Mario Kart 3DS, also known as Mario Kart 7 is the newest game in the series. Alongside the basic Mario Kart gameplay, there are also many other features added to the game and to the online mode. The graphics as well as the game visuals have all been upgraded for this game. The race courses, items on the race track, karts, other players, obstacles and even the gameplay animations have all been improved. As the player begins the game, they are prompted to choose a character from the Mushroom Kingdom. This can be either Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, Yoshi or others.
There are also many other characters from various kingdoms that may be unlocked. There are a total of 17 playable characters that can be unlocked in this game. After choosing a character, players will then race eight different cups for that specific kingdom. After winning first place in all of the available eight cups, the player will unlock more race courses for a total of 32 unlockable courses. While some of the courses may be similar or even reused levels, they are redone and even have parts of the level that are different. One example is that players may now go underwater in the Koopa Beach level.
There are three different game modes: 50cc, 100cc and 150cc of which they all vary in intensity. Also some game modes offer the chance to unlock certain hidden items within the game. There are a lot of stages in this version of Mario Kart that are also similar to other tracks from the other games. The Grand Prix mode lets players race through eight cups of which four of the stages are completely unique to Mario Kart 3DS. There are new stages like the Music Park that lets players drive across keyboards and there is also the DK Jungle that has a Donkey Kong Country feel.
There are some new gameplay items, race features and abilities that are added to this version of Mario Kart. One of the new features are gliders and parts of the race track that are underwater. There are also coins added into the gameplay experience. For every 10 coins that the player collects, they are awarded with a maximum speed boost and may also use the coins to unlock parts for their karts.
The basic race course items include the red shell, green shell, bullet, lightning cloud, blue shells, bombs and many more. Other new items that have been added to the game include new race course items like the Fire Flower that unleashes fire balls at enemies. Another new race course item is the Tanooki Tail which will smack any items or opposing players that are near the player that uses it. A new useful race course item added is the Lucky 7. This power up lets players hold up to seven items in their collection at any given time.
One of the most innovative uses of the 3DS with this version of Mario Kart is the ability for the player to cycle their race view to a first person view via using the gyroscope technology in the 3DS. If the player presses up on the directional pad, they'll shift the racer view into a first person point of view where the player can tilt the 3DS to control the action.
One of the game's strongest points is the multiplayer and it returns in this version of Mario Kart with some added extras as well. The Balloon Battle returns to this version of Mario Kart but they rules are different than before. Also, the player may connect online to race against Mario Kart 3DS players throughout various race courses and kingdoms. There are also many other competitions that one may challenge themselves to online.