Game: Mario Kart 7
Developer: Nintendo, Retro Studios
Release date: 2011
Is the seventh Mario Kart game the best one yet? Hoo, boy, that's quite a question. My knee-jerk reaction is to say no, it isn't, but the only predecessor that can compete with and possibly surpass it--in my opinion, obviously--is Mario Kart Wii. (Note: I've played and enjoyed every Mario Kart game in existence except Double Dash!!) As such, I'm thinking I should compare and contrast the innovations each of these titles brings to the series in order to come to a conclusion as to which one earns top billing on this blog. Starting with Mario Kart Wii: It has more items (19 vs. 18, three of which are new), more racers (24 vs. 16) and more vehicles with which to race--including motorbikes, which I thought were kind of cool. It also allows for "waggle" control, which is especially fun if you use the steering-wheel accessory, and online races of up to 12 players. Mario Kart 7, on the other hand, adds coins (last seen in Mario Kart: Super Circuit) back into the mix, allows players to customize their karts in a multitude of ways, introduces gliders that aid airborne vehicles, includes SpotPass and StreetPass functionality and offers up an alternate control scheme that enables players to steer by tilting their 3DS systems. Both games feature the same number of tracks (32, 16 of which are new and 16 of which are pulled from previous entries) and similar-enough gameplay, graphics, music and modes. Given all of that, I'm ... not any closer to being able to choose a "winner" than I was at the beginning of this write-up. If possible, I'd suggest getting them both, as I consider both of them to be top-of-the-heap Mario Kart games. (Don't worry, that's a good thing.) If you can only choose one, though, I'd probably go for the Wii iteration, as I find it a bit easier to control and I prefer its course and kart selection.
See also: Previous 'Great Gaymathon' posts