Mario Kart 7 is more Texan than you think!

It’s official: Retro Studios in Austin, Texas is one of the coolest places to work on the planet. Right after Retro had finished Donkey Kong Country Returns, Nintendo enlisted them for the next chapter of Mario Kart. Their involvement reached much deeper than merely designing a DKCR-based track: Retro ended up designing half the tracks and handling the character animation, among other creative duties. This chance-of-a-lifetime for the Texas crew’Mario Kart fans all’marked their first direct collaboration with Nintendo’s EAD team.

According to Satoru Iwata, the unique team-up helped Mario Kart 7 aquire “…a charm that isn’t present in any of the earlier games in the series.” Wow. As if I needed another reason to pick up the game tomorrow.

For the full story, check out the hugely entertaining MK edition of Iwata Asks on Nintendo’s site. You’ll encounter a lot of fun anecdotes, production details and mind-blowing mental imagery. Here are  just a few samples:

Imagine going to a job where one of your daily duties involved testing the latest game build by taking part in an 8-player online race between Retro and EAD.

Ryan Powell, who designed Retro’s tracks, started with the Luigi’s Mansion course, in which he combined the layout of the DS original with the design style of the Luigi Gamecube adventure. The results delighted Nintendo’s crew back in Japan.

Coin collecting was originally intended to return to Mario Kart much sooner, but was continually being dropped due to time constraints. Determined to get the feature into Mario Kart 7, Nintendo made a priority of designing the coins into the game from the very start.

Okay…Retro’s now done Metroid Prime, Donkey Kong Country Returns, and half the production of Mario Kart 7. Anyone else feeling like we should send these guys a thank-you gift basket for the holidays?

Mario Kart 7 hits North America tomorrow!