After spending some time trying to work my way through the various tracks of Mario Kart 7 on 150cc mode (the highest difficulty), I’ve reluctantly come to the conclusion that the game is broken. In all other aspects, I love Mario Kart 7. I think it’s a great game. But the outcome of the races are too random at the 150cc level, and at that level, the game simply just isn’t fun.
I remember, many years ago, reading an interview with Valve about the making of Half-Life, on why that game was such a great step forward for the medium. One bit that always stuck with me was about how they made the game more fun by helping warn the player about upcoming threats and obstacles.
I don’t remember the exact example they gave of this, but it amounted to showing cracks on the floor and having the player observe little bits falling off into the abyss before the player actually encountered a portion of the game where the floor would break under their weight, and they could fall and die. Something like that, anyway.
This struck me because it was such an obvious concept. Half-Life is more fun because the observant player could avoid random death. Obviously, random death is not fun. It teaches the player nothing, and it feels cheap.
And that’s why Mario Kart 7’s 150cc mode seems so broken to me. It doesn’t matter how well I take the corners or how lucky I am at drawing weapons. The randomness of the largely unavoidable arsenal of weapons the enemies are constantly throwing at me negates any skill I might have. It feels cheap to get hit by a blue shell at the end of an otherwise perfect race, especially when it’s lobbed into play by a computer-controlled player.
Because of this, each time I attempt to play the game on 150cc mode, no matter how relaxed or passive I’m feeling at the outset, I am a total, utter, frantic lunatic by the time it’s over. My heat is racing. I’m upset. And most of the time I don’t come in first.
That isn’t fun for me. I really want it to be, but it just isn’t. It’s not worth the frustration.