Nintendo's vision of go-kart racing is one of driving skill and judicious use of comedy weapons, from the straight-shooting green shell to the newly minted super horn, which toots away other karts and incoming missiles.
It's a process honed over more than 20 years, making this a game of staggering refinement and responsiveness. Along with new characters and tracks, classic courses have been given physics-mocking makeovers, adding anti-gravity, underwater and hang-gliding sections, your kart floating like a time-travelling DeLorean or sprouting a miniature propeller or parachute, while you look out for shortcuts in the game's convoluted courses.
The karts' handling is magnificently precise, and although you'll often come to grief at the hands of other players' weapons, every other crash is entirely your own fault. A new addition, Mario TV, pulls together a surprisingly watchable highlights reel for each race that you can upload to YouTube in a couple of clicks. Gorgeous-looking, endlessly competitive and about as much fun as it's legal to have.
ALSO OUT THIS WEEK
Tomodachi Life, 3DS
Tomodachi Life gives you a beautiful, empty island and asks you to populate it by adding characters from your Mii list, creating them from scratch or scanning QR codes for various game, film and TV characters that you can find with a bit of light Googling. Unlike Miis made on a Wii or 3DS, Tomodachi Life gets you to choose a voice and shape their personalities, giving them a distinct life of their own on the island. As in The Sims, you have no direct control, merely influencing and observing the game creating its own delightfully offbeat dramas from your cast, along with regular news reports keeping you updated on their activities. You can drop in to see them whenever you like, solving their problems or giving them presents. Nobody dies, there's no scoring system and you can't "win", but you can watch your idiosyncratic creations meeting, arguing, falling in love and going about their lives. Like a walk in the park, Tomodachi Life's aimless interaction makes for a charming, meandering experience that will certainly not test your dexterity.
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