they do show mario doing tricks over bumps..

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