In this generally terrific game, I’ve discovered additions I like more than I thought I would (Lucky 7) and some not so much (Super Leaf). The return of Gold Coins, however–and their new effect on the entire flow of the game–is my pick for Mario Kart 7’s biggest gameplay improvement.
Coins increase your top speed, create new on-track goals to aim for, and turn simple banana peels into evil robbers. Coins also make Lightning Bolts laugh-out-loud funny.
The coins’ link to customization, however, reaches further and livens up the entire single player game. Since new karts, tires and wings can only be unlocked with coins, players have motivation to continue a cup series even when a gold trophy becomes hopelessly out of reach. Coins earned in online races also count toward the total, so even a last place racer can at least try to scoop up some additional cash before the competition ends.
This element, of course, will only be effective until all the parts are unlocked, but it definitely takes the grind-i-ness out of the single player completion phase. If you continually lose those last two or three 150cc cups (like I do), at least your kart options keep expanding.
So, I vote for gold as Mario Kart 7’s best improvement. How about you? Is there any particular feature you think makes this chapter stand out?