We travelled to Sydney, played some Mario Kart, then left the next day

Nintendo invited the Sydney Vooks crew to a launch event this past Tuesday for Super Mario 3D Land and Mario Kart 7, in Sydney obviously. Being the crazy people we are, three of us (from Perth) flew all the way to Sydney to join a couple more Sydney Vooks writers to hit up the event and see what all the fuss was about. Nicko, Karnophage and myself joined Emre (Excite) and Billy to catch up with Nintendo but more importantly play some Super Mario and Mario Kart. While some of us have already got our hands on Super Mario 3D Land, we hadnt played any more of Mario Kart since the Connection Tour so we were keen to check it out.

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All the modes of Mario Kart 7 were open to check out—the single player, local multiplayer and even the online was there (though we couldnt get onto that; were not going to tinker with Nintendos 3DS systems). First we checked out the single player and the first thing that grabs you, apart from the great looking menus, is that the game is silky smooth in both 2D and 3D. 60 FPS with no drops in either mode and even when playing in multiplayer. It even tops the Wii game in many a place. Being the old school Mario fans we are, we checked out the retro tracks first—we do want to keep it feeling somewhat fresh when we get the game on Saturday the 3rd of December.

All of the retro tracks look great not only in 3D but also with redone assets and updated effects. But these arent exactly the same tracks you remember, with additions made to make use of the glider and underwater abilities of the game. Both of these new additions keep the game feeling fresh but it still plays and feels like the Mario Kart youre used to. What else is new is the first-person gyroscope controls. It provides a great sense of speed and looks good in 3D. You also realise just how much bigger Donkey Kong is down at eye level. The controls work great but as expected, for the best result, youll have to switch off the 3D effect. You can play in first person with just the Circle Pad, but unless you hold the 3DS level youll find yourself crawling to the left or right.

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Multiplayer is excellent too. We checked out Grand Prix mode with local multiplayer and have to report there is of course no lag and its a full 60 FPS at all times; it really just works. You can also mix and match with people who have the game and those who dont, so people who dont have the Game Card will just get a Shy Guy to race around with instead of access to the normal roster. Battle mode was also sampled as well and while there is no Block Fort, a mix of new and old tracks keeps it fresh.

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Mario Kart 7 is out in less than ten days so dont be envious as youre no doubt in the middle of either Super Mario 3D Land or Skyward Sword right now. However when it does release, we know Mario Kart 7 is going to be awesome.