Mario Kart 7 Track and Shortcut Guide

Whether it’s time trials, local vs or online, knowing the courses in Mario Kart 7 can be vital.  So if you’re having lots of trouble beating your opponents online, this short guide should help even the odds.  What’s more, not only does it tell shortcuts and tricks to go faster, but also how to sabotage your opponents with well placed Bananas and Bob-ombs, carefully used shells and whatever other items you may happen to get in game.  Let’s begin!

Toad Circuit

The simplest and most basic track in the game, it’s admittedly rather difficult to give advice on this one.  This is because there is absolutely nothing bar items that makes a particularly big difference between who happens to win or do well and who happens to lose miserably outside of time trials.

However, some minor bits of advice that apply in all modes of the game:

1. Don’t take the glider.  It seems weird to suggest this, but as far as pure time goes, it’s slower than just use the standard boost pads next to it.  There’s a reason no world record runs use that route.

2. Certainly don’t take the boost pads on the outside of the final turn, they are far slower than taking it more tightly.  You can easily get the required coins on the main path.

3. Cut through the sandy area with the pipes at the end with a Mushroom.

As for time trials and coins, try to collect as many coins as possible in the first lap, since it’s entirely possible to get about seven or eight just by taking a fairly good path.  If you can get all of them by early into the second lap, this will help tremendously.

Where to use bananas or other dropped items: Nowhere is particularly perilous for anyone racing, but putting them directly on the spot where an item box spawns is a great way to annoy whoever you’re racing with.

Daisy Hills

Daisy Hills, also known as that course based heavily around gliding.  Still, some tips and tricks for it:

First of all, you’ll soon get to a part with some logs that you can trick off of.  After doing that, you can use a Mushroom to take the ramp to the left, which is in the middle of the grass and cuts a corner.  Not much, but it’s useful enough.

However, the major ‘shortcut’ is just before the glider segment.  Go left to find a narrower path with a speed booster and second glider pad, which saves a fair amount of time.  Then, glide between the windmill and wall of the houses to the left and across the grass there to save a bit more.

Under no circumstances (at least if you want to win), take the rooftops or boost pads on the outside of the bends. They’re much slower than just taking the corners tightly.

Cheep Cheep Cape

First water track in the game, and it’s not a particularly interesting one. Cheep Cheep Lagoon however does have some interesting tricks to it, so here’s the tips:

For one thing, if you go right at the first jump, you can drive along the underwater stone wall.  Not much of a shortcut, but there are some coins over there for those who want them.

You can also trick off the bumps underwater.  It’s slightly more difficult than to do so on land, but easy and useful enough.

Also, you can trick off the clamshells, and then benefit by getting the item box that’s inside them.  Just don’t get crushed or hit the things themselves, it wastes quite a bit of time.

At the end, there are three paths. Left is a glider path, right is a normal one.  Now, despite the glider one being narrower and harder to traverse, it’s not that much faster, so it might be advised to skip it and just go underwater.  You can also trick off the ramp near the booster too, to get a last minute speed boost as you approach the final corner.

Item Usage Tips: Use bananas on the narrow glider path (and Bob-ombs, if you want to be even crueler).  You can use other items wherever, don’t worry about it.

Shy Guy Bazaar

One of my favourite courses this, it’s an Arabian Nights inspired carnival level with plenty of obstacles, ramps and sections to take shortcuts.  Nice music too.  Here’s what I advise:

At the start in the actual market, you have three routes.  You can go left, which is pretty much the long standard way around.  No one tends to take this road.  You can go up a ramp and across the rooftops, which has a few ramps to trick off of and generally looks cool, or you can go right on the ground to find a speed booster after some coins. Take one of the latter two routes.

After some tight corners ahead, you’ll see some odd vases.  Be warned, these move around a bit and are enemies, so don’t crash into them.  However, you can break them with a shell, which gives you either a Banana, Mushroom, Star or perhaps shell on the floor.  If you can get a star, that’s pretty useful.

There’s also an alternate route a bit later.  Go left a bit ahead to drop down to a side alley with a ramp leading you back up.  I’m not sure if this route is more or less useful than the typical one, so don’t worry if you don’t take it.

Some ramps are here, so trick off each one in turn up to the gliding pad.  From there, glide across while dodging the Shy Guys (and honestly, hope you fall towards the end if you screw up, since that puts you after the gliding section and doesn’t cost much time), and take the final corner to the finish.  Oh, and if you have a Mushroom, you can boost across some sand near the end and cut part of the corner, saving time and getting a few coins in the process.

Where to use items: Either on the ramps on the rooftops at the market (if you go right) or on the boost pad on the ground (if you go that way).  Bananas can be laid on the ramps and glide pad near the end, and Lightning should be used when people are gliding over the gap at the end.

Wuhu Island Loop

You know how Wuhu Mountain Loop has a game breaking glitch that people are abusing on wifi?  Well unfortunately, the other Wuhu Island track ALSO has such a glitch.  Not quite as useful, but damn it’s being used a lot on wifi in higher VR rooms and some communities.

Sort of fortunately, it’s right at the end of the track, not the very beginning.  So until then, try these tips.

First of all, don’t take the glider/tunnel ‘shortcut’.  It’s actually slower than the normal way, and twice as inconveniant.  You can however ride the ledge on the left with a ramp at the end, that seems to be a bit quicker.

You can also jump across some rocky islands a bit later. However, they’re extremely small, so if you’re not an expert or haven’t practiced a lot in time trials first, probably not best to use the shortcut.  Saves too little time for getting it right.

And here’s an interesting glitch that technically doesn’t save much time, but really screws up the lap counter.  Prior to section 3, there’s a tree near the edge of a cliff.  Jump off the cliff near it with a boost and you’ll get placed in section 3… with the lap counter thinking you’re still in section 2.  It doesn’t trick the game’s item system unfortunately (it’ll still think you’re in first if you really are), but it does mean the record at the end is messed up, since it’ll immediately start and end section 3 as you cross the line, giving you a possible time of about zero seconds for the last lap.

Finally, the big shortcut. Right at the end, there’s a windmill and a glide ramp down a side road.  Now go down there to the boost pads, then charge off the cliff to the right.  Angle it right, and Lakitu puts you down right before the finish line, cutting about four or five seconds and sometimes letting you gain quite a few positions.  You will NEED this at higher VR levels, since there are people there who use it and sometimes spam this track hoping to do it.  Good luck.

Above: Video of the Wuhu Island Loop glitch

Mario Circuit

Not much advice I can give here, since it’s neither a track I’m good at nor one with too many extra strategies.  Basically, take the ramps if you have a Mushroom or Star, and when you reach the section with the glider and the two pipes at the end, you can quickly trick off the ramp and still stay gliding if you don’t touch the ramp for too long as you do so.

Music Park/Melody Motorway

One of the better new tracks in Mario Kart 7, it has a few interesting strategies to learn:

For one thing, don’t take the outside of the turns with the boost pads.  Yes you’ll get coins, but they’re much slower than taking the corner tightly.

After the Piranha Plant tunnel, there’s a ramp to the left.  You can take it with a Mushroom, but it’s no big deal if you don’t use it.

Keep in mind the next turns have holes between the edge of the road and the fence/railing.  Don’t drift outwards too far or you will regret it.

There’s a glider section around here, take the glider if possible.  However, if you do take the ground route, jump whenever the music notes hit the ground and you can do some tricks to go faster. If you’re even better, you can do something like this, but it’s really, really difficult to do in the heat of a race:

Finally, there are two last time savers.  One is the shortcut where you bounce across the drum to the right, and the other is cutting through the grass at the end.  Try to do both if you have a Mushroom, it saves an awful lot of time at a very important moment in the race.

Alpine Pass

Also known by the more generic name of ‘Rock Rock Mountain’ in other regions, this is arguably one of those ‘love it or hate it’ levels, where no two people seem to agree on the quality of anything bar its music.  That said, it’s not a track I have much personal expertise with, so take my advice with a pinch of salt.

Shortcut wise, there isn’t much until the second and third lap. However, there is a ramp out in the grass before the slope going up on the mountain, if you want to try and take it.  Just remember to have a Mushroom.

Gliding wise, it’s hard to really suggest how to go more quickly. Seems to generally be best to keep gliding for as long as possible over the first jump though, since ground level really doesn’t contain a whole lot of interesting things.

Watch out for the section where you go up the slope at the end.  The boulders pretty much come from above the screen, so you’ll need to know the general pattern to not get hit.  That is, they alternate.  One comes down from the left, the next from the right, repeat.  So if the last boulder came from the left, don’t go on the boost pads on the right side of the slope.  Opposite is true if it came from the right.

But the big ‘shortcut’ is at the end.  Here you can keep gliding past the finish line in laps 2 and 3, and go past the pipes, cutting off much of the first corner.  It’s a bit harder on wifi (I think because one wind pipe has been altered not to produce an updraft), but it’s a useful ‘trick’ to know, and vital when facing better opponents.

Piranha Pipeway

A pretty cool course which is remniscient of Super Mario Bros 1 and Super Mario 3D Land, this course actually manages to use both the underwater and gliding mechanics pretty well.  Here are some tips for it:

At the Piranha Plant, go where it’s not looking to avoid being bitten.  You can also go on the ramp/narrow path behind it with a Mushroom and good timing.

And a bit ahead, cut the corner rather than follow the water round.  Yes you lose the slight speed boost the current gives, but you save a fair amount more time going tightly round the corner.

When in the gliding section, you can glide over the castle wall for some coins.  Doesn’t seem to save much time though.

Finally, you can cut through the holes in the fences at the end to cut the final corners.  Also, if you’re gliding and don’t have a Mushroom, you can do this without one, but it’s technically a bit slower for time trials:

Oh, and here’s a Japanese video with a few more tricks for the level:

Such including jumping at the first ramp and down the pipe to the underwater section I think.

Where to use items: In the pipe leading to the underwater area.  This is because you have near enough zero visibility in regards to what’s at the bottom of the drop, and a carefully placed banana here will almost always screw up at least one opponent.

Wario Galleon

Wario’s first ever track to be based on his actual video game series and not just whatever Nintendo can come up with out of wholecloth, Wario Galleon/Shipyard is, for good or bad, an interesting underwater level.  Here’s how you can do well:

First off,  be careful at the first jump, since it’s very easy to miss the item boxes and end up not having any means of defence when someone attacks you afterwards.  But once you’ve got that (it’s advisable not to take the left route, it’s not particularly practical), you can trick off the side of the next ramp to get a boost.

When the path splits, go down the path nearest to the abyss. Yes there’s a pipe blowing out air that could push you off, but hey, it’s easy enough to negate the effect and saves a good few microseconds.  In the ship, take the right path.  Harder, but it’s quicker by a fair bit.

Finally, when at the end and gliding, don’t go left.  Those boost pads are just not worth it.

There’s also a possible shortcut where you can glide over the pit at the end, but it’s not been tested much, and I don’t personally use it.  See it here:

Also, you can cut part of said corner with a trick or Mushroom, which is a bit easier, but doesn’t save enough time to really be worth it.

Where to use items: For trap items, ramps, the narrow outer path with the air pipes and the inner path on the ship.  For Mushrooms, the patch of mud after you cross a gap, just before the anchor.

Neo Bowser City

A rainy dystopic city straight out the Super Mario Bros movie, this level is one where you really need to be careful with your kart’s handling due to the torrential rain.

Still, here are some tips:

First things first, as far as I am aware, the rain only affects your kart’s handling/drifting in open air parts of the track.  So in tunnels, don’t worry, the handling is pretty much normal.

Secondly, cut across any mud with a Mushroom if you have one, it saves a decent amount of time.

And at the final bend, go as close to the inside of the bend as possible, even narrowly missing the puddles that cause you to spin out.  Is it a bit difficult?  Yes.  But it saves time, and that’s all that matters.

Finally, there’s a useful glider shortcut which can only be done at the start of lap 2 and 3.  Simply glide left before the finish line to reach an updraft coming from a copy of Bowser’s Koopa Clown Car, then continue on to the first corner.  You can also go through a hole in the wall to skip even more of the bend, but it’s pretty hard to pull off.

Wuhu Mountain Loop (Maka Wuhu)

Also called that track everyone hates due to a glitch that lets them skip most of the second section of the course, the strategy provided here is based on the general assumption you’ll be using said glitch.  Never the less, here’s my advice for the level.

1. Use any items you happen to get prior to the glitch shortcut. This is because falling off the track gets rid of any items you may have, hence things like Mushrooms and Shells need to be used as quickly as possible if gotten in section 1.  If you’ve got a Mushroom/Gold Mushroom/Star, cut across the grass/dirt by the turn before the first checkpoint, then use them as extra boost to land in the water for the shortcut.  If you’ve got any kind of shells, use them to take out opponents about to use the glitch, which can screw them up and let you get a few seconds lead on them.

2. Use the glitch.  So when you get to the second section, right at the cave entrance, drive along, turn around and jump into the purple water to your right.  Lakitu should drop you on the straight just before the end of the second section.  This trick is 100% necessary if you plan to race online, since just about every single player with 3000VR or more will use it.

3. Be aware that there are absolutely no item boxes between the area where Lakitu drops you after using the glitch, all the way to the glider section.  This means that you should damn well be in about the top three positions in the race by the time you use the shortcut, since otherwise you have a snowball’s chance in hell of catching up.

Where to use items: On the glider ramp, then the second one on the floating platform.  This is because hitting someone and knocking them down will usually cause them to either respawn right back on land before the glider part or at the floating platform, significantly costing them a lot of time.

DK Jungle

Retro Studios made this track, and it shows, being based heavily on Donkey Kong Country Returns.  A good track, although it has a lot of different obstacles and tricks you need to use to win, so keep reading for more.

First things first, you can trick off the tree ramp before the flower, as well as the ramp and the bouncy flower in front of it to go faster and save a bit of time.

However, watch out for the Tikis here, best to play safe and go the longer way rather than slam right into one and lose valuable time and coins.

Afterwards, get a line of coins on the bridge, and try and cross to the glider ramp, since flying and bouncing over the ramps to the golden temple is quicker.

Unfortunately, the temple itself has another glitch shortcut, which saves a second or so.  Never managed it, but fall off just right and you get put right in front of the glider, saving a bit of time.  See in this video:

It’s pretty hard to do, but damn, two and a half seconds saved there, in a crucial point in the race. Damn.

After the ramp, fly down and take the nearest path to the finish line, doing a trick at the very last ramp/jump.

Rosalina’s Ice World

Obligatory ice level.  Unfortunately, this is an annoying one to some degree, since the ice screws up a lot of the turns and at least one minor jump seems to let you go over it completely based almost on luck.

Still, some tips.  You can jump the giant gorge at the start for a shortcut of sorts, although the jury’s still out on how well it works.  See the video for how to do it, although truth be told, it’s easy to figure out with a Mushroom.

After that, there are some tricky turns.  Try and get a few mini turbos here, and don’t be surprised if your kart ends halfway up the slope for whatever reason.

Next though, the interesting part.  There’s an above water and underwater section, with a ramp linking to the above one.  But after lap 1, an ice flow vanishes and while you can still make the jump without a Mushroom, it seems to be fairly random whether you’ll have enough speed to do so.  A bit annoying.

The ice cave has a proper shortcut, a secret path with some boost pads.  Take it to save a few seconds, and just continue along to the finish line.

Item Use tips: Put traps near the gorge at the start, and on the boost pads in the ice cave.

Bowser’s Castle

Surprisingly, it’s sort of an underwater track.  Not exactly what you expect for Bowser’s Castle, is it?  Never the less, here’s some advice:

First things first, there are two roads.  Don’t think either is significantly quicker, but maybe take the top road, that’s what most other players take.

There’s also a turn where you go up a staircase, and a ramp near the top.  Jump over the lava with it to save some time.

Past the Thwomp here, you can go left onto a small platform then into a tunnel full of coins, which brings you out on top of the rotating log.  It’s a bit quicker, but beware of the propellers at the end, they will slow you right down if you hit one.

In the underwater section, take the ramp to skip part of a turn. Fairly useful….

But the ramps near the end of the track don’t save anywhere near as much, so they honestly might not be worth it.

Finally, you can go left or right to other ramps with coins in the second and third lap, although again, they don’t seem to save time.

Rainbow Road

This is it.  The big finale track, the one which Nintendo likely put the most effort into.  And damn is it a good track, with three long varied sections and all kinds of obstacles and things to avoid.  Here’s how to do well:

First thing first, after the items, mini turbo around the planet near the start.  You can get a fair few coins doing this, and it saves time.

There’s later a drum type thing, do a trick off it, and try to power slide round the following quite tight corner.

Whenever the track goes up and down randomly, you can do tricks to go faster.

At the second gliding ramp, there’s this shortcut, where you skip a few turns.  Very useful:

Stay on the speed boost strip before the tunnel, it acts like the water in Piranha Plant Slide and Koopa Cape, making you go a bit faster. When out of the tunnel, then try to stay on the ground and take the ramps from there, you’ll gain speed via going through the launch stars, yet won’t be slowed down, like what I’m sure gliding there does.

Finally, there’s a shortcut at the end.  When there’s a bend and a straight near a fence, Mushroom boost and jump off by the bend to land on the straightway right before the finish line.  You can see it best at the end of this video:

Luigi Raceway

Do you feel lucky?  Because honestly, when items are active, that’s literally all Luigi Raceway comes down to, who gets the best items. Get a Golden Mushroom?  You’ve probably won, at least for half a lap.  Get Triple Red Shells?  You’re going to gain an awful lot of places.  Got a single Mushroom or Blooper?  Sucks to be you.

So for strats, there aren’t really any.  You can trick off the bumps in the road, about once a race.  Yeah, thrilling.

Bowser Castle 1

Another glitch track this one.  Obviously it’s not as useful as on Wuhu Mountain Loop, and it’ll only save a few seconds, but it’s extremely easy to use said glitch and cuts a good second or three off your time, so this guide will tell you how to use it.

Go along the track until you encounter a long patch of mud on the right, with a right turn towards some Thwomps just afterwards.  There’s a wall in front of you, so jump the wall with either a Mushroom and jump, or just a jump at a moderately high speed (easiest with the B Dasher).  You’ll fly over, fall in the lava and get placed before the gliding ramp, cutting a corner and saving a good few seconds.

Above: A pretty useful video showing exactly how to use the glitch.

However, keep in mind a few things:

  1. In time trials, you lose your Mushrooms by doing this.  Hence if you don’t plan to use the shortcut on all laps, don’t use it until lap 3.
  2. In vs/online, you don’t get any items until a fair while after the ramp, so check for any incoming Blue Shells, Red Shells or powerful items people behind you may have, since they’ll still have them for when you land.

After the shortcut, you don’t need much explanation for how to win.  Just do tricks at each mini jump in the lava section, then avoid the mud on the last bend to claim victory.

Where to use items: On the glider ramp, if you take it.  Right by the shortcut if against savvy opponents who’d use it against you, since you need pretty good speed to make the jump.  And right before any small trick ramp, obviously.

Oh, and you know that old trick of putting bananas by Thwomps to get your opponents crushed or slowed down by them? Do that here as well.
Mushroom Gorge

Possibly the most aggravating track in the game due to the bouncy Mushrooms and high chance of being blasted into the abyss by a well timed item hit, Mushroom Gorge is filled with interesting tricks.

Unfortunately, the mega shortcut where you go up the mountain via the cliff face is no more.  Indeed, the whole Mushroom to the left of the starting area has been removed to prevent that.

Above: This doesn’t work in Mario Kart 7 unfortunately.

But there are other things to know.  Namely that you should always take the right hand route across the mushrooms when the path splits before the cave.

Also, if you take the glider from the blue mushroom in the cave and aim just right (to the right as you glide), you can fly straight over the giant gorge at the end of the level, saving a significant amount of time.  It’s a bit hard to explain, so here’s the shortcut in video form, courtesy of someone on Youtube:

Yeah, like that.  Just try not to hit the wall afterwards.

Luigi’s Mansion

Another fan favourite, this track seems to have two interesting distinctions among the others in this game, namely because the most or second most edited retro track, and best ghost track in the entire series.  None the less, some strats and advice follows…

Trick off the top of the stairs.  Timing is a bit dodgy, but it acts just like a ramp.

Place any items you don’t want on the slopes inside the mansion.  This is because these can very easily become blindspots for those not paying close attention.

After the tunnel, there’s a ramp in the graveyard.  Take it for more coins, and to save time.  You can also use a Mushroom to boost through a hole in the wall, but where’s the fun in that?

Don’t bother with the second glider part.  Doesn’t seem to be too useful, might actually lose time.

Try to stay in a drift as you go through the mud at the end. It slows you down normally, but it seems drifting will curb the loss of speed just a tad.

Oh, and in case you’re a Mario Kart DS veteran… no you can’t crash the game by holding A and B and turning on the mansion steps any more.  Did you really think Retro would leave that in?

Koopa Beach

A classic Nintendo 64 track, it’s unfortunately been toned down quite a bit, with the well known shortcut with the ramp being made much less useful.  Still, here is one tip:

Take the major shortcut with the ramp.  If you have a Mushroom this is extremely easy, if not you can also make the jump if you’re going at a decent enough speed as you approach.

Mario Circuit 2

Boring is arguably the best description of this track, which is entirely flat bar a glider ramp and lacking in any obstacles bar pipes.  Plus, it’s short, and items play a massive part in whether you do well or not.

Still, some minor advice.  Well, one bit of advice:

At the gliding section, go left to reach a yellow ramp on the wall and you can cut the corner right next to the finish.  Useful to save time, nearly 100% required online.

Coconut Mall

Fan favourite track from Mario Kart Wii, it returns in Mario Kart 7 minus a glitch shortcut and with the same annoying cars before the finish line.  Fun.  So to avoid getting stuck, here are some tips:

Ride on the escalator handrails at the start.  You can trick off these, and they act as normal road, even when the thing is going down instead of up.  Recommended to avoid going out of the way when the upwards escalator is away from the upcoming turn in the track.

If you do however just go up the escalator, remember you can do a trick at the top by pressing R with good timing.  Small boost, but it helps.

On another note, the shop you could drive through in the Wii version of the track still returns, but unfortunately so does the carpet which slows you down massively.  Use a Mushroom and boost through it if possible.

The outside courtyard is as far as I know, a place without much of a preferred strategy. There are boosts to the far left and right, you can trick off the raised patches of dirt the palm trees are planted in, as well as the fountain with the item boxes.  Go any way you please, as long as you get an item.

And the split path afterwards?  As far as I am aware, the glider is faster.  It wasn’t faster in the Wii game, but now it seems to be, so take it.

Item Tips: Well, hitting people with items in the section with the cars and boosts tends to screw them up pretty badly, so try that. Similarly, placing a Banana or a Bob-omb on the escalators or the entrance to the shop shortcut makes it pretty much impossible for any opponents to get past safely, giving you a good lead.

Waluigi Pinball

Best track ever bar Airship Fortress, and it’s back in Mario Kart 7!  But like many other tracks, Waluigi Pinball can be a pretty difficult track to race on when you’re against decent opponents, so here are some tips and tricks to keep in mind:

First things first, the glider section/tunnel/cannon at the start.  Hold down to go faster when going upwards, and try to land as quickly as possible afterwards.

Secondly, watch out for the pinballs.  They take up a lot of room on the track, can be difficult to dodge with multiple players and held items, and in a few memorable cases, fall directly onto people unlucky enough to be under them at the time.

And the actual table part itself, can be hell.  Stay alert at all times on laps 2 and 3 (the pinballs mentioned above are at full force then, and can easily hit an unwary player multiple times in a row), and for the love of [whoever], stay sort of to the centre/right of the section prior to the flippers.  Sound a bit arbitary?  It’s not.  If you go too far left, you’re pretty much in the pinball line on fire when it gets flung backwards by the right flipper.  That can very easily cost you the race.  If you’re too far right (and a bit too quick) on the other hand, you can easily go too fast and slam right into a pinball just as it hits the flipper, which is just as ‘lethal’.  Staying where I recommend lets you think carefully and have enough time to dodge the deadly projectile/metal ball being fired straight in your general direction.  Oh, and don’t hit the flipper itself, that spins you out.

If you’re a bit of a wuss, you can technically go through walled off areas to the far left or right of the ‘table’ section, where no pinballs will be hit you, but it’s much, much slower than going straight, so don’t bother.

Item Tips: Place items at the entrance or landing point to the cannon/launcher, on any ramps, and on the downhill slopes leading to the main table area.  Use other items in the more open areas.

Kalimari Desert

Annoying track unfortunately, due to the sand of the track making the controls feel all slippery and handling seeming to take a right hit.  However, it’s the perfect track for item use, because one careful item can put you a fair distance in front.

That’s one tip here.  If you get either Triple Mushrooms, Star or Golden Mushrooms, cut straight across as much sand as possible and try and cut the large corners near the end, you’ll be guaranteed to beat at least one person in the process.  Just be careful, since failing will cost you dearly time wise.

Secondly, look out for the ramps at the start and end of the track, which let you glide and skip the train tracks.  Seeing as you’ll have to stop if a train goes by otherwise (especially if no one has a star and blasts the train upwards for a bit in the meantime), this is pretty much required in time trials or against better opponents.

You can’t drive through the tunnels any more, but you can go along part of the train track.  Some say this is a shortcut.  I’m not convinced.

Item Use Tips: Use bananas on ramps, lay Bob-ombs near the train track and use Mushrooms to cut corners.

DK Pass

Probably the least exciting level in Mario Kart 7, and the one which most people tend to dislike.  Still, assuming you care enough to win there…

Be careful with mini turbos.  Sometimes the ice makes it hard to get the boost to activate before the corner is over.

The item box on top of the hill after the first rolling snowballs is a Super Item Box, and will always give either a Mushroom, Triple Mushrooms or Star, even in first place.

You can’t cut the corner at the end with the glider.  It unfortunately counts as ‘out of bounds’.

Item Usage Tips: Anywhere.  There aren’t a lot of spots where items are guaranteed to catch people out.

Daisy Cruiser

Yet another fan favourite of a track, this one is another course that’s been massively changed for its inclusion in Mario Kart 7 as a retro track.

Namely you can go through the swimming pool rather than round it, and the locker/hold area is now flooded with water and filled with aquatic wildlife.  Here are some tips:

At the start, it doesn’t seem to matter which way you go.  Don’t worry about it, both are roughly the same and have item boxes about halfway through.

At the pool, it’s arguably best to stay out of the water, although it’s not dangerous to fall in this time around.  However, you cannot do a trick as you come out the swimming pool.  Looks like you can, but trust me, its impossible.

The bit with the moving tables is arguably the most aggravating part of the level, the bane of many a person playing time trials.  Just stay alert and at the first sign of movement, get out the way, quick.

There’s also an alternate route coming up, the ship hold.  It’s not really faster than the normal route (might be a bit slower), but it gives you an easy to get item box, and you do get shot out a cannon and sent to full speed.  That’s quite useful.

Finally, you can do a trick on the steps.  Useful for a boost at the last second.

Maple Treeway

Now this is a pretty fun track.  Not only is it quite long and filled with obstacles that keep the race both challenging and interesting to play, you can easily use actual strategy to mess up other people who’re racing with you.

To start off, remember the shortcut from Mario Kart Wii?  Still exists, so if you have a Mushroom you can speed off down an alternate route to the right which goes around to the cannon.  Seems a tad quicker.

Similarly, like an earlier Retro track I won’t name, you can still get hit in the cannons.  Useful to lay traps at the start to cause people to fall in and be counted as ‘out of bounds’, and even better to use that gliding time to knock people out the sky with fireballs or well aimed shells.

Put an item down as you land.  If it’s a Bob-omb, watch as mass havoc/carnage ensues.

Those leaf piles hold items in.  Usually just coins, but sometimes you’ll also get Mushrooms or even Stars from them.  Watch out for bananas and green shells though, since these can also be dropped at random.

In the section with the Wigglers, try to avoid them as best you can.  Also, while it’s not well known (and the reason it occurs is currently being researched), you can apparently drive through a Wiggler’s legs in some circumstances.  Don’t count on it, but as the following video shows, it’s possible in very rare instances:

Up a bit ahead are some boost pads.  If you lay items on them, you can easily screw up the savvy players who know to use them.  On that note, try and hit both of them, obviously.

There’s also a bridge a bit further up, in what seems like a cave.  Lay an item on the bridge or the ramp to take out some unlucky opponents, and whatever doesn’t initially fly off from the hit will likely be pushed off by the other racers charging along behind them.

Finally, there are three paths at the end.  Two of which are shortcuts though carved trees, with some speed boost pads and ramps, one of which just has you go straight and trick off of the tree roots.  Choose the ramps I say.

Koopa Cape

Technically, this is another glitched level, but few people know about it.  It’s also been a bit toned down since the Wii version, with the tunnel filled with water and Cheep Cheeps rather than electrical beams and a cool aquarium type effect.  Here are some techniques you may need:

First of all, the very unknown, quite useful but extremely hard glitch shortcut.  Now, you won’t see people using this online, but if you follow the below video and jump off the edge just right before the cave, you get put right before the glider pad:

Saves about two and a half seconds, but isn’t easy to do and probably not worth it outside of time trials.

After this, there are some more minor, legitimate tricks you can do.  Like trick off the ramp while gliding, then glide a bit further over the grassy section to the left.  Or going through the arch near the giant shell, or cutting behind the giant shell thing at the end with a well timed Mushroom boost (or a star).

It’s quicker to drive down the pipe rather than jump.

Finally, at the very end, you can boost through the fast water if you have a Mushroom/Star/some other speed boosting item.  If you don’t though, you will certainly be thrown off the edge by the current, so beware.

Item Advice: Place any trap items in the pipe leading to the underwater area.  There is practically no way to see them in advance or dodge them if you do this.

Dino Dino Jungle

Some tips here, in case you’re having trouble.

1. There is exactly no practical difference in time taken if you choose the narrow bridge after the first Dinosaur.  This is because while the narrow path has some boost pads on, it also goes quite far ‘back’ when rejoining the main path, hence the path pretty much doesn’t matter.

2. Always take the shortcut with the ramp, regardless of if you’re using a Mushroom.  You don’t know how many times it’s been where I’ve ended up leading the race by about half of a lap because my opponents always decided to go around.  The time you lose from the mud is nothing compared to how much you save from gliding across the large gap.

3. At the end where the bridge is, you can glide over the left fence and save some time.  It’s much easier with a Mushroom, but possible without.  Another useful shortcut few people tend to use.

Where to use items: Most obvious place is on the ramp where the shortcut is, since the amount of room to dodge there is practically non existant, and anyone who hits it is likely to fall off and waste a ton of time. Even better with Bob-ombs, since you can take out the first three or so people following you if everyone’s close enough.

Other places include the bridge by the dinosaur, and the narrow bridge prior to the cave that everyone seems to think is a shortcut.

Airship Fortress

What is in my opinion the best track in the game, Airship Fortress is one long, epic throwback to Super Mario Bros 3.  With you racing across an airship and various castle rooftops, this track is a long, difficult level filled with opportunies to do better than your opponents as well as to screw them up.  Here are my tips:

1. Try and land on the wall to the left of the start when racing there. It’s not a major time saver, but it does save some time, and presumably makes you immune to red shells depending on when they’re fired.

2. At the section with the Rocky Wrenches on deck, try to go through the narrow ‘path’, near to the metal thing in the centre.  It’s easy to screw up and hit one, but it saves ever so few microseconds it could be useful.

3. The boxes may leave Mushrooms and stars when hit.  Obviously don’t try and ram them with your kart, that slows you down, but try and break them with items, or if invincible, and pick them any items dropped by your opponents smashing the boxes.

SNES Rainbow Road

May as well start this strat with a warning or two.  This is a difficult track.  It’s not so much because the layout or the obstacles are annoying, but because what position you’re in on lap 2 or the start of lap 3 is very likely to be what position you’ll end in due to the short track length, and one good Blue Shell hit here can easily cost you the whole race.  Be warned.

As a result, here’s some advice that should help you survive. Number 1, take corners as tightly as possible. Obvious, but you need to save as much time as possible, and ideally get into first and stay there.

Pick a heavy character and likely kart.  Why?  Because the first set of item boxes is pretty much a free for all brawl between all eight players, and it’s fairly likely you’ll be hit and knocked around if you can’t quickly get in front of the pack.  And featherweight characters like Shy Guy, Toad or Lakitu?  Go flying when someone smashes into them, likely right off the track.

Take as many trick ramps as possible.  You can also use some to cut certain bends, as well as cut others just by jumping.  That can be useful.

Don’t take the ramp at the end without a Mushroom.  You won’t make it all the way across, and this is probably the number 1 newbie mistake on this track.  If you do have a Mushroom it can be sort of useful, but the shroom’s probably best used to dodge a Blue Shell.

Still, it’s not that bad if you’re in first place, bar occasional Blue Shells and Lightning.

Where to use items: Many good places here.  Before/under Thwomps is a killer, as is by item boxes.  But some others include:

  1. On the shortcut ramp.  If anyone gets hit here, they’re not making it across
  2. Between the two Thwomps at the end.  Someone ALWAYS gets hit here…
  3. Between the two near the start.  Not as effective since the Thwomps don’t fall at the same time, but quite useful.
  4. Near the single Thwomp on a narrow straight found early on the track.  Very hard to avoid this, and you’re guaranteed to catch anyone not paying attention.

Well, that’s my Mario Kart 7 track guide over and done with, here’s hoping people find it useful.  It’s not the most professionally laid out guide, but hey, I covered everything I could and as far as I know, have written about every single shortcut and track tip of use to be found in Mario Kart 7 as of this time.  Now let’s see if it helps people get better at time trials or wifi!

New Kid Icarus Uprising Screens!

Not very many unfortunately, but what ones there are do look pretty cool, and there are finally some more pictures of the augumented reality/card based functionality the game has.  So here are the screens:

First up, this action packed screenshot of Pit fighting some enemies in the sky. It looks quite pretty, don’t you agree?

Meanwhile, this shows the ground based combat.  However, two things immediately strike me as a bit unusual here, namely:

  1. What’s that purple vortex doing in the background? My best guess is that it’s where the enemies are coming from, but for all we know it could be used to warp Pit to the next level or something.
  2. What’s the temple like building in the background?  Is it a vital part of the mission?

We also have a screenshot of the two headed hell hound boss, Twinbellows.  Nice action shot this, showing the battle actually in progress and him attacking Pit rather than just standing there and looking ominous like in initial screenshots.  Oh, and a random piece of trivia many people likely don’t know… Twinbellows is not technically based on Cerberus.  No, there’s actually a second mythological devil dog in Greek mythology called Orthrus, who is a two headed dog that resembles Twinbellows more than Cerberus does.  And said dog was apparently the brother of Cerberus.

But that’s enough random ancient Greek trivia for today.

Finally, we have a screenshot of the multiplayer mode.  It looks pretty fun, but I have to admit the health bar with the name ‘Phil’ above it takes quite a bit of the atmosphere out the whole thing. I just find it hard to take the whole classical part of the game seriously when your online opponents will be named after their actual selves and various characters from pop culture.  Now, the epic battle of Skyworld!  With combatants called Bob Smith, Phil, Tom, Chuck Norris and Darth Vader.  But hey, that’s just my opinion.

Now, the AR cards.  They look quite cool if you ask me.  Much more professional than any of the trading card tie ins Nintendo usually releases alongside their big name games (maybe except for Pokemon).

And what making the characters on the cards fight looks like.

So, with Kid Icarus Uprising looking better and better, who’s looking forward to this game, and do they think it’ll become a new Smash Bros level phenomenon?

Mario and Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games; More Footage

Some more footage of the 3DS version of the game, in the form of a rudimentary, semi thrown together trailer:

Admittedly, it’s not that interesting a game from what I can tell, and the events seem to be much the same thing as in the first olympics game with a few minor additions.  But is anyone excited for Mario and Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games?

Mario Kart 7 Review; An Excellent addition to the series

As the years have gone on, it seems like a fair amount of reviewers have begun to get tired of Mario Kart. With all the other Nintendo series getting regularly changed up and gimmicks being thrown in all over the place, the Mario Kart series has begun to seem like a series which merely makes evolutionary rather than revolutionary changes to the core formula in every game.

But forget that. Mario Kart 7 is a good game not because of any crazy gimmicks or massive ‘innovation’, but because the timeless formula works perfectly. It’s improved on the past games in every way that actually matters, the graphics and music are arguably better, the track design and choices are much better, the online is better and the gameplay itself is much fairer than the almost party like free for all that Mario Kart Wii turned into with twelve players.

For one thing, the graphics are fairly good. Are they perfect? No, they look a bit less clear than those in the Wii installment. But they have far more charm than many other recent Mario games do, and the tracks look amazing due to it. There’s no overwhelmingly bland New Super Mario Bros styling here, each track is filled with personality and actually looks top notch. You can see this best with Wario’s Galleon/Shipyard (which looks as eerie as possible), and Bowser’s Castle, which actually looks sort of menacing for once (especially those windows)

Plus, all the retro tracks look at least as good as in the source games (there’s nearly no difference between the Wii versions and 3DS versions), or much better in the case of anything from Mario Kart DS or prior.

Music is pretty good too. Bowser’s Castle has some nice music for instance, which even remixes parts of the theme from the Gamecube version into it! Other notable examples of good music include the theme from Rainbow Road (obviously), Donkey Kong Jungle (a remix of the Jungle Japes theme from Donkey Kong Country), Neo Bowser City (which actually mixes in part of Toad’s Turnpike from Mario Kart 64), and some of the retro tracks (Airship Fortress especially). At worst some music is a bit bland, but nothing gets grating or takes away from the atmosphere, and there’s thankfully no tunes that could be described as anything worse than ‘good’.

Continue Reading…

New Super Mario Bros 3D; What I want

Recently, Nintendo has announced a new 2D Mario game that’s coming to the 3DS within the next fiscal year.  So in anticipation of what will likely be a fantastic game and sell 3DS consoles within mere days, here are some ideas I had that would make the game that much better.

I’ve also got this very same article, albeit with less detail up as a Youtube video for those who want to see what I have to say with the addition of a fantastic remix of the Super Mario World castle theme.  Check it out below if you want to, or keep reading for the full article.

And for any Nintendo employees who may happen to be reading this, mark my words.  A 2D Mario game with the stuff I suggest would easily sell at least 30 million copies.  Do you truly want the 3DS to be a DS or Wii level success? Follow my advice in this article when making the New Super Mario Bros game that’s coming soon and you’ll reap the rewards big time.

Here are the things I want:

1. More of a Super Mario World theme

Kind of the most important change I want really.  You see, for too long, New Super Mario Bros and modern Mario games in general have been just a bit too heavily based on Super Mario Bros 1 and 3, neglecting all the other interesting developments in the series.  But this time, I think it’d be good if they made the new game basically New Super Mario World, with all the familiar elements of the SNES classic and less of the generic ‘worlds’ and NES like themes from the other recent games.

They could bring back classic enemies, like the Fishin’ Boo, Chargin Chucks, Dino Rhinos and Rip Van Fish.  Magikoopa as normal castle enemies for once (they’ve taken this role in all the 3D Mario games since Galaxy, but none of the 2D ones for some reason).  Reznor as a returning boss to be fought in some fortresses, but not the only one.

But it should go deeper than just enemies, since the last two games brought those back as well.  There should be some power ups taken from the game, like the Cape and Yoshis abilities when he hits different coloured shells (blue ones let him fly, red ones let him spit out fireballs, etc).  More importantly, the game structure itself should be very different, no more flagpoles (again Nintendo, we don’t NEED these in a 2D or 3D Mario game, most of the NES, SNES and Game Boy games did perfectly fine without them) and more of a choice in where to go.  Remember how in Super Mario World you could take many different routes, and explore a good ten or so levels without returning to the main one?  Or how you could use the Star World to get to Bowser in about ten levels?  I liked that.  I’ll come back to it when I get to a later point about the overworld, but Nintendo really needs to stop with the linearity.

2. Super Mario World items

See above.  Heck, may as well bring back keys and the P Balloon while you’re at it.  Maybe even the Yoshi Wings you could get in certain levels?

However, maybe we shouldn’t just bring back Super Mario World stuff.  Maybe we should also have the last few classic SMB 3 suits back, like the Hammer Suit, the Frog Suit and Kuribo’s Shoe.  Maybe even some Super Mario Land items would be nice too, who knows.

3. A better overworld

Technically, this is pretty much an extension of my earlier point, the one about how the game should feel more like Super Mario World.  But none the less, I really want a proper, interesting world map for once.

Because you see, recent Mario games have neglected this terribly. Galaxy 2 stupidly used a boring map for navigation between different galaxies, and the two New Super Mario Bros games have fell straight into the old issue of relying on themed worlds.  Like Super Mario Bros 3 except without any of its charm. What we truly need is  a real world map.  Like the one in Super Mario World, where the places fit together nicely as if they were actual places and just not cliched video game settings:

Just look at that.  Every level seemed to actually fit the area it was in, and the ‘worlds’ weren’t just ‘fire land, ice land and water land’, but proper locations that could easily have been part of a real world.  There was the peaceful Donut Plains, the caves of Vanilla Dome, the forests of the Forest of Illusion and the rocky deserts of Choco Island. But none of them were purly based on a theme.  Donut Plains had grass, water, sky and forest levels, and they fit the setting, while the Forest of Illusion managed to make various forest areas interesting in their own right by carefully using enemies and obstacles to give each level a sort of mood/atmosphere.

Heck, you know what did this world theming right? Donkey Kong Country, especially the second game:

Each world was beautifully designed, had interesting levels which fitted their location on the map perfectly and never felt cliched or one themed in the slightest.  Why can’t this be the case for the 2D Mario games as well?

On that note, why don’t we have level names any more?  It was so much easier to remember what level was what by names like Donut Plains 1 or Forest Ghost House or Valley Fortress, and even that could be made better if they just gave every single level a proper, memorable title.

4. Better Bosses

Should be obvious really.  I mean come on, it’s been about 20 years since Super Mario Bros 3, yet the bosses in the 2D games haven’t really improved at all since then.  Whereas the 3D games have been slowly improving (at least, before 3D Land and its non final Bowser bosses) and the Zelda series has impressed with excellent boss fights in every game, the Mario series has just quietly let the boss battles stay much the same. Having a Koopaling run around and shoot magic every now and then, before staying in their shell for a bit aftwards?  Fine in the 90s, less so in 2012.  No, this game needs to become epic.

Look at fan projects for inspiration.  Many have made the official games look terrible in regards to bosses due to having some fantastic boss battles with all kinds of varied, interesting opponents. Like this one:

Would some of them be a tad difficult in a real Mario game?  Maybe, but Nintendo has to consider that there’s nothing wrong with making the bosses as hard as the levels, if not harder.  Besides, you’ve got a super guide anyway.

It also brings me to another thing which would be nice, more variety in bosses.  That’s something the 2D games always seem to get wrong, repeating boss battles and having the same old opponents time and time again.  Make it so the Koopalings, Reznor, Boom Boom and Bowser Jr are just fortress/airship bosses (with a different attack pattern for each one), and come up with some interesting main castle/world bosses. Make it so the opponent gets scared out their wits when they first see their opponent and likely die a few times without beating it first.  Make the battles ‘epic’.

5. Better Playable characters

As in, ideally not just two Toads, but actual different characters perhaps with their own abilities and quirks.  Wario and Waluigi, one Toad, maybe Yoshi as a playable character on his own.  That kind of thing would be awesome.

Also, we need to let people choose their playable character in single player.  Player 1 doesn’t HAVE to be Mario, heck, if four people want to play and none want to use Mario, why not let them do just that?

6. Better level atmospheres

Awkward word to use, but if it was to sum it up… weather.  We need more levels that have different weather and different visual styles and such like.  Remember how nice the sunset levels from Donkey Kong Country Returns looked?

Or the silhouette ones in general?

But you don’t need fancy graphics tricks or different art styles to make your levels interesting.  Look at how Snow Barrel Blast goes from a calm winter day to the middle of a raging blizzard as you journey towards the end of the level:

Heck, how about an old idea some other games have where various levels have time progress in the actual level and it goes from day to night to day, etc. Maybe even a variant where the enemies and obstacles actually change depending on the time of day it is, that would be a really nice effect.  Torrential rain would be pretty cool too, like in this clip of Monsoon Jungle from Wario Land 4:

So much more atmosphere in that one level than about 90% of New Super Mario Bros, unfortunately.  Nintendo take note.

7. More Mini Games

Not as big a deal as the rest, but I really miss the mini games Mario 64 DS and the original New Super Mario Bros had.  They weren’t perfect, but they’d keep you interested for a few minutes at a time wheneve you got bored, and they provided some variety for if/when you tire of the main adventure.  Bring them back please.

8. Level editor

It’s been way too long without one of these in the Mario series, hasn’t it?  Still, like them or not, level editors add a ton of replay value to a game.  Remember Smash Bros Brawl?  That had the worst level editor I’ve seen, and STILL ended up providing hundreds of hours of entertainment and thousands of fan made stages.

And for a Mario game, one of these would be even more popular.  Look at any of the unofficial ones like Lunar Magic, Toad’s Tool or the editors for Super Mario 63, Super Mario Bros X or various other fan games. Many of these became so popular whole websites opened about them and more fan projects were created in them than ever before.

Think of all the awesome things you could do with this kind of feature if you were Nintendo:

  1. Give away a random level every day like Smash Bros
  2. Have contests for levels based on different themes
  3. Have developers make levels and give them away every day/week like WarioWare DIY
  4. Have rewards for if you beat a level sent through Street/SpotPass…

They might as well let you go crazy with it.  Let you add your own resources, modify most of the game, make millions off the one game.  Let them make their own quests for Mario and co with custom designed levels, world maps and other stuff.  Like how Minecraft endorses the site for Game Mods of it.

Some would say this is a bad idea or complain about piracy, but let’s face it, this would pretty much turn a great deal of ‘pirates’ into legitimate customers.  The custom stuff would be an incentive for average Joes to buy the game as much as the developer made content is.

Imagine how great it’d be to point out that your game can literally serve everyone and has millions of levels, bosses, items, etc.  Best of all, you’d only have to make about 9-12 worlds worth of said content yourself, and you’d initially create a market where this Mario game was basically impossible to compete against.  Add your own official downloadable content and add ons, and you’d officially give people very little reason to buy any clones of the series, pirate the series or  buy platformers from your competitors.

9. A Great Final boss

Enough said really, and I don’t have to worry about this one in the slightest. Why should I?  Every Mario game since Super Mario Bros 3 has technically had a great final boss.  Well, maybe except Sunshine if you’re picky.

So I may as well make a few guesses about how this fight might go:

  • Chance he’ll turn into a giant, about 50-70%.  It’s already happened in both Yoshi’s Island games, New Super Mario Bros (technically), Super Mario Galaxy 2, New Super Mario Bros Wii and Super Princess Peach.  Oh, and Mario Party 5.
  • It’ll be in the sky or outer space.  Fair chance, was true of both Galaxy games, Mario 64, Mario Sunshine and various spinoffs (especially Mario Party)
  • You’ll be running from him. Didn’t use to be true, but was of New Super Mario Bros Wii and Mario 3D Land, may well happen again.
  • The final boss music will be epic.  It always is.  And every single game, someone somewhere compares the tune to that of a boss in an RPG game.

Here’s hoping for another great final boss.  Who knows, may not even be Bowser this time… oh wait, this is a 2D Mario game.  Never mind.

10. Great Music

Again, I don’t think they’ll disappoint, the quality of Mario’s music as a series has never really gone far below excellent, unless you’re talking Yoshi’s Island or educational games. True, people have said they don’t put as much effort into the music in 2D Mario games as in 3D ones, but come on, even much of the New Super Mario Bros music is fantastic, especially if you’re willing to look beyond just the grass/athletic/overworld level 1 theme with the silly noises and enemies dancing to it.  Listen:

It’s remixed excellently by third parties as well:

Really, the music only needs to be orchestrated if you ask me.  The New Super Mario Bros Wii style works perfectly fine as such:

The castle music alone sounds like it’s out of Castlevania with a bit of remixing, and even the normal grass land music isn’t exactly bad by any means.  None the less, we will get an awesome soundtrack, I can be 100% sure of that.

Still, that’s all I want from a new 2D Mario game on 3DS.  Will the game have all/most of what I wished for?  Probably not, it’s coming out in either 2012 or early 2013, so unless development has been going for years prior to the announcement it’d be impossible to have all of it.  None the less, it’s a new 2D Mario game, and it’s basically confirmed the game will be excellent. Don’t worry about it, there is officially zero chance it won’t be an instant classic.