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For The Kids

‘Mario Kart 7’ Is Fun But Kids Should Relate To How Unfair It Is

December 12, 2011
By Doug Elfman - The Game Dork , The Post-Journal

So here I am playing "Mario Kart 7," and it's a really good combat-racing game where you drive karts on tracks, while also using goofy weapons to blow up rival cars.

But "Mario Kart 7" really isn't meant for me. It's best for children - and not just because it's a cartoon racer starring Mario, Peach and colorful characters set in a fantasyland painted orange and aqua blue.

It's for kids, because "Mario Kart 7" is so unfair and illogical that I think only youth can relate without bitterness. Here's why.

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I've been in first place in a race, a mere one second away from the finish line, when some jerk blows up my car, and then I come in eighth place - thereby wasting the last 10 minutes of my gaming life. That is so unfair!

We adults choose our careers and friends. Hopefully that framework gives us some semblance of fairness.

But kids are constantly dealing with the unjust - popularity contests, bullies, adults making them eat vegetables, older kids who seem cooler, and scabs.

Fact Box

Top Ten New Games

Here are the Top 10 best-selling video games at full retail price, according to Games are listed by title, company, gaming system, and rating from the Entertainment Software Rating Board. Most games are priced $60 for Xbox 360, PS 3 and PC; $50 for Wii; $40 for 3DS; $30 for DS.

1. "Mario Kart 7" (Nintendo) for 3DS; rated "E"

2. "The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword" (Nintendo) for Wii; rated "E 10+" (animated blood, comic mischief, fantasy violence)

3. "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3" (Activision) for Xbox 360; also available for PS 3 and PC; rated "M" (blood, gore, drug reference, intense violence, strong language)

4. "Super Mario 3D Land" (Nintendo) for 3DS; rated "E" (mild cartoon violence)

5. "The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim" (Bethesda Softworks) for Xbox 360; also available for PS 3, PC; rated "M" (blood, gore, intense violence, sexual themes, use of alcohol)

6. "Xenoblade Chronicles" (Nintendo) pre-order for April 2 release for Wii; rating pending

7. "Sonic Generations" (Sega) for Xbox 360; also available for PS 3, 3DS and PC; rated "E" (cartoon violence)

8. "Just Dance 3" (Ubisoft) for Wii; also available for Xbox 360, PS 3; rated "E 10+" (lyrics)

9. "StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty" (Blizzard Entertainment) for PC; rated "T" (blood, gore, language, suggestive themes, use of alcohol, use of tobacco, violence)

10. "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3" for PS 3

(Ratings: "E" for "Everyone"; "T" for "Teen"; "M" for "Mature 17+")

So if you're quite young, "Mario Kart 7" must seem like a breeze of only slightly unwarranted deceit and irrationality, relative to all that real-life drama.

Let me just say: "Mario Kart 7" is a very good, animated, arcade combat-racer.

Your mission is to win races in a field of eight competitors. But you can only win if you accurately drive over magic boxes, lying conveniently on racetracks, to collect special powers.

Some of those special powers let you drive really fast for a few seconds, so you can catch up to rivals.

Other special powers let you unleash lightning storms, banana peels and bombs, so rival cars halt for a few seconds, and you can drive past them.

But that means they can do that to you, too! Unfair!

If you've played previous "Mario Karts," this one will look and feel incredibly familiar. That's the knock against it. It's more of the same.

"Mario Kart 7" does have new and revamped tricks (big jumps on car gliders, and underwater courses). You also drive over coins for tiny speed boosts.

The regular racing mode offers 16 new and 16 retro courses. Or you can play a collect-all-the-coins racing mode; or a competition where you bust balloons.

More impressive is the impeccable online racing. It's fluid, flawless and fast. It's stellar.

For two reasons, I'm really glad "Mario Kart 7" is the top-selling video game. First, it's a good game for the amazing 3DS handheld system, which doesn't have a lot of good games available on the market.

Second, a school counselor keeps asking me what new games to recommend for elementary children. To her, I say "Mario Kart 7" (and/or "Super Mario 3D Land," which looks and feels like "Super Mario" predecessors).

"Mario Kart 7" is fun, silly, and just unfair enough that kids may not blink an eye at how it sometimes robs you out of certain victory.

("Mario Kart 7" by Nintendo retails for $40 for 3DS - Plays fun. Looks good. Easy to challenging, based on settings you choose. Rated "E". Three and one-half out of four stars.)

Doug Elfman is an award-winning entertainment columnist who lives in Las Vegas. He blogs at Twitter at VegasAnonymous.



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