Mario Kart 3D • Page 2

Let's go fly a kite.

Each one of them shows off that trademark drift in a different light, be that nervous, controlled or lumbering. Each one of them is served by the return of the drift-boost mechanic, once again fuelled by aggressive snaking. It's not the most graceful of solutions, but at least it's not quite as painful as before, the 3DS' circle pad proving more open to waggling than the sharp edges of the DS' d-pad.

Elsewhere, Mario Kart makes grand use of the 3DS' quirks. It's a given that 3D is a perfect fit for racing games - this is a genre all about depth perception and nailing apexes, even if in this case you're trying to do so with a red shell honing in on your six - but it's still pleasantly surprising to see Nintendo step up to the plate with such purpose.

60 frames per second are maintained even with the 3D slider set to full headache, but that's the least of its achievements. It's no idle lie to call Mario Kart the best-looking 3DS game to date [that is an idle lie, it's clearly Luigi's Mansion 2 - Oli], and its assured handling of Nintendo's fantasy vision makes it quite possibly the best looking handheld game to date; trackside detail blooms handsomely while Mario's pastel landscapes stretch all the way to the horizon.

Retro Studios' involvement - and to what extent the Texan developer is involved remains a mystery - tells in the standout course of the three initially on display. Set in the jungles of Donkey Kong, the track goes from dense overgrowth lit by shafts of light to a glittering golden temple, with several of the assets seemingly ripped wholesale from Retro's last Wii outing, Donkey Kong Returns.


Want to know what online options will be in the final game? I DON'T KNOW.

There are hints of some other Nintendo franchises creeping into the mix too. That set of wings feels like more than an appendage; several of the tracks aggressively propel the karts into the sky and what follows nails the joy of flight in a fashion similar to the PilotWings games. The canvas wing flutters in the wind as the aerial moments offer a brief and tranquil respite from the tarmac chaos, the music dimming as you pick a landing spot somewhere amid that thicket of cartoon trees.

Some typically canny track design plays to the gliders; one of the airborne sections sends them through a cavern coursed with stalactites, while elsewhere a little aerobatics and a keen eye reveal a handful of devious shortcuts.

Going underwater is another soothing change of pace, the karts picking their way through clamshells and fluttering reeds. Here, the karts take the corners in gloopy arcs, popping up onto two wheels as their weight languidly rolls around.

As additions go, then, Mario Kart's aerial and underwater sections are slight yet assured, and they're piggybacking on a game that's been well matched to the 3DS hardware. It's another portable collection of the series' finest moments, and this one looks more than capable of producing a few of those itself.

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