This isn't fair, but it's honest: I'll be playing Mario Kart 7 over the holiday break. It arrived yesterday with a glossy review guide and a list of all the stuff we can't talk about until a few dates have come and gone. The one you'll want to know: December 4, the Sunday it'll be in stores, a week-and-a-half from today.
What can I tell you about the game now, let's see. Nintendo makes very pretty review kits, printed on thick glossy paper with embossed images of all the racers. Mario looks hell-bent in his closeup (doesn't he always?). Luigi's having all the fun darting above the track in glider mode. I'm not sure what the female bumblebee in heels, wearing pink lipstick and eyeshadow is all about. And don't tell PETA about the cars that sport Tanooki Tales.
And that's about all I can say just now, so how about a few highlights from a Famitsu interview with Shigeru Miyamoto, translated and published by 1UP, in which the Nintendo boss chats up the Mario Kart series and the seventh version's design principles.
"Mario Kart is a pretty stable series, all things considered, so production duties were chiefly handled by Hideki Konno while I mostly oversaw the complete picture," said Miyamoto. "With Mario Kart Wii, that included the idea of the steering wheel, and with this one, that included things like the idea of adding hang-gliding stuff to Mario Kart. I make the decisions involving new things to build the gameplay with, in other words."
But it wasn't all handholding and Kumbayas: "I was actually pretty well against some of the customization features of the game," admits Miyamoto. "It can be fun to win money for racing and use it to buy parts and such, but I didn't think that had much to do with the core fun of the series. The idea for that came from the studio staff, though, and my final response was 'If you can build this customization on top of a solid control and gameplay foundation, then go ahead'."
Others on the team occasionally "yelled at [him] to look at things more closely," but Miyamoto says he's confident the series is safe hewing to tradition. "The basic message here is 'Mario Kart's been powered up for the Nintendo 3DS,' and I think the online upgrades in particular are pretty neat."