Mario Kart 7 Is Broken

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.


  1. Jack Brockley - Over a year ago

    You can anticipate a blue shell by checking the items the other players are holding and drop into second place to avoid it and you can avoid most items by being tactical and using items to defend. If you’re skilful enough to lap quickly, you should normally be near the front in 150cc races, if not in first. I used to think Mario Kart was a bit of a lottery until I learnt how to play it skillfully.

    1. Martin - Over a year ago

      You’re right, you can be a bit tactical with the blue shells. I usually try to just concentrate on making my lead as big as possible, so it’s often hard to time it right, but if I ever give it a go again, I’ll have to be more conscious of that. The trouble with that is that the computer-controlled players all seem to like to gang up on me when I’m not way out in front, and it’s a short trip from 2nd to 8th when you’re on the receiving end of a bunch of red / green shells.

      Even with all this in mind, you have to admit the 150cc is still a little on the random side, though. Enough so that it’s more of a chore than a joy to play.

  2. RevJack - Over a year ago

    Ahhhh….the plaintiff cry of “That’s not fair”… rings in my ears….hehe

    1. Martin - Over a year ago

      Haha, well next time I’m up there I’ll bring my 3DS and you can give it a try! :P

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