Mario Kart 7 and his infamous racing jump are now 10 years old

Image: Nintendo

We are in a patchy era of gaming, where it’s common for games to receive frequent updates from day one. There are still rare versions today that receive very little or no updates – unless there are frequent DLC additions – and one of Nintendo’s selling points is the emphasis. on details and quality when it comes to games shipped; for the most part, the company publishes titles that are pretty much out of the box and don’t wait for a few updates to fix things up. Its track record is far from flawless, but compared to the majority of developers, a proprietary version of Nintendo version 1.0 is likely to be a relatively smooth experience.

Yet like Mario kart 7 reached its 10th anniversary, we were reminded of a particular part of the rather humorous and, in hindsight, important legacy of this game. It taught Nintendo that sometimes you just to have to update a game.

Let’s take a break and, first of all, let’s remember a little about Mario Kart 7. First, the name – it was the first entry in the series to introduce a number, which seemed a bit Random at the time, but certainly established a change for the brand.

Second, it helped “save” the 3DS. The laptop had a poor launch in March 2011, and in the fall of that year Nintendo executives suffered a significant pay cut, the cost of the system was significantly reduced, and early adopters – or “ambassadors”. “- received 20 free retro games as an apology (10 NES titles which will arrive later on the 3DS Virtual Console and 10 GBA games which were never officially available on the system by other means). It was all very dramatic considering that Nintendo was emerging from the skyrocketing success of the DS and Wii era, and compared to today’s monster profits in the era of the single-platform Switch.

See, fun times!
See, fun times! (Photo: Nintendo)

While 3G Monster Hunter contributed hands down to the return of the 3DS in late 2011 in Japan, the games that joined the price drop for a big push in the West were Super Mario 3D Land and Mario Kart 7. Suddenly a handheld that was initially seen as overpriced and devoid of killer apps was neither of those things, and a constant renewal towards respectability was underway, which would ultimately result in one of Nintendo’s most enviable software libraries.

It also helped that Mario Kart 7 was pretty good – maybe not at “best in the series” level, but really fun, both locally and online. There were some really great songs (a few of which were picked up in Mario kart 8 / Deluxe), with stars including Music Park / Melody Motorway, Neo Bowser City / Koopa City, Wario Shipyard / Wario’s Galleon, Rock Rock Mountain / Alpine Pass and a Rainbow Road that we prefer to the MK8 equivalent (it’s less annoying, anyway). And yes, for some reason a bunch of tracks had different names depending on whether you were in the EU or North America, possibly due to some sort of localization turf war.

It was a time with a lot of firsts, then, as “Nintendo Network” (the predecessor to the Nintendo / Switch Online Account) found its footing and brought the big N kicking and screaming into the 21st century.

It also kept the series going in a fun way. Assembling your vehicle in three parts got its start, as did the gliders that helped inform some smart course designs. Online gaming continued to build on the good work of Mario Kart Wii and added communities, where you could form private lobbies with friends and forum friends. It had neat little StreetPass and SpotPass features (we still miss them), and let’s not forget it was the first MK game that could be downloaded from the eShop, with the 3DS being the first Nintendo console to feature retail games available digitally.

It was a time with a lot of firsts, then, as “Nintendo Network” (the predecessor to the Nintendo / Switch Online Account) found its footing and brought the big N kicking and screaming into the 21st century. There were growing pains, of course, but it was also pretty exciting. We even remember the closing of the eShop on Christmas Day 2011 (which was great news!) Intriguing times.

Mario Kart 7 also set another new trend as it had a few glitches / cheats that were so serious that Nintendo applied a patch to fix them in online play. It was one of the first times we could remember that Nintendo had actually released a major game update; we are aware that it makes us look old …

Like a lot of games, MK7 had a lot of glitches and crazy jumps that speedrunners and enthusiasts alike could find, but the problem with one particular jump was that it was way too easy and completely broke a track. Humorously, there were two like this, including a tougher one on Wuhu Loop, and his much more famous brethren Maka Wuhu. These two tracks were on Wuhu Island from Wii Sports Complex, and are actually really lovely and enjoyable courses; clearly the layout of the tracks led to curious oversights in the tests which led to a mini “crisis” in online gaming.

Maka Wuhu’s problem was incredibly easy to trigger, as all you had to do was drive through the water to a semi-precise point, at which point Lakitu picked you up and dropped you much further down the course – about 20 seconds longer. far. When this started to happen, you would see a few players disappear into the water and their points would then jump on the radar. The internet being what it is, word spread quickly and anyone eager enough to read about it could quickly learn the trick. Suddenly this course was transformed, because there would be races where everyone would dive into the water and jump forward. It was still a fair race when everyone else did, we guess, but it was certainly silly and against the spirit of the game.

He normalized himself to the point that he was the way to complete the track, and Nintendo even said a month after launch that it had no plans to fix it. Then suddenly, almost six months after the game’s release and quite a while after discovering the issues, Nintendo released a fix in May 2012. It stopped the jump (and the less common equivalent of Wuhu Loop) in the online game. For an entertaining little moment, however, not everyone got the memo.

Your humble scribe remembers seeing people diving into the water for a few weeks after the update, no doubt then bewildered when Latiku put them back in the right place. I once even sacrificed a run to watch the show, as some determined runners took a dive, got kicked back by Lakitu, then standing in line to try again.

Posing in oversized Mario karts was all the rage for top executives
Posing in oversized Mario karts was all the rage for top executives (Image: Nintendo of America / Bob Riha Jr.)

More innocent times, perhaps, but also an early indication that, after some initial resistance, Nintendo has decided to recognize that not all games are perfect on day one, and that there is no shame in it. post-launch adjustments to correct errors. In fact, Skyward Sword received its own save data fix for an issue in the form of a downloadable workaround for the Wii Channel just before Christmas 2011 – something Nintendo was forced to fix with a bit more. haste as it was an end game.

Nowadays, it is commonplace, of course, with Terror Metroid recently released a patch that ended tricky speedrunning tactics due to its potential negative impact on normal games. Maka Wuhu taught Nintendo that in the world of connected and online games, gamers will find ways to break “finished” games, and that it’s better to roll with them and apply fixes.

It was an interesting time, and ultimately Mario Kart 7 did quite well, finishing as the top-selling 3DS game over 18.95 million units and helping the notebook achieve a respectable lifecycle. It will forever remain in the shadow of its successor on Wii U and, in particular, the Deluxe iteration on Switch – a game so successful that it still helps move a record number of Switch hardware.

Still, in honor of its first decade, we’ll be releasing the 3DS entry for a memorial dunk in the Wuhu River – Happy Birthday Mario Kart 7.

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