Mario Kart 3DS E3 2011 Preview -- Karting Through The Mushroom KingdomBy Jeffrey Matuef - Posted Jun 09, 2011
Mario Kart's been a staple of Nintendo for nearly 20 years, but through it all, it's never changed that drastically. We've been given blue shells, tag team drivers, and a greater variety of customizable carts, but the foundation's remained the same. Mario Kart 3DS doesn't seem to reinvent the mold here, but based on my brief hands-on time, it does enhance it.
When given the opportunity to play through three tracks in single player I played as Yoshi, my go to for these games. From here I was prompted to choose a cart's base, wheels, and new to the series, a sail. More on that later.
The first track I played had me zipping along green hills with pipes protruding from them and overgrown fungi peppering the aptly titled Mushroom Kingdom. Powerups and controls were as they were on Mario Kart DS, but this isn't a simple rehash.
During several points on the map I encountered booster pads before ramps that would launch me high into the air, at which point my craft would sprout a sail allowing me to guide it's slow decent. Pulling back made the vessel swoop up, and forward made it dive. This simple para-gliding mechanic was extremely responsive and and gave a good deal of variety to the proceedings.
While that level took you to the skies, the next level, a beach-themed one, takes Mario's cast underwater. Carts sprout propellers when submerged and sound effects get muffled. Your speed slows down here, but not by as much as one might expect. This didn't impact the gameplay to the extent of gliding, but it was still a refreshing change of pace. For a series that's had its star plumber swimming for over 25 years, it's about time they let him do this in cart form as well.
The final track I played was set in the jungle and didn't introduce anything drastically new, but was still a lot of fun (or was once I retrained my brain to not want to smash into barrels with a red "DK" logo painted on). It did show off the 3DS effect well with lush fauna draping the backdrops. As someone who's not typically a fan of 3D, I found its use in Mario Kart 3DS to be very effective and subtle. Mysteriously, coins have been added to the tracks, but their purpose remains illusive. I'm hypothesizing they're used to purchase new vehicles, tires, and gliders, but that's merely speculation at this point.
Overall, I really enjoyed my time with Mario Kart 3DS and look forward to experiencing more of Mario and company's excursions through land, sea, and air. The controls felt spot on, it looks gorgeous, and will support up to 8 player online multiplayer. Given what a smashing success Mario Kart DS was, this could be huge when it launches this holiday season.